E-mail Marketing For Beginners – Part 3

Building Your Reputation

Overview

If you have not done so, it is recommended you read over Part 2 – The Money’s In Showing You Care first.

In this third and final installment of the e-mail marketing tutorial series, I’m going to expand on the concepts raised in the previous module. To do this, we’ll focus on the specifics of how you create a connection with your prospects, starting from the moment they sign up for your mailing list.

There’s a lot to get through in this tutorial, so let’s dive straight into it…

Creating The Right First Impression

The e-mail marketing process starts with you collecting e-mail contact information from a targeted subscriber who has landed on your information collection page.

This may be a content page with a signup form added in the sidebar or (more likely) a landing or squeeze page, a page that is published with the sole objective of collecting e-mail information.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I am going to assume that you are using a landing page although I am not going to focus on creating landing pages or how to populate them with content and the like. This information is covered elsewhere on this site and you can find many more places on the Internet where there is similar information available for free.

Instead, I want to continue from the previous tutorial by focusing on how you use a landing page professionally whilst also getting your relationship with your new subscriber off on the right foot.

You already know that in e-mail marketing terms, the objective of landing a new subscriber is to have the opportunity of marketing to them on a continual basis.

Having the ability to do this is vitally important as statistics indicate that most prospects presented with a new offer need to see it between 7 and 20 times before they finally make a decision one way or the other.

However, when someone subscribes to your list, they (perhaps unwittingly) do something in addition to giving you permission to send them a continual stream of e-mail messages.

What they have done by subscribing is become a part of your business.

You must therefore position your business ‘gateway’ (i.e. your landing page and subscription form) so that they can see what your business is about from the outset.

Trust me, this opening gambit sets the tone for everything else that comes afterwards so it must be done right.

In the previous tutorial, I recommended subscribing to as many marketing lists as possible as a way of building your own personal ‘swipe files’.

You have therefore already seen plenty of landing pages already so you know that in every case, there is a free gift on offer to persuade visitors to subscribe.

This free gift is a vital link between your business and your new subscriber. The way the subscriber feels after they receive your first free gift will to a large extent dictate how they view your business from that point on.

In other words, if you send them a re-hashed product that is a poor quality rework of something they have seen 100 times before, they cannot help but view your business as run-of-the-mill and nothing-out-of-the-ordinary.

This could easily be a lethally bad start because as the (all too true) cliché has it, ‘you never get a second chance to create a first impression’.

If on the other hand you send them something that offers genuine value and quality, something that they can use to their benefit right now, the impression that this creates will be diametrically opposite to the one above.

It doesn’t prove that you are the kind of marketer that they want to work with long-term but it is certainly a major step in the right direction.

Note that the key here is to give them something that they can use right now, something that they will benefit from now.

This is crucial because it answers the all important ‘WIIFM?’ (you’ve got that by now, right?) question right off the bat.

What is more, you didn’t ask them for any money either.

Even if your main objective is to sell your product, the free gift must shift the focus away from this product to concentrate instead on the fact that the gift is something that your prospect can use straight away at no cost.

By doing so, you encourage the prospect to think ‘hmm, I like this guy – maybe he has something to offer me’ and in doing this, you’re well on your way to e-mail marketing success.

So for example, imagine that you are selling a keyword research product.

What you could do is publish a free gift video that shows the prospect a couple of really cool keyword research tricks that they can use with the free AdWords keyword research tool right now.

Sure, you add a 10 second ‘advertorial’ at the end of the video pointing out that with your keyword tool, they could have done the job three times quicker. However, the point remains that you have already given them something of value that they can use for free.

Incidentally, videos are seen as a quality product. They are also a lot easier and quicker to produce than writing an e-book or report so try to use videos as your giveaway whenever possible.

The second thing you have to remember is that most Internet users are increasingly spam-aware. Even though it is illegal and the fines for spamming run into millions, there are still hundreds of people actively spamming e-mail accounts by the truckload every day.

Internet users are therefore wary of giving up their information. They are also lazy and arguably becoming increasingly so.

You can however circumvent this on your landing page by asking for only their e-mail information.

How Often To Mail?

Your preloaded messages

In the first tutorial, I highlighted the fact that when you’re setting up your autoresponder system, it needs to be preloaded with a series of outgoing messages that will be automatically sent at preset intervals of your choice.

There are some guidelines that you need to follow when creating your preloaded message series which we will look a little further down the page.

However, before considering the content of your messages, you must decide how often you are going to send them to your prospects.

There are two differing schools of thought on this matter, with both ‘schools’ boasting many experienced marketers who believe that one method is clearly better than the other.

On the one hand, you have marketers who send out an e-mail message once every two or three days.

This is what you might call the traditional e-mail marketing method, one where the marketer attempts to make sure that the prospect gets e-mail regularly enough to ensure that they are not forgotten without bombarding them with too much e-mail.

This approach strikes a reasonable balance between keeping your name in front of your prospects whilst not overwhelming them.

However, one possible disadvantage of this approach is that this is exactly what the majority do. You are therefore doing nothing that makes you and your business stand out from the crowd.

