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Don’t Make These 5 Email Marketing Mistakes with Sue Rice

In the podcast:

01:51 – The classic mistakes that people make in Email Marketing
02:27 – Assuming it doesn’t work anymore
03:56 – Hard-selling
04:57 – How people use Email Marketing the wrong way
06:23 – How long does it take to build a customer trust?
11:22 – Writing email in a way too stiff and too formal
12:31 – Why you need to add a call to action in your Email Marketing
16:41 – They see email as a separate entity in internet marketing
21:52 – Combining Email with Facebook Ads
23:14 – They don’t segment it

Sue Rice and I reveal the most common email marketing mistakes and importantly, how you can avoid making them. Email is still the most profitable marketing channel, so be sure to listen to this episode.


Download Don’t Make These 5 Email Marketing Mistakes with Sue Rice in PDF


Ilana: Welcome into today’s episode of Talking Web Marketing. I am so excited to have today’s guest who is Sue Rice. For those of you who don’t know Sue is an amazing email marketer and she has been very generous with her time today and has come on today’s show to share some really valuable tips about email marketing. Welcome to today’s show Sue.

Sue: Thank you so much for having me.

Ilana: It’s a pleasure to have you. We’ve been talking for quite awhile offline. So I kind of wish we had pressed record a little bit before but we have a jam packed episode today so Sue what are we gonna to be talking about today?

Sue: Well I have been doing Internet marketing since probably about 15 years at this point and I’ve worked in a lot of different areas. I’m a copywriter by trade. But as we know we all have to wear lots of different hats. And what I’ve realized over time is really the most important tool in any internet marketers toolkit is email marketing. It might not be the sexiest but it’s definitely the best in terms of getting results for you. So hopefully we can talk about why that is today.

Ilana: That sounds good. So before we hit record we were talking about I guess the classic mistakes that people make when it comes to email marketing. So maybe we can sort of touch on the mistakes that you know you see people make and then of you see how what you feel the better ways to go about a about marketing because as you say it has been around for a really really long time and there’s a lot of talk in the market about you know is email marketing dead and all these sort of quite scandalous comments. So I think you know anyway why don’t you start with one of the first ways that you see email marketing.

The classic mistakes that people make in Email Marketing

#1: Assuming it doesn’t work anymore

Sue: Yeah the first one is what you just said. I mean the first mistake people make is assuming it doesn’t work anymore and in certain circles it’s sort of like a cool thing to say oh you know email that’s just like so passe. But what I would like to suggest is that email is not dead but how you view it might be and how you use it might be because when you look at the stats when it comes to email, it absolutely is not dead.

I mean if you look at it in terms of for example the Direct Marketing Association has looked at the ROI that you can get in email marketing for every dollar you spend you can get a return of $38. There is absolutely no other tool out there that’s going to give you that none. That email is where it’s all happening. So that means just imagine what that means if you invest a thousand dollars that means you’re going to get $38,000 back. That’s a number you simply cannot ignore. And some outfits say that it’s even higher, can be as high as $44, $70 for every dollar you spend.

I saw a recent post from Justin Burke who’s a world leader in Tropic. And he said email marketing is my number one source of revenue based on my own company’s data. Easiest way to double or triple our business is to double or triple our email list sites. And he thinks that like 80% of his revenues in any given two month period comes from email. So it’s you know is it old? Absolutely. Is it not very sexy? Probably. But does it work? The answer is you know it’s definitely in the numbers.

#2: Hard-selling

I mean there was a study one last statistic I won’t bought he with too many but one McKinsey did a study and they believe that email is four hundred times more effective than either a Facebook or Twitter in acquiring new customers. So you can’t ignore those numbers. But I do think that a lot of people actually execute their email marketing in none optimal way shall I say to try to be polite about it. So I mean I think that comes the second mistake, right? So the second mistake, I mean, you know none of us have to go very hard. You just have to look at your inbox right now and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Ilana: For inspiration of mistake.

Sue: For inspiration about what not to do is selling too hard. It’s just insane. You know people, I mean just think about it as a parallel of relationship right. Imagine that you met someone at a conference or at someone’s dinner party and the first thing that out of their mouth is would you like to buy a house, would you like to buy this or would you, we would never do that with regular relationships but everyone does it with through their email marketing.

