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For this episode of Ecoffee with Experts we have David Fischer, founder of Solutions for Growth. Matt got David to share the most effective email marketing strategies for increasing sales and growth. Dive in to get acquainted with some first-hand experiences and examples to ace email marketing.
In marketing you have to stay top-of-mind, so you’re not out-of-mind.
Hey everyone, welcome to E-coffee with experts. My name is Matt Fraser, the Chief Strategy Officer at Digital Web Solutions. Today on this episode, I’d like to introduce you to our special guest, David Fischer. David is the founder of Solutions for Growth, a full-service digital marketing agency focusing on helping small businesses increase sales and grow. He brings over 30 years of marketing experience across a range of industries. His corporate experience has allowed him to identify the marketing techniques that can be successfully applied to small businesses. By focusing only on small businesses, David understands their unique needs and provides realistic advice and effective marketing tools to achieve higher sales. David, thank you so much for coming on E coffee with experts.
Thanks for being here. I appreciate being on this great program, Matt.
David, tell me about yourself. For instance, where did you grow up?
I was born and lived the first 20 years of my life in Milan, Italy. My parents are Americans, they were there for work. And what was supposed to be for a couple of years ended up being a long time. I went through the Italian school system. And then, after I came to college here, and then ended up working for Italian companies in the United States. They needed someone bilingual in business. And that’s how I stayed here. And I am still here, very happy to be here.
It’s very interesting that you grew up in Italy, with that kind of experience. That’s awesome and quite different. So how did you get started in digital marketing?
So, about 35 years ago, I worked at Tri-Legion, which changed its name to Send-it. It’s the country’s largest Direct Marketer of private label membership programs. It’s a mouthful. But the bottom line is that we marketed a membership program with all different types of institutions. So, whether it was banks or retailers from Microsoft, Firestone, Chase, or the airlines, we did an enormous amount of marketing and a lot of direct mail to about 700 million pieces a year. But we also started dipping our toes into Digital Marketing. It was a great place to get exposed to it and learn from it. And then following that with other companies, always in a marketing role. We always dealt with the online world. And that’s how I started getting into Digital Marketing. Eventually, 12 years ago, when Solutions for Growth was founded, 80-90% of our work was in the digital world. And that is based on the experience that we bring to the table going back a long time.
What do you like most about Digital Marketing?
Two main things. One is that you can pivot immediately. So, for example, once you print and mail, you’re stuck in direct mail. So that’s the program that’s running, and you keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully, it’ll work. And the second reason I love Digital Marketing is that it’s so eminently measurable. There are so many aspects of it that you can measure. You can even as it’s progressing live, and as needed, you can pivot. Whether you want to improve something or maximize something that’s going very well, you want to add more ad spend. In the digital world, you can measure so many different things. The important thing is to know what to measure and what not to measure and pay attention to, but that’s where the beauty of this program is so effective.
Are there any specific marketing channels you focus on?
When Solutions for growth was founded, the goal was to provide all the marketing tools that our clients need to let the world know why they’re great. Not the tools but the clients. So, the team that brings everything to the table has expertise in everything from SEO- search engine optimization, Google ads, web development, web management, email marketing, and all the other components that, when put together and integrated, create a logical flow for clients to drive more business. So, what do I mean by all of this? So, for example, I have a client running a Google ad or an SEO program to drive people to their website, qualified people. And when they reach the website, there might be an offer for something in return for pieces of information. So, for example, it might be a coupon or piece of information in return for an email address. That email address is then pulled into the client’s email account. And the first email goes out to the client, saying to your prospect, here’s the coupon and the information you requested. That is followed by the email nurture series that stays in touch with the person to be reminded consistently about this company and why their life will be better when they work with that company. The website could have an appointment scheduling tool, for example. Because you have the email address, there are ways to stay in touch with this prospect, and hopefully, they will become a client and engage with them further. Other tools can be used on the website, such as live chat. And other online tools can be used, such as online reviews. There are semi-automated ways to generate online reviews. So, this is just a basic example of how all of the various digital tools that we offer at Solutions for Growth benefit our clients because they help not only attract a lead to their website with their phone but also nurture them throughout the whole period and puts into place tools that makes it very easy for that prospect to engage with the company and learn more about it.
So, why should businesses focus on email marketing or have an email marketing component to their strategies and campaigns?
