Paradigm Shift: How You Sell With Email Is Changing

By Yaro Starak
48 Comments

Over the last few weeks I’ve been listening to recordings of Perry Marshall’s Live Workshop on email autoresponders held in Chicago. It’s some really great content, direct from one of the online marketers I trust the most.

Perry really hammered home a point that on some levels, I haven’t fully taken to heart in the past.

That point is, for long term success, you can’t expect to survive the changing online business environment, without fully cementing your place as a leader by constantly delivering trust-building quality content.

This isn’t anything new of course, but realizing how to truly embed this ethos into how you run your business, and in particular for us online entrepreneurs and how we market through email, is more difficult than you might think.

Why? Because it’s so easy to fall for the lure of the quick buck.

It’s too easy to be lazy, and most people aren’t prepared to wait and put in the effort to establish themselves. They want a return on their work in a matter of weeks or a few short months, not the years it’s going to take to build your following, set up systems and ultimately, establish a quality business.

Perry sums up this idea using a great example in how to operate an email marketing campaign using autoresponders.

Most online marketers in recent years have built email lists that they essentially use to constantly promote affiliate products and launches. Finding a marketer who sends content out to their list, even as often as 50% of the emails they send, is rare.

As Perry explains, once customers get sick of the spam, it’s those marketers who built an autoresponder system that uses quality content to foster trust, and not hit their customers with excessive pitches, who succeed.

When the water rises, only those who have built a strong fortification survive. The rest drown.

The water is definitely rising right now in the Internet marketing industry.

It’s pretty clear, in the make money niche, the majority of marketers, even the best ones, have at times abused their lists by sending out too much pitch and not enough content, and I’m including myself in this claim. This could have worked in the past, but we’re reaching a saturation point. It’s safe to say that long term, you won’t survive by sending only emails that ask people to buy something.

I know this is true, because I’ve felt the change in my business. Email response rates are down. I choose to say no to promoting new launches now more than ever before because I know each promotion I do damages relationships with my list. People are sick of the same pitches, from the same people using the same trigger points. Our customers are getting wiser to fluff and consequently gravitating towards substance.

Perry really emphasized this point throughout his workshop, and he’s not alone, I’ve taken the idea to heart in the last few months so much that it has shifted my entire focus in 2010.

I plan to continue to be about substance even more so than in the past, which considering most of my current marketing is about content, says a lot about how important I think this change is.

The Emotional Bank Account

I’ve been aware that you need to deliver content and foster trust before asking people to buy since I first started studying Internet marketing. It has been the foundation of my email marketing strategy since day one thanks to guys like Perry Marshall and Eben Pagan. Even still, I’ve probably gone a little excessive with promotions from time to time, if I judge by what really matters, the impact on relationships with my subscribers.

The challenge is to find a balance that works. Perry explains his system in the workshop, demonstrating how he uses autoresponders (that’s automatic follow-up emails using a system like AWeber) as the automated trust building tools, which help him build up enough credit in the emotional bank account, that when it is time to pitch something, he can do so without turning people off.

This really isn’t a difficult concept to grasp, but you have to realize that the ratio of content to pitch is skewing more and more towards content. Content is even more important than you think it is.

Consider a person gives you their name and email because they want to read your report on how to improve your putting game in golf. Following the email that gives the report, the next day you send them an email that asks them to buy a putter your recommend (through your affiliate link of course). Then you ask them to buy golf balls (affiliate link), then a manual on how to chip out of bunkers (affiliate link), then something else.

Your subscriber may have tolerance for one or two pitches especially since they are related to the reason she first subscribed, but by the fifth email they’re starting to wonder why they should keep their relationship with you if all you ever do is show them things they can buy.

Instead, imagine if the emails that follow the report include a free video showing a tip on how to hold a putter correctly, then a free interview with a professional golf coach who explains what most amateur golfers do wrong with their putting. The next email gives a great story from the game of golf you played on the weekend, which relates how you learned a special way of thinking to improve concentration during putting.

