Today’s post is written as much for an active client who reads these daily lessons as anyone else… However, following its advice could be very lucrative for you, too!
If you currently have an email list of any significant size (let’s say, 1000), are trying to build an email list of at least that size, or consult with clients regarding their email marketing…
Then today’s lesson will show you how to get more immediate value out of that list, and increase the long-term value of every name on the list at the same time…
That means, more revenue now, more revenue later!
Our story begins with an early marketing client who decidedly sucked at email marketing!
While this story isn’t for my current client, it sets the back story for the right way to do things.
And this is kind of a cool story — because it shows how if you have a product the market wants, you can be a really bad marketer and still make a ton of money…
This client had built a multi-million online publishing business in the IT training niche. They started from scratch on eBay, quickly moved to their own site, and (in the early 2000s) were growing quickly by renting others’ email lists.
This built their reputation, and they were able to develop their own internal email list of over 200,000 prospects for their training.
Despite my advice to the contrary — and in the face of all prevailing wisdom and evidence — this client committed a grave sin of email marketing. Actually, more than one…
First, they did all their emailing themselves…
That is dumb, dumb, dumb. Maybe necessary in the very early days of their business, around 2000, it had since become an antiquated way of doing things. Not only were they bogging down their servers with the load of sending more than 200,000 emails in a day…
They also knew NOTHING about maintaining an email reputation, which is a constant and ongoing battle (now more than ever). There were countless services even then that, though expensive, would have been much better approaches to managing that email list and sending all those marketing emails.
But that’s not our topic of the day.
Second — and the crux of our conversation here — they treated every email address the same…
Folks signed up for their newsletter and new product releases, and everybody got all of them. One message for each new release, blasted out to everybody. One monthly newsletter, blasted out to everybody. Everybody got treated the same, whether they’d been on the email list for 6 years and hadn’t bought anything, or even opened an email in the last 3. Or if they’d bought 5 products in the last 6 months, and were obviously a customer in heat.
They all got the same content and frequency of messages. Including many that were completely irrelevant to their interests.
Example: You don’t have to be that into the computer biz to know that a programmer is very different than an IT person. Yet to get the IT training new release announcements, you’d also be signed up to get the programming ones, and vice versa.
And yet, with these grave errors of email marketing — their primary marketing method — they were succeeding in spite of themselves…
Despite my ongoing insistence that they change their errant ways, this client just kept doing things this way. For years on end.
The problem? They were too successful. They were succeeding in spite of themselves.
They didn’t have a “bleeding neck” need, in the words of John Paul Mendocha, that would get them to take action.
And even after I stopped working with them (after helping to put them on Inc. Magazine’s list of America’s fastest growing businesses and getting the owner a 7-figure payday from a private equity group)… They STILL didn’t change their ways.
I’m actually still on their email list, and though they’ve finally gotten an email service provider to send their emails and manage their list, they’re still treating everybody the same.
Contrast that to another client, who made half a million dollars in a few weeks, following what I call my “Hot List, Hot Profits” formula…
Here’s the RIGHT way to manage your email list…
First off, it’s OKAY to have a general list, that everybody’s on, and everybody gets at least the occasional email from. (Depending on what you promised when they signed up.)
Sometimes people just want to follow you or your company. And that makes sense. Or, you have emails that are relevant to everybody. For example, that first client’s monthly newsletter would be a great piece to send to everybody.
But you should also proactively work to sift and sort your email list. Divide it up by interests, and level of engagement.
By doing this, you can target people for certain messages based on their specific interests. And you can send more messages to people who engage more. Both of these will get you more immediate value from the list, AND boost the long-term value of the list.
Let me give you the example of one such campaign…
How I used a webinar to get a small subset of a client’s most engaged email subscribers to raise their hand and tell us what they are interested in…
This client had around 100,000 people on their email list, all interested in investing in general. Like many investing lists, what exactly they were interested in investing in varied from person to person.
One of the client’s products was a newsletter on macroeconomics, and how to invest based on big trends in our economy, the markets, and the world today.
I suggested we put on a web-based video event that would appeal to these folks. One focused on big picture economic trends that a certain subset of readers would be really interested in.
But instead of just asking people to show up, we would ask them to sign up.
And so, in the weeks leading up to the event, we started inviting people on their email list to sign up for a NEW email list, one created just for this event.
When they signed up for the list, they would get extra information on the event, as well as specific attendance instructions.
What we were doing was getting a certain active subset of their list to raise their hand and show their interest, based on the free offer of being able to watch this webinar…
It worked. Around 20% of their main list engaged with this free offer, and got on the “hot list” for the event. (There was also roughly the same number of NEW prospects that signed up for the webinar, based on joint venture deals I helped to broker.)
This was good for a few reasons. First, it confirmed this particular topic was of interest to a large segment of their readers at that moment. But second, it reengaged these readers, and moved them to give us permission to send more email around the topic of the event.
The webinar came and went, with only a few hitches (that’s a topic for another day, but let’s just say I crashed their servers).
And then, the real work began in earnest. Immediately following the webinar — which was heavily content-driven and didn’t sell anything — we sent the viewers to a sales page.
