I had to bite my tongue and not title this essay, “The Death of Email Marketing.”
Those serious students of direct response — especially in the financial publishing niche — would get the reference to Motley Fool’s recent mix of promos themed after “The Death of…”
And it would be relevant — because I’m about to drop a knowledge bomb from one of Motley Fool’s most successful copywriters in recent years (albeit NOT the one who wrote all the “Death of” promos)…
Rewind to the first night at Titans, in September 2014…
I’d gotten invited out to a copywriters’ dinner by a friend, Julie Hassett, who has since gone on to become a rising star at Money Map Press.
At dinner, I sat next to this long-haired surfer dude who was really just getting serious about his copywriting career, had read my letter for Titans, and thought, “If this is where all the best people are going to be, I need to be there.” (Good attitude, by the way — portends his quick rise to stardom in a tough field.)
His name was Dan Ferrari.
And at the time, he gave off the vibe of someone who was totally serious about establishing himself, but who came to the whole event with “Beginner’s Mind.”
That same month, he landed a job with Motley Fool, one of the world’s largest financial publishers.
Within just over a year, roughly 50% of the entire customer base of the Motley Fool were there because of his copywriting.
Well, a few days back on Facebook, Dan posted a really interesting reflection in a Facebook group we’re both a part of.
I had an immediate reaction to it: “That’s powerful.”
So, naturally, I asked Dan if I could share it with you. After all, I have that 3X5 note card on my bulletin board that says, “I share ideas that grow businesses.” This is definitely one of those…
Here’s Dan, and I have a couple reflections afterward…
LESSONS LEARNED: Maybe Email Isn’t All That Useful For Acquiring Customers From Paid Traffic
When I first started working at The Motley Fool, my chief spent two days just teaching me the structure and principles behind our front-end funnel.
My 2 major takeaways after those two days were:
1) “Our #1 source of new customers is The Weather Channel?!??”
2) Email marketing as an acquisition strategy is nearly pointless.
Until that point, I had come from a very “IM-centric” background.
Thus, email was EVERYTHING and this new awareness was shocking to me.
Considering I go through so many funnels that send me from an ad to an opt-in… and then push me into email, I’m guessing this might be useful to a lot of you as well.
So to dig a bit deeper, at The Fool, I think email accounted for about 20-25% of our acquisitions. And we had an obscenely optimized, tested, and staffed email program. Perhaps one of the most sophisticated email marketing teams in the world.
On the other hand, Taboola, Yahoo, etc… accounted for 80% of new customers, with about the same level of resources and talent.
My experiences working for a few Agora divisions lately confirms this as a good rule of thumb for what happens when you start buying a lot of traffic.
So, with that as our foundation, the next two questions are…
1) Why is email less effective at scale?
2) What do we do about it?
The why is easy…
If you want to really increase the number of customers you have – by definition – you need to be expanding outside of your core customer base.
No longer are you dealing with people who identify with your products and solutions. No longer are you dealing with people who actively search for and think about what you’re selling.
Let’s take the Weather Channel bit I mentioned above.
The customers we were acquiring there were not self-identifying as investors (we’d already acquired all of those customers).
These Weather Channel customers were also not there to get a stock tip. They wanted the weather.
And a week from the initial interaction, they’re not really going to care about stock tips all that much either. They never have and probably never will (at least not just because we put a free 10-page report in front of them).
The point is as you scale into these colder depths of the Internet, you are going to be dealing with prospects who have an EXTREMELY FLEETING AND FRAGILE interest in what you’re saying…
Both in that moment… and importantly to email… over a longer time frame as well.
Meaning, if you queue up to send an email to someone on Day 7…
Well… the chances are they are already unsubscribed or they’re not opening.
So what do you do about it?
Of course, the quick answer is that you send all your firepower into acquiring directly from the traffic source and then of course, upselling. Day Zero we used to call it.
But more deeply this question comes down to resources…
If you have only one copywriter (or if you’re doing everything in a smaller business), nearly all of the focus should be on Day Zero.
If you have more copywriting resources, consider their strengths…
Is one writer head-and-shoulders better? Put him/her on Day Zero. Let your other writers gain experience in email.
Or maybe one writer is better at aggressive, long-form stuff and another is more keen to write nurturing and relationship building stuff?
The point being: sure, as you get larger email can still account for 20% of your new customers. But I’d only go after them after I made certain I was doing everything I can to get the more important 80% (and constantly beating those controls, which is the topic of another discussion).
What do you think?
I really haven’t been able to get this out of my head recently…
I’d known about many of these stats. I’d thought about them. But there was something about Dan’s words, perhaps coupled with my current projects, that has me doubling down on this idea.
(In fact, some of this slipped through in Monday’s post about turning freebie seekers into paying customers. The real secret: figure out a way to get enough paying customers on Day Zero.)
