Fewer Emails Lead to 225% More Leads

Email Icon

Image via Wikipedia

It sounds counter-intuitive, but it turns out it works: you can make money with a small email list.  You can even earn more with a small list than you can with a large one.

We all tend to think that more is, well, more. But sometimes, less is really more.  It also helps to think through what you’re doing and try to make your emails as helpful and relevant to your readers as possible.

Here’s how one IT company reconfigured and streamlined their list and their marketing strategy.  They ended up earning more, without increasing the size of their list.

Build on personal relationships

The first change they made was a simple one.  They switched the name on the  “from” line from the marketing department to the name of an account manager. This made the messages seem more personal and helpful and less “salesy.”

Consider the customer experience

Then, they streamlined the emails.  They used less HTML and graphics, and more plain text.  This change made the emails easier to read on different devices.  It also reduced page load times.

The next change was to the content.  Instead of a barrage of emails all at once, the messages were staggered in a series. The early messages offered more help, with free guides and webinars.

More sales-oriented messages were pushed back later in the series (product demos and free trials).

The result?

  • 225% increase in sales-ready leads
  • 376% more downloads, forms filled in and interaction
  • 27% more of the leads from the emails became customers

Read the full article here (open access until Sept. 16)

Now, all emails and lists and marketing is different.  However, it does suggest that simplifying, adding more useful content, and carefully showing leads along a path to a sale, can make a big difference.

Start with signing them up, add valuable content, helpful videos, ebooks, etc.  Then add in materials that are more directly related to a sale (a demo, a free consultation).  Finally, ask for the sale.


Which is the Best Email Service Provider?

Email Icon

Image via Wikipedia

There are quite a lot of email service providers out there.  You can choose from AWeber, Emma, MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc.

But what should you look for?

And which is the best email service provider?

Or can you just use Outlook or Webmail (hey, those are free)?


In the name of all that’s holy (or even not) don’t use Outlook. Please. Angels will weep. There are several problems with using Outlook as a messaging system.  The biggest is that it’s easy to send your message to everybody (with all the addresses showing), which is a violation of privacy and trust.  Secondly, any new names have to be added manually; so do any names you want to remove.  Thirdly, your personal mailbox is not a known or trusted email provider, and doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt that AWeber or another big name does when they send out emails.


This has many of the same problems as Outlook. Plus, your web host may not allow you to send more than 100 emails in an hour. If you have a decent-sized list, it’s a problem.

Why you should use an email service


You want a provider with a good record of actually delivering emails sent through their system. Your email doesn’t help you (or your readers) if they never receive it. Check on their delivery rates, and the systems they use to confirm delivery, use of security keys, and attempts to redeliver (if the first attempt fails).


What stats do they provide? You’ll want to know how many emails were delivered, how many bounced, and how many were opened (the tracking isn’t perfect, but will give you a rough idea). Can you see exactly who opened your message? You’ll want this so you can see if there’s a pattern, which messages or topics are most popular, or convert best.


An autoresponder allows you to send out a series of messages automatically. This could be a course, a series of newsletters, a welcome message, or anything you like. You set it up and forget about it.

Customer Support

Look for lively forums, an in-depth FAQ or answer center, tutorials, and videos to help you get started. If you’re still stuck, you want a company with lots of live people to help on the phone, and with long hours (in case you’re not in the same time zone). I know many offer “live chat,” but I personally find it easier (and faster) to talk. It also leaves my hands free to open windows and type.

Database Download/Upload

They’re your names (and it’s your list). Look for an easy way to back it up and download it. Some ESPs let you upload your own names and add them. I personally think this is a bad idea (AWeber doesn’t allow it, MyEmma does), as it’s easy to abuse by signing people up without their permission.


Pricing, is of course, important. Some charge a flat fee, others charge by volume (how many messages you send, how often you send them, or how big your list is).