Think of it this way. Trust, which is an emotion, starts at zero in the emotional bank account (maybe even negative in markets that have a reputation for scamming people). Each time you help your subscriber without asking anything from them, they trust you more – and that’s a deposit. Each time you include a pitch that requires they spend their money, you’re subtracting from that bank account.

Obviously there are subtleties and ways you can pitch with content, but the base rule is clear because we all know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an email that asks you to buy something. It’s not usually something that makes you like the person who sent you the email.

Keep It Personal

One of the great lessons Perry teaches, and demonstrates in his workshop, is the power of story telling and using personal anecdotes to further enhance the emotional connection you have with your subscribers.

I swear half of Perry’s presentations in the workshop are simply stories from his life and running his business! (there’s a lesson in that in terms of how to create content for live events too).

Every person who subscribes to your list is there for a different reason and has a different level of interest in you. Some just want your free stuff and may never become a customer. On the other end of the spectrum are those who buy everything you produce and want to know about everything going on in your life, even beyond your business.

The emphasis should be placed on your core “groupies”, those who see you as a trusted source of reliable information and even as a friend. This group is not significant in number, but they are significant in how they support your business. This is the very top of the 80/20 rule – we’re talking about the 0.1% of people who provide 80% or more of your revenue.

If you demonstrate your “humanness” then more people will come to like you as a human, and this is by far the strongest selling technique you could ever master. Now imagine your email sequence does that for you automatically.

It’s logical stuff, but unfortunately so many people are stuck on short term gain mode, or just plain desperate to make money, they forget they are dealing with other human beings at the end of their emails.

What Has To Change

Here’s what I’m doing differently this year –

In order to realize my big picture goals I need new products, so I definitely plan on expanding out what I teach this year. Although Gideon and I have plans to release low priced, very specific training products that teach our core competencies, I’ll be spending a lot of time working on high-end product that help my top members and clients.

I want to spend more time working with my core followers, who are willing to invest more money for tailored support AND who are in a position to really leverage my advice and build very successful businesses of their own.

As much as I love all my customers, I really love the action takers and get immense satisfaction from seeing people get results. I want to offer more support to this minority to help them achieve more, so if that’s you, stay tuned – we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other this year :-).

All these goals are dependent on my email system, which is a condition all Internet entrepreneurs must become acutely aware of – your email lists are your business.

If you’re not thinking about how to use email marketing in your business, then your focus is in the wrong place. Email marketing should always be a priority because it’s your best source of leverage, your strongest tool for relationship building and thanks to autoresponders, one of the most powerful automation tools available today.

What If I Pitch To You Now?

So we’re at the end of this article. It’s safe to say that I recommend Perry Marshall (in fact it was his ebook that was the very first affiliate product I promoted on this blog), however what would happen now if I overtly recommended you buy his Live Autoresponder Workshop product?

I could leave this article, which already has a handful of links to the workshop and not blatantly suggest you buy it. If I do that, most people will see this article as a good piece of content that teaches some advanced ideas and fundamentals about email marketing and business development. A very small percentage might even purchase the product without my overt prompting.

If I add a sales pitch now, some people will look at the content in this article as merely one long build up of marketing to sell Perry’s product with my affiliate link. They could be justified in labeling this content just me selling something to make money, especially if they scanned the article and hit the end only to find the pitch (and remember most people scan content, they don’t read it). I may sell more product this way short term, though it’s difficult to say for sure.

What’s clear is that much of this is a personal choice in how you want to run your business. Some think selling in every email is fine and if people unsubscribe, they’re not buyers, so it’s good they’re off your list. Others focus on trust building and believe that long term success depends on fostering relationships with quality content. If you’re focusing too much on selling, then you’re slowly destroying your business because you’re destroying trust.

Perry, more than any other marketer, is a consistent demonstration of how to focus on building your business, without selling himself short with excessive pitch. He’s not perfect and of course all of this is subjective, but I can state from my point of view I’ve always admired his endurance, his lack of affiliate pitches, his strength saying no to most product launches, and his authenticity and transparency. Plus, he has built a really solid online business based on trust in a market full of hucksters.

