Email Marketing Case Study: How I Generated $40,000 In Sales Without Annoying My Subscribers

By Yaro Starak
30 Comments

As you may know, I currently spend every day in hospital with my mother while she recovers from a stroke. We are in month four now.

The good news is that she is improving each day, but we have a long way to go. You can find ongoing updates at her blog including more detailed reports. Thank you again for those who have sent prayers and well wishes, we appreciate it so much, keep it coming!

I’ve set up a little desk with my laptop next to mum’s bed and in between helping her, I do work. Most of my focus has been on some new features we have for an upcoming redesign to this blog, which I am very excited to share with you soon.

Of course I have to make money to keep paying the bills, the mortgage and maintain my gas-guzzling BMW 135i. One of the ways I do this is through affiliate marketing.

Using Email To Promote Products

One of the smartest things I ever did was start an email newsletter from this blog.

That was about 5 years ago and since then I have built up over 80,000 subscribers. Best of all I haven’t done anything new to build my list in years. Ever since I started it I’ve had a steady stream of subscribers joining every day.

In case you are wondering how I attract email subscribers, this article will give you the answers –

14 Tactics To Attract New Email Subscribers.

The great thing about having a list and a blog, is I can promote products via email and segment messages to whittle down promotions so they only go to people who show interest. With just a blog you can’t really do this, you post your articles to the entire public.

To segment blog posts would be very difficult without using email. Of course blogs are great for affiliate marketing too, but in my experience, adding the email component magnifies the results significantly and allows you to control messages so you don’t damage relationships. This article will give you another example as to why email is awesome, and why you really must have an email list if you are a blogger.

(I use AWeber to handle my email newsletter, so if you don’t have one yet, you can try AWeber now for a $1.)

Balance Value With Selling

Previously I promoted many different products each year. Almost all of them were Internet marketing training courses, software and ebooks related to making money online.

In recent years I have scaled back how often I promote launches for many reasons. Launch fatigue is setting in, which means people are tired of the same style of campaign, especially if they are subscribed to various newsletters, which all market the same products. I don’t personally have the time to preview all these products (I don’t want to promote something I haven’t at least looked at myself) and I don’t want my newsletter to be just about product promotions – it’s also about teaching without asking for anything other than attention.

Ideally you always want to send something of value to your newsletter, hence I focus exclusively on recommending products that have prelaunch content that offers value without anyone buying anything. The key is picking the products with an offer that my audience resonates with and free training that is actually useful. It’s less risky to promote products that have sold well to your audience before, from trusted experts who know how to conduct a good launch.

In the last couple of years Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula and Eben Pagan’s Guru products have pretty much been the only big launches I support and recommend to my subscribers. I’ve studied their work and consider it fundamental to my own success, they both know how to run a great launch and give away heaps of free value when they do.

How I Sold $40,000 Of Eben Pagan Training

Last month Eben Pagan opened his GURU MasterClass program, which focuses on how to sell information products online.

If you only read this blog you would not have realized that the launch came and went, as I never published a single blog post about it on Entrepreneurs-Journey. This blog continued to feature the work of our amazing columnists the entire month.

If you are subscribed to my newsletter (sign up here) you would have received at least one of Eben’s free launch videos from me, which provided some great training on how to pick a profitable niche, how to create info products and some behind the scenes shots of Eben’s information publishing businesses in niches like dating and personal development.

Depending on what you did with my emails determined what happened next. Obviously I don’t want to send email after email about Eben’s launch to people who don’t want to know about it. Attrition is a natural part of email marketing, and it’s okay to lose a few hundred subscribers after each mailing (depending on the size of your list of course!), but you do have to be careful to maintain relationships.

Using a series of emails I was able to send relevant content to those who showed interest and make sure the sales message only went to the people who were most interested. It’s far from a fool-proof system of course, but it’s definitely superior to sending every email to every subscriber.

Let me explain what I did for this particular campaign…

What Counts: Opened Emails And Links Clicked

Before I explain what I did, you better be clear on what two metrics I use to make decisions.

The Open Rate on email newsletters means how many people actually open my email. I know this because my email autoresponder system AWeber can tell me open rates if I send HTML messages.

It can also tell me how many times the links in my emails are clicked, called the Click Through Rate, again if I use HTML messages. While these numbers aren’t 100% accurate, they are good indicators of what people are doing when they receive your messages.

I currently send both HTML and plain text messages when I email my subscribers, although the message looks like a plain text message – it’s just words, no pictures or layout. The HTML gives me the power to track the data that matters, but in my opinion, plain emails work best because friends email each other plain text emails. I want to be perceived as a friend, not a company attempting to send some kind of brochure via email.

