We recently sat down with our fearless leader Jeff Walker to talk about email marketing, and get some of his thoughts on what he’s learned over the past 16+ years building multiple million-dollar online businesses in four different markets.
Here’s what Jeff had to say about three of the biggest questions we’re asked by those who are just getting started with email marketing.
#1: How often should you mail your list?
Question: There’s quite a bit of controversy surrounding the question of how often you can safely mail your list without being annoying and causing a flood of unsubscribes. Or risking them forgetting who you are altogether. Do you believe it’s possible to mail your list too little or too often?
Answer: “Most people err on the side of not mailing enough. Monthly is not often enough. You should be in their inbox at a minimum of every week. It does vary by market. Some markets will tolerate far more often.
“When I was in the stock market niche, we mailed daily because the market changes every single day. So it makes sense to be in their inbox daily. The optimal frequency is somewhere between daily and weekly. Longer than weekly, you’re starting to lose efficacy with your list. They’re going to start to forget who you are.
“If you mail to your list once a month, they will forget you. Their inbox is too full, and if they don’t notice one of your emails, and it goes two months without them hearing from you. you can forget It’s just not often enough, and they’ll forget you.”
#2: How often should you sell in your emails?
Question: Another point of controversy in email marketing is how often you can sell to your list without burning your relationship with the list. In your experience, what’s the best ratio of giving away free content versus making offers to your list?
Answer: “There really isn’t any right or wrong answer here. It depends on how it’s done. You can offer tremendous value even when you’re selling. You can build value into a pitch. Just because there is a link to buy something, or a link to go to a sales message, doesn’t mean it’s a bad email or that it’s going to hurt your relationship.
“There are some who say you’ve got to start off selling right from the very first email. If you give them free content, you train them that you’re just going to give them free content. I personally don’t agree with this. There are others who say you’ve got to give 80% content and 20% pitch. I don’t necessarily agree with that either.
“I think it depends on your market and your niche, but mostly it depends on how you present your offers. If you can present your offer as a compelling story that adds value in some way, then I think you can pitch with relative frequency and still have a great relationship. I’ve seen it done.
“You go back to Paul Harvey, the famous radio announcer, and every single one of his radio shows had lots of commercials, but they were built right into the show in a way that they felt like part of the content.
“So I don’t think that having a sales message in your email necessarily degrades your email or makes it less valuable. I think you can build huge value into a sales message. But it’s all in how you do it. It’s all in having the right tone and providing some value in some way.”
#3: Are long emails or short emails better?
Question: One classic question in copywriting is length of copy – should you write long copy or short copy? So do you believe long emails or short emails are more effective?
Answer: “I’m a big fan of never being predictable. I like to use some short emails and some long emails. So I will mix it up… sometimes I might use an email that is maybe 30-50 words and then a link. But my next email might be a well=written 600 word story-based email.
“If you’re going to go with a long email, sometimes you go with a link early on right after the first paragraph or so. Maybe have a 30 or 40 word first paragraph and then have a link. If you’re going to do that, your first link should really be set up as a curiosity link. So they’re really curious about clicking that link to find out what it is. Then you give them some more copy that builds out your story in a more full manner, and that takes them down to another link.
“A PS can also be very, very powerful. I often use a PS in different manners just to stay unpredictable. Sometimes it will be a one line PS, sometimes there will be a couple of lines. Sometimes I’ll have a short email, maybe a 100 word email, and then I’ll have a PS that’s 400 words long.
“My rule is I don’t want to be predictable. I don’t want do crazy stuff just to do it – just for the sake of shock value – but I always want to keep them guessing.
You also have to play to your strengths. Some people write great long emails and some people write great short emails. So play to your strengths.”
The Jeff Walker Team
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