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The Foolproof Formula to Create Killer Emails That Amplify Opens, Clicks and Conversions

Video Summary

Way too often, we craft email content in record speed based solely on our assumptions about our audience. The subject lines we create are guesswork. Our calls to action don't resonate with readers, or drive conversions. And our product positioning? That's another stab in the dark. It's time to change all of that with the latest email marketing tactics that can turn your "just OK" email marketing strategy into something magnificent. Attend this session if you want to create emails that people can't wait to open. In this session, you'll learn how to transform your email strategy with: -- The #1 email marketing mistake that most brands make -- Why some companies have a massive and freakishly engaged email list-and how you can, too -- The formula for email content that gets subscribers to open, click, and take action every single time -- A tactic to turn your worn-out newsletter into an engagement machine


Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” ~ Isaac Asimov

What you will learn?

  • How build a relationship with your email subscribers
  • How to make your email marketing strategy more effective
  • Different techniques to reach out to your audience

I worked at a tech company for many years and there are always Tech problems that happen. They can happen, they will happen. So, I’m going to get started here and it’s late in the afternoon. You’ve been at this conference for a while now, so I’m going to start off my presentation with a story. And it’s a real story. It really happened to me back when I was 22

[00:00:34] I was with four of my girlfriends. We are driving through Philly and we ran over a little boy. And I remember the moment very, very, very clearly still to this day. It was a snowy day. It was an evening. It was dark, and we were driving along and there are huge piles of snow along the side of the road.

[00:00:56] As we’re driving on, we saw these two boys sledding down these piles of snow along-side the road where cars are normally parallel parked. So, they were sledding into the road but alongside it. As we drove up, we stopped, and we let the one boy sled down because we didn’t want to drive by while they were sledding. As we move to drive by the other boy quickly started to slide down the hill and instead of sliding down the side along the road, he slipped and slid down the side left side right into the road. Right as we were driving by and we ran over him and I remember the thud and I remember his scream. And I jumped out of the car and yelled over to my two girlfriends who had also jumped out of the car. And I said is he still alive?

[00:01:44] And they screamed. Yes. And so, I ran along the other side of the car and he was pinned underneath the back-right wheel. The car was on his thigh and he was screaming, and I kneel down next to him and one of my friends is a med student. So, we’d quickly decided, we should not move the car because she had heard that if you move a car off a pin victim they can bleed to death.

[00:02:07] So we decide not to move the car. I kneeled down by the boy and decided that I should try to distract him as we called paramedics. And I began talking him. I said, what’s your name? And he stopped screaming. He said Kevin. And I asked him. Do you have any siblings Kevin? And I didn’t think this was going to work because there’s a car on top of him, but he quickly started rattling off his five brothers everything about them and it developed in this huge story as I’m kneeling beside him and he’s going on and on and then all the sudden I hear a scream and the screaming and I look and there’s a huge man running down the street with no shoes and just his socks on.

[00:02:47] He was a huge man and look down back at Kevin and he says that’s my dad. So, I quickly jumped out of the way because I did not want to die that day and the man ran up screaming get that effing car off of my son began to lift the car by himself. It was slippery and the car slid and the boy screamed.

[00:03:11] And thankfully two men ran up picked up the car with the man and as it lifts off of the boy. He jumped into the air landed on his feet went. Yes. And we all stared at him and said sit down. So, he sat down it turns out he was fine. He was totally fine just had bruising on his leg. Thankfully we were driving a sedan and not a larger vehicle, but he was totally unfazed by the whole situation.

[00:03:40] But what struck me that day? We’re two things. One, what would have happened if he’d sled just a little bit faster and we hadn’t pinned his thigh but higher up on his body? Two, the different reaction we had compared to what his father had. We had maybe a more logical reaction to not move the car. His father because of the relationship he had with the boy had a totally different reaction because of the relationship he had. He loved him and that’s what email marketing in a different way is all about, relationships.

[00:04:21] Yes, thank you. Thank you. So, if you take away one thing from today, we’re going to go over these three, four different things, but if you take away one thing from the day, it’s that your email subscribers, if you don’t have a relationship with them, your email marketing is not going to be successful.

[00:04:43] That’s the one thing to take away from today. My name is Liz. I’m a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Aweber. That’s Aweber, we’re an email marketing platform in the Philly suburbs and we’re the third largest email marketing platform in the world, but the most important thing to note are the slides.

[00:05:02] So, now the number one mistake. The number one mistake that I see email marketers and companies make all the time, no empathy. They don’t remember that the people on their email list have feelings and they don’t remember that their subscribers are real people. They treat them as a faceless list of nobodies and this has really consequential impact to the effectiveness of their strategy.

