Emails in online marketing are either undervalued and unemployed, or in most cases horribly-executed and misused.
To tackle this topic, James Schramko invites copywriter extraordinaire Sue Rice onto the show, where they discuss email - why it’s still so important, how to get it right, and what the massive rewards are when you nail it.
In the interview:
02:11 – Why emails are still incredibly valuable
04:51 – Striking the content-promotion balance
06:51 – Wrap it up in a story
13:10 – Remember to do it again and again
17:01 – The sexiest unsexy tool out there
18:27 – What you ought to know about the process
23:20 – The things all people can relate to
26:21 – Targeting the elusive USP
28:18 – When your stories are your brand
32:00 – Let’s talk about subject lines
35:08 – Do people actually talk like that?
38:43 – The huge potential returns
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. Today, we’re going to be talking about why most emails are crap, and how to stand out and actually have good emails. And for that, I’ve brought along Sue Rice. Welcome to the call, Sue.
Sue: Thank you, James. Great to be here.
James: Sue, I’ve known about you for a long time. I originally got your name from Andre Chaperon, who’s a repeat guest on SuperFastBusiness. And when Andre makes a referral, you know that that’s a solid referral, because he’s a man of fine taste. And he’s also famous in the internet marketing space for his soap opera sequence and really pioneering a different way of thinking about emails to the old “blast”, you know, which is a term forbidden in our organization. And I believe you studied some of his material and worked closely with him and perhaps took on some of the clients that were referred.
I’ve been referring you clients for years now, and we’ve had the pleasure of working together on several projects and looking at what you were doing behind the scenes. So it’s such a privilege to have someone of your expertise on the show, tackling such an important topic like this. And the reason it’s important is emails are still a very valuable asset. Would you agree with that?
Why emails are still incredibly valuable
Sue: Absolutely. I think that one of the things that people do right now is they’re, you know, because of all these wonderful ways that we can get traffic and we can generate leads, people talk all the time about Facebook ads, and YouTube advertising. All that’s great. But I think what people sometimes forget is that just getting a lead isn’t enough, that you need to convert that lead into a paying customer. And I think the statistic is something like three percent of people are ready to buy, which means you’ve got 97 percent of the people you need to nurture the relationship with. And for sure, one of the best tools, aside from content marketing, is your email marketing. That’s a great way to nurture relationships. Particularly if you’re doing it the right way.
James: Right. Well, I’ve found, certainly in my business, and we track a lot of the statistics, emails account for more than twice the sales of any of my other channels. It’s really a great conversion path. And we don’t have a big email list. This is important. SuperFastBusiness, I think at time of recording, has around 7000 email records in our database. We have around 35 percent open rates on those emails. So we have a very small database, but a very engaged database. And they’re there with permission, they’ve opted in on purpose, and we’re very diligent in cleaning our emails, and also working very hard on having delivery with all the technical things like SPF records and DKIM records, or DMARC records. Now once you’ve got those things sorted out, then of course it leaves, what are you actually sending? To whom? And why are you sending it and what’s the outcome? And you suggested that emails can be a very profitable way of communicating with customers if you do it right. And I’d love to get your take on why the emails everyone is sending are crap.
Sue: Yeah. Before I get that, if I could just like, pick up on what you were saying about how important it is to your business. If you look across the board James, you look at all the the people like Ryan Deiss or Perry Belcher or Justin Brooke, who I know you just spoke with. If you look at all their businesses, they all say the same thing, that the bulk of their sales are happening through the follow-up, through emails. I think a lot of people think it’s like a kind of something that they’ll deal with later. But it’s really, really important. Even as you say, even if your list is tiny, even if you have 500 people on your list, to make sure that your emails are up and in place, in terms of how to do it correctly… First of all, I think the big mistake people make is they just think that email is a promotion vehicle only, right?
Striking the content-promotion balance
James: It seems my local electronics store and furniture stores have that philosophy. I counted, there’s an electronics retailer in Australia, and they happen to have a TV cabinet that was exactly what I wanted. And I found it somewhere else, but the other place didn’t have stock. And these people carried it. I purchased it from them online. Guess how many emails they send me per day.
Sue: Oh my gosh, I don’t know. Three?
Sue: Oh, that’s crazy.