Furthermore, if you write two or three times a week, you’re going to use medium to long copy for each message. This again is pretty much what everyone else is doing, so you are doing nothing that is memorable.

Avoiding this ‘same as’ approach is one of the reasons why some more aggressive, ‘edgy’ marketers adopt a very different approach by sending e-mail messages several times a day.

These messages tend to be short, sharp and straight to the point, often written in a way that is designed to be mysterious, intriguing or downright odd or peculiar. In other words, they are always written to attract maximum attention, curiosity or controversy.

The advantage of the second approach is that it does make you stand out from the crowd. It is however necessary to come up with enough punchy, out-of-the-ordinary ideas to make it work because if you attempt to do so and fail, you stand out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons.

My own testing with both of these strategies suggests that neither is any better or worse than the other per se. Instead, back-to-back testing results clearly indicate that in some markets, one strategy works better whilst in other niches, the other approach is far more profitable.

For example, whereas the slow and steady approach works well in more conservative markets (e.g. dog training, Bonsai, keeping tropical fish etc), the more aggressive approach is well suited to faster-moving or more cutting edge markets where things either change rapidly (e.g. Forex) or an edgier-style is the norm.

In short, you are going to have to test various different schedule patterns against one another until you establish exactly what works best in your own business.

What I have done in the past to test which works best is to setup two identical landing pages offering the same free gift, each ‘fronting’ a list where the preloaded message mailing schedule is either ‘traditional’ or ‘compacted.

This allows you to compare your click through rates and conversions from the three-times-a-day list with the once-every-three-days crowd for a better idea of exactly what people in your market want in terms of e-mail delivery.

Preload Plenty Of Content

The final thing to think about as far as your preloaded messages is concerned is that the more often you send a message out, the more content you are going to have to preload to your autoresponder. If you are sending out three messages a day, you’re going to have to have a lot more content loaded than you would for three messages to go out every week.

One mistake that you must avoid is launching your list building activities with too little ready-made content preloaded.

It is imperative that you have several months of content preloaded before you launch.

Doing this ensures that you avoid one of two disasters that will inevitably happen if you do not preload enough content.

Disaster one is leaving your subscribers high and dry when the messages suddenly stop because your preloaded materials are finished in two weeks.

Disaster two is where you end up creating really poor quality messages because you are forced to do so in a panic as you realize that the preloaded messages will soon finish and stop.

You must think and plan ahead with a minimum of several months preloaded content and do it from the beginning. This is particularly important if you are launching your list building activities on the back of a new product because the launch will keep you far too busy to worry about your preloaded series.

Another thing that you must also bear in mind in respect of your preloaded messages is that the information in them cannot be time sensitive or materials that will date.

If you are including information that is going to be sent to prospects six months after they subscribe to your list, you have to know that that content is still valid and that any product you recommend will still be available.

What this means is that preloads are not appropriate for up-to-the-minute, time sensitive information, products and news.

At the same time however, you cannot afford to ignore these completely…

Building Your Reputation - Image 1

Newsletter Or Bulletin Broadcasts

There are different types of messages that you can feed out to your subscribers through your autoresponder system.

Most autoresponders have the capacity to send out ‘Broadcast’ messages (as in the Aweber screenshot above), a one-time message that is sent out to all of your subscribers at the same time. This is how you get the latest news, information and product recommendations to your prospects and customers.

The way that I use ‘Broadcast’ messages is as a twin pronged backup attack to my pre-existing preloaded message series.

The first thing I send is a biweekly newsletter that contains all the latest market news, information about brand-new product, interesting stories and the like.

The second type of ‘Broadcast’ message I send is on-the-spot information about something that is really exciting that is written and sent out within half an hour to an hour of the news coming in.

This double edged approach works well because it backs up your preloaded messages very effectively.

Nevertheless, there is one note of caution that you must heed.

Far too many marketers use the second type of ‘Broadcast’ message to jump on the bandwagon every time there is a big product launch.

They recommend it to the heavens irrespective of whether they like the product, whether it works or even whether they have seen it. They see an opportunity to generate a commission, and bang, off they go.

Do not do it.

Your prospects will see through this for the sham that it so obviously is and their respect for you and your business will go straight down the toilet.

Only recommend other people’s products if you really believe in them and have something valuable to say about them. More importantly, only do it once in a blue moon if you want to retain your hard earned credibility.

Your Content

How to inject personality

To read some of the comments that I have seen on blogs and websites in the past year, you would think that most online marketers have had a ‘personalityectomy’, a surgical procedure to remove their personality entirely.

But here’s the thing.

Injecting personality into your e-mail marketing efforts really is one of the easiest things you can imagine doing.

All you have to do is tell your prospects about you and your ‘real life’ outside of marketing rather than being 100% focused on your business activities and your sites.

The problem is that if all you ever talk about are your marketing business, your prospects will inevitably perceive you as a one-dimensional or two-dimensional cipher instead of as a real, 3-D person with a real life outside of and beyond the bounds of business.

There is nothing to like or dislike about a cipher or faceless online business, nor is there anything that enables your prospect to connect with you and learn about you.

