Episode 251 | Email Marketing Demystified with Matthew Paulson

Show Notes

In the episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Mike interviews Matthew Paulson, founder of marketbeat.com, about email marketing. They also discuss his upcoming book “Email Marketing Demystified”.

Items mentioned in this episode:


Mike [00:00]: In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, I’m going to be talking to Matthew Paulson about Email Marketing Demystified. This is Startups For The Rest Of Us 251.

Mike [00:16]: Welcome to Startups For the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products. Whether you’ve built your first product, or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.

Matthew Paulson [00:24]: And I’m Matt.

Mike [00:25]: And we’re here to share our experience to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. How you’re doing this week, Matt?

Matthew Paulson [00:29]: I’m doing well. How are you Mike?

Mike [00:30]: Pretty good, pretty good. So, I want to introduce Matt to the audience. Matt is the founder of MarketBeat.com. He’s also the co-founder of Go Go Photo Contest and he’s a partner at US Golf TV. He’s also the author of 40 Rules for Internet Business Success. And we’re going to be talking to him today about a book he’s writing called Email Marketing Demystified and that comes out in a couple of months but that’s kind of the main focus for our topic today. Is there anything else you want to add to that? Did I miss anything?

Matthew Paulson [00:58]: The book called Email Marketing Demystified, it’s coming out October. We’ll get the details at the end but it’s myemailmarketingbook.com to get a free copy when it comes out.

Mike [1:05]: Matt, could you tell listeners a little bit about MarketBeat.com because I think this is one of the interesting reasons why I wanted to have you on the show because of the size of the email list that you have and that you manage on a monthly basis and the sheer volume of emails that you sent. It’s not just about oh, you’re writing this book on email market. It’s like you’ve got a lot of serious experience to back this up as well.

Matthew Paulson [01:25]: Yeah, so we published and invest newsletter to about 242,000 stock investor as of the data we’re recording this. Today, the newsletter we sent out, it’s freemium so most of the people sign up for the free list and we have 3,000 or 4,000 people that pay us 15 bucks a month to get the freemium version of the newsletter but it’s basically away for stock investor to keep track of the companies they own and kind of what’s going on with them. We send out probably about 10 million emails a month but I think we’re on track to do about 2 and a half million in revenue in 2015. We’ve been doing it for about five years now. It’s grown over time and figured out it’s a marketing channels that have really worked well for us and we’ve really been able to just kind of blow up the size of the list in the last 18 months.

Mike [02:05]: Yeah, I mean that’s an incredible size list, I mean not just in the sheer number of email addresses that you have and that you send emails too but like 10 million emails a month is a massive amount and I don’t think that most people can even kind of wrap their heads for.

Matthew Paulson [02:17]: Yeah, I think that’s a big, big number and then I go to the trafficking version concerts in February and Ryan Dice goes on stage and says, “Yeah, we sent out about a billion emails a month.” And it’s like, “Oh, crap. I got a whole another level to be at.”

Mike [2:30]: So, I wanted to talk to you about this because I think the email marketing itself is one of those marketing channels that people look at and they say, “Oh, yeah. I should do that but they don’t necessarily do it.” And, I think part of the problem is that email marketing, they don’t necessarily realize the ROI on it or they don’t realize the benefits and they start looking at all these other things and it kind of gloss over the fact that that is probably going to be the single biggest differentiator in their business long-term. So, can you talk a little bit about why is email such a compelling marketing channel over a lot of the other options that are out there.

Matthew Paulson [03:04]: Yeah. You see people today talking a lot about Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter, if you add up the user base of all of those combined, it might be 1.4 billion people. Twice as many people use email marketing as all of the biggest social networks combined. So we got 1.4 billion people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. You’ve got 2.8 billion people on email. So it’s just a massive channel and people just don’t realize how big it is.

Mike [03:27]: So just because of the size of it is different though doesn’t necessarily mean that like if you spend $10 on email marketing, what about the same $10 spent on social media advertising either Facebook or Twitter or various other avenues, I mean is there a different between the email marketing versus the social advertising?

Matthew Paulson [03:43]: I think there is. I’ve seen a few studies. Some of them say that have query marketers and the responses that they got say that about 75% of people are happy with the results they get from email marketing and only about 60% are happy with what they get from social media marketing. There is a lot of data out there, there’s a McKenzie study that said email is 40 times more effective at getting customers and Facebook and Twitter just in terms of total volume. So the direct marketing association said that business were earned in an average of $43 for every dollar invested in email marketing, I don’t know what the logic behind that study was but if that number is anywhere close to crack, it’s a pretty great ROI compared to just about anything else that you can do.