James: Six emails a day from this electronics/furniture supplier in Australia. And they’re those typical brochure type, in-your-face ones with the sort of formatted pictures and specials and sales and discounts. And it’s just offensive. Really, it’s like, it didn’t take me long to unsubscribe, because that’s just beyond my threshold. But I imagine it’s beyond many people’s thresholds.
Sue: Yeah, it’s sort of like email abuse, right?
James: It is. It’s kind of like it’s not respectful. And there are some marketers who do that.. They’ll send five, six, seven, eight emails on the last day of a launch. And I often take them to task on that, but they say, well, it works, and you know, we make more sales. What they don’t see when they’re doing that, and this is a really important one, they don’t look at the long-term value, the lifetime value of that customer. If you hadn’t pushed them too far and made them unsubscribe, maybe you could be making sales in five, six, seven, 10 years from now to that same prospect who you didn’t burn.
Sue: That’s right. And I think that there’s a balance. Different people have different ideas about the ratio. Some people think for every promotional email you send out there, you need a content. Some people think for every promotional email you send out there, you need three content. So really it’s going to depend on your audience, but you definitely need to balance it out.
James: Is that still a thing? You know, like content content content, pitch, content content? Do people still feel that that’s the way to go?
Sue: I don’t think so.
James: I don’t think so, either. I think it’s ridiculous.
Wrap it up in a story
Sue: But I think what you can do is, I think you can educate, right? So like, for example, when you share your podcasts, right? That is the way of educating your list about different aspects of being an entrepreneur. But it has a purpose, right? See, I don’t think content for content’s sake is, I think that’s sort of over, because people are so inundated. But it’s like, you have to have gems. The way I do it when I create emails with people is I wrap the messages up in, the best way to describe it is metaphorical stories, stories that people are reading in their newsfeed; stories about, you know, it could be about the California fires or it could be about me. But a lot of people only use stories that are personal-based. But I use stories that people are already immersed in, and I wrap their message up in that and it makes the emails so much more interesting, because they’re already interested in those topics. And then what you need to do is link those stories with not about your product necessarily, but maybe the pain point it addresses, or maybe the challenges people face.
“Use stories that people are already immersed in.”
So, for example, last night, I got an email from Todd Brown, who you probably know, he’s a really good marketer, and he was talking about the fact he’s losing his hair. Before he would have had a one-dimensional view on that. But the fact that when you start losing your hair, there are all these other things, emotions that come along with it. It’s like, you need to talk to people. And so he was using that as an example of being more emotionally attuned with your client. And I thought that was a clever little personal story that he used to illustrate that we need to, these are human beings we’re talking to; this is not a list. These are human beings, that like each of us are struggling. And the best way to do is to, you want to make the messages that you’re sending out be pertinent to them, but not always about you, not always about your product, but about the struggles that your list, your particular list is facing, whether it’s training their dogs or whether it’s trying to be an entrepreneur or making more money or doing their marketing. I feel like we need to lean into their world. I feel like most emails make us, we make them lean into ours, if that makes sense.
James: It does. So just a couple of concepts there. The first one you talk about could possibly be labeled newsjacking, taking advantage of things that are happening already.
James: Because it gets context. Like, in Australia right now, it’s pretty much burning to the ground with bushfires. Like, there’s such thick smoke, they canceled the Manly ferry today. When I walked out the front of my house to the beach, I couldn’t see the water, it was so thick. So anyone in this region can really relate to burning fires. And there’s a great metaphor there that bushfires are just, they actually strip back nature and it regrows strong and beautiful. And we often have to do that with our business.
James: So if I was selling a course on how to review and reset, especially around January, which is a very common time people talk about goal-setting and all of that, that would tie in quite well with that.
Sue: Perfect example. That’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. People, and everyone’s taught, I mean, we’re watching the bushfires. You don’t even have to be in Australia.
James: There are some in Malibu and in other places in California. And I mean, you’re not in America anymore. You’re in France. But I’m sure being in another country, you’re probably looking outside a lot more than a lot of people in the United States.
Sue: Yeah, but this whole idea, I mean, the bushfire or the fires in California are a great way of illustrating the concept of renewal. Because everyone thinks they’re horrible, but in fact, sometimes renewing yourself feels horrible. But the reality is it’s a natural process that’s important to do. And so you imagine you could use that metaphor for you know, relooking at your business, relooking at your health habits. Relooking, maybe, at renewing your relationships, right? So you could use that same metaphor and apply it to a lot of different product areas and market places. If you think about it, those examples are endless, right?
