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So What? Newsletter Marketing and Advertising

So What? Marketing Analytics and Insights Live

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In this week’s episode of So What? we focus on Newsletter marketing and advertising. We walk through metrics to pay attention to, how to promote your newsletter, and what to think about long term. Catch the replay here:

In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • How to analyze your email performance data
  • How to attract more subscribers
  • How to make your email list work harder

Upcoming Episodes:

  • Change management – 7/8/2021


Have a question or topic you’d like to see us cover? Reach out here:

AI-Generated Transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:17
Well, Hey everyone, happy July 1, we have made it halfway through 2021. I’m Katie joined with Chris and John for so what the marketing analytics and insights live show kudos to Chris and John for holding it down for the past couple of weeks while I was doing more personal stuff, because we are in 2021, which is just a continuation of 2020. So, Today on the show we are talking about you guys missed me, I know you did. It’s amazing, we’re

John Wall 0:47
still on. That’s the big thing, we didn’t get to some kind of trouble that we couldn’t get out of?

Katie Robbert 0:52
Well, because there’s you always just have me in the back of your mind like with Katie. So, to get down to business, on today’s show, we are talking about newsletter marketing and advertising. And so we want to try to figure out how to analyze your email performance, how to attract more subscribers, and make your email list work harder for you. One of the big reasons why we want to talk about this is AI. Chris, I think this came up last week when we were talking about even more changes with digital advertising, specifically Facebook, and Facebook is making it even more difficult for you to get your ads shown. And prices are also going up in terms of being able to pay for ads. And so what do you as a marketer have control over how can you reach your audience? So that’s, that’s why we’re talking about newsletters today.

Christopher Penn 1:49
Yeah, that’s true. I mean, we’ve heard now from many, many people, including over in the analytics for marketers, slack group, conversations and questions people are having about it. Hey, my Facebook accounts. My ads have been pervasive and dropping like a rock or I my facebook account got canceled by some AI? What should I be doing? So yeah, email is one of those things that is enjoying, it’s now what 50 ish, some odd years old. Overall, it is the one of the few assets in digital marketing that you actually own and have full control over and it still performs is still one of the biggest performers. When it comes to lead generation to conversion, B2B, B2C doesn’t really matter. It’s, it’s just a goldmine. So the three things we’re going to talk about today, performance data, subscribers, and making your list work harder are all things that you’re going to need some data for. So I’m going to be using the data from my personal mailing list the almost timely newsletter, but obviously use the system and the thing that you have access to the first place we start. And this is very, very common, is in just looking at basic performance data. So let’s go ahead and go to screen share here. And this is what you’re going to get out of pretty much every email marketing system on the planet, right is the issue of the newsletter. It’s the how many emails that you send, and then how many of them got read. So the first thing we want to do real simple math here is just look at the read rate or the open rate. And that’s nothing more than taking your reads divided them by your sentence. And this is we’re looking at now at going back to the last 100 issues of the newsletters, let’s go ahead and add some decimal places here. And to make it easier, I’m going to go ahead and just turn it to a very simple line chart. Now, again, depending on your email software,

Katie Robbert 3:49
you make it just a little bit bigger to re

Christopher Penn 3:52
Yeah, let’s do that.

Make it gigantic.

So this is the last 100 issues of the newsletter, and we’re looking at is just the the read rate right in the middle of the chart is on 10% you can see that except for a couple of stinkers here. For the most part, the read rate was was hovering around, you know, eight or 9% a couple of years ago, and that is bumped up to around 14 15% and then it’s kind of settling in right around the 12 13% line. So first things first, I look at this and go Okay, things are holding pretty steady, which is not bad, especially since the number of subscribers to the list has gone up dramatically in that time period. If I move this chart over here and I just do the exact same thing. But with subscribership. Again, those sends you can see those those little anomalies. Those are just one off emails for very small Part of the list. For the most part, the list has been growing pretty, pretty steadily, you know, to two and a half years ago, we’re just under 50,000 subscribers now, we’re closing in on 250,000 subscribers. So despite growth, the performance has stayed pretty much the same. So when I think about email marketing metrics, there’s impressions or opens, there’s click, there’s there’s reads, or there’s clicks, and then there’s conversions, right? If your subscriber numbers are not increasing, you’ve probably got a marketing problem, right, or you’ve got a churn problem, people are leaving your list because they’re not getting what they want. If you’re getting on here, your click numbers are down. If you’re just not getting people to engage with then you’ve probably got a content problem. So there’s a couple different ways to interpret these metrics. But this is one of the places most marketers start. This isn’t where you should stop, though. Good, Katie.