In 2010, his model is what I’m looking to emulate more than any other marketer.

Yaro Starak
Email Marketer

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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48 Comments

  • Hi Yaro,

    I have to say that the main reason I keep coming back to your blog and reading your emails is about the high quality content you provide. It builds a foundation of trust and relationship. As they say, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

  • That is a really interesting point. I am subscribed to quite a few of the ‘top’ internet marketers, and you are one of the only ones that actually sends me good quality content as well as recommending me products.

  • Even if you did promote product launches through Email, most of us wouldn’t care because the free content you provide is amazing. Its the law of reciprocity, you provide content and new products and we provide an audience and sometimes the pay off 8-)

  • Hey Yaro, I don’t come here as often as I should, but your content is pure and comes from the heart.

    From my perspective, your blog has established yourself so well in the market place as a sincere trusted resource that I will buy from you any day.

    I know that when you recommend a product that it has to be good. So although the market is getting smarter, email rates are dropping and people are getting in tune with the product launch formula, it all depends who that message is coming from that determines the perception in my opinion.

    Maybe the blogging aspect has something to do with being able to trust you more than other marketers who just have sales pages and product launches out there.

    So I guess your blog really helps separate your value in the market place for providing sufficient, quality free content to earn trust.

    Thanks for the post! :)

  • Good advice, and agreed on all points. I have made the shift from consulting to focusing on creating more of my own products and cementing the relationships I have, and recommendations are increasingly along the same lines as you, products I have an involvement in or relationship with. Reviews I am going to do less off (not that I do much of that any more anyway).

    From what I pick up from backchannel conversations, everyone is collaborating more and there are fewer people willing to simply link drop and randomly promote. This has got to be good for customers, but I worry if the end effect is pulling up the ladder for people just entering the field?

    • I think the ladder is always there for people with genuine value to give, especially if it’s unique from everyone else. It might be harder with less people willing to throw you a bone, but eventually persistent quality will rise to the top.

  • Jon

    Great article as usual… I actually send mass mails only when I publish a new book or when there is something very big happening, otherwise, I’m probably a little too quiet ;-)

    Jon @ WoodMarvels.com

  • Your article gives always right advice that’s the only fact I read daily your blog.
    Absolutely good formula to use autoresponde software in email campaign. This software will

    play major key role in between your reader and e-mail campaign.

    As result we will get back more target reader.

  • Hi Yaro,

    Great article and I couldn’t agree with you more!

    For the last 18 months I have been slowly learning internet marketing around my toddler. I have signed up to many a marketers list and am at the point where I receive over 100 emails a day. Can you believe I can tell you how many of those emails are actually full of content and not a blatant sales pitch or adswap?? Can you guess??

    Answer about 5!!!!! Yes 5 out of 100 marketers actually deliver content! Even the big Guru’s whom I will not name don’t deliver content. And the biggest thing I really dislike is some of these big Guru’s actually sell our email addresses so now I am being spammed too from would be marketers that can’t even follow the new FTC guidelines and tell me there is an affiliate link in their email!!

    This industry does need a shake up! It does need more consistency, transparency and honesty. I am also sick of the emails that tell me I am going to make 1,000,000 in 30 days but forget to tell me that I need a mailing list of 10,000 and a good couple of grand to get started!

    Yaro I commend you for being one of the marketers that does supply great learning content with this blog and I also commend you for having a caring and real approach, maybe it is the down to earth Aussie attitude.

    Keep up the truth and you will gain more follows than ever before.

    Kind Regards

    Jacinta :D

    • Wow, I find it hard to believe that you even get 5 quality emails – I may get 1 a week if lucky. What really ticks me off is when I receive the exact same sales pitch, word for word, from multiple marketers.

  • We are all greedy but some are better(or worse) than others. The urge to make a quick buck or two is so great that not many can resist.

    Since beginning, I believe in building relationship more than any other approach. BUT looking at how big gurus and super affiliates sending me sales pitch one after another and never a single content, raise a little doubt whether I should copy them too. Hey, the are successful and rich!