James: Oh, Yeah. And I do think about it. I recently went over to Florida; I attended Kevin Rogers’ amazing Copy Chief Live event. And one of the speakers there was Laura Belgray. She was hilarious. And I started getting onto her newsletter. And it’s one of the few newsletters I actually like. And she had a course teaching how to write emails, and I purchased it. And the first email I sent after reading through it was to my audience, and it was designed to make sales for my SuperFastBusiness Live annual event. And I talked in that email, I used her formula, but I talked in that email about car crashes, and how I used to make money off car crashes, almost enough to pay rent. And the punch line was that I knew how to tap into the opportunity that was around me, whereas everyone else didn’t. And I was able to make that pay. And it’s the same in business. There’s opportunity absolutely everywhere, but most people don’t know how to tap that and make it pay. When they come along to SuperFastBusiness Live, they’re going to learn how to tap into all that opportunity that’s around them and make it pay for them in their business. And we made lots of sales straight off that email. So it was a very valuable email. And I also got, and this is unusual for me, but I got a lot of replies to the email saying, love the story, fantastic email, brilliant selling. Like, I got a lot of respect from marketers.
Sue: I mean, I’m on your list, I got that. I thought it was great, too. And the thing about it is, what’s interesting about it is not that many people are doing that. It’s all about seeing things that are happening around you, either personally or sort of in the news, and making a connection with those stories and what you’re offering. And it’s really not that difficult, but it makes you stand out. It makes people see. That car crash email you wrote made people see what you do in a totally different perspective and a totally different light. And my guess is you got a lot of sales because of that.
Remember to do it again and again
James: I did. And you know, I was inspired to do it because it was something that worked well for me a few years ago. And like, sometimes we know something and then we forget to do it. But I was out having a surf with my friend Walter, who’s a stock trader and also a copywriter. And I was making him laugh his head off about this story I told him, that it happened to me that morning, I literally paddled out and said, Oh, you wouldn’t believe my day. He goes, tell me. I said well, it was like, seven o’clock this morning; I was over there at the public toilets, you know, with my pants around my ankles thinking, like, How did this happen? How did this come to be? And I told him that it all came about because my kid had accidentally put some paper hand towel in the toilet and blocked it and we only had one toilet in that place. And now I had to quickly go and do my morning business over the road at the public toilets. I’m thinking, no matter how bad my day is, you know, here I am surfing, and things aren’t that bad. But for a lot of business owners, they’re having a shocker. Like their day is terrible. They got bills they can’t pay, and so on and so forth.
And I went back home, and then a few hours later, I got this subject line in my inbox, and it said, 7:33 this morning, I’m sitting there with my pants around my ankles. That was a subject line. And I’m like, what’s this? And I read it. And it was my story back to me. Walter had written it out as an email, and he tied it into people coming to SuperFastBusiness Live so they could not have bad days in the future. And I sent that out, and it sold like crazy as well.
So I’d already done this before. The thing is to remember to do this again and again. And I think that’s where people like you come into play. If you’re a business owner and you’re very busy doing whatever you do for business, you can actually hire people to create these emails for you on an ongoing basis. And I think that’s where you’ve been providing valuable service to a lot of my clients and helping them out with campaigns. Because they go through the obvious stuff like getting someone to run Facebook ads, or maybe getting someone to tune their sales page. But they often forget it’s the sequences and the campaigns that tie into the onboarding, the cart abandonment, the feedback, the testimonial generation, these little campaigns you bake into your machine where all the money happens.
Sue: That’s absolutely right. That’s where I mean, ages ago, it was about a year and a half ago, Justin Brooke, who’s a friend of mine on Facebook, he put a chart up and he showed where all his money was coming from. And it was like, 95 percent was coming from emails. Not his sales pages. It was coming from his emails. So forgetting that is like forgetting the game. Right?
James: It’s very important. And for me it outperforms all the other channels. It’s where the conversion happens. And my friend Dean Jackson talks about different profit activators. But email is a great place to educate and motivate people. But it’s also a good place to carry a call to action, whether it’s a signature, and there’s what he calls a super signature, whether it is embedded in the email itself, or whether using a nine-word email to an existing list that you’ve already been cultivating, but they haven’t purchased for a while because maybe they weren’t in the buying phase before and now they are.