Although we offer all the various tools I mentioned earlier to our clients, we have a big part of our business focused on email marketing. And the reason why that is so, and this is not to minimize the other tools, they will work together. But on the marketing side, we find that it’s a tool that benefits any small company, any small business because first, it’s easy to understand, and it is not a big investment. And it’s a smart way to stay in touch with leads, customers, prospects, vendors, and the community, simply because it’s considered push marketing, and you’re putting information into people’s inboxes. There are two goals with these emails; the first one is to remind the market that you exist because the reality is that nobody wakes up every morning thinking about your business, except for you, of course. So, your job as a business owner is to remind the market that you exist. Otherwise, people will forget about you.
An example of that is a few months ago, I had a plumber come to my house to fix something. I needed a plumber last week, I could not remember the name of a plumber. So, I went back to Google, looked up a plumber, and picked one whose name wasn’t familiar. So, if that plumber had stayed in touch with me every month, sending me an email to remind me of their business, and maybe with some information about the plumbing in my house or a generic article, it does two things. The first one reminds me of the plumber’s business. And second, and this is the second goal of these emails, is to remind people what your expertise is. So that when someone does have a problem and needs a plumber, guess what? I’ll think of that plumber’s name because every month, a plumber with an email is gently knocking on my door saying, Hey, I’m the plumber, and I’m an expert, because look at this article that I’m presenting to you. So guess who I am going to call? The same thing applies whether on E-commerce or services or products. You must stay top of mind of your market. Otherwise, your competition will grab the market’s attention, and you will be forgotten. You must stay top of mind, so you’re not out of mind.
Hey, that’s a good one. So, what are some other ways businesses can measure the effectiveness of email marketing?
In different ways. So as an agency, we focus on the standard measures for email programs. Such as an open rate, which is the percentage of people who open an email. The click rate, which is the percentage of people who click on a link in the email, typically to various pages on the client’s website, The unsubscribe rate, that’s an important number that we look at because that helps determine whether clients are finding value in the email that is being sent. And then there are a couple of other measures such as bounces and so on. But it’s important to look at these numbers because they indicate how the email is performing. This is purely from the campaign itself. But then clearly, we are very eager to hear from clients about the business- how many sales came in through this? How many inquiries? How many phone calls? Those are the bottom line of whether the program works. And we could be doing the best email program in the world, but the bottom line is we’re measured as an agency by the number of sales that that campaign or any other campaign that we run for the client generates for them. So, if it’s not generating sales after a while, the client will not be pleased. So that’s why when we create an email program, based on our 12-year experience doing this and marketing best practices, the chances are that the email programs we create for clients are effective. And that, I think, is part of why our retention rate with clients is extremely high. And people stay with us for a long time because we get results for them. And a reflection of that also is on the fact on just in our reviews on our Google reviews. So, we’re in Fairfield County, Connecticut, next to Westchester County in New York, two big counties just north of New York City, with a marketing agency with the most five-star Google reviews in both counties. That is an indication that I think we deliver value to our clients.
So how do you tie the email going out with the sales? How do you connect with this email on this campaign that generated this number of sales with clients?
Smart questions. So on the E-commerce side, when we work with clients with a website where you can buy products or services on the website, there is a direct correlation because we can follow through when someone opens the email and what links they click on and what sales take place. So that’s very measurable digitally. When it’s something like professional services, we do a lot of work with professional services such as attorneys, CPAs, engineers, physicians, etc. More information is coming from the client regarding what they see there. So, when the client hears, “oh, I saw your email, and it reminded me to call you,”. ” Oh, I called you because I read your email with this article about this law, which prompted me to reach out to you”. So that it is not digitally measurable. But the client gets a pretty good sense of how these emails are working from them, also based on their feedback from people they’re talking with. An interesting thing to consider with these emails is that several studies show that when you send an email to your email list, even if the person receiving the email does not open it, there is huge value in seeing your company name in the inbox. And just seeing that company ABC is sending something to you, you can read something about the subject line. You don’t even have to open it or just peek at it in the preview pane. But what it does, if you continue planting a seed about your business in that person’s head, it’s as if somebody’s waving to them how it’s me, I’m right here, very gently.
So, as you said, you continued to stay top of mind, so you’re not out of mind. So even it’s just reminding them that you’re alive and exist. Is there any specific tagging or UTM tracking that you use in the emails?
Yes. With some clients, we do that. We add a UTM tag at the end of the URL in particular links and Google Analytics. Therefore, we can also see what traffic from the emails is driving traffic to the website.
And then tie that to some goals I imagine of, as you mentioned booking campaigns or are they exactly buying things or booking an appointment that you can probably tie that back to the email that you sent using the UTM parameters.
