“Money is in the list!” is a popular saying in the online marketing world. It is a bit misleading, though.
“Money is in the list, unless your list doesn’t give a shit..” describes the the reality of e-mail marketing much more accurately.
You are not going to make many sales unless your subscribers trust you and care about what you have to say.
How do you get to that point?
Trust is what makes or breaks email marketing
E-mail marketing is so effective because it allows you to build relationships with your subscribers and gain their trust by continuously adding value over an extended period of time.
As the greatest investor of all times, Warren Buffet,said:
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
You won’t be able to succeed in the long run if you lose the trust of your subscribers. Keep that in mind.
Autoresponder e-mails and broadcast emails
Okay, so now that we got the trust thing out of the way, let’s focus on the logistics.
There are two types of emails that you use when you have an e-mail list:
- Autoresponder sequence. This is a sequence of e-mails that is automatically delivered to every person that subscribers to your list.
- Broadcast e-mails. These are e-mails that are not a part of your autoresponder sequence which you send out once to all the people that are subscribed to your e-mail list at that moment.
In general, it’s best to have an autoresponder sequence with an evergreen content and only use broadcast e-mails to share time-sensitive information with your subscribers.
What should you include in your autoresponder sequence?
A lot of people, especially when they are only starting out, only do broadcast e-mails. The problem with that is that it’s very inefficient, because you keep producing great content, but it’s only available to people who are on the list at the time when you broadcast it, so people who join later don’t see it, which puts a constant pressure on you to keep producing a lot of content. A much smarter thing to do is to set up a sequence of e-mails that will be delivered automatically to every single person who subscribes to your list. This will take a lot of pressure off your shoulders. What should you include in an autoresponder sequence, though?
Here’s my overly-simplistic explanation:
- A “Welcome!” e-mail. That is an e-mail in which you welcome your new subscriber to your list, reassure them that they will get their freebie, and maybe ask them to introduce themselves as well.
- A freebie sequence. You might remember that in my previous article I’ve suggested to use a offer a freebie that is an e-mail sequence, so this is the next step. You might want to schedule the first e-mail of the freebie sequence straight after the “Welcome!” e-mail.
- A general sequence. This should be e-mails that include content that you know is valuable and interesting to your reader. Think about something that you would publish on your blog, just better (they are your subscribers, after all).
A very good article on this is “7 Simple Steps To Launch A Profitable Newsletter In One Week”, which not only explains how to create a winning autoresponder sequence, but also gives you an Excel spreadsheet that will help you to plan it.
How frequently you should send out e-mails to your subscribers?
Another question that automatically arises is how often you should send e-mails to your subscribers?
The two problems that people encounter when they fail to find a golden middle in their e-mail frequency are these:
- They send out e-mails once in a blue moon, therefore people forget who they are, and unsubscribe.
- They send out e-mails too often, which makes people lose interest in them and stop reading them, or simply annoy people and make them unsubscribe.
Now, I’d love to tell you a particular schedule that works best, but the problem is that it isn’t as simple as that. There are a lot of entrepreneurs who use completely different approaches to that.
You will have to decide what kind of level of engagement you want with your audience and then experiment and tweak your approach until you figure out what works for you.
I’d say when in doubt, send less e-mails.
Actually build relationships with your subscribers
Now, different people do this in different ways, but everyone who is good at e-mail marketing will agree that you have to interact with your subscribers in order to get desired results.
Here are some pointers on how to build relationships with your subscribers:
- Ask them to introduce themselves.. This it not a rocket science, simply ask people to tell you something about themselves, and make it clear that you really want to hear from them. I’ve first seen this type of welcome e-mail on Derek Halpern’s list, but it seems to be getting more and more popular nowadays
- Ask people questions in your e-mails. People will send you feedback anyway (especially haters ), but if you actually ask people what they think about this or that, they are much more likely to give you valuable feedback.
- Answer e-mails from your subscribers. There’s a varying degree of responsiveness between well known bloggers, but most of them answer to a lot of e-mails that they get, and some even answer to all of them (let’s say Danny Iny’s dedication to answering all e-mails within 24 hours makes me wonder whether he has some sort of secret e-mail superpower that enables him to pull this off).
These might not seem like hot and shiny e-mail marketing tactics, but these things are what make the difference between a dead list and a responsive list, and between no sales and a lot of sales.
Shower your subscribers with all kinds of gifts and valuable content!
It’s not enough to get someone on your list, you have to keep them, and the more happy you make them the more likely they are to buy something from you and spread the word about how awesome you are.
Ramit Sethi is a very good example of this.
Let’s take a look at some things he sent out to his subscribers so far:
- A bunch of interviews with interesting people + audio recordings + transcripts (I’ve listened to an interview with BJ Fogg several times already and probably keep re-listening it for a long time).
- Some material from Ramit’s premium course Earn1k. In fact, the reason why I can make a living as a freelance writer now, is Ramit’s free material and excerpts from Earn1k.
- A lot of other valuable stuff that is exclusive to people who are subscribers, such as case studies, word-for-word scripts, a chapter of his NYT best-selling book, etc.
I understand why Ramit gives so much stuff away for free, but sometimes when I see what he sends out something really awesome, my first thought is “WHY is he giving away THAT for free???”.
Compare that to people who offer an e-book as an opt-in freebie and then occasionally send out some mediocre quality stuff in order to keep the list warm. Yeah. I know.
Yes, I know that continuously adding value is a lot of work, but be sure to keep your subscribers happy if you want to eventually make some sales.
Just so you know…
Okay, now that we’ve discussed how to keep your subscribers happy, let’s talk about how to keep yourself happy. I’m talking about happy as in “not stressed about your e-mail list.” You have a dirty mind, people! Jesus.
The thing is that there are a lot of stupid people in the world who have make themselves feel better by bullying others. You probably have met quite a few in high school. Internet is like a promised land for these idiots: here you can bully people without any social consequences. The more popular you will get, the more haters you will attract. That’s just how success works.
A lot of people who have their e-mail list feel some sort of “subscriber is always right” style obligation to tolerate bullies and morons.
Newsflash: you don’t have to tolerate bullies and morons, even if they happen to be on your list. They are the people who will never buy anything, but will give you a lot of headache nevertheless. That’s just how they roll.
Let’s say you get an e-mail from an idiot telling you “How dare you to try to sell something to me???” when you launch a new product. What do you do? Tell him to unsubscribe. Doesn’t work? Unsubscribe him yourself.
In fact, you should actively encourage people who are not a good fit to unsubscribe. Think about it like dating (yes, I shamelessly stole this metaphor from Danny Iny): you feel an initial attraction and go to a few dates. You might feel that there is no chemistry and break it off. Or you might like it and keep dating. There’s no obligation from either part to keep dating if they don’t feel that they are a good fit for each other. And there’s certainly no obligation for someone to date a rude bully. That’s the same with people on your e-mail list.
Don’t take your list for granted!
The most important take – away from this article should be that you can’t take your list for granted. You probably wouldn’t be very keep to do a big favor to someone who only calls you when they need a favor. The same way, it’s plain foolish to expect to make a lot of sales when you only contact your subscribers when you want to sell them something. Invest your time and energy into building relationships with your subscribers and it will pay off nicely in the long run.
Keep your eyes on the prize!
I’m not going to sugarcoat this: building and maintaining a profitable e-mail list is tough. You have to keep adding value to the lives of your subscribers over an extended period of time. It’s worth it, though: e-mail list is one of the most valuable asset that you can have as an online entrepreneur. Keep your eyes on the prize!