“Pretty much all the big marketers are still making money with the email.”
So the email is where the action is. So if you’re listening to this, and this is episode 710, email is very, very important. Pretty much all the big marketers are still making the money with the email. And more importantly, it’s not that hard to stand out. And what you’re getting here is a few tips on using stories, using news, and tying in your point to something that is current with a nice segue, and you will get cut through. In fact, you know, it’s weird getting compliments on sales emails that actually make sales. That was the hat tip, you know? And it was my really strong storytelling customers or the most savvy customers who sent me replies to that saying, good one.
The sexiest unsexy tool out there
Sue: Yeah, you know, the one thing that I think, the way people see emails because there’s sexier things out there. It’s like, I always call it the sexiest unsexy tool out there, because people think of it as like, the ugly sort of stepsister living in the basement, right? But it isn’t. And it’s actually the most alive thing that you have. It has an ROI that is like, a zillion times higher than anything else you can have. But the problem is, when we look at our inboxes, it’s hard to see that because so much of what we get is, excuse my language, complete crap, right?
James: Yeah. Rubbish. Junk.
Sue: So it’s like, most people, we don’t want to receive it, and we certainly don’t want to send it. I don’t want to send that kind of stuff out under my name, right? But what I think, with a little tiny bit of thinking about what you’re doing, you can make it super fun to do it and you can get amazing results. And you can stand out, because everyone else is basically using sort of overused, boring old templates. But if you think about what you’re doing, you don’t have to send out a million different emails. But if you send them out with these wrapped up in either your personal stories or stories that are happening around people, I mean, I get an unbelievable open and clickthrough rates, because of that. And you know, I have a whole system where I create that for my clients. But it’s the sharpest tool. It’s the sharpest knife in your toolbox, basically.
Sue: And most people just don’t know how to use it. Right?
What you ought to know about the process
James: Yeah. So what are some tips for people out there? Okay, they’re on board. Yes James and Sue, email’s important. Okay, yep. I want to send out some metaphors, stories. I want to tie it in with news perhaps, or something that happened to me personally. And I want to segue into the offer. What are some things that we should be aware of in this process?
Sue: Well, I think one of the easiest ways to look at it is that it’s not about you, it’s about the person who’s reading it. And you should be always, you know, adapting the rule of one – you’re talking to one person, not a list of 7000. Right? But there’s two things that motivate people – the attraction to something, and the wanting to get away from something. So when you’re talking about using stories, you need to realize they need to illustrate one of two things: the challenges people have, which, you know, they don’t have enough money, they don’t have enough knowhow, whatever it is; the pain points they feel, you know, they’re embarrassed because they’ve been an entrepreneur for whatever, three years, and they’re not making any money, whatever the pain point happens to be. But also, we need to recognize that most people have an obstacle. Almost everyone shares the same obstacle, which is they feel like they can’t do it. Right?
Sue: That is the biggest challenge, whether people will admit it publicly or not, that people are like, I’m not sure I can actually really do this. And so any stories that illustrate those pain points, those challenges, those obstacles, those, I don’t have enough money, I don’t have enough smarts, I don’t have enough background, whatever it is… Those are the gems.
“It’s much more three-dimensional if you can wrap it up in a story.”
But you know, it’s very flat to say, You probably feel like you can’t do this. It’s much more three-dimensional if you can wrap it up in a story, right? I read a story the other day, which is kind of a silly story about Kim Kardashian, when she had her first shoot with Karl Lagerfeld a few years ago. And she was like, it was a big deal for her, she was feeling really, really insecure. And her mother came to the shoot, late. Apparently, Karl Lagerfeld used to give his models a bag, like a really expensive bag, when they did their first shoot with him. And he never gave Kim the bag. But when the mother came in, because the mother came in dressed up, dripping in Chanel 1980s, and Karl Lagerfeld fell in love with Kris Jenner and basically ignored Kim Kardashian. And the sort of the moral of the story was, you know, she’s calling her sister saying, My mother is outshining me. How is that possible? Right? And that all of us have been in situations where we feel like we’ve been outshone, right?
Sue: Someone comes in dripping with the Chanel, and Karl Lagerfeld is fawning over the mother, not Kim Kardashian. And we all have to relate to that. And even someone like Kim Kardashian that you can’t imagine would feel that way, feels that way. And so that’s, you know, you can use stories that are completely unrelated to what you’re doing. And, you know, we all feel insecure. We’re human, right? So anything that brings out the humanity, rather than using, what is mostly in the inbox is flat promotions. You can get this at midnight for 30 percent off.