Mike [04:21]: Yeah. And I think the tendency for a lot of entrepreneurs is to look at studies like that and be extremely skeptical of them because they depend on so many different factors, I mean I’ve done my own stuff where I’ve done advertise on Twitter and Facebook and tried to get those people to either buy directly or to get onto an mailing list and then have them buy after joining the mailing list, and what I found is that you can acquire Twitter followers for example relatively straightforward fashion. There’s documented processes that you can go through and follow to get those people onto your Twitter following. But to get those people to buy from you is a completely different ball game than sending email because you can send those emails week after week, month after month but it’s a little bit more difficult to get directly in front of them on Twitter because they may be following 5,000 people or 10,000 people and them seeing your message, it’s kind of hitting mess. I mean just by raw numbers for the first 24 hours in the day, how long is that message going to be in their feed? It depends a little bit on how many people they’re following but for my initial estimates is like five to ten minutes, it’s not very long.

Matthew Paulson [05:29]: Yeah, I think if you look at the [?] that Twitter has, maybe 2%, 3%, 4% of the people will actually see any given twit if that and on email you’re going to get an open rate if you have an engaged list of somewhere between your 20% and 40% so you could send 3 emails and make sure that everyone sees that or you could send 3 Twitter messages or Twitter post and maybe 5% or 10% your followers will actually see it.

Mike [05:52]: Yeah, so that makes it a little difficult so like compare those things because it’s no longer an apple to apple comparison. Email becomes a much better channel. One of the things that write in your book was it was such a profound quote that I have to call it out. You said every now and then I’ll hear someone that runs a website say something like I hate pops out and I hate marketing email. I would never use them in my business. What they’re really saying is I hate making money because email marketing is an incredibly effective marketing strategy and it’s so funny because you look at that quote and it stands and start contrast to like the raw numbers that we pointed out earlier to kind of justify what the ROI is. Why is that you think that entrepreneurs are so resistant to using email marketing?

Matthew Paulson [6:31]: Sure. I think tech people and entrepreneurs and kind of people in the communities that we hang out with, we kind of think we’re immune to marketing and we also think that kind of marketing is annoying, I mean how many of us are on a million email list from a million of different things and we get email, we don’t remember what it was and we just want off the list and we want to receiving email from people. So we think that our customers are just like us. We think that our customers hate email marketing just as much as we do. We think that they also think they are immune to marketing and it turns that we are not our customers. Our customers might actually want to get email from us because they are interested in our product and want to hear from us. You can’t assume that your customers are just like you are and your customers may behave in a very different way than you do with email. Like we might be inbox zero people and want to clear the inbox everyday but if you look at the email of my wife or a lot of other people there’s just a ton of different messages from ton of different brands and it’s more of a stream and they’re okay with having just content from a variety of people in there.

Mike [07:26]: You know, I know exactly what you mean. I mean I tried to maintain inbox zero as close as I possibly can so anything that goes in there is a little bit of extra stuff that I have to deal with but I’ve also seen people where I kind of glance at their phones and the little icon over there email says that they got 14,000 emails in there. I’m just like how do you even deal with that? And of course you think to yourself, well they just must not read any of it but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to receive those emails either.

Matthew Paulson [07:51]: Yeah, yeah, I mean if you have a business and you provide helpful information to people and you send out over email, you’re going to have to assume that people want it because they’re not going to sign up for your email list if they don’t want it. If they sign up for your email list, that means hey, I want to receive email from you so you should probably send them some email if they want it.

Mike [08:08]: So seems like that’s one of those helpful hands I guess for getting over the fear of clicking on that send button when you got whether it’s a 100 or a 100,000 people on your mailing list because that’s one of those things that I think that a lot of people get hung up on is they get everything ready. They write the email and then there’s just like, “Ah, I don’t know if I should send this. Maybe I should wait. Maybe I should think about this a little bit more. Maybe it could be worded better.” And so they either delay on hitting that send button or they just don’t put it on their system yet. I feel that’s a very helpful hint for that, I mean there are other things that you can think of that would help people through that.

Matthew Paulson [08:42]: Yeah. I think that the two keys are one is to understand that no email is going to be perfect because not everyone all respond to in marketing email or a piece educational content in the same way. Every email will interest some of your subscribers but not necessarily all of them. So, you just have to know that depending on who the subscriber is and email is going to be hit or miss and you’re not going to hit everyone with every email and that’s totally okay. The second thing you can do to mitigate some of these fears is just to have systems in place. So before we ever send out a broadcast email that says I write my assistant has an SOP to follow so she checks the spelling and the grammar, she make sure how the links work, she checks all the prices and the numbers to make sure everything is correct in that email before we sent it out so that way we don’t have to go back later and say ops we made a mistake or anything like that, we know that an email is correct in the first time because there’s more than one set of eyes on it.