That’s right. Thanks for mentioning that because depending on the client, we also put links for the receiver of the email to schedule an appointment. That can be a phone appointment or an in-person appointment with the client. There are several digital tools that we use to make this easier so that you can schedule an appointment for them. And then there’s the golden doodle fashion coupon. So, there are retailers that we use where there’s a coupon in the email or there’s a promo code. And that’s another way that the retailer can track, this month, we had 35 people use promo code 123 to purchase the widget. So that’s another way to track it. Sometimes not always digitally, but it’s a way to prove that email campaigns work.
That’s so smart. So how do you find businesses can get started with email marketing?
So, the one thing you need with email marketing is an email list. It’s very hard to do email marketing with any new company without that. So, one piece of advice that I would share with any business is to make sure that all the people they engage with have an email address. It’s very easy to ask any business for an email address and start saving these email addresses digitally. We’ve, over the years, come across some clients that have a drawer full of business cards, for example. Not very valuable there. Because those need to be put into a spreadsheet or documents so they can be uploaded to an email system. And you must start with them. Typically, you need at least 100 to make an email campaign valuable. Even though we have clients that have over 100,000 email addresses, a few 1000, a few 100, 10s of 1000s, it depends on the business. But the reality is that all those email addresses are a real asset to your business because it allows you to communicate with these people. I mean, marketing, after all, is communications. So, having people’s email addresses allows you to reach out to them. And as I said earlier, knock on the door and say, Hey, I’m here, please remember me.
What are some of the ways you’d recommend to brick-and-mortar businesses, as you mentioned, retail that has people physically coming into the store. How can they collect those email addresses to grow that list?
Yeah, smart question. So, one of the most basic and simple tools that we advise when we work with retailers is to have a raffle box on the counter store with an offer in return for the email address. So, it could be to enter your email address to win a $20 coupon or free dinner for two or something like that. And it’s amazing how many people will stop and take the five seconds it takes to write their email address on a piece of paper and put it in the raffle box. That’s how you get an email address from someone in the store.
Okay, that’s smart. And then what would be the way to get those into your system?
There must be a spreadsheet. And something to consider, though, is that whenever we run an email campaign, this is done through an email service provider. So, an email service provider is a company that is the engine, if you will, that allows the creation of beautiful-looking emails, the management of the email lists, and the tracking and reporting on them. So, one of the largest ones in the business is Constant Contact. We’ve been working with them for 11 years, and we’re one of the country’s largest certified solution providers of Constant Contact. That means that we’ve passed an annual certification exam, and we have a certain amount of volume of business. And we have achieved results for our clients that demonstrate our ability to drive sales for our clients. So, this certification is the assurance for our clients that the work we do for them is certified by Constant Contact. It also meets the email marketing best practices, and our own experience doing this every year for 12 years to get results. So, when we work with a client, we open an account for them in Constant Contact, it’s in their name, and they own it. So, if, for example, we no longer work together one day, they keep the account and all the work and design and data reports that we create for them. So, it’s a very transparent setup that truly benefits the client.
So besides Constant Contact, are there any other email marketing tools you would recommend?
Yes, some are similar, whether it’s Vertical Response or Mail Chimp, there’s a whole bunch of them. And they are quite similar. Some have some features, some don’t have features. However, the reality is that for small businesses, we have found Constant Contact to provide a terrific balance between value and features and their support. So, over the years, we have looked at other vendors for this, but we didn’t come across any that was particularly superior or better or different than Constant Contact. So, focusing on our work with them allows our team of email marketing specialists and all of our account managers to understand the Constant Contact system and its idiosyncrasies truly. It also allows us to have a special relationship with them as a vendor that, over the years, has helped us to address issues with clients or resolve issues, or get to the top of the list of things that need to be done to ensure the client has the full map the full value of what a Constant Contact account provides.
So besides having a raffle, are there any other means of growing a subscriber list effective?
Well, that was so for retailers. For example, it would be very easy for a restaurant to add a card. When the bill is presented, have a little card that asks people to fill out their email addresses and return for a free dessert. That’s one way. Anytime you have a website, there are multiple ways to collect an email address. It could be through a chat tool in a live chat. Enter your email address to start the live chat. A pop-up on the website could offer something of value in return for an email address. And then there’s the good old-fashioned business card. When you meet, whether it’s at an event or a social setting, you collect their email address, and if appropriate, you add them to your email list. Email lists are grown organically. I’d like to point out that everything we’re talking about here is tied to opt-in or warm email marketing. That means you’re sending emails to people who recognize your name and have a relationship with them. When you want to buy or rent an email list or download a complete list from an association, that falls into cold email marketing or spam. So, we used to do this type of marketing through specialized service providers with purchase lists in the past. But over time, we realized that the results weren’t there for clients because you’re spamming. And if you receive an email from a company you’ve never heard of before for something you aren’t interested in, you’re not going to respond. So, the reality of successful email marketing today is based on a list that’s grown organically of people who recognize your name. And that’s where the results take place. It’s quality over quantity.