James: Yeah. Boring.
Sue: It’s boring. It’s like, water off the duck’s back, right?
Sue: Wrap it up. Wrap it up into a package that is an interesting story. Even if they don’t buy, they’ll think you’re more of a human being behind it.
Sue: And you’ll be building a relationship.
James: I think what I like about what you’re saying is, it doesn’t always have to be about you or your story. Because it is easy to fall into that, just telling stories about things that happened in your life. Like, I can generate stories on a daily basis of things that are happening in my life, both past and present; like, every day presents opportunities to build my story infantry.
And I actually have a tab now where I write down things that happened that are interesting that I can use in a future correspondence. Like, it can be as simple as when I’m feeding the baby. Like I make food for my baby, right? And depending on what I put in the food, will get a range of reactions from her. If it’s exactly what she loves, I get hands and feet wiggling with massive excitement as the spoon’s coming in. If she’s not that interested in it, then I might just get a hand, you know, maybe two hands, but the feet aren’t moving. So I’ve got this like, baby food pleasure tester. And it fascinates me. At that infant age, like, that tiny age, they already know what they like and don’t like, and they are so expressive with it. You know, things like that fascinate me. So I’ll write that down, and maybe I’ll use it.
But what you’re saying is, we can use other people’s stories, and they’re just as enthralling and interesting and we can still wrap that gem up in it, and we’re breaking out of the same, same, gray, meh mush of inhuman, robotic, junkie sort of emails.
The things all people can relate to
Sue: That’s right. I mean, as you know, I have like a story library that I use to create these metaphors. Because, you know, there’s a lot out there. I think doing your own personal stories is fantastic. But I think it’s good to use both, right? And I think that’s why someone like Laura stands out in the inboxes. She’s like a human being. She’s three-dimensional, and that’s what people want. They don’t want a one-dimensional message.
James: She seems to have done really well, focusing on her flaws and being vulnerable.
James: Like, a lot of her emails relate to just tragic or embarrassing things that have happened to her in her life. It’s kind of like rubbernecking a bit.
Sue: But it’s kind of what I was saying earlier. I think people, when you do share a story of insecurity, whether it’s a famous person or it’s your own personal life, people can all relate to that. You know, because people forget we’re not in a, despite what social media shows us of all these shiny bright lives, you know, the reality is we all have our own struggles to one extent or another in some area of our life, and we can all relate to that, whether we talk about it publicly or not.
James: Yeah, it’s just fascinating. Something really interesting happened for me in the last week. Like, some strong marketing came out around you know, I’ve got a book, Work Less Make More. Someone published a video sales letter talking about how you can make more revenue by working less. And I’m like, Ha, this is sailing pretty close to the mark. And then they were promoting that there’s a new way of delivering coaching that’s now, like, we’ll ask questions and deliver exactly what you want with personalized training and via an app. I’m like, Oh my god, this is exactly what I do. This is how I coach with SuperFastBusiness and SilverCircle for the last nine and 10 years. And so, I’m like, they’ve gotten my book title and the way that I deliver my products; this is really in my face. But then luckily, it kind of was fairly shallow. Like, upon investigation, it was not exactly as it sounded. It was actually just a quiz funnel that then auto-dripped a course. So the customization was kind of bullshit. And the forum was buggy and broken; the app doesn’t work. And there was like a ghost town in there. So it’s like, all right, no threat. But it was like, you know, just that little moment of sensitivity and vulnerability. Like, hey, someone’s coming after my lunch here, and pretending it’s all new, and they’ve got a really strong following.
“It’s easy to fall into the trap of being too perfect. And then people disconnect with you.”
So I think that’s a story that, you know, I certainly have the internal dialogue and then you know, I’m sharing it now on a podcast This is going out to thousands of people, and I’m sharing that story. But it is so true that no matter who it is, everyone’s got their difficult moments as a human where they have a little bit of doubt or concern or vulnerability. And that pain point can be shared and relatable. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being too perfect. And then people disconnect with you. Because if anything reminds someone they can’t do it, it’s that they feel they don’t have anything in common with you and there’s no bridge to that person’s pathway.