Katie Robbert 5:59
Well, I was gonna say, Chris, just to clarify, in terms of subscribers, I think one of the little nuance pieces that’s worth mentioning is you do constant cleaning of your list as well. So you remove emails that are no longer out of date, so they don’t count toward the subscriber number. So you’re talking, your whole list is good emails that can fit our email level, for lack of a better term people who will actually receive it, you’re not counting bad emails, and you know, older out of date emails, like so, as part of counting that number, you need to constantly be cleaning your list, at least, you know, every few months. I know, Chris, you do yours a lot more frequently than that.

Christopher Penn 6:43
Yeah, weekly. And I don’t I try not to put crap in to begin with. But yeah, that’s absolutely right. So this is your top line performance. And unfortunately, this is where a lot of marketers stop, like, okay, here’s our open rate, or click through rate and stuff like that. And that’s This is good. Because obviously, if there’s zero opens, then the rest of email marketing doesn’t matter. But the next place I would encourage you to go is to go into your Google Analytics, right? We’re just gonna go into your audience here, go into overview. And let’s go ahead and create a segment here called email, right? And email is this going to be anything that is from known email sources, for example, like Google Mail, Yahoo, mail, etc. If it’s a known publication, if you’ve been if you’re doing things right, and you have a UTM, code, source and medium for your newsletters that should be in here. And then the medium matching mails sometimes. So that’s the kind of segment after and I want to see what I’m looking here at is, is my email driving people to my website, I care very much that it’s generating traffic for me because it’s not generating traffic and getting people into downfall, things like buying a copy of my book, for example, then this is just a waste of time, right? So if I can’t even get people to go to my website, nothing else matters. You can see it’s a weekly newsletter, it looks like teeth of a saw every time that newsletter goes out there, you know, something happens. So let’s go push this down into monthly view. And so we can see here for most of the year, things have been going reasonably well, right. Almost 9000 visitors more important email, here we go. Look at this little second here is 40% of my site’s traffic, right. So I can say with reasonable confidence that my emails working pretty well for me.

Katie Robbert 8:39
So what if you want Chris’s pro tip, if you’re going to send out an email newsletter, make sure it includes a link back to your website.

Christopher Penn 8:47
Uh huh. And it should probably be one of the first links in the newsletter, because you want people to go to to where you want them to go out, you know, for example, in almost timely newsletter, my header image here goes right back to my website. So if that’s the first thing you click on, it’s going to send you back to the website. Of course, there’s UTM tags and stuff in place for that as well. So that’s, see we’ve talked about like the email performance itself. Now we’ve seen the website performance as a third layer performance that you want to think about with email. I’m gonna go over to the attribution model that I built literally just this morning for my website. And this is let’s go ahead and go into Presenter View here. This is my channel analysis channel attribution analysis you what is driving conversions. Now for me on my website, there’s two things that three things that I mark is conversions. One is subscribing to the newsletter, just kind of, you know, be silly for this. Two is clicking off to buy a book either from gumroad or Amazon or three is clicking on the consulting button, which takes you to the Trust Insights website. Email is about 13% of my conversions, right 40% of my traffic 13% of my conversions. This is something that’s working for me. Where I get alarmed is when I see clients who have email programs and stuff like that. And it’s like 1% 2%, it’s, it doesn’t cost you a ton of extra money, I guess could depending on who your provider is to send more email if the email is good if it’s worth reading. But in a lot of cases, we see that’s not the case.

Katie Robbert 10:24
Well, and I think that you just hit on a really important point is you can build the number of subscribers, you can look at the open rates, but that still doesn’t mean that the email itself, the content, is any good. And so I mean, that we could probably spend a whole episode on just the content of the email itself, and what should be included and how to measure that. But you know, I often find myself disappointed in a lot of email newsletters that I’ll sign up for thinking, Oh, this will be good, this will be valuable, I might get something from this. And then it’s, it’s a waste of an email, quite honestly. And so I’ve opened it, so it then counts as the open rate. But then I’m disappointed and I don’t get anything so then it doesn’t convert.