A one month $1 trial offer (affiliate link).  After that, it starts at $19 a month, but you can send as many emails as you like.

Charges by volume, but gives a 20% discount to non-profits.  Monthly fee for 1,000 emails starts at $30.

Free if you keep your list under 2,000 names, and agree to have their badge on every newsletter. Some of the functions and design options are also limited. Nonprofits and schools use this quite a bit for internal messages. If you want all the features (and no badge), it starts at $10 a month for 0-500 subscribers. but includes free simple surveys, and social sharing tools.

Starts at $15 a month and has nonprofit discounts. For additional fees, you can add surveys, a stock image library, and a web-based email archive (to make your emails into web pages).

All offer price reductions if you pay in larger blocks (quarterly or yearly, rather than monthly).


Many providers have pre-designed templates you can use for your messages.

Use one of their templates (they have over 150), or use your own. You can also create sign-up forms that match your newsletter layout.

Asks you to pay an upfront design fee (at three different price levels) to get a customized template. A good choice if you’re not a designer, or don’t have one on staff.

Templates that you can customize, or even download and work on in your own text editor.

Add your own logo, colors, etc. to their existing templates. If you want something that’s one of a kind (truly custom), they will charge you for it.

You may use all of these features, or not, but print this out and keep it handy (or bookmark it) when you’re making a decision.

How Postcards Can Help Your Email Marketing

What’s a postcard got to do with email anyway? You can’t send those things through the internet!

Postcards and email marketing may seem to have very little in common, but it turns out imitating a postcard can be a successful way to run an email campaign. Actual postcards can also be a great way to follow-up on an email campaign or website visit, but more on that later in the post.

Postcard-style emails get more clicks

If you’re not sure what that means, a postcard email looks like a postcard.  It’s landscape (meaning wider than it’s tall), and doesn’t have very much text.  Just your logo and address, a headline (or a salutation), a few lines of writing, and a signature.

Bacon photo by cyclonebill (Bacon) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bacon photo by cyclone bill via Wikimedia Commons cc 2.0 sa

A newsletter style email looks more like a newspaper (portrait, or longer than it is wide), like a portrait of a person.

newsletter style email

It’s a lot more text-heavy, and it’s generally longer, and has fewer graphics.  Think The New York Times, but in pixels instead of print.

The postcard style is more effective in certain situations than the newsletter style.  The important thing is to tailor your text and design to your audience and their needs.

If they want a list of “top five backpacks for hiking” and a quick list is all they need to make a decision to buy one, then a postcard format is ideal.

If your sale (or offer) is something more complex, such as a design service, then you’ll need more time and space to explain the benefits.

According to Marketing Sherpa, one non-profit used the postcard technique for their year-end fundraising campaign. They sent a series of emails that looked like postcards, with a headline, a photo, and a few short sentences.  Then one link, leading to a donation page. It boosted their response by 50%

One-two punch: paper postcards and email marketing

Or, you can even use actual postcards.  Make it part of a two-step campaign.  First, mail a paper postcard to drive potential new users or existing users to your site for a special offer, a free analysis, or a report.  Then, ask them to enter their email addresses on your site, in order to get that offer. Once they’ve signed up, follow up electronically.

This is a also good way to build your email list (make sure you use double opt-in (signup plus confirmation). SInce many good rented lists don’t include email addresses, sending a  paper postcard can help you reach prospects you might otherwise miss.  And, since postcards are low cost, it won’t blow a big hole in your marketing budget.

A third (and brand new) option comes from PebblePost. They’re using using information from website visits to send a customized follow-up direct mail piece highlighting exactly the items that web visitors were looking at.

It’s currently only working for web visits, but they say it can be adapted for use with email too. It’s less intrusive than retargeting and following people around the web with your ads, but far more targeted and relevant than a generic mailing would be.


Get Email Marketing Tips from a Party

Took picture June 18, 2006 of a party hat I pu...

