Biz Tips: Treat your most powerful tool with massive care

Biz Tips: Treat your most powerful tool with massive care


Treat your most powerful tool with massive care

Don’t get lost among the crowd of emails.

More than one marketer has said that while social media is nice, the real return on investment lies in tried and true email.

Add to that collection of experts Amanda Abella, Pete McPherson and Winnie Sun. They agreed, in McPherson’s words, “Email marketing is the most powerful marketing channel for bloggers, and should be treated with massive care.”

Abella is a Latina finance and business influencer and online business coach. Her finance blog was voted the best in south Florida.

McPherson teaches bloggers how to make more money, starting with “deep-dive interviews with world-class bloggers.”

Sun is one of the financial industry’s most sought-after professionals.

In their own ways, each of them has built and grown email lists.

“We have been building our email lists very organically — meeting people, our clients and individuals who opt-in at speaking events I appear at,” Sun said.

Abella has created free worksheets and classes based on people’s needs.

“They opt-in to receive the goodies,” she said. “We share information frequently on all social media platforms and also run Facebook ads.”

McPherson bucks convention.

“I take a bit different approach to list building, starting with my ‘core’ opt-in,” he said. “Some people will argue for giving readers ‘quick win’ content upgrades, freebies or lead magnets in exchange for their email.

“But I question how valuable these can be,” McPherson said. “I prefer a longer, more in-depth, ‘something you could not learn from a single blog post or video’ sort of lead magnet. So, my primary list builder in my 33-day New Blogger Bootcamp.”

That approached has helped him focus.

“Rather than have 194 different PDF lead magnets, I have one course that I know is incredibly valuable and useful to my audience,” McPherson said. “I promote that over and over and over again. By the time they’re done with it, they are hugely integrated in my brand.”

As different as they are, the entrepreneurs likewise have varied target audiences.

“Our target audience is two groups: our current clients and people who aspire to have social, entrepreneurial and overall wealth and quality of life,” Sun said.

Abella seeks millennials looking to create an online business.

“They are across industries, with finance being the top,” she said. “I also have a lot of Latinos and other points of contact in my market. Being that I am Latina, I naturally attract this sector.”

McPherson has a less specific target.

“My audience — or avatar — is bloggers,” he said. “I believe ‘niching down’ is for some creators, but not for others. I serve bloggers, period — although 75 percent of my work applies to podcasters, YouTubers and other online business folk.”

Audience makeup drives company newsletter content.

“When formulating our email strategy, we pay attention to what our community is interested in,” Sun said. “For example, if the market moves dramatically, we need to let clients know how to handle this information. The same goes for our second list of entrepreneurial trends.”

Abella hopes to strike a nerve within her readers.

“I share stories that evoke an emotional appeal to their desires and teaches them a money or business lesson,” she said. “I also bust through their challenges and obstacles by sharing stories from my own life.

“Mostly, I just ask them what they want and give it to them,” Abella said.

Along the way, Sun and McPherson learned tips and tricks for better engagement.

“We share popular content from our social channels that maybe our clients or audience hasn’t caught,” Sun said.

McPherson’s email marketing strategy is to build a series of year-long and automated funnels.

“I use my very best broadcasts, paired with my best content,” he said. “It contains hyper-segmented sales sequences.”

As email marketing strategies differ, so too do mailing lists and their purpose.

“Our email strategy is to hope to reach more people,” Sun said. “We focus on an all-encompassing, holistic approach to personal and financial wealth.

“We listen to trends and organize that information for our community so it’s convenient and easy for them to stay on top of timely financial trends,” she said.

Abella takes extra effort to watch for leads.

“That means frequent communication,” she said. “I also have a public relations strategy in place, thanks to TV expert Josh Elledge. We constantly share content on social to get new leads opting in.

“As for content, my audience is really into money mindset lately,” Abella said. “So, that’s what I’m giving them.”

McPherson started from a clear purpose.

“My email list is my community,” he said. “I treat all my communication like water-cooler chats and opportunities to build a community — not a ‘one-to-many’ marketing tool.

“Ultimately, my email list exists to provide value to followers and subscribers — even at the expense of everything else,” McPherson said.

He explained how he will often make the email itself the content for the day, rather than point people to his site with links. He considers that part of his winning recipe.

“My brand is a delicious apple pie,” McPherson said. “Both email and social media are ingredients. Everything’s connected and necessary to bake the pie correctly.”

Email newsletter frequency also varies. Sun prefers weekly distribution.

“Five days a week, sometimes seven days if I have time,” Abella said. “I do this because it gets readers accustomed to hearing from me. I went from emailing weekly to daily, and my sales more than doubled in 12 months.”

McPherson promotes his services with audience welfare in mind.

“I email my list three times a month during normal operations, with the occasional burst of emails for sales and launches,” he said. “My rule: Don’t annoy people. Stay consistent and relevant, but nobody likes spam.