Christopher Penn 11:10
Exactly, exactly. So we actually will talk a little bit about that about some of the content stuff. The next thing I want to talk about. So we’ve covered the three layers of email performance, like the email performance itself, the its traffic driving ability, as conversion driving ability, and you really want to see, those be somewhat close to each other, right? If you get a 80% open rate, and you like a 1%, click through rate, there’s a problem, right? Something’s something’s not gone well there. But if you know, you’re pretty consistent across the board, then your your attrition should feel pretty natural. So let’s talk about subscribers. I’m going to go here to my subscription page. And there’s some basic things that we should be doing to attract more subscribers. Number one is make it obvious where the form is, right, because if they like this is a really long page, but I’ve highlighted it to make it blatantly obvious there’s there’s something for you to do here. You want to know whether your page is doing its job, right. And you can measure in a lot of tools like Gravity Forms, for example, the performance of this page is one of the simplest things to do. One of the simplest ways to measure this is again, let’s go back to Google Analytics, I’m going to go to behavior, gonna go to content, all pages. And I’ll type in my newsletter page. Click on that page. Now let’s remove the segment because I don’t I don’t want it there. And what I’ve got here at the page views of my of my subscription page, I’m going to add in bounce rate. Now for non landing pages, like blog posts and things like that bounce rates, not a super helpful number, right? It’s it’s just one of the things is out there. When it comes to your landing pages, it’s really important number because it means that if someone lands on your page, and they immediately leave and you know the page didn’t do its work, right, it screwed up. So here, my bounce rate is hovering around 50%, the beginning of the year and is now around 65%. So I think I’ve got a could have potentially have a problem. On this page. If my bounce rate is going up, it means that it’s not doing its job of getting people to fill out the form because I want people to do the thing and move on. So the first thing when it comes to attracting more subscribers is fix your funnel. for lack of a better term, your funnel is more like a colander. And in this case, six out of 10 people who come to the page are just leaving a leaking out. any effort you put into attracting subscribers is going to be a waste. So there’s a couple things that can be wrong with a landing page like this. And we have go back to Bob stones 1968 direct marketing framework list offer creative right? Are we even getting the right people to the page? If the wrong people are getting here via social channels, whatever the wrong audience, then of course, it doesn’t matter. Is the offer good? Right? I would argue that’s a reasonably compelling page got both all the testimonials and stuff here. And is is there a creative problem? One of the tools that I love to diagnose stuff like this is a tool called clarity from Microsoft from the Bing webmaster group. It’s going to pull up clarity here and this is if you’ve used hot jar or Crazy Egg or Lucky Orange or any of the other like randomly food named UI tools. This is no surprise what you see here. You see what I people typing All right, so they go to first name, last name, email, title, company Twitter handle how they hear about the captcha and then subscribe. So things were looking for it we things like dead clicks, right? Like, what? What happened? Why did? Why did these things happen here? Why somebody’s clicking with heck out here? What are those things? Are their fields where we lose people? Right? Could it be made more obvious which fields are required and which fields are not? I think, you know, for example, I think I could probably take this from a paragraph box, just a single line of text is shorten this form up a little bit. So there’s some options here for looking at the subscription page itself to fix things up.

Katie Robbert 15:45
Well, and I think that that’s one of the pitfalls, Chris of forums in general, especially as marketers, we want to gather as much information as possible upfront, so that we don’t have to do the heavy lifting, you know, down the line. But I think that that’s a mistake. And this is something that I used to run into a lot. When I was working in the commercial side of an academic company, they’re trying to constantly get all this information. And it was a barrier to entry in terms of filling out the form because sometimes the forms were literally three pages long, just to sign up for something. And so that’s something that you want to as a marketer, really, critically, ask yourself, do I need all of this information right now? Or can I get it later, as I build the relationship with this person? Do I just want them in the door? To find out who I am learn about me gain their trust, and then I can start to ask them those more in depth questions. So really, really critically, think about what information you need on the form, you know, because Chris, to your point, there’s, you can see it sort of dwindling down. It’s like, okay, you want my first name. You want my email, okay, but you also want my tail. Oh, but you also want my company Oh, but you also want my Twitter handle, I just want to read your newsletter. Why do you need all this information and so that I can see, both as a consumer and as a marketer, that’s where people are like, I’m not giving you all this information, just so I can read about you’re, you know, waxing poetic about marketing and AI.