How people use Email Marketing the wrong way

They blast off, they don’t ask, they don’t talk about the person’s problems, they don’t talk about the person at all. They’re just talking about their stuff and wanting to hawk their stuff. And it’s a huge problem and it’s one of the reasons why the email has about a reputation because it’s like, you know, who wants that stuff in on their mobile phones or in their inbox that no one wants that. There’s way, way too much.

People are selling, they’re not trying to develop a relationship and the whole point of email marketing, I like to pick draw the parallel of dating. So you get people leads in through Facebook. You sort of like, that’s like the flirting stage, right? You’re flirting with them you’re offering them a lovely lead but then the rubber meets the road when you get them on your list and you start to nurture that relationship. You start to date with them you tell them a little bit about yourself, you ask them about them, you know.

You go on dates with them, you offer them, you know I’m virtually speaking you know a cup of coffee or a meal or whatever. And then eventually you ask them to marry them but you don’t do that. You do that, way down the line. You have to nurture the relationship first and most people are trying to get the marriage on the first email, on the first day, right. And it feels that way. It feels pressured and it’s why a lot of people think that marketing is sort of swarm and all of that because the people are in too much of a rush. You need to warm people up. You need to give them a reason to want to have them in your universe.

There is a stat I don’t have in front of me but I heard there’s a stat that people only open up like 10 different emails. So you know you have to be in that trust. What people don’t understand is one of the most rare currencies out there right now is trust. It’s our biggest asset. And you have to build that trust and you don’t build the trust by asking people to buy on you know right outside of the gate then that’s what most people do.

Ilana: So I think some people might be wondering you know. I guess it’s probably an impossible question to answer but you know how long do you reckon. It takes to build that trust. I mean is that a function of how long the emails are all of a time. What would you say?

How long does it take to build a customer trust?

Sue: Well I think it depends I mean the game just to bring back the relationship analogy if you think about it you know with someone who’s super desperate and really needs a solution and really wants to get married right away probably ask them the second email, right? But most people you know it’s sort of like a marriage proposal. They’re really desperate. If I get to say yes right away, it might not be a great marriage, right?

So a lot of people have made a little bit more sort of foreplay so we say you know I think it’s a difficult question to answer but I do know one of the sort of express trains to getting up that trust and getting at that relationship and getting at a point where people are interested in what your product is and what you have to offer.

I know everyone talks about storytelling and I feel like it’s somewhat the whole concept of storytelling sometimes can be a bit misused. But what I do and it seems to work really, really well with each email. I tell a little story and it’s not a long story. It can be literally one sentence, it can be a quote, it can be a legend, it could be a fable, it could be about something I read on Facebook, it would be something that happened to me. But it’s something that engages the person and makes them feel warmer towards me makes me more human and makes the conversation more human.

And then, so I tell stories but you know like I said I’m not saying you have to be a novelist because these are really simple, simple, simple one, two, three sentence stories and then what I do is the second piece of the formulas I kind of tell a moral of the story. So which brings the moral of the story is sort of the bridge between the story itself which makes it more humane. And what I’m ultimately going to do which is a call to action which is to ask them, invite them to do something, to watch a webinar or to buy a product, whatever that call to action might be. So the moral of the story is sort of the heart of the email and it allows people to understand why that story’s important to kind of translate the story to you.

And then I complete this sort of three step process by inviting them like I said to do something. Sometimes it’s not for them to buy but sometimes to go see something, to look at a video, to watch a webinar or whatever it is that while it’s super, super simple. I learned this by the way I should say I learned this formula from a guy named Mac Fury who is completely, he’s a complete genius. He doesn’t do email marketing anymore but I learned that it is so simple and so powerful that one formula. You start implementing it and it’s great for those people because one of the mistakes people make aside from selling too hard is not doing anything at all.

A lot of people get leads and then they never send one single email. I think a lot of people talk about. They are too scared to think up there an email right. And so if you think of in this little story formula that I just shared is a great way to kind of it makes it just it’s like writing a little mini note to someone you know.Oh today I was doing this and this is what it means for us. What do you think?

