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In this episode of In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris talk about email marketing strategy as it relates to growing your list – and keeping the names you have. How do you grow your list? How do you recover email addresses that have gone bad? What makes an email newsletter valuable? How long should your subscription form be? All this and more in this week’s podcast – tune in now!

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn
In this week’s In-Ear Insights we are talking about email marketing. Email Marketing is the timeless channel that has been around since the early 90s. Which boy internet era may as well be the Jurassic era. And it is consistently a strong driver performance for marketers who are good at it because it’s one of the few outreach channels that you own, that a company like Facebook or whoever can’t take away from you. So this week, want to talk about how to help grow your list and how to help recover your list. You may or may not have noticed, but in your email marketing software, your marketing automation platform, your list to decays. addresses go bad people change jobs, especially important in b2b. We do have a lot of churn. So Katie, let’s talk about what do you do a to grow your list and be to deal with the fact that a list may have decayed.

Katie Robbert
So yeah, so two questions grow And decay. Um, you know, I don’t think enough people really sort of put the call out there. Hey, sign up for the email newsletter. I don’t think enough companies promote the fact that they have an email newsletter. That’s actually one of our goals moving into next year is to continue to aggressively grow our newsletter database because it is data that we solely own. It’s not date, it’s not likes on a Facebook page. It’s not, you know, retweets on a Twitter account. It’s our own proprietary data set once we have curated it and so my dogs do you agree with that statement? which is fantastic. There must they must be seeing something about email newsletters somewhere

Christopher Penn
email marketing to based on the sheer amount of email I get from various, you know, pet related vendors, so

Katie Robbert
address your dog. But so how you go your email newsletter is you basically put out there? Well, first of all, you have to have an email newsletter, and you have to have an email newsletter that’s worth people’s time to read it because there’s a lot of email newsletters out there that are pretty terrible. So start with first, what is my point of view? What is it that I have for people that they can’t necessarily get any worlds or they can’t get this combination of things? What is the value to the reader? And so start first with the newsletter, because anybody can put one together, I could put one together from my dogs, but unless you care about what they have to say, nobody’s going to read it.

Christopher Penn
I read they are petfluencers.

Katie Robbert
mean there’s a term that should go away in 2020.

Christopher Penn
Well, so talk about that a little bit because I think that’s really, really important. You have you spent a number of years as a product manager helping to market and build product. And a lot of marketers see email newsletters is sort of an afterthought at best or Worse, they hand it to the sales folks and the sales folks turn it into a shell fest. As a product manager. How do you think about what how email what your email newsletter is a product, it is an alternate sale. If somebody doesn’t buy from your company today, but they sign up for your newsletter, you’ve made a sale, you just have not made the sale that you intended to make as a market, but it is still a sale. So the customer has bought this thing, but then they get this thing and it’s a steaming turd of self promotion. How to use a product manager help marketers get back on track to say like, let’s make this product valuable.

Katie Robbert
When I was a product manager and had a physical product, to me, it was very clear in my mind what an email newsletter should contain. Since we did have a regular schedule of product releases, I felt that the newsletter should be something that communicated. Here’s what’s new here. We heard you, here’s what we fixed, but also because of the industry that we were in. It was an opportunity to share. Here’s what’s happening. This industry, this industry being Substance Abuse and Mental Health, here are the new laws here the considerations, here’s how our product helps you meet these regulations and check those boxes that you, the clinician, then don’t have to worry about. And so it was an opportunity to share and educate. And newsletters in general should be doing that it can be self promotional, but how does that factor into the bigger picture of whatever industry or vertical that you happen to be in? So our newsletters, for example, we share a lot of third party articles and content with the goal of keeping people up to date on here’s what’s happening in the industry for data science and artificial intelligence, and for marketing. And then, here’s how our stuff helps you in that space. So we don’t lead with, hey, look at us by the thing. It’s, hey, here’s some value for you. So but that’s just our approach to a newsletter.