Yeah, so better to have a quality list of 500 than a quantity list of 5000?
Yeah, exactly. We all want a bigger list. But if those 5000 people, 4999 are not likely to respond to whatever.
Which kind of probably results in a lot of time wasted, I imagine?
Yes, it does take a lot of time. It’s also more expensive to program like that. You must purchase the list, you must warm up a new domain and email address, and there are a lot of steps that go into running a cold email campaign effectively. And as much as we’d like to offer it to our clients, we feel it’s not the right thing to do ethically, because we know it’s not going to perform. And the way we succeed as an agency is only when we have a long-term relationship with our clients. So, having the client come into one project, not very happy to walk away. Everybody’s unhappy. It’s just not good business.
I understand. Yeah, totally. So how often should like businesses send out email communications, and in your experience, have you found them to be most effective?
It depends on the business. If you are something like a yoga studio, where you have a weekly schedule, you’d probably want to send out an email once a week. But for most businesses, a monthly cadence makes sense. It’s frequent enough so that the effectiveness of the email works. Because people see you once a month. But you also don’t want to send too often because then your unsubscribe rate may go up. So, people unsubscribe from an email for one of two reasons. One is that you’re sending too many emails. It’s too much. And the second reason is that there is no value in the emails. So, you might be a nice guy, but if the emails you send me look at or don’t have information that I find a value or do not educate me, I’m going to unsubscribe you. So that’s where you must be careful with the cadence. Again, here, more is not necessarily better.
Are there any strategies you found to re-subscribe people who go to unsubscribe?
So, when someone unsubscribes, the email service provider, whether it’s Constant Contact or any of the other ones, will mark that person as unsubscribed, and you will not be able to email them again. So, unless you go through the direct mail route, you are sending an email to someone saying, hey, please re-subscribe, go to this website, and enter your email address. Once someone unsubscribes, the reality is that you really can’t email them again.
I’ve seen people who get emails once a week, and you unsubscribe. They send you to a page that says, Hey, am I emailing you too much? Sign up for my monthly newsletter. Have you seen things like that work?
Absolutely, that’s a very good point. Yes. Through your email service provider can manage the cadence of your emails. So, you can say I would just want one a week, once a month, whatever a schedule is available, so Matt that’s a very good point.
So, I guess that’s one way people could reduce the number of people unsubscribing is to offer a newsletter when people unsubscribe? Is that easy to do with Constant Contact? Is it just redirecting them to the unsubscribe page and having that offer there?
With Constant Contact, you would have to click on a link that drives you to a pop-up box with a choice. If you were to click through on the unsubscribe link, it’s immediate. And in a certain sense, it’s a better practice because the market tells you that there is no value in your emails. And if someone is telling you that, whether it’s once a week or once a month, they don’t want to hear from you anymore. So, a better practice is just to get those people off the list. Make sure that the people who remain on it are the ones who want to hear from you and understand the value of what you’re communicating to them.
And make sure you send out the value first, I imagine? How often should businesses send out email marketing communications? Did we just speak about that?
Yes, we spoke about the yoga studio once a week. Most businesses once per month. And so, one way to measure it is to start sending out, for example, once a month, and then go up to every other week and see what happens. Is the open unsubscribe rate going up? And again, the data like we started the conversation, data speak, and it will tell you.
So, if you have a yoga class like once a week, you should probably email them once a week? If you’re more, let’s say, a lawyer, I wouldn’t want to hear from a lawyer more than once a month.
Exactly. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with lawyers. They should reach out monthly.
Well, you mentioned restaurants. How often have you seen restaurants be successful? I can imagine a restaurant sending out.
Maybe two, maybe three times a month. Yeah, again, test it. See what happens. If you’re starting with monthly and then you go to every other week, you get more people coming into the restaurant, for example, with a coupon for the free dessert. Yes, it’s working. If you’re doing that, though, and your unsubscribe rate is hitting 5%, you’re sacrificing part of your email list for perhaps a short-term game. You must look at the numbers that reporting shows and decide whether you want to maintain every week or move back to once a month.
Is there a benchmark on subscription rate that people should pay attention to?