Mike [09:32]: Now that brings up another objection that I hear from people where they’re tracking the analytics behind some of their emails and once you go through and you click on every single one of those links, what it does is it starts adding numbers to every single one of those. It seems to like if you have a mailing list of 100,000 people then those 1 or 2 clicks may almost no difference in the analytics but when you only have a mailing list of say 100, those 1 or 2 clicks make a big difference I mean it’s a couple of percent. What are some strategies you can think of to kind of get around that particular fear?

Matthew Paulson [10:02]: Okay. So, I think a lot of entrepreneurs and marketers think that the emails that they send have to be perfect and I don’t really think that’s the case because a good email now is going to be better than a great email never and you just kind have to get over that and decide hey, every day or every week that I’m not sending out any email is the day that I’m losing sales. So even if your first message or your first several messages aren’t perfect, mostly your first messages are going to probably be pretty terrible that’s okay. Sending out an okay email is much better than sending out no email at all.

Mike [10:33]: Right. It’s about improvement over time versus getting things perfect.

Matthew Paulson [10:37]: Absolutely. I mean if you’ll look at some of my first emails or probably my first seven emails Mike sent out about Audit Shark forever ago, they’re probably not going to be anywhere nearly as good as anything he would write or I would write today.

Mike [10:47]: Right. Okay. So, let’s talk a little bit about like the basic email marketing strategy and I think the first step to that is talking about email service providers themselves and there’s kind of three different categories that they breakdown into is the transactional emails, the bulk emails, and then kind of true marketing automation and there’s different service providers who kind of addressed each of those different needs. Can you talk a little bit about what situations you would use each of those in and why?

Matthew Paulson [11:13]: Yeah, so transactional is just for brought email delivery. You connected them via an API and sent say, “Here’s my message. Please deliver it for me.” So that’s like [?] Amazon SPS, those are great if you’re writing custom software and have to do like a notification email, a welcome email, or anything like that. If you have a SAS app, you’ll probably need a transactional email service provider in there somewhere. It might not be the main thing you have but it’s way for people who are writing custom software and have account notification emails and stuff like that. Bulk emails are the mail chimps of the world, stuff like that. They’re really for managing an email list and sending out messages to that list. They’re weaker in some of the more advanced stuff like marketing automation and auto responders and some of those things. They’re okay for some types of list that are small and/or even big but just don’t have a lot of custom functionality that’s needed. They don’t need marketing automation, any fancy emails or anything like that if you’re just going to send a single email to your list or to check if things are okay. So the marketing automation platform, I think it’s really worth that right now. These are the companies like [?] and Fusion Software and a few others but these really have some advanced functionality that allow you to send specific types of messages to specific people at the right times. So if somebody buys a product, you could create a custom auto responder, send them email to on-board them or if they send for a lead magnet, you could to a special auto responder series just to them and there’s just so much that you can do with the marketing automation platform. If you’re really going to down to the road of – if you need to do email marketing, I think you are better off to starting off with point infusion software or something like that from day one because you hate to sign up for something simple and then have to switch ESPs later, that can be a big pain in the butt to do. So, I recommend start up with something of high level of functionality even if you’re not going to use it right away, it’s good to have down the line.

Mike [12:57]: And I think that’s one of those things where people look at that and say, “Well, I don’t want to pay for that now. Let me do what I have to do with this other provider and then grow into it.” But the reality is they’re just basically creating work for themselves down the road when they are successful with their products.

Matthew Paulson [13:11]: Yeah, and if you look like what a starting Drip account costs, 50 bucks a month or something like that, in any business that makes any amount of money, that’s just a very tiny business expense and I think it’s worth forking the money for that.

Mike [13:23]: Yeah, and I think to differentiate here a little bit more between a bulk email provider and something that does true marketing automation, I think one of the things that people don’t realize is that they look like for example Mail Chimp and what you just talked about there was the idea of oh they signed up for this and then they get a series of email, well, Mail Chimp does that and I think the differentiating factor is that with marketing automation software, things are event driven, so when somebody takes an action of some kind, then it is essentially an event in the system and that event triggers a series of other emails that it is essentially a sequence of emails but it is based on that event and you can kind of do it in Mail Chimp but I think those marketing automation platforms make it significantly easier to do and their designs to operate off of those of that.

Matthew Paulson [14:10]: Yeah, and if you look at Infusion Software or anything like that, you can have just kind of a nice visuals [?] how it actually works kind of tell them do this better than others but just nice to be able to see like what the different processes or if somebody does this lead magnet and then they get this email series and then they buy this and then they get this email series. It’s nice to have a more visual way of representing that.