So it’s a very simple straightforward way that kind of makes it easier for the person who’s being communicated to but that also makes it easier for the person who sent an email because it becomes, it feels more natural.

#3: Writing email in a way too stiff and too formal

Speaking of that that’s the other mistake that people make. It’s the way they write is way too stiff, way too formal. Write an email like you talk I mean if you don’t feel like writing literally get out a recording device and say your email and someone transcribe it and send that you should be using contractions and you should not be perfectly grammatical. Don’t worry because one of the biggest turnoffs emails something you know we don’t write emails to our friends like that. They’re full of typos and they’ve got mistakes.

And you know you don’t want it to look sloppy. But still I think it needs to feel informal. Comfortable like you would be talking to a real person.

Ilana: Well I guess people put their guard down there, don’t they?

Sue: Yeah I think that’s part of the you know I mean there I have people who I get emails from. It surprises me I didn’t think I would be following them but I am riveted by the writing and what they’re saying. So I keep following what they do and I eventually end up buying. But there are rare gem ‘coz as you know the inbox is full of the opposite.

Why you need to add a call to action in your Email Marketing

Ilana:Yes,sad but true. So going back to your formula with the email, you said there’s a call to action at the bottom of the email. Would you say you have a call to action in every email?

Sue: You absolutely. So this is the thing we talked about the error of trying to sell too hard. There’s also the opposite end of the spectrum where you sell too little, right? One of that is just not sending an email at all. So you’re obviously not going to sign anything if there’s no email at all. But also people try to write and I have worked with people like this who they are reticent to they’re afraid that it’s going to be too pushy if they have.

But you know the reality is it is called email marketing for a reason. We’re marketing and the problem you have is if you don’t have a call to action in each of your emails and if you sort of habituate your email list to not having call to actions when you put them in there they’re going to be like oh my gosh. Why strange it’s all happening now. So what you do there’s a way of doing it. It’s just like I mean there’s a way of doing it where it’s simple and it’s elegant and it feels seamless and it doesn’t feel you know a heavy duty but at the end of the day you’re not going to get that $38 on that dollar if you don’t ask for the sale.

Ilana:Sure. ButI guess you’re not selling it but it sort of there is some action that I have to do.

Sue: That’s right. You know I think that’s the balance. And I think that you know for example if you have a membership site and people haven’t bought into it you can invite them into that membership every site, every single time if you want. I wouldn’t ask people every single email that you send out to spend $5,000. The people will probably add that won’t work as well. Of course depending on who your target is.

Ilana:I guess it’s all in the framing though.

Sue:It is in the framing and that’s what the story does. The story and the lesson of the story or the moral of the story, does it frames the invitation? And you need to think of even if they’re as you’re asking them to buy. It’s still an invitation to see more, to get more, to be part of your universe. And I mean it’s just like you do in real life. You asked someone over coffee and then you say would you like to go you know spend a day at wherever you know at the beach. You know you sort of gradually increase you up the ante as you move forward in that relationship.

Ilana: What about the people who might be sort of listening to this and feeling like oh my God you know where would I get such inspiration for such stories like they always like I run out of potential stories to use. Where do you get inspiration?

Sue: I mean stories to me again. I am a writer so I probably have a tiny bit of a bias on this. But to me stories are absolutely everywhere we don’t even know. But if you think about it every single day we tell stories. We tell stories about how it happens to our kids and or what happened to our boyfriend or our husbands or. Whatever we talk about. We talk about stories when you look at the Facebook News Feed. All of it is I mean is stories. Stories about what’s happening politic or a tragedy that happened or something amazing a triumph or there are stories absolutely everywhere.

There are stories in books, there are stories and you know that you can dip into stories that you know sort of common culture stories that are from TV series or movies, books. It’s just it’s really endless. I mean I would suggest that you kind of somehow have like a little kind of little folder whether it’s a virtual one or a real one which collects stories that have intrigued your interest. The one thing that I didn’t say is, this is the one thing people make mistake. They think they need to tell a story that’s related directly to their product.

Now every story can be linked to what you’re doing. No matter what the topic this is. I think it probably goes beyond this particular podcast but the way you do that you do that through that bridge which is the lesson of the story. You can link any story with what you do. You just need to be a bit clever about that. But the stories get people’s guards down. They create a great relationship. Like I said it’s the express train to getting people to like you and people who like you are people who buy from you.