Christopher Penn 17:18
Exactly. And the other thing is that, I don’t really use a whole lot of that information. Visual level. I mean, sort of, but, but we’ll talk about that later. Okay, so that is looking at the sort of creative when it comes to the list itself. There’s a couple of different things that you can do to try and understand are you going after the right people you’ve been trying to attract the right people? And or is your content match up with what people are actually interested in? One of my favorite tools in this space is a tool called clearbit, where you load up your list and here I put you know, this is a did a couple months ago is 219,000 emails went into this tool. And this part’s free, then there’s the part which is definitely not free, where they actually give you the individual information. I forgot the right location, right? So North America is a huge part of this list. Who is my categories? Right? So my list is 55%, B2B 32%, B2C, SaaS companies consulting, you know, it stuff like that, like, okay, that seems reasonable Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. Okay. So this is these are definitely, you know, marketing folks. What industry are people in software, other professional services, education, media, and so on, and so forth. So already, I’m beginning to see is my content. Thinking about this is my content, serving who these people are, right? If my list is 55%, B2B, and all of my content was B2C, there’ll be a pretty big mismatch. Thankfully, it’s that’s not the case. Who are the people 14% work in marketing, thank goodness, because this was like entertainment or like music and be in a lot of trouble. Who are the seniority levels, managers, directors, executives, more managers than anything else? So we’ll mid to senior folks, but not in not all seat in the C suite folks, that again, tells me something about who my audience is, who I might want to be targeting, because they’re sticking around, obviously, and what kind of content I should be creating. And then company size, like how large are the companies who are on the list, you know, 5050 to 150 people 11 to 50, there 6% was up to 1000 employees, so on and so forth. And there’s a small sliver, it’s, you know, over over 50,000 employees, so it’s mostly a small to mid size, market list of folks. It’s not major enterprise companies. And then 61% list is corporate emails. So this tool, which is still free for the moment, as the day of recording is a good way to analyze broadly, who your audience is and whether you’ve currently got the right audience on your list for what you’re trying to sell. If I was doing Music email every week, this would probably be the wrong wrong list to have. Right? This is not a good fit.

Katie Robbert 20:08
Now, I’m curious. So obviously, Chris, you send out your email weekly. Now, John, you also have a newsletter for the marketing over coffee podcast. And I believe that goes out monthly.

John Wall 20:22
Monthly. Yeah, yeah, it’s a shorter cycle and less content. It’s really funny, I’d love to hear more about what Chris has to say about how, you know, he’s out weekly, and has dozens of links every week, the marketing over coffee thing is monthly, and really only has about six or eight likes a month. And so it’s a much smaller thing. And I, if anything, I think frequency helps with numbers, because the marketing over coffee list has been, you know, it has grown from like 2500 to about 4000, over the past five or six years, like there’s been almost flat considering the the rate at which the show has grown during the same time. So, yeah, there’s a lot to unpack in there. And, yeah, it’s totally random, you know, the way that’s been done, I just don’t want to do a newsletter every week. That’s why that happens. So, and that may be totally wrong.

Katie Robbert 21:09
Well, I think it you know, it comes down to what is the purpose of the newsletter, and so obviously, marketing over coffee, and Chris’s personal website, serve two very different purposes, John, you’re trying to grow subscribership to listen to the podcast. And so you’re not trying to do the hard sell in the newsletter, you’re just trying to say, Hey, here’s a podcast, go subscribe to it, listen to it so that I can then attract advertisers to the podcast. Whereas I believe Chris, your newsletter is meant to be get to know me informational, like, here’s everything that’s going on. And oh, by the way, if you like what you’re reading here, here’s where you can get more, here’s my book, here’s my corporate site, that kind of thing. And so there are two very different newsletters. And so I could see where John, your podcast newsletter doesn’t necessarily need to be as frequent or maybe it does. But those are the types of things that we would want to test for. Before we make that hard decision to say this is absolutely the formula for what you’re doing.

Christopher Penn 22:10
Exactly, exactly. One of the the easiest and dumbest things that not enough people do in their newsletters is right here below the unsubscribe, which is share this with a colleague like here’s how to subscribe if you want more people to read this newsletter, give them this URL. I am embarrassed to say it took me eight years to get around to putting that into my name.

John Wall 22:38
Right Arnold Schwarzenegger has a team of like 12 PR people and I just emailed them last week I was like, you know, you should really have a share this newsletter like it because you have the last thing you want is forwarding it to somebody and then them unsubscribing you are screwing up your email.

Christopher Penn 22:53
Exactly. So

Katie Robbert 22:56
I never thought I would hear John Wall say is that he emailed Arnold Schwarzenegger, his PR team Come on, I got an A chop off the twists and turns man.