Mike [14:30]: Right. And I’m in a complete agreement with you in terms of email marketing, if you’re going to do anything around email marketing, you really should invest in marketing automation platform of some kind. I’m hesitant to even recommend Mail Chimp at this point I mean not because they don’t do well with what they do but because email marketing can be such a critical component of the business that it almost seems like you have to have that in placed as opposed to trying to do with something like a free or $15 Mail Chimp account now only to have to switch over later.

Matthew Paulson [15:00]: Yeah, I absolutely agree with that.

Mike [15:02]: Well, the other thing that you can kind of add to it is that once you get involved in a marketing automation platform, your eyes are open to all the different possibilities where if you’re in Mail Chimp, you don’t necessarily see all the different options that are available to you because they don’t exist, but once you get into an email marketing automation platform like all of a sudden you see all this different possibilities that were just never there before.

Matthew Paulson [15:23]: Yeah, and if email marketing is going to be a big part of your business, these things aren’t really optional. You would really need to have good marketing automation in place and have different series and campaigns driven by events and you might be able to get away with that 10 or 15 years ago but email marketing has just gotten so much more advanced. You need to have the technology stacked in place that will let you do those kinds of things.

Mike [15:43]: So, now let’s talk about the different email service providers. Let’s talk about collecting email addresses and we’ve talked about this a few different times on this podcast but what are the different ways that people can go about collecting email addresses on their website?

Matthew Paulson [15:56]: Yeah, so obviously you need some opt-in form, you need some kind of offer and then a sign up box. So it’s typically a title, a subtitle, a textbox and a button and to sign up. There are different types of opt-in forms you can do. You can do an entry popup, an exit popup, a welcome gate, something in your sidebars, something below the post. I’ve tried a lot of different opt-in forms on my websites and I found that nothing comes close to doing the popup form welcome gate, just having something that people can’t miss right away. It tends to work very well to get email opt-ins. If you only show the people once a week, they’re really not that annoying so I think if you have scoop those box, it’s not easy to pop up on your website, I think it’s time to just maybe get over that and put it on your website anyway and see how it works. And then another good place I found is pretty one directly below the post of an article, so if you’re reading article, typically you’re looking for the next step to do. And if your email opt-in form is right there, it’s a really good way to get opt-ins. I like to use a combination of both the popup, like an entry popup and an entry form below the post and that does pretty well with opt-in rates.

Mike [16:56]: And I think that’s interesting what you said about getting over in the idea of putting in that welcome popup because personally, I’m not a big fan of those type of things and I don’t tend to put my email address in them but there’s also times where I’ll go to a website where even if I close it three or four times, if I find myself going back to them, I have a tendency to put my email address [crosstalk]

Matthew Paulson [17:14]: Yup, and again, that’s just a matter of we aren’t your customers so if even though we might not prefer our email address into a popup form, that doesn’t mean our customers won’t. So, it’s really a matter of trying it out and saying, “Hey, how many opt-ins am I getting from this versus whatever I’ll say and do from getting a lot more than maybe it’s just worth to leave it there even if you think it’s a little bit annoying.”

Mike [17:34]: Yeah, and that’s something you can even just try for a week. What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? The people who came to your site are not going to come back? That’s not the end of the world, I mean your business is still going to keep going.

Matthew Paulson [17:43]: Yeah, there is a local coding boutique that does e-convert that is helping out a while back and they had email list and they have a list of maybe 500 people and their email stuff was so hard to find and I just – hey try popup for a weekend and see what happens. The guy was pretty resistant to it but when they did it, they went from having 500 emails on their list total to adding 500 emails every month and the popup is still there a couple of months later so clearly, it’s working for them well enough that they want to keep it even though the guy thought it was a little annoying to begin with.

Mike [18:13]: So let’s talk a little bit about how to entice people to actually sign up. In episode 248, we talked about 14 different ideas for high impact lead magnets. Are there lead magnets that either appeared on that list or that you can think of that worked really well or do you think a lead magnet is not necessary?

Matthew Paulson [18:30]: I think the lead magnet is absolutely necessary. You can’t just say, “Hey, give me your email address so I can send you email.” Nobody cares. You need to give them something to care about in order to get them to give you their email address. I think the format of the lead magnet matters less than the content in the format. So like, I don’t care if it’s a video, a guy, the PDF, whatever, but it should just be very relevant to the content on the page so that might mean that if you have five or six different topics that you talked about in your website, you might have five or six different opt-ins or a lead magnet that show up on each page based on the category that it’s in. So to me relevance is a lot more important than just the medium of whether it’s video, audio, or text whatever. It just is the content in your offer relevant to the content on the page.