Yes, it’s typically 1%. So, anything north of 1% is starting to tell you you have a problem. If it is zero to .99%, you are fine.
So, once you start to go above 1%, do you need to look at the frequency and the value of the content you are sending?
Do you find that there are businesses that post once like weekly roundup messages? If they post a blog, can they include that as part of their newsletter, they can do that monthly?
Yes. They could. Again, it depends on your market, demographics, your competition. There are a lot of variables. So, you are bringing up very good points. These are all very good things to test. And the answer would be let’s test it. Maybe you test it on wholeness. Maybe you test it as part of a list. Again, it’s data that drives decisions, and the beauty of Digital marketing is that you can test all of this and see what happens.
So, email marketing has a big debate regarding sending HTML emails versus text-based emails. Now I know they are both the same because you’re sending out codex HTML, but it looks like plain text because there is not a lot. I’m referring to HTML for our audience and people who are listening and don’t understand, and you’re sending out HTML emails that contain graphics and images and look pretty. Which one should they use, or should you use both? Is it dependent on the application or the campaign?
Our guidance is to use what you’re referring to as HTML email, meaning email that has graphical elements to it. You can use text unless you’re sending out things very specific about something happening this afternoon in your business, something urgent, or something like that. But the reality is that most emails sent out have some degree of promotion. And there is the branding aspect. So, part of the benefit of the email program is the maintenance of the brand that you want to have to appear in front of people regularly. So, for example, when we run a marketing program for a client, we would always design a template. A template is like a stationary that information travels on, matching their website. So, whether it’s the colors or their logo. We put in the email, for example, the full website menu bar. So, it’s very easy for people from their email to click on the various menu items on the website. And that branding is an important aspect of the business that needs to be reinforced. So, for all clients, we always suggest doing that. Again, the brand just seeing it in that preview plan will help re-enforced the brand so that when people need your product or service, they will think of you.
That’s awesome. Is there anything to list segmentation to be able to divide a list into who you should send what messages?
Yes. Absolutely. So, there are many different ways to segment a company’s email list. And it should be driven by the business required. So, depending on what you’re offering to the market, you might want to segment the list between men and women, customers and prospects, or residential versus commercial. Or people who have purchased recently from you or people who have not purchased from you in the past six months. These are all different segmenting methods, so the messaging that appears in the email is relevant to them. And that is a very smart approach that you are bringing up, Matt, because it allows the emails to speak to those people. And when that happens, there is more value in it, so you get a higher response and low unsubscribed rates. So yes. Whenever we work with clients, it makes sense to segment the list based on demographics, behavior, history, frequency, etc. Love doing that. It’s a very smart approach to take when running an email campaign.
So how do you go about doing that? Do you create separate sub-lists, or do you add tags to the context? If someone was interested in kitchen renovations versus bathroom renovations, do you add a tag or create sub-lists?
Yes, would be your answer. You can create separate lists, tag them, and some of the automation that exists today in Constant Contact allows you to segment people based on their behavior with the emails. So, for example, you can create a rule that says anybody who opens this email goes on this new list. Or it’s tagged. Or anybody who clicks on the link for the kitchen renovations ends up on this other list. So ideally, what happens is you send out an email that is the original contractor. And there are two articles or two pictures in the email. One is about bathroom renovations, and the other one is about kitchen renovations. And if someone clicks on the bathroom renovations, their name is added to a separate list of just people interested in a bathroom renovation. That list is also set up to trigger an autoresponder or email nurture series that will send this series of emails that are already pre-written and pre-planned to people interested in the bathroom renovation about bathroom renovation. So, the first email is about the big picture. How does it work? After a few days, the email for the following is about sinks and counters for the bathroom. After that, it’s about showers and showerheads. And it’s just a smart way to keep the contractors mainly in front of people, demonstrating her expertise in bathroom renovations and the brand. So that as people are thinking about the brand and renovations throughout, let’s say, six weeks, these people get half a dozen emails about the general contractor. And it’s highly targeted to them because you know that they are interested in bathroom renovations.
Should these emails be long-form content or shorter? And should it belong in the sense that they contain all the information the prospect needs, or should it be short emails with a call to action to drive someone to a landing page?
They should be somewhere in between. Again, it depends on the type of business. If an email takes more than one minute to read, it’s too long.
But there needs to be enough meat in there to demonstrate and provide value to the reader. If it’s too short, you just lost your reader for five seconds, and you’re done. If there is a little more than you can scroll through, it’s okay if people don’t read everything in the email. Remember, the goal is to remind people that you exist and your expertise. So just seeing the email with your branding, there is an article about the showerheads. Oh yea, I know this contractor. She is great. When I need to do my shower, I’ll reach out to her.