    I just hope my stand will prove true in the end.

  • By now it should be obvious that I come here for the content. One can always learn here and so your contention that it is content that matters is absolutely correct.

  • I’m have been routinely shocked by some of the other “super affiliates” who do generate good content usually, when I get emails that are verbatim copies of others I’ve gotten.

    Just seems lazy, like they don’t really believe in what they are promoting.

    I appreciate how much content you have routinely provided. That’s why I’m here now! :)

  • Hey Yaro,

    I have not bought anything from you, and it’s not because I don’t trust you but because I have been struggling a lot lately but I still keep coming back to your blog because of the great content you provide to me I been dying to sign up for your mastermind class, Soon as I can I will.

    I really like this post because I was in sales and a lot of the tips perry gives how are related to sales. I do remember the whole putting deposits in the account…I sold vacuums door to door, any time I show them a benefit it was like a deposit but when I asked to buy it was a withdraw, so you need to have more deposits than withdraws for them to buy.

    And the tip on being personal is so true in sales like it is in email marketing I would say because, people most of the time buy things because they like you, not because they like the product. Don’t get me wrong they have to like it a little bit. I remember selling this $3000 vacuum to people that didn’t buy it from their own grandson or nephew but they bought it from me. why? I was personal, I cared about them, and they trusted me.

    I am really new to blogging, I hope this can help some people that were in sales or currently are to apply their sales skills to blogging. It’s helping me.

    Thanks Yaro, you are the man!

  • Yaro, I think that you provide a great point here. I’ve been slowly trying to learn about internet marketing as well and I think the one thing that is equally important is to be personal and straight-forward. You always provide great content with your blog and I’m sure your marketing emails are equally filled with quality as opposed to quantity.

  • Hey Yaro

    That was a great post. I really enjoyed reading that and it made me think a lot about my own funnel. I can see and understand what you are saying and I relized that I might have too many affiliate products in my funnel and not enough content.

    I agree that relationship building should be a major part of email marketing. I feel that this is how we increase our open rate and click rate.

  • You’re right on about the email, I personally don’t even look at most emails anymore, in fact the spam filters make a big difference. Give me an email that has some good info in it and you will catch my attention . Paul

  • Yaro, yours is one of the few blogs I visit where every word posted (and there are many words here) is worth of my time. I always expect to get something valuable out of it and you never fail to deliver. Keep up the great work.

    You’re right about the emails promoting affiliate products and launches. Now, when I see an email that starts with “My friend…” I unconsciously pull away even though I know the review or promotion is from a trusted source and might be good for me…but there’s just too many of them nowadays. Imagine getting five emails from five different sources telling you about the same ‘friend’..

  • Thanks Yaro. Interesting developments. The blogging business has advanced faster and further than any other topic. I think if your selling to smaller less developed niches, I reckon there’s a few more years of hard sell left! :) BUT it’s going to be great content and ‘heart and soul’ copy that wins the day.

  • I am doing the 80/20 rule on people that I learn from in 2010. If you are not providing me high quality info than I am not going to learn that person. I believe Quality of content will be king in this decade since everyone teaches the same thing. The only differentiator will be quality and personality.

    You, along with a handful of people, made my Entrepreneural Guru List. Your content is extremely high quality so you do not have much to worry about. Ali Brown is another one who mastered the ability of being personable and selling which is why she has made it so far.

  • You can honestly go to just about any website that offers to help people if they’ll just buy that product – I will not. Even if I have the money I won’t because it’s all about trust and building that relationship in the end. If I don’t trust you I’m not buying. I may even be curious but I’m not going to buy your products just based on curiosity.

    The money people should spend is on relationships because they’ll see much more out of their dollar.

    Some people may take a chance and might get lucky, though very few do obviously, it takes time to build up and really attract someone.

    If I have no idea who you are and you want me to buy something, explain why I should buy it and what I will get out of it that you may even offer for free as a bonus.

    Great post and I have to agree with you. Quit just doing sales pitches because the websites I visit daily are the ones I trust. The websites I visit once and never go back or go back after a week and THEN never return, we’re through.