Hence, if all you ever talk about is business, they have no chance of beginning to like, respect and trust you and your activities.

Sadly however, the majority of marketers fill every outgoing e-mail message with information about nothing more than business. They are therefore grey, characterless individuals who you could neither like nor dislike.

But allowing people to get to know you is incredibly easy. All you need to do is let them in to your real life.

For example, if you are married with kids, don’t be scared of mentioning your family every now and then. If the family goes to see a movie, talk about the movie and express your opinions about it.

Likewise, if you attend a major sporting event, include information about it in your newsletter and let your readers know whether you enjoyed it or whether you didn’t.

Now, you do have to be a little careful here.

You cannot go overboard about religious views, your favorite sports teams or political views. Remember, you are trying to connect with your prospects, not alienate them and you can be sure that people will disagree with you once you start getting into areas like these.

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with a little bit of controversy every now and then. So, if you don’t like the movie or you think that a particular (top-selling) stage show is garbage, don’t be scared of expressing your opinions.

If you are a person who uses humor easily and naturally, try to let that come through in the way you craft your e-mails. If you are a naturally friendly person, be friendly in the way you write your decisions too.

Be you and be real. Be serious in your newsletters when it is necessary but when levity is appropriate, don’t be scared of writing as if you are talking to a friend over the corner table in the local coffee shop.

Can you see how easy this should be?

Can you also understand why in a world that is becoming increasingly monochrome and devoid of personality, this approach is a genuine standout?

Show them you care

Showing your prospects that you care is just as easy as demonstrating your personality.

Firstly, write every outgoing message with every sentence focused on what you can do for them. Concentrate on how you can provide maximum value and help them to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve.

Try to involve them in your business as much as you can too.

For instance, ask them what they want from your business by posting a free Survey Monkey questionnaire and/or run prize competitions where you give away prizes of value and publish the winners names.

Regularly add personality packed blog posts on your site and send a little message to all of your subscribers asking them to read and add comments every time you do.

This feedback is excellent for tweaking your services to bring them closer to exactly what your prospects want and it also enables you to interact with your subscribers as well.

For the same reason, give them your usernames on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. This again allows them to get to know you better and as consistently suggested, the more they know and like you, the more money they will put in your bank account over time.

The Structure Of Your Messages

The ‘personality’ and ‘care’ elements naturally carry over into the structure of your outgoing e-mail messages.

In fact, the majority of your message content should be focused on:

  • Allowing your prospects to get to know you;
  • Letting them know that they are important to your business and that you care;
  • And you must give them ‘substance’ that will help them solve their problems or soothe their pain at no cost.

The last point is every bit as important as the first two. At least 98% of the content of your outgoing e-mail messages must be free materials that are designed to help your prospects achieve what they need or want to achieve.

The first message you send to prospects immediately after they have subscribed must be a ‘Welcome’ message that tells them what they can expect from you.

If possible, give them a valuable ‘Welcome’ free gift as a ‘thank you for subscribing’. This helps to make them feel even more comfortable with your business and about dealing with you.

After this, the first half dozen messages or so should be packed to the gunwales with top quality information for which you ask for nothing.

Include a free gift or offer as often as you can to emphasize and re-emphasize that you are giving without asking for anything in return.

It makes sense to mention a product recommendation even in these first few messages – it reminds the prospect that you are running a commercial business – but do so in an understanding, ‘this is worth looking at’ kind of way.

The main focus of these messages has to be on giving them usable information for free.

Giving all this away for free and asking nothing in return gradually builds a psychological debt that your prospects (unconsciously) owe you.

They also begin to understand that they will gain from opening your e-mail messages and that you’re not going to pitch, pitch and pitch again as so many other marketers do.

Once again, you may find that you need to modify your approach slightly to match the requirements of your market niche, but in my experience, good e-mail marketing is all about conversational selling.

You tell a story (it could be about business or about real life) or analyze the latest breaking news and weave your product recommendations or suggestions into the narrative.

I mentioned that 98% of your outgoing messages should focus on giving your prospects quality and value at no cost.

However, very occasionally (with the emphasis on ‘very’), you can send out a recommendation on its own, but only if you are 100% confident that the product merits it and that it is not going to let any of your prospects down.

Other than on these odd occasions, your job is to make prospects feel that if there is one person on the face of the earth who deserves their business, it is you.

If you create all of the e-mail marketing materials you send out with this objective very firmly fixed in your mind, you can expect to bring in a lot of money from your e-mail marketing efforts in the coming years.

Conclusion

As I am confident you understand by now, the key to successful e-mail marketing is really no more complex than making sure that you give your prospects what they want.

It’s all about trying to see your business through the eyes of your prospects and customers, understanding what they are looking for so you can give it to them.

As an example, you know that they want to deal with someone they know and like, so you become that person. They want to feel important to your business, as if you care, so you become a carer (which of course you may already be).

Successful e-mail marketing really can be this simple.

If you follow the advice and guidance in this tutorial series, you have everything you need to achieve the e-mail marketing success you desire.