Targeting the elusive USP
Sue: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And there’s one other thing that’s kind of related to all of this, is that, as you know, my background, I used to be working at Ogilvy and Mather; then I worked at BBDO. My background is like the traditional advertising world. And you know, the old-fashioned training is all about USP right? That you have a unique selling proposition. Well, you know, that’s kind of dead, right? Because there are so many products out there that are so similar. The USP is a hard thing to find. But what you can do is present what you do, even if it’s similar to what else is in the marketplace, in a new way. So it’s the idea that you wrap around it.
That’s how I see emails – each email is showing your ideas, or the pain points you address, or the challenges you address for people, in a slightly new way. And you know, it takes a little bit of extra thinking, being able to think in metaphors. Whilst we all sort of do it unconsciously, it takes a little bit of extra thinking. But what you can get from it in terms of relationship building and revenue building is huge. And so, you know, I feel like we’re reaching a breaking point, James, where people are just sick of the same old, same old.
James: Yeah. And you know, the message for me was, firstly, after doing sort of defense mechanisms and doing some reconnaissance and seeing what I’m up against, the clear message for me was this person packaged the marketing in a brilliant way. They’re a brilliant salesperson, brilliant copywriter. I took a lesson from that. Within a day, I activated my personal branded page on Facebook, and I’m going to lean into that, because I can be the only me on the planet. And that’s the easiest way to cut through now. I think we’re definitely moving into the age of more personality-driven marketing, where it’s like the easy win to be brand independent from everyone else.
When your stories are your brand
And that’s also a great place to share stories and metaphors. I especially like making short videos with metaphors and then combining them with emails. And of course, since we’ve covered stories so many times on this podcast, I do put more stories into my conversations. Because originally, I used to be like, a cut to the chase, straight to the point type person. And I realized other people like stories, and they want stories, and they actually ask for more. So I’ve had to adapt and consider that people actually want to hear the story. They don’t want the punch line out of the gate. They want it built up. Like you said, the gem. It’s in such great wrapping. It’s kind of fun to have the present under the Christmas tree.
Sue: That’s right. And also with the stories you choose, like you will maybe have stories about the surfing that you love, right?
James: So many.
Sue: So the stories you choose are going to show people, they’re going to build your brand. Because you know, that’s what you’re about, that sort of work less earn more is also about having a lifestyle, and your surfing is kind of, in and of itself, a metaphor for that. It is your metaphor for that.
James: It’s the ultimate thing. Like, this is what led to the whole thing. You know, recently a marketer sent an email saying, you know, F the hustle. And over the year to date, and he’d lost a million dollars by working extra hard, and he just figured it out. And you know what’s shocking to me? Is that people pay for consulting from someone who took a year to figure out he’s lost a million dollars. That just blows my mind. And then they’ll all line up and buy the next thing, and like, how? What are people thinking? At what point does someone disqualify themselves from dishing out advice? But that’s a whole other matter. But that’s kind of what tripped over it.
But I get, one after the other, people who are coming to see me – they’re burnt out, overwhelmed; they’re sick of the confusing and conflicting messages; they have the wrong business model. They’re constantly having to fill the bucket; they have cash flow crisis. And they like the fact that I can fit it all in and still manage to surf. It speaks volumes. It’s kind of proof by demonstration of the fact that it is possible, and I can get them there faster than them trying to figure it out themselves.
So yeah, I’ve got so many stories. In fact, Jenner’s story reminded me of when I started surfing, someone ran into my board and broke it. And I took it down to the surf shop. And I said, Can this be repaired? And they said, Oh man, just get a repair kit. They’re like, 15 bucks, and do it yourself. I’m like, No, I just want to get someone to do it. And they said, Listen, you’re going to need to learn how to do it. And I’m like, I don’t really think I’m going to be able to repair the board. They said, No, just take the kit and try it. So anyway, fast forward. Six years later, I’m in the Philippines just a month ago, and some guy in the surf, he was paddling out and our boards collided. The nose of his board went straight through the bottom of my board. It was like, the size of half your hand. And I took it back to shore. I had my little repair kit, and I was snipping up fiberglass and drying the board out and gluing in the resin. And by the afternoon, it was ready to go and surf again, and I didn’t bat an eyelid. It’s like running repair, no trouble, I was so comfortable with it. But the first time I ever tried it, it was like, frightening. And you know, there’s people going through life who are stopping at the first hurdle.