Christopher Penn 23:09
So that is probably the greatest single missed opportunity is a not having that and then be not making it prominent, right. So the only thing is more prominent is the unsubscribe button. That is probably the single largest call to action because I want people to go away. The next thing to look at. So clearbit gives us a general sense of the the audience. But suppose I want to know, for ad targeting purposes for content marketing purposes and things a bit more about my audience. One of the things you can do and you can either do this by hand, which is laborious and painful, or you can automate it, is to take apart the Twitter bios of the people who follow you on Twitter. I’m going to go ahead and expand this here. And so I pulled all the words out of 90,000 Twitter BIOS, the folks who follow me see what are the What do they say about themselves? Who are these people, right social media, by far, the single largest category digital marketing, real estates in their marketing agencies, internet marketing, public relations and things. So this gives me a more detailed idea of who is in my audience. Again, remember, we’re talking about lists offer creative, that direct marketing framework. My Twitter audience is one of the top sources that feeds my newsletter lists. So if I’m not aligned in what I say in social media, and what I’m doing for my newsletter, and the content in my newsletter, I’m not gonna attract more subscribers because I’m talking like purely about AI all the time, and nothing else. And everybody who’s in the audience is a social media marketer. It’s gonna be a mismatch, people not going to subscribe, they’re definitely not going to share it with a friend. Okay, and the third thing to look at is go into whatever you’re selling Social Sharing tool choices and look at the content socially that’s performing well, again, you’re looking for either content that you can put into your newsletter to begin with, or you’re looking for things to advertise with topics. So again, looking at what sort of the top topics the last few days are, here, we’ve got our stuff, we’ve got tagging, CMOS, and so on, and so forth. So this, this one generally, they’re generally aligned with what we saw from the Twitter BIOS. So this is how you calibrate your list to figure out who should I be going after? Who should I be? What content should be creating, and then even what offers to create because again, if I pull up, you know, pull back this list of Twitter BIOS, if I’m promoting content, that is about, say, medical marketing, and there aren’t medical marketers following me, it’s probably not going to do well. On the other hand, I put, you know, social media tips 101, in my newsletter, it’s probably going to do really, really well. There are a number of different agencies in here in the most recent issue of the newsletter, which is published this my session from the Agorapulse summit on how to prove the value of your agency how to show your agency’s ROI. And it was only for a week, and it was became the top downloaded source for the entire month of June, when we ran our attribution reports why cuz that’s who’s on the list, right? There’s, there’s a bunch of agency folks on there who like I would like to know how to stop getting yelled at by my client every month. So we want to make sure our content is aligned. When we’re talking about our growing subscribers, right? It’s a product. If you’re not treating your email list as a product or as a service, I guess, technically, and you’re not selling it as a service. You’re not giving it the the resources and time and energy that is entitled to right. Are you running ads to it? Are you promoting it on social media? Are you going after third parties? One of again, one of the things that I do that I speak at some events, where it’s in lieu of a fee. If the event is big enough, like the Agorapulse summit, for example, I will simply trade the value for the lists, you know, they they deliver consistently 1000s of new subscribers every single event right, that’s worth a lot to me that’s worth as much as a regular speaking fee. So when you look at how do you promote your list, look at things like public speaking and promotions, doing interesting content that people want, again, go back to your your Twitter, BIOS, whatever. Can you put together a hypothesis about the content people would like, based on who they are, that you could turn into a white paper or ebook or something that you can use to drive registrations, it’s like every single other B2B marketing check out there.

Katie Robbert 28:05
The other really light lift is to let people know that you have a newsletter. So I don’t see a lot of brands post on social media, even just once in a while. Hey, by the way, did you know that we have a newsletter, here’s the subscribe button like that, to me is one of the biggest missed opportunities. And perhaps the lightest lift that you can possibly have in terms of promoting the fact that you have a newsletter is, Hey, I have a newsletter. So it’s not enough just to make it accessible from your website. But you also then have to tell people that you have one, and that they can subscribe to it. Now I’m, I want to go back. And I’m going to get a little soapbox here for just a second.