  • Hi Yaro,

    I’m a big fan of yours and trust you completely! Please consider another point of view from this once newbie: PLEASE do pitch/recommend more products that might of any real use to us as your subscribers.

    We badly need your wisdom and experience in guiding our purchases. I am happy to invest and pay full freight for real value and really do look forward to any and all of your recommendations.

    In the past I have invested several thousand dollars (through OTOs and upsells that accompanied the products you described so well). I have always derived great value either immediately or eventually.

    I am thrilled you highlighted Perry Marshall’s program and I will certainly sign up for the very highest level of product and service he offers — that’s how much I trust and value your clear recommendation. How could I possibly lose?

    Keep up the great work! And please do keep those recommendations coming!!

    Regards,
    Burt

  • Wow Yaro this is a great post. In todays age of information overload there must be a balance between sales pitch and information. I also think that the quality of information is important and that just sending emails with fluff is as bad as sending too many pitches. I have met Perry at a Dan Kennedy meeting and agre he sure has a lot to offer.

    Roy Paeth
    Chicago First Time Home Buyer

  • That was a great piece of advice. You are right, selling with email now doesn’t has the same impact as it had before. People are fed up with the same old thing. They need something innovative. The quality of the content you provide is simply top class. keep up the superb work.

  • Your Message

    A well written post – but offering compelling content has always been the best way to grow, and maintain a marketing list. This falls under the Mr. Obvious rule. (A Dan Kennedy concept). I too have met and learned from Perry but to tout this as a paradigm shift seems to perpetuate the very thing you are advising againt. It’s always been about building trust and treating people right.

  • Hello Yaro,

    Like many of your followers and commenters, I find your blog is sincere. Perhaps your style could be used as a model for a new breed of bloggers who aren’t just link dropping and randomly promoting.

  • Your MessageOf course, such a paradigm that you describe should be studied further. I agree with you.

  • Yaro – Wow! Very glad I read this post. You’re right (and so is Perry): email marketing is a very critical and sensitive part of any Internet Business. And now that the average user is so inundated with email autoresponders, the game has definitely changed.

    I’m really curious to check out Perry’s product. Did you purchase the bronze package or the full gold service? I too have had lots of success with Perry’s products — it all started with that excellent guide to Adwords he wrote years ago. I still use his advice today. Sorry… now it sounds like I’m pitching. ;)

    I hope lots of web marketers read this post and take up these ideas. Email marketing is an ugly world that gives lots of us bad names. Anytime I talk about being involved in online marketing activities, I often hear things like “Oh, so you’re the guy sending me all that rubbish email.” Too often those of us just working hard to provide real value have to fight against the negative image created by those offering little or nothing to customers.

    An email address is a precious thing and it should be treated as such. Thanks for the reminder!

    -Jason Clegg

  • Hi Yaro,
    I want to thank you for great advice for bloggers like me, that you provide here. Since I started following some of the principles you set out here and in many of the free reports you so generously share, my blog has seen real improvement. It covers very narrow niche, so it will never have huge following, but it recently attracted big name advertisers, the biggest for the industry.
    Thanks again and keep up the great work your doiong!
    Best regards,
    Mike K.

  • Yaro,

    I am so happy you wrote this! I am part of a really simple curated email product called [Startup Digest]. I would love to discuss this with you more. Thank you again for the useful article.

  • It’s true, it’s all true! We have to many marketers trying personality marketing and we have reached the point od saturation. Loyal customers tend to pull away after the constant pitches. Or how often does the mistake of double pushing happen, You know pushing the same item to the people who have already bought. it’s all true, It makes me wonder if it’s the end!!???????

  • That is great advice, its always important to build trust and a solid relation ship before you pitch a sale. Its always good to have to more content sent out than pitching. Very few marketers will actually admit that they do more pitching than content. Its great to see that you realize your own fault.

  • Woah. Yaro, this post clearly depicts how much you must have garnered at the workshop. I think this the longest post of yours i have read yet.