Sue: That’s right.
James: When later on, if they kept persisting, they learnt it and they stuck with it, they could just be flying over the hurdles. Because life throws obstacles at you all day long. So my wish for this episode is that, if we’re not currently doing some good stuff with email, if we’re sending out crap, that we will refine our process; we will start to incorporate some of the techniques you’ve used. If you can wrap your point up in some beautiful wrapping and make the point the gem, and be less boring and get the cut-through.
Let’s talk about subject lines
One thing we haven’t really talked about is subject lines and the preview lines and the Send from addresses. I know they’re more technical things, but have you got some concepts on that, Sue?
Sue: Yeah, the subject line, a lot of people talk about how subject lines aren’t important. I never understood that. Subject lines are everything.
James: It’s like, I thought so.
Sue: If you don’t have a subject line, it’s like, they’re not going to open up the door. You need them to open up the door and come into your living room, and without a good subject line… So, you know, I think that actually, I got an email from, I can’t remember who it was, a couple days ago, and they were talking about someone who was filming. Some famous director was filming a film, and someone walked in, and they walked funny. And the guy who was producing it said, People don’t walk that way. Right? And that’s the exact same with emails. People don’t talk that way, either.
You know, how many emails do you get where the subject line is stilted, or it feels, you know, it’s like, Flash sale. It’s like no, please no, not that again. Right? Your subject line has to invoke curiosity. It has to sort of, even if you don’t have a literal question mark, in your mind, I have to give you a question mark so that you have to open it to find out what’s inside. But you have to do it in the way that we talk. There’s all these templates out there. I’m not a real big fan because we’ve been there, done that, seen that a million times. So think about how you would intrigue someone. Imagine you’re sort of flirting with people, right? You want to entreat them to open up that email. If your subject line is bad, and of course now there’s the the text underneath it so that, you know, you have like, you can work with them together so that it becomes irresistible. Because your biggest challenge is getting them to open it. Open rates are going down. Email has huge potential. We’ve talked about that. What we haven’t talked about is the underbelly, right? Email’s more crowded – you know, there’s like, literally a trillion (I mean, can you imagine that number?), a trillion emails sent every year? Trillions, like 127 trillion. I don’t even know what that number is.
James: That’s a lot.
Sue: You know, it’s possible to think about. It’s a lot.
James: I think half of them are in my inbox in filters.
James: Thankfully, I’ve created this product called Inbox Relief, and I gave it to members and most of them got sorted out. But the average person’s inbox has 10s of thousands of emails in there. It’s outrageous.
“You have to stand out, but don’t do it in a gimmicky way.”
Sue: Yeah. So you know, you have to stand out, but don’t do it in a gimmicky way. Do it in the way that you were taught.
James: Don’t be a trickster.
Sue: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.
James: There’s some stupid ones like, you know, Your commission is ready, or something, and they want you to join their affiliate program.
James: I don’t like those. They’re cheesy.
Sue: That’s, like, an unsubscribe merit in my book.
James: For me, it’s a reply and say, What are you thinking?
And you know, some other guy sent me six messages, and I replied to him saying, Please, can you let me know why you’re sending me these messages? He said, Oh, I’m so sorry; my VA added you to our autoresponder by accident. I don’t even know this guy. He’s from LinkedIn; he’s using one of those tools. Like, don’t do that.
Do people actually talk like that?
Sue: No, yeah. And I think that one of the easiest tricks by the way, for people, if you don’t want to hire a copywriter or if you don’t want to use all these templates, is you speak your emails, and you’ll be 100 miles ahead of everyone else, right? You speak your emails, you put it in some kind of audio service, like, you know, you just record your message. You get someone to just transcribe it, you clean it up a bit, and you use that as an email.
“Emails should feel like they’re a spoken conversation.”
The emails should feel like they’re a spoken conversation. Not this sort of grammatically perfect business correspondence. People don’t want that. That’s not how we talk to each other. If I send you a message, James, I’m not, like, making sure that every single word is perfectly crafted. It’s about being natural, being conversational. It’s about just sort of making people curious about what you’re doing, and how you can, you know, sort of touch their lives, but not in this – I don’t know, some people, it’s like, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that there are people who are in the corporate world too long. They start speaking strangely.
James: Corporate lingo. Let’s touch base.