Image via Wikipedia

What email marketing tips can you get from a party?

Both require planning, a good host (your business). interesting conversation, and happy people (customers). Sometimes, they even both have themes.

Without the proper planning, the party (or the email) will be a bust.

Here’s how to make sure your party (email newsletter) is a great one.

Send invitations and request RSVPs

If you have a party, you send out invitations. People then respond (and accept or decline). You don’t just grab people off the street and pull them in. Same thing with email marketing.

You invite people, and you wait for them to accept (you don’t just start sending them emails because you met them at a breakfast meeting).

Why are you having the party?

When you send out the invitations, you try to tell people why you’re having the party, and why they’ll enjoy it.

Offer them an invitation (your signup form), describe how great the party will be (your ebook, or your webinar), and then ask them to accept (opt-in and confirm).

You also give them information about the party and tell them what to expect when they get there. Is it a birthday?  Do they have to bring gifts (pay), when is the party (how often will they get your email, or what time is the webinar), and why would they want to come (it’s their best friend’s birthday).

Make sure they confirm (opt-in and register) that they’re coming, and give them directions (how to sign up, what messages they will receive).

Greet your guests

Once that party gets under way, a good host greets each guest at the door. Likewise, send a welcome message to your new subscribers. Thank them for coming (signing up) and tell them a bit more about your party (the kinds of information they can expect to get from you). Show them around, point out the buffet and the bar. Give them a few links to relevant information on your site.

Stop by and chat

At a party, you mingle and make sure everyone’s having a good time. Check with your readers occasionally. Ask them for feedback with a survey. Or solicit ideas or comments (I add a PS telling my readers they can just hit reply to reach me).

Some guests leave early

Occasionally, a guest will decide your party is not for them.  If someone unsubsribes, let them go. It’s not legal in the US.   If too many people unsubscribe, take a look at  your newsletter and find out why.

Party favors

At a party, you might give out silly hats or serve food and cake.  Offer your newsletter readers goodies (just for signing up).  For example, they might be the first to get a crack at a new (paid) service.  Or, send the occasional, random free gift (an ebook, for example).

Invite your guests back

If you want to have another party (or start another newsletter), repeat the process. Invite your guests to the new party first (rather than automatically adding them to the guest list).


How to Increase Your Email Click Through Rate by 85%

Magnify Glass and Money

Image by Images_of_Money via Flickr

Want to increase your email click through rate?  Marketing Experiments recently held a webinar with lots of great tips on how to focus your emails, get more email clicks, and boost conversions.

They did some testing and found something astonishing.

The best email not only beat the control, it clobbered it.

And, it’s a simple technique that you can easily use yourself.

A test email that beat the control by 85%!

Why did this email do so well?  The test included an excerpt from a free ebook.  The control had a standard headline and bullet points.

The book excerpt included a call to action inviting people to click – and keep reading. It followed a logical progression of thought and created its own mini marketing funnel: open the email, read the text, click the link, and then go to the website to download the rest of the book. The only way to get the rest of the book (and learn the rest of the tips) was to click through.

Distractions can kill your clicks

Another way to increase your email clicks is to remove distractions and keep focused. Lots of pictures, links, words, and video competing for attention can be overwhelming. Your readers won’t know where to look first.  They may give up and go elsewhere.

Participants in the test submitted sample marketing emails for ‘live’ review.  Many were following the “throw everything at it and see what sticks” approach to marketing. They had multiple, large headlines competing for attention.  Others had no headline at all!

Some of the emails highlighted many different products on one page, but all the images led to a single page with still more products, rather than the specific item you clicked on.

If there are product images (like bicycles or cameras), then take them straight to that product page, with smaller links to related items if they want to look at something else.

The goal isn’t to spew everything you know, or that a customer might want to know, about your product.  The goal is to get clicks to the landing page or your article.

(You can watch the whole webinar here.)

What do you think?  Would you be interested in seeing something similar here?