    I highly regard Perry Marshall as i clearly remember one of his sayings in your podcast interview with him :

    “Quality is not being a whore”

    That has stuck with me since. A times I get overwhelmed when I see my email overloaded with pitches from the “Gurus” that ought to bring up aspiring online entrepreneurs.

    Anyway, I’m glad guys like Perry have great character is rare online this days and your decision to make amendments is another proof that you would be around when some “Gurus” are seen as being money suckers.

    Thanks for coming out straight again.

  • Hi Yaro

    It is true that if you just keep on promoting crap then you will suffer.

    I find that the worst list to sign up is the JV list for clickbank product launches, these people are just creating dross with high refund rates and claims of massive wealth.

    Totally agree with you when it comes to the relationship as having been through your paid content I know that what you have to say / recommend will be worth opening. I probably won’t buy anything, but your open rate is 100% and I won’t be unsubscribing anytime soon.

    Keep up the content and the mailings

    Andrew

    p.s. As if by fate whilst reading this I’ve just had a message from someone who’s read my blog, and want’s me to promote his site about how he’s generated 1,200,000 visitor’s to his site and thinks that 100% commission will make me promote!

  • I agree completely, and find myself doing the same thing… I find myself unsubscribing from those who are always sending e-mails with affiliate offers and links, but I keep the ones who send me valuable information and interesting articles with valuable resources or thoughts, and only advertise on occasion. My faves are those who write from a personal point of view, showing that they are a human being, and that’s the model I’d like to follow as well (though I wish I had more time to post in my blog…)

    Thanks for sharing this info!

  • I completely understand the Internet Marketers point of view in that they should be earning money from what they do, but 50%? That’s a 1:1 Ratio of Promoted Products to Content. Not very good in my book. That’s just greed.

  • Yaro, I follow your blog like I do nobody elses. Some of the other guys have good content, but the emails can get a bit much, and often dont really get read.

  • Hey Yaro,

    you’re such an inspriation for myself! I’m getting into the real business and it’s so exciting. Thank you very much and keep up the good work!

  • Hi, Yaro. I’m coming from a completely different perspective here. In what I’m doing, there’s no such thing as pitching or advertising a product (except if you recommend a movie or a book), it’s giving out content that will require you to beat your brains out, speak from the heart and hope you get a following large enough that you’ll be notice for paid gigs.

    I appreciate your authenticity and explicit desire to be of service to all of us. You are an inspiration and I sure hope to be part of that core team of doers who are passionate in building their businesses. I’m slowly building mine and am happy of the results it will SOON bring OVER TIME :-)

  • Building trust and a good working relationship is a must for email selling. I haven’t started it at the moment but will consider for the future.

  • [...] moment. Yaro Starak, someone whose business strongly illustrates the transition across four stages, recently wrote that he would be scaling back on affiliate marketing pitches, suggesting that “If you’re [...]

  • I am so happy you wrote this! I am part of a really simple curated email product called [Startup Digest].

  • you’re such an inspriation for myself! I’m getting into the real business and it’s so exciting. Thank you very much and keep up the good work!

  • I find that profits go up dramatically for me when I only promote just one or two products/programs.

    I first heard about the “emotional bank accout” and “paradigm shifts” from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Am applying it to my personal relationships as well – great stuff.

  • I’m glad my money making niche is jobs. Why? I don’t really need quality content or repeat visitors to make money. People simply come to my site search for jobs and leave. They don’t really need to come back though that would be nice. However, having quality content might encourage visitors to come back to the site. But right now I am too busy to create content.

    I do have some music lesson blogs and I enjoy writing quality content but I don’t really want to use them for money making purposes. I thought about doing that in the past but I think ads really annoy musicians. On the other hand, job seekers are actively seeking jobs.

  • [...] Others Do the TalkingYes, I know that part of the reason you want to issue a newsletter is to build a relationship so you can sell stuff. I get it, I’m a marketer too. And your readers really won’t mind an [...]

  • Tim

    Great tutorial. I’m planning to start a email marketing campaign, but I don’t know which one to choose.. Aweber or Icontact.

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