Sue: Yeah, and we don’t want that in your emails, right?
James: That’s like, in personal emails, we’re not even saying, Hi Sue, and those sort of things, you know? It’s just like, now I’ll just start on the first line most of the time, and well, anyone who gets my emails usually knows that I’m fairly brief. But a brief, short email to an autoresponder can get massive responses. Like, the highest open rate I have on email consistently is almost 90 percent. And the email is, Are you Okay?
Sue: Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
James: And it’s sent to people who disappear from my community for too long. It’s called a slipping away auto sequence. I use Intercom to send it. And it’s just like, a couple of words; it’s saying, you know, what’s happening over there, or something similar to that, and a question mark. I don’t think I even sign it off. Or maybe I just put James. But I get a lot of replies to that. And I get to reactivate people, because they’ve been busy or whatever, but they do respond personally and conversationally as if I have just sent it to them, which is what I would send to them personally, if I was regimented enough to know exactly if they haven’t been showing up for 30 days or whatever. I would manually send it, but it just automate something I would manually send. And that’s one of the tests Dean Jackson has for if it’s appropriate to put in an autoresponder – would you send it personally? And then it’s okay.
Sue: Yeah. And I mean, this is a whole other subject that we probably don’t have time for, but you know, there are campaigns like that to reactivate people; there are campaigns to welcome people; there are campaigns to welcome them in once they’ve purchased. All of those, that’s sort of like what I call sort of the foundation of the house. And then there’s all these dynamic emails that we’re talking about.
James: Behaviorally-based, depending on if they click things, or don’t do something.
James: And that’s really where a big chunk of it happens. I did a training about the essential advanced email techniques that drive my sales and I put it into my membership. And that one’s really getting traction, because they’re the lost opportunities. You really want to contact people who visit a sales page and don’t buy. You want to visit people who buy something and don’t engage with you. You can definitely send specific, targeted, contextually relevant emails to people who click on a particular link in one of your emails that can put them into a sub sequence, and I know Andre Chaperon was famous for building those. I think I got inspired from his training in SuperFastBusiness Live one year to create some of those for myself. Very profitable as well.
The huge potential returns
Sue: Well, you know, the DMA, the Direct Marketing Association, depending on which year you’re talking about, they say that for every dollar you spend on email, you should be getting you should be getting a return of $44, which is huge. There’s nothing out there that gives you that kind of return. So my question to people is, are you getting that return? If you’re not, you need to really kind of look at email much more closely. I mean, I know Ezra, who does ecommerce, I mean, he says 30 percent, around 30 percent of his revenue comes from email. That’s a lot.
James: Oh yeah, it’s huge.
Sue: And you know, a lot. That’s huge.
James: That’s what you’d be looking for. So if someone does need help, where would they find you? Give us a reference online so we can follow you.
Sue: Yeah. Yeah, you can just go to my website, which is really easy. SueRice.com, speaking of personal brands. And you can just fill out the contact form there. I’m happy to talk to anyone.
You know, the one negative about emails is that I think a lot of people have fear around it – about the writing, about when to send things, how often to send it. And you know, we have a system that is pretty dialed in, that people can really get some really, really great results. So I’d be really happy to help anyone and see if we can get some of that $44 into your bank account.
Sue: Just think about that. If you’re earning $1,000 a month now you should be earning $44,000. You could do a lot with that extra $43,000, you know?
James: You know, I was looking at my own account year to date – 43.85 percent of my sales are from email, and lifetime value of my email customers is $2,188 and 15 cents.
Sue: That’s huge.
James: It is huge. Even earnings per lead is $218.23. So that’s per email lead that I’m driving.
Sue: What confuses me is everyone’s talking, you know, everyone’s obsessed with Facebook ads, or this or that. What confuses me is why people don’t talk about it more, because it’s sort of the goose laid the golden egg, right?
James: Oh, it’s off the charts. It’s great. Like, when I compare it, it’s actually higher than Facebook or organic social video traffic or AdWords. So it’s actually about double the next things. It’s really very, very, super powerful, so I would recommend it to anyone. Email is where it’s at. I’ve got lots of trainings on it in SuperFastBusiness. You’ve got service that you can provide people who want professional help with it.
Sue, always amazing chatting with you. Thank you for your tips on how to approach this and how to stop sending crappy emails and start sending amazing ones. Thank you so much for sharing.
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