Ilana: All right. What’s the next mistake people make?

#4: They see email as a separate entity in internet marketing

Sue: The other mistake that people make is, this isn’t just related to email. I think this is related to the internet marketing world in general is that they see email as sort of separate entity completely separate you know things like Facebook or Twitter or whatever. And I think everything is part of an ecosystem, right? Email is part of it to me it’s at the heart of an ecosystem but it’s still part of an ecosystem and it doesn’t stand on its own so just to give it let’s give an example of. Sort of how email interfaces and integrates with Facebook.

Combining Email with Facebook Ads

So there’s ways now where you can take, you can actually create custom audiences that you can use in Facebook from people who have reacted in certain ways with your emails. So for people who haven’t opened the link or people who have opened a particular email or people who’ve clicked on a link or haven’t clicked on a link and you can create custom audiences depending on their behavior in your email and then take those less and retarget your message or repeat the message on Facebook in their News Feed.

Because we are as individuals we don’t have an email life and a Facebook life and a Twitter life and or whatever, Instagram life. We have a life and we see messages all day, every day. And I don’t know about you but I don’t always remember where I’d seen them. I’ve read things here ever. I’ve got you know whether it’s been a search or whether it’s been on a news feed or someone shared it to me. So you need to think about your messaging. Email is a messaging platform. Facebook has a messaging platform as well. So we need to have them working together so you can you have them complement each other.

Another thing that people think about a lot or should to talk about a lot is messenger. Things like messenger like Facebook Messenger. There’s no reason you can’t have some of your email autoresponder sequences. Be programmed into a messenger so you actually show that those messages through a Facebook Messenger where the open rate is much, much higher than an inbox and it but it’s the same principle. It’s just email marketing outside the inbox, if that makes sense. Not vine with it, it’s working with it.

One of the things that people think about when they think about email marketing is that it’s all about autoresponder sequences which are sequences that you set up when people behave a certain way and that is super, super important. That’s the base of your email marketing but I think the problem with only doing autoresponder sequences at some point the autoresponders sequence runs out, right. And so people will set up an auto responder sequence. It could be 10 emails. it could be 5 emails it could be 50 e-mails but at some point that the autoresponder sequence ends, right?

And then they don’t send anything. So it’d be like once again dating someone, courting them, asking them out every night and then all of a sudden silent romance. So you need to be sure that you’re continuously nurturing. You know one or the emails broadcast emails sent or an email marketing is not something that ends like a conversation. It should be something ongoing. So that’s a mistake also people make.

Ilana: Going back to what you were talking about you know email being part of an ecosystem and especially you know how easy it is now to combine the facebook ads with emails. Look I do this a lot with my clients and the one reason that we find at work so well first of all it’s like people think well why would I want to pay for it when I can do it for free on email.

The answer is it’s actually not a lot of extra budget like we often say five or ten dollars a day maximum. You will still reach your Facebook database with your email database via Facebook. But for the very reason that people can share it. Because people share ads especially if you write an ad in such a way that doesn’t feel like an ad and people will easily share that Facebook ad with their own ecosystem which they are unlikely to forward an email to all their friends. It’s so easy that share button in that ad makes your message to get spread far and wide.

Sue: Oh that’s such a good point. I mean we were laughing before we started recording this five about in 2013 Jay Baer who’s a big expert on Internet marketing. He he made a speech and he talked about how email marketing is Madonna. Sort of like the old lady who’s kind people consider a bit boring but she still dominates things and Facebook is like Lady Gaga, right? And who’s a bit younger, a bit sexier and everything but you know my feeling is love has mellowed gray but you know there’s a place for both of them to be honest they can both share the same stage right and they should share the same stage and they should be singing the same song together because they’re both powerhouses in their own right.

Yes, you rightly pointed out you know there’s some is much greater than the parts. So you know why not bring them together. Don’t think of them as like silence. You know that they’re completely independent of each other because they’re not and people don’t consume them that way.

Ilana: Facebook did a study where they analyzed people who were combining the emails with their Facebook ads and they found that customers were 22% more likely to purchase. Who knows if that number is entirely accurate but there’s no doubt that marketers or business owners would get more sales by by doing so. There’s just, I don’t know how much more I think that we’re obviously very different businesses but it’s undoubtably bought. For minimal extra cost.