So, with that being said, how do you write a good subject line? I’m assuming that, from my experience, if it’s a dud subject line, just like a headline, it’s not going to be as effective.
So, two things determine the open rate of an email. The first one is the front field, which this email is from. And the second one is the subject line. And the subject line needs to answer the question, why should I open your email? So, let’s talk for a moment about the front field. We’ve all received emails from info@ or sale@ or no-reply@. There is a time and a place for noreply@. If it’s an airline informing you of the delay of your flight, no reply is fine. Not very elegant, but it’s fine.
People like to receive emails from people. So, if the email came from Matt Fraser, the higher the chance that I open it, especially if I know Matt. So, giving a lot of thought to the front field is important. Also, do people know your company name, or do they know your name? Again they need to know both. So that’s something to think about very carefully. The next thing is, why should I open it? Sometimes I chuckle when I see the emails that say, Email newsletter March 17th. I know it’s an email newsletter. I know it’s March 17. But it’s not telling me why I should open it. So, the subject line needs to tell you what’s in it. And there is a whole science behind these subject lines. The length of them. How many words. What should be the beginning of the subject line? What should be the ending of the subject line? And especially because of mobile devices, the subject line needs to be short. I’ll give an example. A long time ago, not us, but it’s a story. There was a large department store that sent an email. That had something along the lines of “special deals you can’t afford to miss”. In many cases, because the subject line was cut off because it was on a mobile device, people saw the subject line as, “special deals you can’t afford”‘, and the to miss was cut off. It’s a funny story, but these are the types that we think about when we create the programs for our clients.
So how many words? I can go back in my mind to how many words you just said, but how many words is that?
Special deals you can’t afford to miss. That’s seven. But you must think about what happens if the subject line is cut off about two-thirds into it.
So, are we talking like email subject lines should be less than five words?
I don’t want to create a specific rule, but shorter is better. Creating a sense of curiosity. We have also tested emojis frequently, which helps at the beginning of the end.
I was going to ask you that.
So part of the testing also runs AB tests with subject lines, which is an important part of what we do or debating which one to use. So, we need a complex assistant. There is a tool that allows us to select, let’s say, roughly twenty percent of the client’s list, two subject lines, A and B. Whichever one has the highest open rate, then that is used for the remaining eighty percent of the list.
You do a test for twenty percent of the list first, see what works better and then send out the one that works better to the remainder. That’s smart.
Again, data is driving the decision.
Okay. That’s good. So, you mentioned emails coming from a person or a company. If a business wants to send out emails from a company, what are some things they can use? For instance, I am thinking of a company team, email@example.com. Would that be a way to go if they wanted to do that?
Yes. That’s a solution. It depends on the business. In most slow businesses, the owner is the business in a certain sense. So, if you have the person’s name and the full email address, like johnsmith@abc company, people will say, “Oh I know John Smith, he is the owner, and he came to Mrs. Smith last time”. So that’s one way of doing it. If people don’t know who john smith is, and it’s a little bit larger slow business, it’s okay to say, theconsultingteam@abccompany or homeexperts@abccompany.
Be a little creative to catch a person’s attention and allow them to recognize who it is and just call the homeexperts@abccompany. It’s a creative way to address this concern about who the email is coming from.
Yeah. Better than info, that’s for sure. What are some of the biggest success stories you can share with email marketing?
Off the top of my head, for example, we work with a psychologist. He used to work for a school for a long time, and he went to private practice. He had virtually no business to speak of starting out but a combination of a very effectively run Google ads program and a follow-up with an email. Campaigns on a beautiful website. That has led him, and in his words, tells me that he has never been so happy and has earned as much money as he has because of these tools. And so today, we use them as our main driver for new and repeat business for him. So that’s just an example. There is a law firm that we work with that had a similar situation. Google ads drive people to a great website. It is very effective at converting leads into prospects in which people have reached out to the Attorneys and get business that way.
Is there a specific benchmark on a dollar spent that a business can expect a return on investment from investing in email marketing?
