A little more analysis, a little more insight… Exploring email marketing better

Interview with email marketing expert Ian Brodie

Email Marketing Expert Ian Brodie

Email and email marketing have been around for a long time now. We even wrote a post on what is the future of email marketing like.

There is absolutely no doubt that email marketing is one of the most powerful digital marketing channels today. And that’s where it starts getting tricky; there’s so much marketers need to constantly learn, measure and put into action.

We thought it’d be great to talk to an email marketing expert and have the expert figure out the entire email marketing landscape. And so we got Ian Brodie of The Rainmaker Academy Limited, UK, squeeze out time for an interview. Ian has been on the email marketing and content marketing landscape longer than many and he sure knows a thing or two. Ian, who helps out lots of clients, says, “I’ve made it my mission to … help small businesses and sole practitioners beat their bigger rivals by becoming known as Authorities…”

Ian is also the author of the book Email Persuasion: Captivate and Engage Your Audience, Build Authority and Generate More Sales With Email Marketing (available on Amazon). Additionally, Ian offers a 5-Day Video Program to help Consultants and Coaches become seen as authorities in their field. You can connect with Ian over Twitter.

Excerpts from the interview.

1. Ian, you’ve been on the email marketing scene for a long time. How do you see the evolution of email in general and email marketing in particular?

I think you have to look at email in the context of messaging generally. Obviously we’re seeing an increase in the use of alternative forms of messaging – Whatsapp and Facebook messenger being obvious examples. Yet, at the same time, the number of emails we send and receive – particularly for business or commerce – still dwarfs the number of messages.

And, of course, everyone has email whereas with messenger apps, some people use Facebook, others Whatsapp, others Skype etc. So email is still the only sure way to get your message through.

I think we’re going to see more merging of the technologies.

We’re already seeing tools like Manychat offer features based on email autoresponder systems. And personally for my website live chat I offer the option of communicating either via messenger or email (most of my audience still chooses email right now).

So I think we’ll see continued steady growth in email, rapid growth of messaging, and an increasing crossover of the two.

2. We all are flooded with marketing emails on a daily basis. How’d you recommend a marketer can make her email stand out?

I’d recommend steering clear of tricks like outrageous subject lines and instead focus on why your subscribers signed up for emails from you in the first place: because they had a problem or goal they thought your emails would help them with.

The deeper you understand your ideal clients, the better an insight you have into their problems, challenges, goals and aspirations, then the better you’re able to write emails that touch on those issues and are perceived as valuable by your subscribers.

It’s delivering that value on an ongoing basis (and in an interesting and entertaining way) that means your best clients will notice your emails and keep on opening and reading them.

3. These days there’s always the risk of your email reaching the Spam folder of the recipient. How can I prevent that?
There’s some basic stuff about words you should avoid – but most email marketing systems have built in checks to avoid falling foul of those traps. The bigger issue is about engagement. If your subscribers aren’t opening or reading your emails then over time you’re going to end up in the spam folder. So firstly, make sure you’re sending great, quality stuff.

Steer clear of tricks and focus on why your subscribers signed up.

Secondly, actively keep subscriber lists clean by sending fewer emails to those who aren’t opening them and eventually if they just stop responding then stop emailing them.

4. In one of your recent posts, you mentioned using high converting landing pages to get more email subscribers. What do you think will lead subscribers to trust you more?

For me, trust is established over time. But you don’t need a ton of trust for someone to become a subscriber. Just enough for them to give their email address over. You can then build real levels of trust. On a landing page I like to use a “trust panel” – a graphic of either clients you’ve worked with or well known media you’ve appeared in. testimonials would work too. That’s just enough trust to help encourage someone to opt in

5. Curiosity building strategy is another thing you mentioned somewhere. In this over-communicated world, how can a marketer ensure she’s hooked the reader’s interest?

There are lots of ways of invoking curiosity. Using unusual phrases in your subject line or very short subjects. The old favourite of using a list with a number (eg. “7 ways to…”) gets people curious about what those 7 ways are.

My favourite technique is to use a “demonstrative” like “this” or “these”. This is a technique I learned from one of the most successful direct response ads in history: “Do you make these mistakes in English?”

Notice how the use of the word “these” in “these mistakes in English” immediately makes you think “which mistakes?”. So, of course, you have to read the article to find out.

So I like to do email subject lines like “”Are you making these 5 sales-killing mistakes?”. The “sales-killing mistakes” bit establishes the idea that the email contains useful information. But it’s the “these” that invokes the curiosity to get people to read to find out what those mistakes are.

Another favourite is a confession email. I have quite a few with subject lines like “My worst sales meeting EVER” or “My WORST email ever”. We’re all suckers for a bit of schadenfreude really.

Who can resist finding out what someone’s biggest email mistake has been or most disastrous sales meeting?

6. Ian, if there are three things you’d suggest an email marketer to keep away from, what would that be?

I’d keep away from copying other people’s emails. Keep a “swipe file” of good emails you’ve seen, but use them for inspiration rather than reproducing them with only small changes.

I’d also keep away from emailing people who aren’t opening and reading your emails – it will bring down your ability to get into the inbox of those who really do want to hear from you. Many email systems like Gmail, Outlook etc judge whether to pop your email in the primary inbox based on whether subscribers on their system as a whole have opened and read your previous emails.

If you keep mailing people who’ve lost interest it’ll send a signal to the email providers that people aren’t interested in your emails and they should go to the promotions tab or spam folder.

So keep your lists fresh by regularly “pruning’ them to either remove or ideally reduce the frequency of emails to less engaged subscribers.

Finally, steer clear of overcomplicating things. Avoid having too many calls to action and links (stick to one), too many different messages and ideas (stick to one) and too many images (stick to one).

And when an email guru tries to sell you his latest super-complicated system for maximising sales, do remember that (a) it needs to be complicated for him because his customers are cynical and overmarketed – yours probably aren’t, and (b) he needs to make it complicated because if he just told you to stick to the basics he wouldn’t be able to sell you a big, complicated training program.

7. Any ‘secret sauce’ you’d like to share with our readers?

Simply write emails that are valuable to your ideal clients and entertainingly illustrated with stories and examples that subtly show them you’re the person they should be working with.

Just because saying “Hey!” in a subject line works for Barack Obama or an internet marketing guru doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Try to be original.

8. And finally, Ian, how do you view the future of email marketing?

I think, going back to what we said right at the start, that we’ll see a merging of different channels so that as a marketer you’ll be able to communicate your message to your audience in whatever the most appropriate method for them is. Chances are that early on it will be email, but we’ll see more message or maybe even voice coming into the mix.

We’re also seeing a lot more intelligent tools coming on to the market right now. I expect to see much more segmentation of your audience based on how they’re responding, both through your emails but also on your site.

Thank you Ian for taking out time and sharing your thoughts!


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