Christopher Penn
But what you said about email marketing I think is brilliant because it changes the perspective and allow it gives marketers some air cover. If you pivot your newsletter family, oh, it’s a marketing newsletter. No, this is a customer communication and you think about what can I give to my current paying customers? What would they find useful? then that gives you some defensive when the VP says, Hey, I’m coming, you’re not selling more stuff? No, no, this is a customer communication. This is not a market. This is customer communication. And a can get some more budget on the customer side, a customer service side, but be that really changes what you put in the newsletter because now it is customer focused. But oh, by the way, everything that you give to your customers is also going to help the people who are not customers and make them go, wow, this is what customers get. I kind of want to be a customer.

Unknown Speaker
Well, and the nice thing about email marketing is it’s depending on if you’re collecting your data in a very straightforward, clean way you can easily segment your list. And so you could have a customer centric newsletter. That’s more of like a The premier newsletter, or and then you can have the non customer newsletter of, here’s sort of everything you get Oh, and by the way, here’s little little sample of if you sign up as a customer, what you could also get. So there’s a lot of ways to play around with that data. And then doing a newsletter consistently so that people know when to expect it is also a helpful thing to I see a lot of newsletters that kind of, again, to use one of my favorite technical terms willy nilly go out whenever the person has time to send it out. You know, that’s not a great use of email marketing, email, newsletters should go out on a consistent basis on a schedule. You can do supplemental versions, you can do special additions, but giving your audience a sense of routine and expectations is a really helpful thing. So I’m going to push back on that a little bit because I think the only thing worse than a newsletter goes out willy nilly as a newsletter that goes out on Monday. The schedule, but the quality continues to decline because people just have to check the box to get it done. I still subscribe to a newsletter from a previous job, and the quality is just gone. It’s done so far and you know the content each week. Sometimes someone has copied and pasted the previous week’s newsletter in its entirety and just updated the header. And I’m like, this is not, this is not valuable anymore. In fact, this look makes you look clumsy. This makes you look like you have no attention to detail. It makes you look like no one’s in charge. So how do you balance that? Like, here’s, here’s the quality standard we have to meet and oh, and here is the schedule we have to meet. How do you balance those two.

Katie Robbert
So the quality issue is a big issue for a lot of people. And I think that it’s trying to do too much or trying to be everything to everyone. And so if you find yourself with this big long newsletter, that you know you’ve sort of gotten lost in and people have added things on to it’s okay to take a step back and make cuts out of it. And so, you know, one of the things that we do in our newsletter is we test different sections we test links within the newsletter, see Is anybody clicking on this? Every single link has its own set of tracking codes. And the first thing you should do as a marketer is a make sure that your newsletter has tracking codes, you know, that might be a different episode. But be certainly take a look at the data within you know, your open rates and then the links within the newsletters. Are people even clicking on the things in that section? Have you given them things to click on within the newsletter? And if nobody’s engaging with that section, maybe it’s time to take it out until somebody complains and says, Hey, where’d that thing go? I love that section. And that’s when you start to call down, you know, the things that aren’t working and you start to raise the quality back up. That’s not to say start adding a bunch of things in because you’ve made a bunch of cuts but just give people I would say shorter content that’s higher quality is better than longer content that does nothing for You.

Christopher Penn
One of my favorite hacks for our own newsletter is, we have a section called in the rearview mirror where we share data every weekend, what I’ve been doing for the last probably month and a half, it takes longer to put the newsletter together. But I will make a chart and that goes in the newsletter to accompany that section, which is a logical thing to do with a bunch of data you want to make it easy to understand, but it has the nice side effect of in order for you to view that chart you have to turn images on and once you turn images on, you turn all the tracking back on and so it’s kind of a nice way to to get around that. So in terms of the value that you can offer in a newsletter, one of the things that you can do is make some of the content visual. So that a you’re providing value, but be you’re also boosting your tracking. So okay, let’s say you’ve got a newsletter. You’ve got some email marketing that people would actually want. What’s the next step for getting people to pay attention to that?