Mike [19:13]: And I think that’s probably an important distinction to make for people because there are different types of lead magnets that take different amounts of time and effort to create. So, something that is very simple even though it’s relevant and it’s very quick to create, it can have just the same impact to something that takes 10 or 15 hours to build in terms of getting people onto your [crosstalk]

Matthew Paulson [19:33]: I absolutely agree with that. I don’t think that your lead magnet is something you should spend a lot of time on when you’re first getting started. Don’t let that be something maybe comes a 10-hour ordeal, just take some content you already have and make it into a nice format that’s makes for a nice PDF or something like that and makes it a nice download but I would spend a whole bunch of time doing the original content for your lead magnet.

Mike [19:52]: Yeah, that kind of brings up the idea of premature optimization if you’re spending too much time trying to figure out what is the best thing to do here, you are wasting time and you’re not actually building something to click through.

Matthew Paulson [20:02]: Yeah, I mean if you’re not getting many opt-ins every month, like if you have 100 opt-ins on a monthly basis, you’re not going to have enough people coming and to create a statistically valid split test anyway. So, it doesn’t really matter if you to think that the lead magnet that you have now wasn’t perfect because you couldn’t even test something else out to know whether or not it’s better or not. You just need to do something that’s good enough for an hour than once you start getting a ton of opt-ins every month then you can test out something better.

Mike [20:26]: Right. And it’s about optimizing down the road instead of now. So now that we have somebody on your email list, how do you go about marketing to them? What types of emails should you be sending to them and at what times should you be thinking about sending those emails?

Matthew Paulson [20:38]: Yup. So the first email that you send is probably the most important, that’s called your welcome email. And inside your welcome email you want to accomplish a few different things. First you want to set expectations about what kind of emails you’re going to receives, you might say, “Hey, I send an email every Monday about SAS news and applications or whatever. You can chat us.” And say, “This is what we do. This is what to expect.” The second thing you should do is try to get people to whitelist you or add to your their contact list. So if somebody replies you a message and adds you to the contact list, whitelist you in whatever way that you can, your messages are almost always going to automatically go to the inbox. So you want to ask them to do that right away and then at the bottom of your welcome email, like the PS of your message, you can do some kind of promotion for a product if you want to. So you can say, “PS, hey, do you want to learn more about whatever I do? Check out our cool product here so you could do that in your welcome email as well.” There are two other types of emails you send, one is that auto responder series. So that is 30 to 60 to 90 days the first however many days somebody is on your mailing list, you send them a series of emails, one every other day, one every third day, whatever you want to do. Those emails are designed just to get somebody familiar with your content and familiar with your products and services. So you might have say 15 emails in your auto responder series 1 every 3 days for 45 days, 7 of those might be sales emails for your product and either those just might be contact emails that teach people how to do things or provide people information that isn’t trying to sell something to them but just trying to help them out and establish a relationship and finally there’s broadcast emails so after someone is done with your auto responder series, don’t need to email them so you make a broad cast count every month and you send a mix of content whether that’s just new blog post, new podcast episodes or more product ads or this content whatever you want to do, you still need to send out. You need to keep email in people that are done with your auto responder series because if you stop emailing somebody, then they’re just going to forget about you and forget that they opted and did it in the first place.

Mike [22:29]: Now, one of the things that you just brought up there is that during the auto responders, not every email is essentially a sales emails. You’re not always pitching them a product. Can you talk a little bit about the contrast between establishing a balance of engagement versus generated revenue because obviously there are certain types of emails that are designed to engaged the user and essentially provide value to them and then there’s others that you send them that you’re essentially giving them a sales pitch, you want them to buy something from.

Matthew Paulson [22:57]: Yeah, it’s a lot like somebody that’s a fan of a podcast, person listening to the podcast thinks they have a relationship with the host of the podcast even though they don’t just because you hear them all the time, the same is true for email list. If I’m sending you email all the time and you’re reading it, like I might think that I have a relationship with Kathleen because I get her email all the time even though we’ve never meet. So, you have to think about it like you’re starting a relationship with somebody. You can’t just sell them all the time where you’re going to make them mad at you and they’ll go away and unsubscribe or report your messages and spam, you can’t do that all the time. So you really need to have a mix of content that is relevant to your audience or a stuff that’s entertaining, educational, helpful and stuff that generates revenue as well because that’s the point of being the business. So, a good balance I think is ever other or some people are more conservative than that they might do two content email for every sales email or and it kind of depends on the makeup of your mailing list.

Mike [23:48]: Now, in terms of the sales offers themselves, what are the different ways that you can use an email list to generate revenue for the business? What types of products can you offer? Obviously, there’s your own products if you have them, but what are the other ways that people can generate revenue from their list?

