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 –
- You won’t see me promoting nearly as many launches. I will still promote affiliate products, but far fewer. I like to support people who support me, so I will promote quality products from quality marketers who’ve demonstrated their value and competency, but the volume is going to decrease.
- Most of the “pitch” emails I will send are going to be about projects I’m directly involved in, either as the creator of the product, or an event I’m running. For example, this year I have a private coaching program coming next, a live event and more training products that I’ll be creating with Gideon Shalwick.
- Making these changes is a deliberate step to tighten up my sales funnel. Previously I haven’t had as tight a focus in my lists as I’d like. This is another lesson Perry taught, focusing each email list on a very specific purpose. In the past I’ve focused on broadcasting every message to all my subscribers, this year, the content is going to be tailored and thus segmented so my subscribers get more of what they want based on what they subscribed for.
- You’re going to get more emails from me that are purely quality training and advice. I’ve always felt best sending an email that simply exists to help people (or directing you to content that exists purely to help) without asking for anything other than your attention.
- Although my subscribers won’t be overtly aware of it, behind the scenes I’ll be rejigging the sequence of my autoresponders to better reflect my new focus. Once set up, I’ll have an even better machine that runs automatically, so I can spend my time on new projects.
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.