[00:05:36] But, in fact 78 percent of customers say that most brands don’t understand them as individuals. That’s crazy. So, 70 percent of customers feel alienated from the companies that are trying to reach them and connect with them. And that’s a big problem. When it comes to email marketing, it leads to boring emails, too many or too few messages, low open rates and even lower click-through rates, lots of unsubscribes and poor email deliverability. So, it has a huge impact for email marketing. Ultimately it leads to an ineffective email marketing strategy.

[00:06:18] And a really sad cat. I’m a cat and dog person. Anyone else here cat person? Yes, dog people? Okay. Yeah, you guys win. Cats are a little bit easier and that’s why I have one. But then, there are Brands who see these kinds of results with email marketing an ROI of 3,800 percent and that’s the average ROI of email marketing.

[00:06:45] That means for every dollar spent on email marketing, they earned $38 in return. That’s the average but then there are some companies who report an ROI of 7,000 percent. That’s $70 for every dollar spent on email marketing. That’s only one in five people. Now imagine you scale that you spend $100 on email marketing and you make $7,000 in return.

[00:07:09] That’s the power of email when done well, but this is only one in five companies, but when this happens it’s a big cause for celebration. Similar to how we celebrated down in Philly when the Eagles won the Super Bowl and I had to put that in here because I’m in Boston, but huge props to the Patriots. You guys are phenomenal team

[00:07:28] But why are some companies so successful? How do one in five companies see an ROI of 7,000? Why does that happen? Because they know that email marketing is a relationship. Because they know that they do five things and they do them very well. Here’s what they do.

[00:07:53] First they know their audience. They know what their audience wants, they know how their audience feels, and they know what they struggle with. They know their pain points. Two, they provide value. Like in any good relationship, you can’t be all take, take, take, you have to give as well. Three, they send emails at the right time. You’ve ever had a friend who showed up in the middle of the night when you were trying to sleep and ask something of you? You know, that the wrong timing can have a horrible impact on your relationship. So great email marketers send emails at the right time and to the right people.

[00:08:33] They’re also one of a kind. Every relationship you have in life, it’s with an individual whose unique and different and these Brands know that as well, and they all have a unique spin. They send emails regularly and a good relationship you spend quality time with the people you care about, and so great email marketers know for you to remember them, you have to receive emails from them on a regular basis.

[00:09:04] So this sounds like a lot. How are these great brands doing these things? That’s what I’m going to talk about today, the five-step formula for seeing the success that these great brands are seeing, and how you can do what I just talked about and build an awesome relationship with your audience.

[00:09:24] So the first one is asking and listening. So, to know more about your audience, to know who your audience really is, you need to ask and listen to what they’re saying, and you need to encourage them to tell you what they think and how they feel. We can have assumptions about who our audience is. We don’t really know unless we talk to them. So, here’s how you can do that.

[00:09:48] You can survey your audience via email and you can also just simply ask your subscribers to reply to your email. So, for surveying, you see here, this is a this is a little. thing we call a sentiment widget at Aweber. It’s a free tool. If you ask me for the slide deck after this, I’ll show you how to get this free tool and add it to your emails, but it’s simply two emojis, a happy one and a sad one. We put this at the bottom of every email we send, and we ask subscribers, “What did you feel about this email?” When they click on happy or sad, they’re taken to a short one question survey that asks them why they feel that way. We’ve gotten not only probably more than 50,000 people to click on that happy, sad emoji. We’ve gotten over 2,000 people to fill out this one question survey just by putting this little widget at the bottom of our emails.

[00:10:45] This is the kind of feedback we got for our what to write in your emails course. We wanted to find out if people actually liked it. So, we include the sentiment widget in the course emails and we got a lot of great positive feedback that middle comment there the person told us that they love the course, but they didn’t get the last of emails.
[00:11:04] So we are able to send them those emails and make that subscriber really happy because of asking them how they felt. Then I really like that bottom comment. You’ve done it again Liz. I don’t know how they knew my name, that’s probably how.

[00:11:22] So another way you can get feedback and you can get more detailed feedback, it’s just by including a link to a survey in your email and you can include a five- question survey or a longer survey. If it’s a longer survey, I recommend giving your audience an incentive for responding. It could just be a $50 Amazon gift card for one person out of the many who respond. That’s something we’ve done at Aweber and seen that’s very effective.

[00:11:50] So those are two ways to survey your audience in your emails. Another really simple way you could just add to any email today is just ask your subscribers to reply to your email. The great Ann Handley who’s keynoting tomorrow does this very thing in her welcome email. She asks people, “Why did you subscribe to my newsletter? What do you hope to learn here?” And she includes her email address and just ask people to reply. This email allows her to get to know her subscribers and know exactly what they need from her. Anytime you can have interactions like this with your subscribers they’re so valuable. We’ve used what our subscribers have told us to develop our whole entire email marketing strategy.