Here are 3 ideas to make the most of Zero Day…
First, I will say this. Zero Day is mostly relevant in scalable product or software businesses. Less so in service businesses, although some principles transfer.
The thing about this is it’s really about how to acquire customers cold from the mass millions, at scale. How to move prospects from every corner of the internet into your customer file.
If you’re super-specialized in a niche, or selling a service (like copywriting) where you can only handle a handful of clients at a time, this is less relevant (unless you’re applying it for clients).
However, I think this mode of thinking will improve your marketing, no matter what.
Now, the three ideas…
- Consider Gene Schwartz’s market awareness spectrum.
In your market, there exists a vast spectrum of awareness.
On one side, your best customers, aware of you, your products and services, your offer, the solutions you provide, the problem you’re tackling, everything.
On the opposite side, the potential customer who might get value from you, but who is aware of nothing in your market except, perhaps, they have a growing spark of awareness that they’re starting to experience a problem that might need a solution.
The tiniest part of your market are those who are most aware. The biggest “blue ocean” market are all those people who are maybe just starting to be slightly aware of the problem but who haven’t even started to seek out any solution.
You can create a decent company serving the warm-to-hot segment of any good-sized market. But you create truly gigantic breakthroughs by reaching out to the coldest part of your market, and bringing them across the market awareness spectrum to the point of purchase.
For more, I strongly recommend going straight to the source and buying Breakthrough Advertising, direct from Brian Kurtz who has the publishing rights to the book. I also recommend Great Leads for the modern application of Schwartz’s model, with explicit instructions on how to write different kinds of leads that speak to the different segments based on awareness.
- Zero Day offers are not the same as your core customer offers.
Coupled with the above, it should be noted that the offers you’re pitching to that broadest, least-aware market may not match one to one with what your core market has been buying.
What’s probably better is a bridge offer, that speaks to the same benefit, to solving the same problem, but that doesn’t require the same level of market awareness to get the most out of.
One of Dan’s big successes for Motley Fool was a report on how to collect more from Social Security.
Consider: Who is a financial publisher’s best customer base? Older folks who are concerned about their finances, and won’t necessarily be able to work to make more money.
What’s one way to target these people, at least in the US? Social Security.
So a short report about Social Security is relevant to nearly every retiree in the US, and those who are most attracted to a report about getting more money from Social Security have a high likelihood of also wanting to increase their retirement money in other ways.
Get them to convert on Zero Day for a low-priced report about Social Security, establish a relationship, and some portion of them will be prone to move into other financial publications put out by the Fool.
- You need to have a Zero Day Funnel.
This will be a topic I build on in the near future in BTMSinsiders. Don’t have a lot more to say about that today, except that it will happen.
But for today’s issue, I’ll say this: those businesses who are dominating all the channels right now are the ones who are able to spend $1 today and have it come back within 24 hours, new customer in tow.
You usually don’t do that with just one front-end offer. This usually means stacked offers for multiple products.
Out of the gate, cold traffic are given a compelling pitch for an easy “yes” offer — although one that still requires them to put their credit card down to get it. (This eliminates freebie seekers right away.)
Then, a series of add-on offers that complement and build on the first, with an attempt to drive up the Zero Day value of each lead. “Would you like fries with that? Or would you prefer a Value Meal? Did you look at the dessert menu?” Simply looking to increase the value of each lead coming through the door.
Done right, this creates an opportunity for near-infinite scale. Just keep pouring money into the money machine. When you break even on Zero Day, every day forward just piles on the profits. And this is what it takes to really create a rapid-growth business.
And then what? What about email follow-up?
Yes, it still matters. Email will always matter. And in answering the question in the title of this essay, email marketing does work. For warm-to-hot leads especially.
It’s a great place to nurture a relationship, and continue to give value. It’s a great way to stay connected, for those who take longer to decide, and those who decided the first day but weren’t ready to buy yet.
And especially, for bigger back-end offers that require more of a relationship for the customer to be comfortable saying “yes” to.
But ultimately, getting the biggest flow of new customers is ultimately about going to cold markets. And you have to be very intentional, purposeful, and masterful in creating Zero Day marketing explicitly for that purpose.
Want a pro to do it for you?
Dan is no longer with Motley Fool, at least not full-time. Today, he helps successful direct response entrepreneurs get even more customers on Day Zero, with highly-effective acquisition funnels.
You might be appealing to Dan if:
— #1 you can respect his time because he’s in high-demand and won’t suffer fools and time-wasters…
— You’re doing at least $200k per month in new business, and want to drastically increase that…
— Your offer is scalable — and you can grow 2X to 10X without a bunch of logistics, staffing, or other headaches…
— You value expertise and are willing to invest in it, knowing it can provide massive returns…
— You have the systems and processes in place to pay him a portion of sales generated as a royalty (like a salesperson’s commission)…
IF AND ONLY IF the above describe you, click here and schedule a free consultation with Dan. Tell him Roy sent you.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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