“However, I’m in the process of automating what each new subscriber will be emailed up to 12 months in advance,” McPherson said. “The frequency will never exceed one per week.”

Even though newsletters are mass productions, each subscriber wants a personal experience.

“For us, it would mean segmenting our lists even smaller to really customize the content and experience for certain groups,” Sun said. “We would love to be in that situation.”

Abella believes those creating newsletters can’t be certain about content if they don’t check with readers.

“Your audience will tell you what they want,” she said. “Just ask them. Then give it to them. It’s a conversation.

“This is something I teach clients how to do in my six-week program,” Abella said. “They see amazing results.”

McPherson follows these guidelines for a personal experience:

  • Use plain-text emails.
  • Write like you talk.
  • Write like you’re talking to a friend.
  • Use their names.
  • Encourage replies, and reply to replies.
  • Be a human, not just a business.
  • Be vulnerable.
  • Ask questions.
  • Include pictures.

Abella prefers Infusionsoft software for automated campaigns, broadcasts and e-commerce. Leadpages helps her collect leads via landing pages.

“After using Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and Aweber, I now use Drip,” McPherson said. “The user experience is delightful on all fronts. The automation workflows and segmentation are by far the best I’ve seen.”

Sun quantifies email campaign results from audience feedback, hoping to do better in reviewing analytics.

“I measure how many consultation calls were booked as a result of my emails,” Abella said. “Those calls are what lead to the most money. That’s an important metric for me.”

McPherson relies on analytics such as open rates, click-through rates and gross revenue per subscriber:

  • Open Rates. If they dip below 30 percent, I know it’s time to re-engage or remove cold subscribers.
  • Click-Through Rates. I analyze to check what copywriting and email formats are working, and which aren’t — as well as which topics perform.
  • Gross Revenue per Subscriber. I average this out over both three- and six-month periods. It lets me estimate how much I can spend to acquire leads. That’s usually Facebook and Google ads.

“The biggest mistakes I see in email marketing is in the introduction,” Sun said. “Too many emails come addressed to someone else, misspell your name, leave out the name completely and so much more.

“When that happens, it’s an automatic delete,” she said. “You can’t even read the rest of the email. Also, emails that are 100 percent text just doesn’t work anymore in this day of graphics and video.”

Abella cites consistency as the biggest problem.

“People don’t send out emails — or they don’t send them often enough,” she said. “Then they wonder why they aren’t making money.

“I’ve had several clients who let their email lists go cold,” Abella said. “Then we have to re-engage.”

McPherson contends with a host of miscues:

  • Sending less than two emails a month.
  • Using fancy formatted emails that look like they came from JC Penny.
  • Just sending broadcasts to your blog, website, etc.
  • Not including engaging images.
  • Not providing exclusive content only available for your subscribers.
  • Not asking for replies.
  • Bombarding new subscribers with more than two emails a week their first week.

“You are always in control of your content,” Sun said. “No matter what you say, what you do and what you share, make sure what leaves is always something you can stand behind.

“We all have one reputation and brand,” she said. “What does yours say about you?”

Abella said it “makes a huge difference” when businesses invest in market research and know how to write compelling copy.

“Our email newsletters are always business-focused,” Sun said. “They may contain elements of fun, lifestyle or even food, but the heart of the newsletter is to inform and educate with a bit of entertainment.”

Abella’s newsletters are personal with a twist of business and a call to action at the end to book a consultation call.

“One hundred percent of my newsletters contain at least some part business, updates and personal,” McPherson said. “An email that only contains one-third or two-thirds of these isn’t as good as it could be.”

The best emails have calls to action tailored to specific situations.

“If I’m sending an email out about having better boundaries in business — because I know they struggle with this — the call to action is a free mini-session to see where they can have better boundaries,” Abella said.

“I keep the subject lines mysterious, and it works,” she said. “The most popular ones are ‘Dave Ramsey is Wrong’ and ‘Till Death Do Us Part.’ I sent one out with the subject line, ‘My hair is full of secrets’ — a ‘Mean Girls’ reference — and people loved it.”

McPherson takes extra effort to communicate purpose.

“I love to experiment with different sized text, bolded statements and even multiple colors,” he said. “As long as it’s not overused, I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the point of my email gets across.”

Sun, Abella and McPherson have all experimented with or put video or audio into their email newsletters.

“We use them in our email newsletters regularly,” Sun said. “We can see there is more engagement with the emails that contain this. Our weekly market commentary that is all text appeals to a different audience. Both work — just different ways.”

Not for her automated newsletters, but Abella sends a video email to all new leads within 24 hours of their opting in.

McPherson calls video and audio mandatory because they are fast, convenient ways to collect and disburse thoughts, making them more memorable.

“I also send VIP clients a personalized gift via snail mail,” he said. “I love doing that. They love it, too.”

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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