Katie Robbert
You have to make it easy for them to sign up for your newsletter so I’ve seen a lot of newsletter forums that try to collect pretty much, you know, every little piece of information about you like, what’s your license plate number? What’s the name of your firstborn child? You know, what city? Did you first decide to study marketing in? Like, it’s, it’s a little bit ridiculous the number of questions. The goal is to get people to sign up. So we have two different forms. For our newsletter, we have a very simple pop up on our website, which I am not a fan of pop ups at all. I hate them, I think that they get in the way. However, it’s one of the most effective tools that we have for getting people to sign up for our newsletter because it’s literally one thing, put in your email address and click Submit and boom, you’re signed up for our newsletter. And that’s all it takes. Because what we do from there is we grow the relationship with the person we get to know that we can collect all of that information later. And I think that that’s one of the mistakes that marketers make is trying to get get everything up front. And it feels like too big of a commitment for people. They just want to give you their email address, check out your stuff, and then maybe decide if they want to, you know, continue with you long term. And so in terms of growing your newsletter list, make it easy for people to sign up for it. Make your newsletter, find double on your website, give them a sample of your newsletter, if you aren’t archiving all of the additions on your site, just you know, give them here’s what the content looks like. And then you can start pushing out that form or that link to the page across your different social media platforms. If you’re sending out regular emails to your customers, add it into your signature. Hey, did you know we have a free newsletter sign up for it here? There’s a lot of different ways and so what I would do is I would take a look at my data to see where are people coming from. I would set up the newsletter form as a goal in my Google Analytics, and then I can start to click information to figure out what channels are effective for converting people to conversion, being the newsletter signup, and then continue to push out organically. Hey, sign up for my newsletter. Now if my goal for signups increases, I may consider putting some money behind getting people signed up, but for the most part, you should be able to do it organically.

Christopher Penn
Mm hmm. The other thing that I think is really important, and you just did a webinar on this not too long ago is using attribution analysis to figure out where you get your existing conversions from, and then focusing more on those want to talk a bit more about that.

Katie Robbert
Yeah, absolutely. So you can do a lot of attribution analysis within Google Analytics out of the box. There’s, I think, five or six models that come straight out of the box with Google Analytics, with the assumption that you have one or more goals set up in your Google Analytics, and then making sure that all of your settings are turned on correctly, which is a whole different thing. Episode. If you want to know, at a very transactional place, like, how do people sign up, then you can use first touch your last touch attribution because you literally just want to know, where are they coming from? Are they signing up for my newsletter, so you can look at first touch, which is the first thing they do in their journey or last touch, which is the last thing they do in their journey. We tend to like something that doesn’t come stock out of Google Analytics, which is called Markov chain modeling. Because what we see and what we know of humans is that they very rarely make a decisive choice. They kind of like putter around, maybe I’ll do this thing, maybe I’ll do that thing. I’m going to go over here and look at this. So there’s a shiny object over here. And then eventually, they come around to making the decision and do it taking the action that you want them to take. Markov chain modeling allows you to account for that in decisiveness or that kind of like, you know, puttering around I’m eventually going to get to the decision. And so what we’ve done for ourselves is we took our one Google Analytics goal of newsletter signup, ran it through a Markov chain model to see this is the path that someone takes before they get to your newsletter so we can start to figure out where do we need to be promoting our newsletter so that we get more signups essentially.