[00:12:37] So this is a great way to have personal conversations with your audience and find out more about them. So, number two, send emails people love to open. People ask me all the time, “How do I increase my open rate?” Send emails people love to open and you can do that by sending them valuable content for free. So, find out what they need, and you can find out what they need by asking them, surveying them. Then send that to them and repeat.

[00:13:11] So, we have at Aweber, a course that we created called “What to Write in your Emails” and it’s a free course for anybody and it includes 45 fill-in-the-blank copy templates and an email course. But the only reason we knew to create this course at all was because we asked our subscribers what they needed from us and they told us I don’t know what to write in my email.

[00:13:33] And so we created this course and we sent it to all of them and we got phenomenal responses. We ended up getting a lot of customers through it as well because we built relationships with our prospects and we also kept customers with us because we are creating value for them. These emails for the what’s the right course have phenomenal open and click-through rates because they’re actually answering the questions our audience wants answers to. And I wouldn’t have known that that was a problem except that we asked. So, send valuable content and repeat do it for free and when people notice that you’re doing this, they’re going to open your emails and they’re going to keep opening them. I would never unsubscribe from a company that sends me valuable content if they send me an occasional sales email, but they send me valuable content, I would never unsubscribe. So that’s a great way to keep people opening and keep them on your list.

[00:14:29] So, three use automation and behavioral email marketing. Does that sound scary to anyone? This is not the boring part of the presentation, I promise this is really important. Automation and behavioral email marketing help you send emails to your audience at the right time and to the right person.

[00:14:52] So first off what is email automation? Simply it’s automated emails. So, it’s emails you set up and they send at a specific time to your audience automatically. And what is behavioral email marketing? Behavioral email marketing are automated emails you send based on the behavior or actions of a subscriber.

[00:15:13] So they might fill out your signup form and on your signup form, you might ask them, “What’s your favorite color blue red, or yellow?” You could then send them custom automated series based off their choice as probably not something you would ask unless you’re a very specific brand, but you can ask any kind of question on your signup form and deliver custom series to your audience based off that choice or that action.

[00:15:37] You can also do it based off where they open an email or not. You might decide to send more frequent emails to your audience, if you find they’re opening more. You can do this with automation, automatically. So, you don’t need to do anything, but set it up once and that’s based off their action of opening.

[00:15:58] Another thing you can do is based off whether subscriber clicks or not. So, if a subscriber clicks on a certain email, I often will take that as a sign that they’re interested in that kind of content and I can send them more content automatically based off of that click.

[00:16:15] Here’s a great example of that action from the company Trudy. Trudy does personality tests. And Molly is a founder of Trudy and this is one of the emails in her automation series. In it, she asked people to tell her what their personality type is. When they click on any of those personality types, they’re tagged in the email marketing platform and then she can deliver content to them based off their personality.

[00:16:42] Now, how powerful is? How likely are you to open an email that’s all about you? And that’s exactly what she does. She sends this email to INFJs only and she says do INFJs is really make up only 1% of the population. Wow, so if I’m an INFJ, I would absolutely open that because I want to know more about myself.

[00:17:07] It’s all about me. And that’s one of the powerful things about automation. You can personalize it so much. Set it up once and then it sends to your subscribers and makes them feel that you’re so connected with them and you know them so well. When I receive emails from Molly at Trudy, I feel like she’s talking directly to me and about me and it makes this relationship and she’s able to do that through behavioral email marketing and automation.

[00:17:34] So four, tell your unique story. I see a lot of very corporate emails go out that are very, very, formal. I think a lot of people feel that email marketing, you just need to be formal, send a formal letter, convey your point and that’s it. But as in any good relationship, you need to open up and be yourself.

[00:18:00] And you need to do that in email marketing as well because people can’t connect with a company. They connect with people and they connect with emotion. So, here’s how you can do that. Find or think about what’s unique about you and your brand. Develop your tone and be human.

[00:18:21] So, this is Jill Angie of Not Your Average Runner and this is one of her automated emails and in it, she says who am I? Well, as I mentioned above my name is Jill Angie. I’m just a couple of years shy of the Big Five O and I used to weigh almost 300 pounds. I also found a way to be a runner at that weight and lost a bunch of weight. I’m not skinny, but I’m still a runner and proud of it. That’s a very personal story and it’s probably not the easiest thing to put in an email but for anyone who feels that same way for her audience who probably feel that same way that’s extremely powerful and that’s a great example of her telling her unique story and in a natural way. This is her welcome email, so she’s introducing herself.

[00:19:09] Then tone, so Chubby’s is a men’s clothing brand and they have probably the funniest email tone I’ve ever seen. If I was going to describe it, I would say frat brothers. They use words like Booyah and things like that in their emails and that’s an all of their emails. All of their emails are hilarious. I’m not interested at necessarily in buying men’s clothing, but I open their emails and read them because they’re so funny. And for the guys who are reading them, it makes you realize who the people on the other side are. It’s also just very interesting.