Unknown Speaker 28:51

Katie Robbert 28:53
you know, so since we’re on this page, it’s relevant. So we were talking about all of the fields that people use to collect information when subscribing to the newsletter. And you know, Chip you had mentioned, you often see people asking for lots of information on forums that they never use. I’m going to go ahead and challenge you, not you, specifically, Chris. But just companies in general, what happens if you only collect, name and email? What happens? The challenge that’s being issued is to create a compelling enough newsletter that keeps people coming back that makes them want to tell you more about who they are, and then they want to get more of your stuff. And so it’s an opportunity to build those deeper relationships with your potential customer base. And so let’s say we just get a lot of, you know, names and email addresses and not a whole lot of other information. The challenge then that’s on us is to then do our due diligence to see are these people coming back? Are they looking at other sections of the website? Can we then reach out to them and start to ask them a couple Questions? Do they engage with other things and download other pieces, and then we can start to see how far down they’re moving that journey. And we haven’t asked them for a whole lot of information, we just have their name and email address. And as the relationship deepens, you get more of that information around, well, Where do you work? What’s your title? You know, what are your pain points, what are the things you want help with. But if you immediately lead with that, then it’s a turn off to someone because they’re like, I don’t want to give you all that information up front. And so that’s my soapbox is I challenge you to find some restraint, and create compelling enough content that you can build that relationship and get that information in a way that somebody is comfortable providing it to you

John Wall 30:42
exactly what that too is, that’s a hallmark of better marketing automation systems. You know, I mean, a lot of people go the cheaper route, but some of the more expensive systems will have it set up and you actually tear them and you say, Hey, I just want name and email. But if they come from a link through the marketing automation system, it won’t even be there. If it’s already got your name and email, it won’t even show up. And you can say, okay, so if they come back, and they’ve already got these two, then on this next one, let’s get the company and the one after that, let’s get the phone number. And so that you can you create a better experience, if you throw more technology at that. But again, you know, you got to be able to afford that kind of stuff. That’s not for everybody.

Christopher Penn 31:19
Exactly. So the third and final part is how do you make your list work harder for you? And the big thing that people don’t think about is that everything we’re trading in his attention, right? When you have somebody open your email, you are able to direct their attention. So go pull up, again, this the newsletter, let’s go ahead and flip to There we go. When you have somebody’s attention, what do you do with it? Right? How do you direct it? How are the places that we’re going to try and send it, obviously, spend a lot of time in both my newsletter and the News, or sending people to other resources and things write content, that you didn’t read that, you know, I actually spent some time working, I would like to, like, read it. Other downloads Katie, to your point, if I have his name, email, but I’m sending people to forums where we can get more information, because there’s a higher exchange value, then it makes a lot of sense to trim down your initial subscription and, and catch them on the on the backend. Oh, when you have if you have a publication, treating this, like a real publication, right, have an ad have two ads in there have no big clue that it’s an ad. But use it as a way to, again, direct attention towards the things you need. And if you’ve got other properties, like a YouTube channel, or a Twitter account, or a podcast, or a live stream or a slack group, put it in the email and explain to people what it is that’s in it, what what’s in it for them, why would they want to pay attention to these things? Why would they want to do these things because you have this attention while this person is reading this email you, you choose where that attention goes. And a lot of companies are in a place where their their email program is so siloed from their social media program, which is so siloed from the YouTube program, that they never bring all that data back together into one place and say, Okay, well, if we have a person’s attention on this channel, how can we use to bolster other channels, one of the interesting tricks about the way social media algorithms in particular work is that engagement is everything in a very short window of time, if you send an email to a bunch of people, and they’ll click to the same LinkedIn post, that post is going to do much better for a short period of time, because the algorithm is gonna say, hey, look, suddenly, a lot of people are paying attention to this post, maybe I will show it more often. Same thing is true with a YouTube video, right? Where you can build your YouTube account by directing that attention. But you do have to have a strategy with it. We have, we have some clients where emails kind of uses the band aids to whatever business line is struggling the most that week. And there isn’t a concerted strategy behind that. But when it comes to make your email list, work harder. be intentional about what you share how you share and what how you’re directing that attention. Because when you know, 20 or 30 or 40,000 people a week read this email and click through on the things that consent, eyeballs and and brains in very specific locations. We want to make sure that we’re using it to the best of our ability.

John Wall 34:33
Chris, John blue actually had texted me I sent out on the marketing over coffee text line that we’re going to be live and he sent a question over. He was asking about in the past, you’ve done studies on a lot of graphics, you know, very pretty email versus text only or, you know, limited or no graphics. And he was wondering, have you done any more research on that front and where do you stand now as far as how much images Do you use in the layout?

Christopher Penn 34:56
Nowadays, it doesn’t matter. In the sense that, you know, used to be the text only emails performed better in terms of deliverability and performance ever since. Really, since smartphones became the dominant form of communication, it doesn’t matter because smartphones have gotten really good at reading and formatting emails. It regardless of what kind they are, and showing them well, right, so if your graphics as long as your graphics aren’t screwed up on the phone, like if you have to optimize them for mobile, you can make a newsletter look however you want, and the male clients out there, will we format it in one of the things we posted in analytics remarketing. Two weeks ago, the number one email client on the planet is Apple’s mail client, and built right into the iPhone is 55 ish percent of the market. So as long as your email looks good in Apple Mail and outlook, if you’re in good shape, so from a format perspective, make it look how you want it to look, I recently changed over my email from purely text to a lot of his handwritten stuff, just to give it a distinctive look, just to give it something that is different than you see in every other newsletter. And it’s unique, it’s something that even somebody use, the idea would not look the same, because their handwriting is different than mine.

