Recently I got an email from my very good friend, a friend I share my Aweber account (an email marketing software), saying:
“Aga – you have over 1000 signups on your fitness website – but i have not seen any follow up sequence – time to monetize that!”
I’ve been procrastinating to write a simple email sequence for months, one of many sites I own.
I’ve probably lost out on building an engaged community of 1000 subscribers and also thousands of dollars in sales as a result. Not a nice feeling.
On the same day, I was reading something I have heard a ton of times in my marketing career. ROI of email is around 4,300%!
That was it! It was time to learn email marketing and break through the procrastination. I started to research and tried to get my head around all these questions:
How on earth do I get started?
What should I write about?
How can I make sure that people like it?
How to come up with a good subject line so people open it?
What should I be tracking?
Going through tons of articles online left me more miserable than I started. There was just too much to take in…
But in all this madness, I also read about the new era of email marketing. An era of behavioral marketing, so I decided to reach out to an expert and discover first hand what it takes to succeed with email marketing properly.
So I reached out and set up an interview with Chris Hexton, renowned behavioral marketing guy and co-founder of Vero. Vero, an email marketing software company that lets you send and test targeted emails based on what your customers do or don’t do on your website to significantly improve conversions from emails. You will see his guest posts on KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, and other high profile marketing blogs.
After our conversation, I knew building a successful email marketing campaign has never been more important than it is now. You’ll quickly see why in this issue.
If you are one of those who have not started yet, here is everything you need to get started and maximize the impact of your emails.
Agnieszka Nazaruk (aka Aga)
PS. Find more about me at sheisonfire.com
Our Hero: Chris Hexton of Vero
Before starting Vero, an email marketing company, Chris was running a marketing and web consultancy company. He and a small team were building websites and helping small businesses with their online presence.
When dealing with clients, he was often asked to run email marketing campaigns. 90% of his clients didn’t have any technical knowledge, but as founders and marketers they wanted to have control over the copy in the emails and who they reached.
It was so prevalent that Chris and his team built a tool for them. As more and more of their own clients were using it, it seemed strange that there was no product out there that could fill that gap. That’s where the original idea for an email marketing company developed. Since then, the team transitioned all their energy into Vero, building something extremely valuable.
What was the most challenging along the way?
“Every day is a challenge, every day we are trying to grow and make the product better, but the hardest part is always starting. Making sure that you are building something of value and getting people to pay for it. Especially when you have a very lightweight product, you need to focus on the essence. Your first customers are investing in you and what you are building.” explained Chris.
Now that you’ve got to know Chris a bit better – let’s cut to the chase.
How To Get Started With Email Marketing And Convert Your Browsers Into Buyers with Chris Hexton
Why should you use email marketing?
Before we jump into email marketing, let me give you some reasons why email marketing can be your game changer.
‘Why should you use email marketing?’ was my first question during the interview. Email can feel like an old fashioned tool, and with so many new marketing avenues emerging, you might have the perception that email marketing is dead. Does anybody even open promotional emails anymore?
“It’s definitely hard to cut through the noise and this is definitely not an easy challenge” – explains Chris. “And although email has been around forever it still has the highest ROIs compared to any other channel.” For every $1 spent, a good email marketing campaign can return $40-50+.
Apart from this huge ROI number email there are tons of other advantages. Here are a few:
Great when you are starting out
You can write personal emails and get replies
Winning campaigns can be used over and over
Ability to send tailored emails based on a person’s actions (inactions)
Great way to educate and build a relationships
People still read emails that interest them
How is email still so effective?
Users do receive lots of emails, most of which they don’t pay much attention. That said, email still has one of the highest returns on investment. A smart email cuts through the noise and reaches people that are interested.
According to Chris it comes down to the fact that email is a personal medium. It’s definitely more personal than social media – a business posting on Facebook or sending a Tweet isn’t as personal, it’s more of a distribution tool. When you send an email, you get right in front of the person.
You communicate directly with your customer, and if done right, this communication can be very personal. By using email, you effectively move the conversation about your business to a personal environment — the inbox. This makes email a powerful tool for building relationship and making sales.
Building relationships with email
Email is your tool to develop relationships and trust. Sale comes later.
Just think about it for a second. We trust friends, colleagues and experts. Marketers who understand this, devote time and resources to creating relationships. People buy from people they trust.
So how do you build trust?
You need to be interested in your customers. You show that you care, you help them, you understand what they are doing and where they are going.
So how do you use email to do this?
Speak to them in a distinctive manner, like you would to a friend – use their name, use the same tone and develop your own voice,
Be interested in their needs, problems and aspirations,
Create content which will help them achieve their goals and solve their problems,
Share content which they find useful and inspiring,
Be consistent with the value you are providing, and
Engage with them on a personal level by sharing your own experiences.
I hope you are starting to get an idea of what it’s all about. This mindset can take your marketing to the next level.
Getting started and overcoming your mental obstacles
So why for months and months have I been procrastinating with writing my first email sequence? Well, I had a number of mental blocks, these stopped me from taking action.
Are you having any of the concerns I had?
What am I going to write about?
Will I write emails nobody wants to read?
Do I use automated emails or not?
Will I send too many emails?
Do I use templates or standard text?
Chris explained that these are the same obstacles most people face in the beginning. The big additional ones he observes with clients are getting subscribers and deciding how to structure an email.
“People are simply worried about having a perfect email and perfect message. While perfecting is often a long process, and nobody will ever get their first message perfect.” – Chris
How to overcome your worries with email
Be aware of them. It’s very often a matter of awareness to overcome them.