Matthew Paulson [24:03]: Sure. Obviously, you sell your own products and then you can sell other people’s products, through affiliate marketing kind of like what Kathleen does with his mailing this. He promotes a lot of other people’s products and gets a large commission check from [?] and lots of other places every month, people can do that. There are some other ways. There are advertising companies and networks and agencies that work with people that have email lists. I work for [?] investing media solutions that’s specific to finance but they will sell our newsletter ads in my newsletter so people will pay or advertisers will pay on a cost-perfect basis to getting them a newsletter. I’ll get revenue from that. They also sell [?] but they rent it so somebody can pay $50 APM or something like that to email my list, and that’s pretty good money if you can get it. That’s kind of the advertising method for the advertising strategy. That’s also on your thank you page, you can place ads called co-registration ads. So if somebody signs up for your mailing list, they might see offers for somebody else’s product and then if they check those, you might get a couple of bucks for whenever somebody checks those and signs up for a product. Co-registration advertising can be a good revenue source that people don’t realize exist that we do about 40 grand a month in [?] and your thank you page is just a very valuable, a place to monetize because somebody is just taking action and then they’re very likely to take another action if you give them an opportunity to take an action. So, if your thank you page says thank you, you should change it and put it in a co-reg ad, an adsense ad or just even try to sell one of your products in your thank you page because people are very willing to take action right after they signed up for your mailing list.

Mike [25:33]: And I think that this an area where people are also very averse to kind of sharing the fruits of their labor in terms of the emails that they’ve acquired but at the same time these are people who – they’re the ones making the decision about whether or not they’re going to sign up for one of these co-registration ads and I think that the other thing that you mentioned which I thought was very interesting was putting advertisements in your own emails to your own list, can you talk a little bit more about it because I think you very briefly mentioned it about sharing your email list itself, but I don’t think that it was probably clear the specifics of what that really means?

Matthew Paulson [26:06]: Yeah, so you don’t ever give out your email address or your email list to anybody else, that’s a big no, no, but what you can do is talk to an advertiser and say, “Hey, what’s an email from our list for what your product for the set amount of money. They might want to email 100,000 people they’ll pay $50 APM, that’s 5 grand they would pay me to send the email out. I usually work with an advertising agency that sells out stuff for us so I don’t have to really worry about it too much but it can be a good money when the advertisers are available and in season and that kind of stuff. Newsletter ads, that’s also I think the same agency but those are typically done on a cost perfect basis, so there are other financial publishers that people start talking on financial products that have ads they want to get eyeballs for they all put that in my newsletter and they’ll pay me a dollar or two for a products just to get somebody to go to their landing page. So much of that though is you worry about handling over your email to somebody else and a lot of that depends on the industry that you’re in, in the financial industry, people sign up for a lot of different crap. So I don’t care if somebody signs up for my stuff and then I get them to sign of two other stuff. If you’re a co-reg ad or through an email ad or anything like that but if you’re Ruben and you have got BidSketch, you’re only going to use BidSketch or you’re going to use somebody else. So in that case, you probably don’t want to do that, so it just kind of depends on what industry you’re in and if it’s a zero some game or not.

Mike [27:20]: Interesting, so let’s talk a little more about after the person has made a purchase from you. So you generated revenue of some kind from a specifically through these direct product sales or through the affiliate marketing or co-reg ads or the newsletter ads or anything like that, but after somebody has actually purchased a product from you, what sorts of things you do? How do you interact with them after you’ve made the sale? Because I’ve purchased products from people before where I’m getting all this email marketing and then I make a purchase and then I never hear from them again. What are the best practices with that?

Matthew Paulson [27:52]: Yeah, some of it depends on your business model. If you have a SAS app, you need to get them to keep buying every single month or every year. So you have a strong incentive for them to keep using your service array of program or whatever it is. After somebody buys, you should have some kind of consider an event in your marketing automation system and then you have a sequence that goes after that that really helps people use your products or you should remind them that they bought the product, remind them what’s your name, give them the link to go access it, just have two or three weeks’ worth of content that shows them how to use a product, how to get the best value out of it, all of that kind of stuff so that people will actually use your product because if they used their product, then they are more likely to buy a stuff from you in the future. If it’s a SAS app, they’re more likely to go up. The goal is to get people to engage with your product and actually use them because people that buys something and never use it which happens a lot more than you think, they’re going to bounce and they’re going to be somewhere else and never think about you again.