They also got a “thank you” email. That “thank you” email linked them to the sales page, as a way to get more info on the topic covered in the webinar. (Requiring a subscription to the paid newsletter.)
Also, we catered our follow-up to their level of engagement with the webinar…
We’d tracked who actually visited the webinar viewing page. And throughout the course of the two-week special offer we ran following the webinar, we followed up with them with a message appropriate to their level of engagement.
If they’d been to the viewing page, we treated them as if they’d watched the webinar. We provided a link to watch again, but focused mainly on getting them to read the sales letter.
If they had signed up for the webinar but never visited the viewing page, we spent most of our follow-up trying to get them to watch the replay. It was only as the offer deadline loomed that we shifted that to trying to get them to read the sales letter.
And for those folks on the main list who — for whatever reason — hadn’t signed up in the first place, we did minimal follow-up to first try to get them to watch the webinar, then to read the sales page.
We engaged most aggressively in selling those who’d taken the most action, to view the webinar. And the less action they took, the less aggressively we worked to get them to view the replay and the sales page.
This campaign was a raging success…
It did more than twice what they client hoped in terms of revenue generated, and generated substantially more revenue than they needed to make back their investment in putting it on. (And it was a fairly high-production video involving shooting in an actual studio — no PowerPoint slides here.)
Not only that, it gave the client a sub-list that they knew were interested in that macro-economic topic, who were engaged enough to respond to the event invite.
This sublist — a “hot list” — can be used in the future for more targeted offers, in line with what you already know the customers to be interested in.
Further, the more you do this, the more data and intelligence you gather about the makeup of your list, and their interests…
For example, you may or may not remember, but when you signed up for the Breakthrough Marketing Secrets list, you got an email in the first few days where I asked you to click a link indicating how you would describe yourself. “Copywriter,” “Business Owner,” “Consultant,” etc.
While not everybody clicks those links, a significant portion do. And as a result, at least among the most willing to click people on my list, I know that I have 3X as many copywriters on my list as the next highest category of business owners. Consultants are definitely next in line, 60% as many consultants as business owners, and 20% as many consultants as copywriters. These three categories dominate my readers.
While my list is small enough and Breakthrough Marketing Secrets is enough of a side project that I don’t use this a lot, I can tell you that it predisposes me to writing to, developing products for, and in general speaking to copywriters more than anyone else. (Which incidentally was NOT exactly what I created this site to do — its original purpose was to speak to category #2, business owners.) And if and when I do make those offers, I’m going to maybe send a couple extra messages to folks who’ve self-identified as copywriters, because they’re most likely to convert.
You can also do this on an ongoing basis…
And here’s where this is really relevant to my current client situation.
Let’s imagine you have a topic that could qualify for ongoing coverage. It’s not the core topic of your business, but it does make up a big part of either your audience base or your revenue.
You don’t have to simply slap that onto your list as another email that everybody gets.
Rather, use the “Hot List, Hot Profits” approach to get them to sign up for another list you manage, separately. This gets them to take a positive and proactive action, which is helpful for making future sales. (Consistent small actions in response to your requests will lead to bigger purchase actions later. In other words, clicks, opt-ins, video views, etc., will lead to sales when you put an offer in front of them.)
Not only does it give you a more qualified and interested list of people to send your emails to… And prime them to take action on the offers you’re going to put in front of them… It also develops business intelligence about what part of your audience is interested in this particular topic.
While this may lead to 1/10th of your total email list getting these new emails, you’ll have higher interest and engagement from the folks who get it. This helps in all sorts of ways. It actually helps with your email reputation (putting you in the inbox instead of the spam folder). It helps keep your customers excited, because they’re only getting messages they’ve expressed interest in. And, most likely, your conversion rates will be many multiples higher on this hot list than they would be if the same messages were sent to your entire audience. Which — contrary to expectation — can mean that, in many cases, you’re making more money sending to the smaller “hot list” group than you would sending to the bigger group.
And this doesn’t just have to be one-time events…
A sophisticated email marketer could have dozens of hot lists in their total email file, and any given customer could be on one, many, or all of them.
There can be hot lists like my webinar campaign, which are used around a one-time event, and their enduring value comes primarily from the data they give you on your customer file.
There can be hot lists that are actual topic-focused ongoing email newsletters. You send weekly or monthly messages on a topic of interest to only a segment of your total file.
There can be hot lists that are based on purchase behavior, where you are sending to current customers only.
There can be customer reactivation hot lists, with messages sent only to customers who haven’t done business with you in a certain length of time.
There can be a TON of different lists.
I’ve gotten an email before from Perry Marshall, who is particularly good at this, that said something along the lines of, “I send a TON of email messages. Sometimes, three or four per day. Most people never see most of those messages, because I only send them based on what I believe you’re most interested in, based on your past interactions with me. But I’d like to give you an opportunity, only if you want ALL of them, to get them. Just click the link below, and I’ll add you to my EVERYTHING list that will ensure that you get every email I send, short of emails based only on products purchased.” I clicked.
There’s a lesson to be learned there.
(By the way, I think Perry covered his approach to this in detail in his $895 Autoresponder Bootcamp — he calls it “The Maze.” But the core thinking behind it, you can get for a penny plus shipping in his 80/20 Sales & Marketing book here.)
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets