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Have you ever wished you could go around to each of your clients with a magic wand and Boom! You strike them on the head and suddenly they know each and every wonderful thing (read: benefit) about your product or service?

That’s how I felt yesterday morning.

The Plan

I was one of two speakers for a seminar on Email Marketing Best Practices. The room was packed. We had a great, attentive audience asking smart questions. And we had only two hours to cover a vast, wide-ranging topic.

The first speaker, Randy Martinsen, did his best to (as he put it) “condense four hours of rich material into approximately 45 minutes.” No easy feat to pull off!

The Reality

After a mid-way break, I raced through my material at top speed, trying to squeeze in every last drop of useful information before the clock ran out. (Actually I felt like I only got in about 20% of what I wanted to say.)

Then it hit me.

It’s just like marketing and any advertising.

There’s Never Enough Time

You almost never get the prospect’s attention for as long as you want. You almost never get to tell them all the wonderful things about your product. They choose when they’ve had enough information. (Exception to this rule: My Grandma Minnie. She was the queen of saying everything she had to say whether or not anyone was there to listen. She was remarkable.)

Here are some of the things I really wanted to convey to the group but didn’t have time to say:

  • Email marketing can raise your revenues (when it is done well)!
  • Marketing is not an overnight-results business. Great results take time to build (whether it’s in email marketing or snail mail marketing). Great results depend upon your specific goals from the the beginning. Commit to a minimum of six months in email marketing to begin to see valuable ROI data.
  • Not all email marketing providers are created equal! As an example, Vertical Response did not include easy insertion of social link buttons to emails until early July. As you know, MailChimp (my provider for this newsletter) has had these features for many, many months. (Full disclosure: I use Vertical Response and other providers like Constant Contact for some clients, but I have no affiliations with them.) There are other major differences, but I won’t go into them here.

Email Mechanics: Are There Rights and Wrongs?

  • “How often should you email?” was a popular question in the seminar. And the correct answer is: Whatever is right for your business! Most importantly, how often do you, Friend, want to see my emails? (Yes, I really am asking you. This is about meeting your needs, not mine.)
  • Randy and I also disagreed a bit about what should be displayed in the From field. (This was all good, healthy debate.) Randy stated it should always be from you – not from the “company name.” Now, I must admit I hemmed and hawed over this choice when I first started this newsletter.
  • Should From say “Marcia Macomber” or “Cornucopia Creations”? What’s the difference in the value between the brand name and personal name to the recipient? In the end, I thought my compromise (by selecting “Cornucopia Creations [Marcia@cornucopiacreations.com]“) was a good solution because there aren’t a jillion Marcias out there nor cornucopias. Most of my email list recipients know me or of me. What do you think? Was I wrong?

What’s Works for a Large Company May Not Work for Your Small One

  • Would you be more inclined to open my email (or anyone else’s) if it was their name instead of their company’s name? This came up as a point of discussion yesterday morning as some said, “Recipients don’t know me at all, but they know the restaurant’s name.”
  • Here’s my solution for areas where Randy and I disagree: A/B Split Test your email list to see which version gets the best results. (For example, I could send an email to half my list from “Marcia Macomber” and to the other half from “Cornucopia Creations.” Best open-rate wins!)
  • Another example for resolving this type of conundrum may be better reviewed by using a large corporation such as Verizon in this scenario. If you received an email: “From: Jane Doe” that did not include a reference to her employer, Verizon, in the From or Subject lines, would you open it? Solution: A/B Split Test and review Open-rates, Bounces and Unsubscribes. (Open-rate is how many recipients actually open the email received; Bounces are those addresses who get ‘bounced back’ to the email provider as bad email addresses; and Unsubscribes are those who opt to leave your email list with no future contact.)
  • My advice: If your brand name is not a household name, perhaps your emails should somehow include both the company name and your name. Test them both.

“You Are Not Alone!”

  • Statistics actually show this Subject line generates the highest open-rates across all industries.
  • More on your Subject line: Almost every bit of advice I see about creating great email marketing says to write the most exciting, compelling and intriguing Subject line (Headline) FIRST before anything else. If I did that, personally, all you’d see is “Open Me Now.” How boring is that?
  • My thinking process simply doesn’t come up with a “58-Year-Old Woman Gives Birth to 2-Headed Tweeting Twins” exciting headline before everything else. I have to think through and write my entire newsletter before most Subject lines or headlines come to me. Yes, I write a placeholder headline that isn’t too droll, but I usually replace them at the end of my work when I’ve processed everything in my head and have a better grasp of the entire newsletter.

Your Audience Drives Everything

  • Email content, your email design layout and everything else must evolve directly from your email audience. See, most of you have worked with me, or met me, or know someone who knows me. So I think I have a fairly good idea of why you stick around for these missives. But if my email target list was purchased or rented, and they didn’t know me from Adam, I’d rethink and rejigger EVERYTHING about this newsletter. Know your audience!
  • If folks begin Unsubscribing in droves, you know you’ve made a mistake. Unfortunately there are a zillion ways you can make mistakes. Your job is to accurately identify which one or more things turned off part of your audience.
  • Tell great stories. Folks love cliffhangers. Leave them wanting more. Did Col. Mustard do it or someone else? Bait the hook, and reel them in.

What’s a Compelling Call to Action?

  • Am I too subtle? Surely you’ve noticed not every email I send out has a link to a product (sales) landing page? …And not every newsletter or blog post I read insists upon a click through to a site. Only 10% of your emails should be about you or your product; everything else is about your clients and prospects.
  • Your call to action can be several things (and perhaps I’ve been way too subtle here), but much of the time I’m looking for a Like, Tweet or Comment. All are feedback to let me know if I’m on track to filling some of your marketing needs. Those buttons aren’t there as artwork on a wall!
  • Other fabulous calls to action can include: “Click here” to download your free e-book or white paper. Why free? “Give to get” a whole lot more in the end! Give away some knowledge in order to generate trust and good will from your prospect. Once they see the depth of your knowledge in your business, they will come back for more. And you can send highly targeted emails to the segment with the greatest interest in your product!

So here’s what I want to know: What Subject lines really grab you? Do you like it when I use your name? Or does it bug you since you know it’s a merge field?

Do you like the images in the newsletters or ignore them? Do you find my information useful? Am I writing about topics that interest you?

It doesn’t have to be a one-way connection. I love reader comments, good and bad (but I’m happy to have few of the latter). Even better, click on one of these social media buttons below.

Did you like the newsletter? The Like and Tweet buttons will take you to their respective sights so you can comment about this newsletter. (And personally, I’m not using most of the jillion other sites in the smaller button size. But, please, indulge if you are!)

Want to know more?

Your Call to Action: I never had time to show lots of fabulous online resources in the workshop yesterday. There’s lots of dynamite material out there. You can get my list of clickable resources on the last few pages of my slides. Just click the Download button to get the PDF. No sign ups! Just click!

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