Sue:I absolutely agree with that. And it’s such an easy thing to do. It’s you know you can have it sort of almost going automatic on automatic pilot right. You setup the custom audiences you have it organically growing and you just and it’s like it’s such an obvious thing to do. And a lot of people just failed to do it. I mean you have to be careful how you do it and how you create those retargeting ads. Because even, I mean just a couple days ago I had someone like I saw you were on this page and I said you did this and you know you can feel stock, kerry-ish. I don’t know that there were. If you’re not careful you need to be done with elegance as well. You know I say you were interested but not make it feel to like you’re talking someone.

#5: They don’t segment it

Ilana: Yes. Couldn’t agree more. All right. So what is the next mistake people make?

Sue: I think the problem with one of the biggest mistakes people make as email marketing has evolved is that they don’t segment it. I mean we’ve all received the email about buying the product that we’ve already bought. All of us received that one which is just, it’s like annoying or you know. Basically, the whole concept of segmentation is that we send out emails in response to people’s behavior, right? And if someone’s bought a product don’t invite them to buy it a second time.

If someone has said to you they’re not whether they’ve actually said it or they’ve said through their actions. I’m not interested in a particular type of product. Don’t send them notices about that you know. And there’s a lot of different ways that you can segment people out in terms of age, in terms of location, in terms of product, purchase behavior terms, what they’ve opened, whether there’s a million different ways that you can do it. It’s sort of an art in of itself segmentation but it’s crucial. To the efficacy of your email marketing because the days of sending out a blanket newsletter to everyone to be honest you know you can do that with you know you can send out.

For example a podcast right here you can send that out to your entire list because that’s an interesting piece of content for everyone. But when you start actually asking people to buy products or to be involved in you know a virtual workshop or whatever it is you want to be sure that you’re sending out that invitation to the appropriate people because you’re going to even if you’re sending out to a much smaller subsegment of your list you’re going to have a much better or a while that you’re sending it to the right people and it just makes sense right.

Ilana: And you’re not going to upset people and then they’re going to pay more attention to your emails.

Sue: Exactly. But I would say that is the biggest mistake people make and it’s silly because there are a lot of seagrams out there that can easily help you do that segmentation. They sort of do it for you. You just put in the right systems, the right tagging are in you know up front that you can create those sublists. Really, really easily. So in other words don’t think of your list as a whole list. Think of it as a bunch of sublists together where people shown you through their action what they’ve done, what they’ve opened, what their interest to them.

Ilana: That makes a lot of sense. Thank you so much. So have we reached the end of all these terrible mistakes that people make.

Sue: Yeah. Hopefully this is helpful to people because I think e-mail is like I said it’s probably not the sexiest tool around but it’s certainly your most powerful tool that you can use.

Ilana: No doubt about it. I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. Contrary to a lot of the chatter in the marketplace that I certainly hear people calling it that it’s over. I’m certainly not of that belief.

Sue: Yeah there’s a lot of different reasons why that is. I love there’s this quote I ran across this quote the other day from the Atlantic magazine where they said you can’t kill email. It’s the cockroach of the Internet. I mean that as a compliment.Yes that’s resilience is good.

Ilana:It will survive a nuclear blast.

Sue: It will probably survive the nuclear bomb.

Ilana: That’s fantastic. Well thank you so much for coming on today’s show. So it was a pleasure to have you on. And it’s always a pleasure to talk to you. And you know thank you so much for sharing your infinite wisdom with our business today.

Sue: Thank you for the opportunity.

Ilana: And for those of you who would like to find out more about what you do and where they can find you has a best way that people can find you.

Sue: Yeah. You can check out my website which is slice slice.international. And if you have any specific sort of personal questions feel free to email me at sue@slice.nternational.

Ilana: And I highly recommend Sue’s email marketing services they are brilliant. All right thank you so much Sue.Always a pleasure.

Sue:Okay thanks, bye.

Ilana:Bye.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode at Talking Web Marketing. I really hope you enjoyed this episode. We do know that she prepared to give it lots of nuggets of gold for you.

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