Katie Robbert 36:19
I think the other you know, it’s interesting, um, we’ve been talking a lot about the content, but the other piece of it is also the subject line, what makes somebody open it. And again, that’s a topic we could talk about for an entire episode. And so we’ve done our fair share of testing subject lines, seeing what gets more people to open it versus what doesn’t, letting people know upfront in the subject line, this is a sales pitch, versus, you know, not saying so blatantly that it’s a sales pitch. And so, you know, there’s a lot of different factors, when it when thinking about, you know, sending an email newsletter, you know, calling it a newsletter in the subject line is probably a helpful thing to do. But even before you get to that point, you really need to challenge your team and your companies say, what is the goal of having a newsletter? Is it informational? Is it promotional? You know, is it this that the other? Is it all of the above? If it is, how do we create it, so it’s not so unwieldy that people never get to the end of it and say, This is too much, I’m overwhelmed. I just need to unsubscribe from this altogether.

Christopher Penn 37:25
When it comes to things like subject lines, he, one of the things people forget to do is they forget to think about the audience. If your audience is loyal audience, keep that subject line, at least somewhat consistent, like mine always starts with almost timely or inbox insights. So that you know, it’s, this is this thing that you’ve been expecting, and we try to send it is same time day of every week, because it never fails. Every time we go out to like a an event or something we ask people Hey, you know, for folks who are over 30, when was Seinfeld on? And always people are like, Oh, it’s Thursdays at nine on NBC. Right? Like, how do you still know that 20 years later? Right? Why do you still know that because it was great content on a specific date and time because it was very much appointment media. But it was high enough quality that people remembered. So if you send out your newsletter, and it comes out with a in a container, they recognize same date and time, you know, and, and it’s good quality, people will remember it, people will be more likely to open it then if you send it out a random off day or you send it with an obscure subject line or the puts from is different again. littmus has done a bunch of this testing. And one of the things that they’ve noted is that generally speaking, people will open emails from a human beings name more so than from a company or brand name. So bearing in you’ll keep that in mind as well.

Katie Robbert 38:49
So basically saying, sending your email newsletter from Chris Penn versus marketing at

Christopher Penn 38:56
exactly. So when when the Trust Insights newsletter comes out, for example, it goes it’s you know, Christopher Penn comma Trust Insights is the person it’s from, you know, almost highly newsletters, you know, Christopher Penn, you know, ad cspn my Twitter handle because, again, Twitter’s a major source, as opposed to newsletter at Christopher Nobody wants to read something like that. No realize that yes. Yeah. No reply is basically is the greatest insult for your audience. It says I’m not gonna I don’t care what you have to say. And that’s another interesting aspect. We can cover another time about your how, what is the customer experience like but in general, when you when you’re trying to get people to pay attention to you, once you’ve gotten their attention, keep it in a consistent format, so they continue to know that it’s you.

Katie Robbert 39:45
So, Chris, we have a question related to what we’re just sort of talking about in terms of subject lines and so on, so forth. So Dave asked, Why do I not see more research about subject line preheader text testing Any thoughts there?