Yes. So, every year the Direct Marketing Association ranks marketing tools in terms of ROI, Return on investments. And for the longest time, email marketing has been at the top of that list, with an ROI of about forty-two dollars for each dollar invested in email marketing. So that’s very high. And it goes back to the beginning of our conversation, where email marketing is easy to understand. It’s not an expensive marketing tool to run and brings immediate results. Investing in SEO is nice, but you’re not getting results tomorrow morning. You send out an email campaign now, and your phone will start ringing quickly. And that’s where it works. There is a reason why our inboxes keep being filled with emails from companies. Because it works. If you see companies always using certain marketing, it means it’s working. So, if you’re not doing email marketing, you’re likely leaving money on the table because it truly is an effective tool when done well. And here I would like to comment on one thing: that many marketing tools appear easy to do. Oh, let’s set up a Facebook page. Oh, I’ll do email marketing. But like with anything else in life, the details make the difference between something working well and something not working very well. So, we find that a good part of clients that come to us are people who set up a Constant Contact account with all the right intentions of doing email campaigning. Two or three months into it, they realize that it’s taking a huge amount of time, they are spending a lot of time and getting headaches from figuring out why the font is purple, why the pictures are not right, and they have no idea how to write a subject line. So that’s where having a professional team that does this with them, managing email campaigns does bring results.
You mentioned that email ROI is one of the highest. Do you know what the second highest one was besides that one?
It’s usually a combination of Google ads, other PPC programs, and SEO that comes in there. TV and radio are up there as well. The usual suspects. I honestly don’t remember.
Yea, that’s fine.
The PPC programs, or Google, or being on social media, tend to have pretty solid ROIs, again, when running well. A Google ad is the biggest way to waste time and money unless you know what you do. So Solution for Growth is a certified partner of Google. They go with Constant Contact based on results, value, and the program. And that is where our campaign delivers results day in and day out because Google ads many years ago were very easy to use. It was such a complex program to manage. You need to know what you are doing to not waste your money. Now The goal is to get as many clicks as possible but at the lowest cost per click. And finding a balance between these two is the art and science of running an effective Google ads program.
So, how do businesses come up with ideas after sending out email marketing campaigns?
Depends on the line of business you are in. So, if you use services, for example, think about the top five questions that people are going to ask you over time. So that’s five separate emails you can send out. If you all are a retailer or restaurant, it’s a little bit more promotional, a little bit more down-to-earth to offer a product. Maybe it’s a special offer of things like that. But in services where you need to present your expertise, it’s a question of writing a brief article. It doesn’t have to be long. And we also promote the use of re-purposing content. So, you might write an article, or you might shoot a video or you might create an infographic, and that can be used on your website, it can be used in the email, it can be used on social media. So, the content is seen in multiple places and for example, on social media people must go to see it on your blog. The beauty is that you are pushing this information out so you are presenting it to people who may not have the intent or desire to come to view your website or your social media page.
Okay. Can businesses combine email marketing, and you mentioned marketing automation, can those two go hand in hand?
Yes certainly because the automation part is driven by the email service provider that you are using. The other responder I mentioned earlier, is something that is set up to manage in one Constant Contact account.
Can you sum up some both the benefits that you have seen from email marketing that relates to businesses?
Yes. The whole goal here is to stay top of the line and not out of line. Presenting our expertise. Presenting our products. Presenting our services. And this is pushing to people’s inboxes. People look at their inbox all the time. Whether it’s a computer or on their phone. It’s a smart way to have a flexible and dynamic tool that reminds the market that you exist and the value that you bring to the relationship. When properly crafted and the right calls to action and content, drives more businesses for you. If you are not doing email marketing, it is a huge, missed opportunity because the investment in the marketing tools is relatively low compared to other tools. It’s very quick and dynamic to manage and the results are immediate.
Are there any mistakes that should be avoided when people are doing email marketing?
The list is long. The top five are- the front field and subject line. The appearance of the email. We sometimes onboard clients who be doing it themselves and sometimes look like their emails were created by a fifth-grader. Despite the intentions, you need to present yourselves professionally. Because people will judge you by your marketing tool. And if your email looks like you only spent fifteen minutes on it and didn’t put too much care into it, it gives a sense of good your business truly is. Again, it is all perception. You might be the best dentist in town but if your email looks sloppy, it’s not exactly the message you would want your email to present. Another mistake is the lack of contact information in the email. So, if you have an email and there is no phone number or there is no address. Other mistakes are using pictures in your email that are copyrighted. You need to use images that you either own or are not copyrighted. That can cause huge headaches. I can spend a whole hour talking about that. That is something to be aware of. Don’t go to google a lookup. If you need a tree picture, don’t look up full pictures of a tree and put that in your email or anything else. Chances are it’s copyrighted, and because there are copyright trolls out there, they will look for that picture, and you will be contacted, and they will send you some nasty messages telling you, you need to pay or else? So be very careful about the pictures you use in your emails.