[00:19:50] And so then finally, this is one of my favorite copywriters Chanukah from Enchanting Marketing and Chanukah in her emails does an amazing job of talking about how she feels about certain things and it builds this connection with you. She’s a professional copywriter and she says here that she’s been more anxious about writing this blog post than anything else I’ve ever written all year. And to hear a copywriter say that they’re anxious about writing is powerful. I’m a copywriter and when I read it, it makes me feel this connection of her because I feel that way all the time.

[00:20:27] And so you can make a connection with your Audience by using emotion and being human in your emails. You don’t have to hide how you feel about things or be the perfect, perfect, person for people to connect with you people connect with other humans.

[00:20:58] And so then five, send an amazing newsletter. So, like I said earlier great email marketers send emails regularly so that they can keep top of mind with their subscribers. One of the best ways to do that is with an email newsletter. You can send it daily, you could send it weekly, you could send it monthly. I do recommend sending at least once a month so that people know who you are, but a great newsletter is a great way to stay top of mind with your audience.

[00:21:17] But notice I don’t say send a newsletter, I say send an amazing newsletter. There are so many newsletters out there that are so boring. You don’t want to open them, they’re not interesting, they don’t help you. But there are amazing newsletters that I open every day and people open every day because here’s what they do, they solve subscribers’ problems. They save their time, or they educate or amuse them, or they do all three. So, these are the marks of a great newsletter.

[00:22:02] The Skim is my favorite newsletter of all time. They are geared towards Millennial women and women in general and their newsletter connects with me and provides valuable content every day. They have an everyday newsletter and the best thing about them for me is they save my time and they solve a problem for me. A problem for me is I’m very busy. I don’t have time to look all over the internet and see the political and cultural news, but The Skim send it to my inbox every day for me, which is solving a problem. It’s also saving my time. So that’s why this newsletter is so effective. So, if you can do that with your subscribers solve a problem or save their time, you’ll have a very effective newsletter.
[00:22:47] Again, another example from Chubby’s. Chubby’s has a hilarious newsletter. Every Friday they send this newsletter called The Weekender and The Weekender contains content that’s just to help you party over the weekend. It’s all about traveling different places, doing different sports on the weekend and it’s absolutely ridiculous. And in this newsletter, they use predictive text to write the entire copy of the newsletter. It makes no sense, but it’s funny. So, another thing you can do in your newsletter is just be funny. They’re providing value to Their audience, but it’s just also hilarious.

[00:23:07] So, like I said many newsletters are just downright boring, but there’s a simple way to turn your worn-out newsletter into something engaging and that’s with content curation. Let me explain why. Most people don’t publish enough content to keep their newsletter interesting. Unless you’re writing 20 blog posts a week, it’s really hard to send a weekly newsletter with engaging content that your audience wants.

[00:23:41] You might have one blog post or maybe five but it’s hard to regularly send engaging content. So, what can you do? You can curate content and content curation happens when you sift through the vast world of content, find information you deem useful and share it with your audience. So, content creation is when you share other people’s content and the key is that it should be relevant to your audience and relevant to your business. Now, you can share a mix of your own content and other people’s content or you could share entirely other people’s content.

[00:24:16] Here’s an example of a newsletter that uses content creation it’s called Farnam Street, and they mostly send things that are meant to make you smarter. They’re for people who love to read psychological type blog posts and see those kinds of videos, but the first link at the top of their email is from their own brand. It’s a Farnam Street blog post. That’s the first thing at their top of their newsletter, they highlight that. The fourth thing fifth thing is an interview from 60 Minutes on YouTube. So not their content but content that’s interesting to their audience.

[00:24:57] Third is this nature.com article. So again, this is a mix of their own content other people’s content, but this newsletter is so successful because it’s delivering the most interesting content to their audience. And again, the skim is a great example of a curated newsletter. They are almost entirely not their own content but it’s so engaging. Occasionally they’ll have a link to a podcast episode of their own but it’s almost entirely curated content and their revenue model is to use affiliate links and basically make money that way.

[00:25:31] So, to recap what the most successful brands are doing to make their email marketing strategies so effective is they ask, and they listen to their audience. They send emails people love to open. They use automation and behavioral email. They tell a unique story and they send an amazing newsletter. So that is what the most successful brands are doing to see a 7000 ROI and you can do the same as well. And remember email marketing is a relationship. And if, you do email well, you’re going to be doing a happy dance like this, I just love this gift.

[00:26:05] So, if you have questions after this, or you would like to see a copy of the slide deck feel free to come and talk to me. Or you can email me. That is my work email address. It’s my real email address, and I’ll respond to you as well. And if you’re in Aweber customer in the room, I’d love to talk to you. I have some swag. Thank you.


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