Christopher Penn
And then from those paths, what we do is figure Okay, Facebook is the thing, then we that’s a probably a channel to run some ads on or LinkedIn is the thing. We might want to put some extra budget there. Once you know what’s already working, it becomes much sit more simple to double down on what works, maybe doing some investments, what works, and then not spend time or effort on those things that don’t work that do not work. I was looking at my own analytics this morning for my daily podcast, and I saw that medium was a substantial driver for conversions to my website and like, Huh, I’ve been doing kind of a half baked job on medium thus far, like maybe I need to rethink that as we go into 2020. If it’s already driving 6% conversions for my newsletter, and I’m not trying at all, then it might be time to, to double down on that. And the other thing I saw was that I was overly reliant on organic search for my newsletter. I was like, yeah, that’s not a great place to be. I don’t feel comfortable about that, because it’s too much risk. Too many eggs are in one basket. So it’s time to diversify that. And I have on my list for myself. In the coming year. I need to spend a little more time with Bing and Bing Webmaster Tools because we know that it’s 30 to 40% of like device searches and things Amazon’s smart device uses being as its default search engine, a fair number of Apple devices do that now. So it’s like it’s had to move to spread the wealth a little bit, but without that analysis, I would Knowing that

Katie Robbert
well, and I think that that’s a really good point to reiterate, is by doing that kind of analysis, any analysis of where your customers or potential customers are coming from. So you just mentioned, you didn’t realize that media was such a strong driver. It’s only 6%. But that’s, you know, when you start to look over time, that adds up pretty big. And so by knowing which channels you should be focusing on, you are likely to get the results that you’re after versus I, what do they call it, the spray and pray, you know, where you just sort of like spread everything evenly across all of the potential channels. You know, one of the and I don’t say this often, one of the nice things about social media, especially Facebook, if you have a business profile, is that they do make it within your profile page a little bit easier to indicate, hey, I have a newsletter sign up for it and then you can export that data from Facebook and just bring it into your CRM. Or email marketing system, wherever you’re capturing your data. So there are ways to sort of have the other systems do the work for you.

Christopher Penn
Yep. The number I’ll leave you with there is the raised number. If you look at a digital marketing channel and your attribution analysis, if the number is greater than the raise that you want that maybe you want to focus that as a medium of 6% of years of yourself, ask yourself what I like a 6% raise. Yes, I would. So I should perhaps spend some more time on that channel. Whereas Instagram is like point 02 5%. Like, do I want to two tenths of 1% raise? No, I don’t. So I’ll skip that one. But all right, let’s quickly tackle decay. So email addresses go bad all the time. First thing we need to do is clean out our list of bad addresses. But then how do we win those back? One of the tricks that we’ve used in the past to great effect is remembering that not everybody updates their email address on their social media profiles, so you can upload lists of bad addresses, addresses have gone bad Things like Facebook retargeting systems, and some percentage of those people still have that email in their profile, you can add that in Facebook will identify them. And then you can show ads to those people saying hey, you may have changed jobs recently Don’t forget to re subscribe to the Trust Insights newsletter over TrustInsights.ai so you can keep getting our content even though you’re no longer that job if you know those addresses are gone bad there’s no harm in trying to reclaim those and claw those back. So that’s one of the little tips there so to recap, you need an email newsletter doesn’t suck you need to reach out on the channels and double down what’s working and and pare back and what’s not and to the extent that you have emails in your list that have gone bad try to use social media advertising again when those sentences we try not to say too often things we like but try and use the ad systems to claw those back any any final thoughts on email marketing, Katy.

Katie Robbert
Don’t ignore it. It’s one of The most underutilized channels across the board every I can say with confidence almost every analysis that we’ve run, either for attribution or just general channels, channel marketing. Email is often the sleeper and forgotten about and oh, but we do have an email newsletter Oh, we do have an email marketing system. Don’t be afraid to use email. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people, the worst thing that can happen is they that they unsubscribe and move on with their lives. So give it a shot. Don’t forget about it, start doing it and put it into your 2020 plan.

Christopher Penn
All right, and if you have not already subscribed to the Trust Insights newsletter, please go over to Trust insights.ai and subscribe to our newsletter you get fresh data every week of what’s happening in the industry, in that you I guarantee you will not find anywhere else. And while you’re there, please subscribe to the YouTube channel and and everything else that we got going on and hopefully we looked forward to sending you some email soon. Take care


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