Christopher Penn 40:01
So the challenge that a lot of companies run into, you know, if you’re looking for, like broad research is that a everybody’s list is different and be it’s mostly confidential information, you will see that a lot with ESPN, like, you know, MailChimp or whatever they can, they can anonymize and look at stuff broadly to see what works, but it varies so much. It varies so much. You know, for example, if you look at just the Trust Insights newsletter list and my newsletter list, they perform differently, and they’re different audiences there. They’re not the is not 100% overlap. And you would think it would be because we started one from the other, but it’s not. And so, to do that subject line testing and preheader test texting is challenging to extract generic generic results. Right? It is absolutely something that you should do yourself. Right is absolutely something that you should test for yourself. And also do focus groups and stuff with your your best subscribers to ask them like, hey, what else can I have in here? That said, This is my soapbox. I feel like marketers spend too much time on the gimmicks and not enough time putting into content, they actually want to read, like, I don’t care what subject line is, if your email sucks, your email sucks, and I’m never going to read it again. You know, no matter how cute or provocative the subject line is, because at the end of the day, it’s attention. And I have the same 24 hours, everyone else says if you ask me to spend 10 minutes reading an email, and it’s just garbage, then you go straight to the unsubscribe ban. So a big part of the focus for email marketers should be, are you creating an email, somebody else would want to read, one of the linchpins, of both the Trust Insights newsletter, and my own newsletter is that I try to have it be stuff that I would want, right? Because like, for example, in the links that I share, these are things that I articles I want to read, because I don’t necessarily know what’s what’s behind them. And if there’s if there’s value is a value proposition, like, Hey, here’s some stuff that you should probably pay attention to. Then I there’s value in the Trust Insights newsletter every week, there is fresh data that’s you’re not going to find anywhere else. It’s it’s usually our own data. Because I’m curious, like, you know, what, what is Instagram doing for brands these days? The reason why marketers don’t do that is because they don’t put enough time and resources into email marketing, right? It’s one of those things, it’s like a checklist item, like, okay, send an email. Okay, move on to the next step. You know, one of the things I love Ann Handley says about newsletters is that we spent more time on the news part, and not enough time on the letter part of communicating to another human being, hey, here’s some stuff I made for you. Right? in market is go into the, you know, marketing with that mindset of I, here’s some stuff I’m going to sell to you, instead of here’s the things I want to give to you a value that, you know, hopefully you will return at some point. And we don’t spend enough time and effort on these things.

Katie Robbert 43:06
I would also say if you don’t know what your audience wants to see what your customers want to see in a newsletter, ask them. One of the things that we did, probably around this time last year, so once a quarter, we send out a one question survey, we try to keep it to one question. Just sort of like a quick like pulse check. And we ask people what would make you want to share a newsletter with you know, a colleague or you know, get them to subscribe to what you’re reading? Or what keeps you coming back to it. It was something along those lines, and across the board, it was information I can’t get anywhere else. And so, you know, obviously the well, it has to be valuable. Well, that’s pretty subjective. You know, because what’s valuable to me is not valuable to John, you know, because we have different interests, and we have different things that we care about. And so, but the information I can’t get anywhere else was such an interesting takeaway from that survey, that that’s something Chris, you know, you took very seriously and that’s where a lot of that, you know, here’s the exclusive data in the newsletter that you can only get here. And I would be remiss if I didn’t tell people that this is how you can subscribe to our newsletter, because we’re talking about marketing the newsletter. Make it easy. If you don’t have a URL like this for your own website, create one that redirects to wherever your newsletter lives so that you can promote it superduper easily and you can even say you can read it out loud. You can tell people what it is but it’s not this Mangle dot AI slash resources, slash things. We write slash newsletter slash slash subscribe here. Like no one’s gonna remember that it has to be short, snappy and easy to remember.

Christopher Penn 44:55
Exactly. The bench test for anything like that is is you know, open up your smartphone on the smartest isn’t your choice and say, Hey, your robot, go visit dot AI slash newsletter on the web. And if it can get it right on the first go, you’re in good shape, if it’s thick, gets confused or, you know like to your point, Katie, it takes you 14 seconds to say a whole thing out loud, it’s probably a no go. But the smartest distance the easiest way to validate that you’ve made something that’s easy to share. So we’ve covered the three layers of performance management for email marketing, the performance itself, just traffic driving ability as converting ability, how to attract more scribe subscribers by looking at the UI of your subscription page, the list the offer the creative, and the marketing of the email as the product and investing in like a company product, and how to make your email work harder by cross promoting and by directing the attention that you’ve earned. So thanks to everyone who has participated lots of questions in in the session. Any final parting thoughts Katie and John?

Katie Robbert 46:00
So John, what are you going to do different with the marketing over coffee newsletter?

John Wall 46:05
That’s a great question. There’s a lot of work to be done with that a B testing at the top of things, but I do have to give the plug if you’re watching on YouTube, click like click Subscribe, ring the bell, so we can catch up with you later.

Unknown Speaker 46:18
Alright, folks, we

Christopher Penn 46:18
will talk to you all next week. Take care. Thanks for watching today. Be sure to subscribe to our show wherever you’re watching it. For more resources. And to learn more. Check out the Trust Insights podcast at Trust slash ti podcast and a weekly email newsletter at Trust slash newsletter. got questions about what you saw on today’s episode. Join our free analytics for markers slack group at Trust slash analytics for marketers. See you next time.

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