Understand the value you provide. Chris says “Don’t be afraid to email. If you are working on a business, then none of your readers are investing as much time on what you are working on. That means you can send an interesting email on your topic that can educate and entertain them.”
Write as you would write to a friend. Write your email in a personal way, write something that you would want to get yourself. Your subscribers want to receive emails from you and you shouldn’t be afraid to send them.
Getting your first subscribers
As Chris covered, the second biggest obstacle to getting started with email marketing is frustration about a lack of subscribers and lack of knowledge on how to get them.
This section will walk you through a ton of strategies on how to get subscribers. Then in the next section we’ll help you choose an email service provider.
Thinking about the customer funnel
Chris suggests that you should start thinking about your business and your customers as a funnel. Your first step is to find out how these prospective customers are coming in contact with you and your site, then find places where you can get their email address. This is the top of your funnel.
Some general rules from Chris:
It’s a lot about the content you are producing and its quality,
Email marketing is about getting customers permission to send them emails,
The more context you give at signup, the better, and
Offer them something in return for their email.
So here we go…
You probably have some ideas of how to collect email addresses already. Below are different ways to collect email addresses. To start, just choose one or two strategies that fit what you already do.
1. Place Opt-In Forms Around Your Site/Blog Content
When somebody first lands on your blog, what do they do? They start interacting with your content.
Your content quality here is an important factor, but when you get that right, you need to look for places of interaction. Your conversion rates will go up if email is captured in context of what the visitor is doing on your site. That can be as simple as a sidebar placement and getting people to sign up for updates. This one below is an example from Kissmetrics.com
Below the blog post
This is a great place to collect email. If your content has kept someone engaged, you have built trust with them and they will be much more likely to subscribe.
I personally use a little tool called OptinSkin – a WordPress plugin that enables you to create simple opt-in forms you can put in multiple places on your blog. It’s great.
Here is an example of an opt-in below the blog post on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Blog
and another on Neil Patel’s Quick Sprout Blog.
Both are placed just after the blog post.
OptinSkin is a paid plugin, but if you want a free version to test out, you can use the Lite version of Magic Action Box for free. If you are just getting started it will be more than enough for you! I used it for many years successfully.
After your post, the byline
The byline, the space after the blog content is also great to offer a contextual “lead magnet” offer. Imagine that you wrote this guest post on How to Craft Tweetable Quotes That Spread Your Content like Wildfire.
At the end of the post you could offer something of value to enhance your readers experience. In this example John Corcoran offers his free ebook called ‘How to Increase Your Income in 14 Days by Building Relationships with VIPs, Even If you Hate Networking’ in exchange for an email. It works great and can skyrocket your conversions.
That byline link sends us to the below landing page where a name and email address can be captured.
2. Create free downloadable content
HubSpot is an incredible example. They constantly create quality content that is free and mostly downloadable (now they have a whole library of great content). All they want in return for access is your email address (wink, wink).
3. Use pop-up surveys (Qualaroo)
Qualaroo is a simple product that makes it easy to ask simple questions of your site visitors. Using their workflow, you can create mini-funnels within your surveys to capture emails.
For example, ask blog visitors a question to see what specifically could help them, then capture an email and reward them with the webinar they are most interested in:
You’d be surprised how well this works.
4. Make magic with pop-ups (but don’t be too annoying)
The homepage is often a place that gets a lot of traffic but not too much conversion. People visit and are hovering over the ‘back’ button to make sure they don’t waste more than a few precious seconds looking at a website that doesn’t solve their problems.
This is where a popup can dramatically increase the amount of emails you capture, rather than lose that visitor forever. You have to find something you can bribe the visitor with in exchange for that email.
Neil Patel from Quick Sprout is killing it with pop-ups. When you go to his blog, you will see this pop-up:
The funny thing is that no matter which option you click, it will take you to the signup form.
But this is not the end of popups for Quicksprout – After a few minutes when you have really engaged in a post on the blog, this pop-up arrives:
It’s not to capture email addresses but to capture sales. Neil takes you directly to his sales page. Smart!
5. Landing Pages
I love LeadPages for creating landing pages. I have tried all there is on the market and I believe LeadPages is the best product available (and it’s also the most affordable). LeadPages gives you all sorts of templates that you can easily customize and place on your site, blog or Facebook page. There are thank you pages, opt-in pages for webinars, launch pages, sales pages, squeeze pages and even 404 pages.
The great thing about LeadPages is that the templates are already optimized for conversions. I have gotten incredible results with them and love the interface.
You can hear all about LeadPages and how to use it on Pat Flynn’s podcast episode Rapid Audience Building For Accelerated Hypergrowth.
Here are a few examples of real world templates from them:
6. Use a gateway for your site
This is even more aggressive than the pop-up. It’s a ‘give me your email or you don’t get access to my site page’ (you can skip this page but it’s usually hard to see).
But since you want to build a relationship with someone and they want access to the value of your site, it’s often a great trade off. Someone that won’t give up an email address isn’t someone you usually want as a client anyway.
Here are a few examples of sites that have created massive lists with this strategy:
HelloBar is a wordpress plugin that lets you direct visitors through a colorful bar at the top of your site or even to capture emails.
Here’s an example of Quicksprout pushing traffic to another page
and Finding Home encourage readers to subscribe for blog updates.
8. Display Remarketing
You can use Adroll to set up a remarketing campaign. Remarketing allows you to show ads to people that have visited your website and encourage them to come back to your site.
It’s very affordable and works magic. Chris suggests that when you do a remarketing campaign, make sure you drive them back to a dedicated landing page and give them something of value in exchange for an email address.
For example, look at how Vero is doing exactly that with their educational email course. They have a 48% conversion rate with this simple landing page.