Mike [28:42]: So let’s circle back a little bit. We’ve talked to about how to choose an email service provider and collecting the emails and using lead magnets and then generated revenue from these people and kind of what to do after you’ve made the sale to them but what about the sales funnel itself, so there’s always different pieces that you kind of string together. How do you look at this from the kind of global standpoint. You’ve got this top level view and you want to say, “Okay. Over here we’re going to do this. Over there, we’re going to do that.” Are there any general strategies you have for kind of mapping out what this looks like? In the past I’ve used graph papering, you draw little boxes and point little arrows to different things. But are there other strategies you’ve used or seen people use that could help with this?

Matthew Paulson [29:22]: Yeah, I mean you really have to start what’s the end goal that I want people to buy my product? Do I want them to do who knows what and then you work backwards from there. So what needs to happen for people to want to buy my product, they have to become familiar with it, they have to learn about it, they have to understand why it’s better than anyone else and here I’ve done all these steps and then you have to convert them into an email sequence of some kind. You can do pen and paper like you do with graph paper or you can use [?] to make some fancy parts. Some ESPs has some of that stuff. I just work it out on the Word document of what kind of emails I need to send. I figure out okay, what’s in a welcome email that leads to this? What needs to happen in the auto responder series? Let’s say they get to the end of the auto responder series and then they don’t buy then, what do I need to do in my broadcast emails every month to try to get them to buy after that fact? So, it’s more about knowing the steps and less about knowing the specific emails right away. You have the steps and then you try to figure out how do those steps translates into the specific emails that will help people get down to fact?

Mike [30:20]: I find it interesting that you use a Word document because for me I’m much more of a visual person so having kind of like I said a graph paper map kind of helps me with that, is that depending upon the type of person that you are or is it just are there certain techniques that you think work better?

Matthew Paulson [30:34]: Yeah, I’m a pretty left-brain person. So I think it’s just how I think about things and how things connect together in my mind. For me, that’s how I do an auto responder series and then a broadcast team around, I print out a monthly calendar on paper and then just kind of fill in what emails I think I should send and what they so that it’s based on appropriately and there’s a good mix of everything but there’s not a whole lot that goes in. It’s not as complicated of a process as it might seem.

Mike [31:01]: It’s not that it’s complicated, there’s a lot of steps though, at least there can be and I think that that’s where people get hung up is, “Oh, I have all this work to do.” And then they just don’t it.

Matthew Paulson [31:09]: Yes, that does happen, because I think people will expect results from email marketing right away or results from email marketing right away and then they look at all of the stuff they have to do and then they get overwhelmed by it and just don’t do it.

Mike [31:20]: With the email marketing, it’s not just one or two emails that you need to send, I mean there are cases where you need to send 15 or 20 or 30 emails before you convert somebody to a custody, right?

Matthew Paulson [31:28]: Well, absolutely, I’ve got people that subscribed my free newsletter for two years before they finally upgrade whenever we sent out like a sale email. It can take a long time for somebody to finally get a sign that they want to buy you product.

Mike [31:39]: And maybe that’s part of the hesitation for some people to kind of invest in this is a channel because they look at that and they say, “Well, I sent out three or four emails and I only get a handful of sales.” So, email marketing isn’t working and they kind of [crosstalk]

Matthew Paulson [31:52]: Yeah, it’s a ramp, I mean it takes a long time to build up a list and to start figuring out how to actually make emails at sales because we print opt-in form in your website, you get 1,000 emails for a month even which would be good for a lot of people. At first month you only have a 1,000 people to email and that’s not a very big list to generate sales from because if you think, if I get open rates of 20% that means 200 people open an email and out of that, if 5%, buy it, 5% buy the thing. That’s maybe 10 sales I will get in the first month and that’s probably optimistic even, but once you get down to 2, 3, 4, 5, when you get 2,000 emails next month, 3,000 on your list for third month and so on down the line, then it only starts to get bigger and you start to get more results as it grows over time.

Mike [32:37]: So it’s more about the iteration process and the incremental improvements or the month over month improvements that you’re getting from it?

Matthew Paulson [32:44]: Yeah, I mean my first month that I did the freemium newsletter, I sold maybe 10 premium subscriptions. So I made $1500 that first month then I made nothing for like the next two months because I didn’t send out any emails to promote the product, so it was not just a matter of time to learn and try stuff and see how it works and not to list grow. The results aren’t going to happen overnight but 2 or 3 years down the line, the results are going to be probably a lot bigger than you could imagine right now.

Mike [33:08]: Well, this has been great so far. Where can people find out more about the book that you’re writing called Email Marketing Demystified?

Matthew Paulson [33:14]: Yup, so the book is going to come out October 1st, 2015. It will be available in Kendo, Paperback, and AudioBook formats. It will be in Kendo version for the first week, so if you want to be notified about that, I’ll go to my myemailmarketingbook.com, again that’s myemailmarketingbook.com. Type in your email and I’ll send you an email when the comes out and you can get a free copy. And if you want to follow me on Twitter, my user ID is MathewDP and you can follow my personal blog at mattpaulson.com and Paulson is P-A-U-L-S-O-N.