What about using stock photos and getting licenses?
That’s fine if it’s photography that you purchased. There is nothing wrong with that.
You just have to keep the record that you have the license, is that it?
Yes, that’s right. You must prove that you bought it.
So many people probably just without thinking about Google images and then grab the image and use it without giving any thought. This is why NFT is not allowing that. That is probably the reason why NFT is becoming so valuable. You mentioned how email stays top of mind so that you are not out of mind, even if they just see the subject lines. How can someone ensure that the email gets read? Is there a standard for the open rate of how successful the campaign is? Is there any benchmark? You’ve mentioned unsubscribed rate of one percent. What’s the benchmark for an open rate, and how can they ensure that the emails get read?
The benchmark for open rates depends on the industry. So, if you get a five percent open rate in certain industries, you are doing great. Another industry may get fifty percent. It all depends on the list and the industry. Looking at averages across the world industries, it’s anywhere between, and this is a broad range. It’s anywhere between fifteen and twenty-five percent. But again, just because you are getting an eighteen percent open rate doesn’t mean you are doing terrible. You compare yourself to your industry, similar companies, similar lists and the age of the list, and so on. So, there are a lot of variables that can affect something like that. In terms of getting people to read the email, you can’t force someone to read it, but part of the practice tells you what information to put at the top of the email, so it becomes more engaging, and it grabs the person at the beginning, so there is a higher likelihood that they read the content in the email.
Is there science between the balance of sending out promotional versus informational? Do you mix it in each email or do you sometimes send out one very informational email, maybe promotional, it’s just a simple call to action and some that are more coupon-driven?
It’s a balance of the industry. It again depends on what you are offering in the email. People don’t want to be always sold to, so part of creating an effective email is what you call romancing the products or the servers. So, you can say you sell beds. A bed is a bed is a bed, but what if there are a couple of paragraphs that describe this bed and why it’s so much better for you. Why you are going to sleep better or because of how it is constructed or because of the design of the bed. How it’s going to make your bedroom look better. Again, you must give reasons why someone should pay attention to it.
Okay. So, it’s a little bit of copywriting?
Certainly. You just can’t put pictures of a bed with a buy now beneath it. It’s more about what is behind it. Either testimonials or reviews or technical specifications. You need an example of the bed.
So someone, like a small business owner or someone starting an email marketing, you have to take into consideration that there are so many aspects that are involved in it. You need skill sets, and copywriting is one of them. It’s one thing for us to just open an email in Gmail and start typing, it’s another thing to write something that gets opened.
That is right, and something that I sometimes say is that email marketing appears easy to do, but if you are to do it well and that’s the difference between an email that will generate sales and emails that are not very good and will be deleted within two seconds of being opened. That’s where Professionalism comes in, in using an agency specializing in this type of work.
Are there any books you would recommend on email marketing for people to pick up?
If it’s a book, it will be obsolete tomorrow morning. There was an author, I don’t recall his name, but the book’s name was The Inbox. And that was a book that was a few years older in writing, but by now, probably some of the main concepts in the book are still valid, as some of the things mentioned in this conversation. But anything digital marketing changes every five minutes, so there are great places to learn more about mail marketing. It can be a Constant Contact blog, for example. Solution for Growth has a blog where one of the articles talks about email marketing. It’s an impression of staying at the top of these things because they evolve all the time.
So, David, where can people find out more about you if they want to connect with you?
They can easily learn more about Solutions for Growth by going to our website, which is solutionsforgrowthllc.com, and there is information about the businesses and contact information. Our phone number is 888-840-2595, and if you want to speak with me, it is extension one.
Fantastic. So, I have a few rapid-fire questions for you, David. What was your first job?
I was involved in sales for a fur coat manufacturer.
Where did you go on your last vacation?
My last vacation was in Portland, Oregon.
What time do you usually wake up in the morning?
Between 5:30 and 7:30. Depending on what my exercise and work schedule looks like.
What is your favorite movie?
Tough question. My favorite movie is probably… I’ll come back to that question in just a moment.
Sure no problem. What’s your favorite meal of the day? Breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Of course. A Shawshank Redemption is the name of the movie.
That is my favorite movie. By far. I think that’s why it’s so highly rated IMBB. That movie is phenomenal.
It truly is. On so many different levels.
Well, David, I want to thank you again for joining us on the show today, and I really appreciate you coming here. And thanks to everyone for watching and you enjoy the rest of your day okay.
Matt this was great. I really appreciate the time to be able to share this information with you. Thank you very much.
No problem. Thanks very much. Bye-bye.
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