Mike [33:43]: Or if you got a chance to go to MicroConf, you’ve been attending to get MicroConf.

Matthew Paulson [33:46]: Yeah, so I went to MicroConf for this year in Vegas. I had a great time. I’m going to go back next year. I’m going to try to do an attendee talk so if you guys see that in the voting, actually vote for it if you’re going to come to MicroConf this year, I did one last year but nobody voted for it so we’ll hope I get in next year.

Mike [34:00]: Okay. Well, great. I just wanted to say thanks for coming on the show.

Matthew Paulson [34:04]: Thanks, Mike.

Mike [34:05]: If you have a question for us, you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690 or email us to us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Out of Control by Moot used under creative commons. Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for startups and visit startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.

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4 Responses to “Episode 251 | Email Marketing Demystified with Matthew Paulson”

  1. Awesome interview, Mike. So much actionable content. Many thanks!

  2. I just put my notes from this episode in Evernote and thought it might be helpful to others as well:

    Lead Magnet
    5-6 different topics on your website => 5-6 different lead magnets depending on the content of the current page (is the content relevant to this page)
    Starting Lead Magnet: Not original Content, Reformat something as PDF. Less than 10 hours. Optimize down the road

    Types of email:

    1) Welcome Email
    Set Expectations
    e.g: I sent out info about ____ every monday. “This is what we do, this is what you should expect”
    Get people to whitelist you / add to contact list
    Ask them to do it
    In P.S: Promotion for product, if you want to.
    e.g. If you want to learn more about _____ check out this cool product here
    2) Auto-Responder Series (30/60/90 days)
    Every other day/every third day
    Designed to get them familiar with your content
    Info : Sales Ratio Example
    15 Emails, every 3 days = 45 days
    7 Sales emails
    4 Product
    3 Content Emails (Provide information, help them out)
    3) Broadcast Emails
    At least one every month, after (2) is finished
    Mix of content: Blog, Podcast episodes + Products

    Other Info

    When you stop emailing people, they start to forget about you.
    Through the emails you build up a relationship. For the customer it feels like they know you, because they “hear” you all the time, even though you never met. That’s why you need content that is helpful, relevant and/or entertaining to your audience + stuff that is generating revenue 1:1 or 2:1 ratio (Depends on your mailing list)
    Handing over the fruits of your labour: Depends on your industry. Is it bad to give away the customer (email) to others?

    Monetization of List

    Your Product
    Other people’s product
    Advertisting inside E-Mails (CPC or Cost per Thousands CPM)
    Co-Registration (Thank You Page with ad-sense Ad)

    Top Level View – Sales Funnel

    End Goal?
    People should buy my product
    Other goal?

    What needs to happen for them to buy?
    Get familiar
    Learn about it
    Why it’s better than everybody else
    Understand how it works
    Make a chart or document to visualize the sequence
    What’s in the welcome email that leads to ____?
    What’s in the auto-responder.
    When they get to the end of the auto-responder and they don’t buy, what happens?
    What needs to be in my broadcast emails to get them to buy`?

    Can take a long time: 2 years free newsletter before people sign up for premium

    e.g. 1000 people on list: 200 open, 5% convert => 10 sales

  3. I recently signed up for the MarketBeat daily mailing list to see how Matthew does this in his own business.

    Some of the techniques sound good in theory, but they felt quite spammy to me as I went through the process. e.g. The post sign-up co-registration page sounds good, but why does he need to hide the ‘No Thanks’ link off the bottom of the page a long way from the bulk of the page?

    If these are truly useful, such techniques shouldn’t be necessary. Can you really say ‘90% of people want this’ (or whatever the measurement is) when the ‘No’ option is so well hidden?

    Despite trying not to sign up for other mailing lists, somehow I’ve been added to at least 2 others from this one signup. Again, it feels very spammy to me.

    It’s good to see these techniques pushed to the extreme, even just to know that I will hopefully never go that far

  4. Tom –

    #1 – The “No thanks” links are placed lower on the page because of the iFrame height requirement of the co-reg provider. It’s not that we’re trying to hide them, but as best as I’m aware, you can’t dynamically re-size iFrames across domains because of cross-site scripting issues.

    #2 – Yes, we send a lot of email. If you sign-up for any mailing list in the financial industry, you’ll see similar practices. Best practices in financial publishing companies are not anything like that of SaaS companies and Silion Valley start-ups. It’s more aggressive and it’s not for everyone, but that’s the industry that I’m in.