How This Campaign Unfolded

This email campaign was straight forward. I knew from experience and from what Eben has done in previously launches to expect the following flow for the launch…

  1. Prelaunch content video 1
  2. Video 2
  3. Video 3
  4. Sales Video – Program doors open
  5. Doors close at the end of the week
  6. Doors reopen the following week for one day

(This is vintage Product Launch Formula, which has proven to work again and again, as developed by Jeff Walker, who teaches the system. As I mentioned earlier, Jeff’s program is the only other big training product I promote each year and have studied myself.)

The first three videos are spaced out over two weeks, with the sales video opening up the third week and the program closing at the end of that week. There are other resources sent out as well, but the videos are the main feature content.

I don’t want to send each video to my entire list, nor do I want to keep telling people that the program was opening and closing if they weren’t interested. I know what it’s like to receive email after email about a new launch, it’s the main reason I have unsubscribed from almost all Internet marketing lists. I can handle one or two emails about a new product, but if I’m hit over the head again and again about the same product, then the same again next month for another product and that’s all the newsletter offers, there isn’t much point staying subscribed.

Thanks to AWeber I can send consecutive emails only when there are indicators of interest. I used the following variables to decide what messages to send to subscribers to minimize the annoyance factor and increase response…

Here’s how I send the emails…

1. I send the first launch video to my entire list.

I watch the video so I know what is in it and to ensure the quality is high. This gives me the knowledge to recommend what parts of the video I think are worth focusing on when I send the newsletter. I also learn from the content within the video and how the training is presented, which I can apply to my own launches.

2. The second video I send only to the people who opened the first email.

Once again I watch the video so I can write a tailored email to my subscribers and tell them what parts I think are most relevant. Generally my open rates are somewhere between 10% and 20%, so most of my newsletter subscribers will not receive the second email. Those who do however are more likely to open this second email and continue engaging in the launch content.

3. The third video I send only to those people who didn’t open the first email.

The main purpose of this email is to bring people into the launch who, for whatever reason, didn’t open the first email I sent. Often the email subject will be the cause of the non-response, or bad timing or technical problems, such as my email being put into the spam folder. In this situation another 2,700+ people opened this email – that’s quite a few who would not otherwise have been exposed to this content if I didn’t decide to target them specifically.

4. When the program opens I send the offer video to the people who opened the first email.

This email leads to a video that is pretty much a sales pitch, although Eben did provide quite a bit of content before going into a very long breakdown of what the product includes (way too long a video in my opinion – but hey, he had the million dollar launch, so maybe he knows something!).

I include details of my bonus offer in this email too.

5. Deadline reminder email is sent only to those who clicked the link in the previous email.

This email only went to about 7,000+ people, the most responsive since they clicked to view the sales video for Eben’s program. Looking at my numbers as I write this, 84.4% of these people opened the email.

6. Final 7 hours deadline email sent only to those who clicked the link in previous email.

This last email I sent only to those who clicked the link in the previous email (732 to be exact!), so we are really drilling down to the people who are by far the most interested in this program. Also because I sent only to 732 people, I’m not annoying everyone else on my list with yet another “the program is closing now!” type email, who are not interested in the product. The click through rate on this email was 19.3%, which considering my normal CTR is about 1% to 5%, you can see how segmenting makes a difference.

There was a reopening of the program the following week for a day and a half, which I could have emailed for again, but I decided against it. I still managed to make two more sales that day, so who knows, another email may have convinced or given a chance to more people who missed the deadline the previous week, if I mailed again.

There Are A Lot Of Variables To Consider

This is not a perfect example of how to run an affiliate marketing campaign via email. I could have done this better, especially if I could track which emails result in the sale (difficult to know without having access to Eben’s thank you page to put my tracking code on).

In fact I did receive at least one complaint about pushing this product too much, but of course irony kicked in and immediately after that I received an email thanking me for the great free videos, even though they couldn’t afford the product.

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but you can certainly make an effort to do a few things well, in particular…

It’s important to note that each email I sent was sending some of my subscribers on to Eben’s list for this launch, and he was emailing that list frequently as each new video was released and the product opened and closed. You have to balance your own emails to your people, offer them a great bonus, give them unique value, and remember that they are likely receiving emails from other marketers also promoting the same product. This is why timing, targeting and relationships are so key.

I could have sent quite a few more emails using split tests to test different subjects and mailed to different segments (for example, I never mailed to the people who did NOT open the initial sales offer email), but there is only so much time to write emails.

With Aweber you have many options to test, with split testing, open rates and click rates, so you really need to consider what you want to do and learn what works best. Only a very very tiny percentage of my subscribers actually bought the product through my affiliate link, a bigger chunk watched the free videos and other content from Eben, while the largest segment of subscribers never even bothered to open my emails.

There are so many things going on here you can easily become overwhelmed. It requires experimentation to figure out what works, what minimizes complaints and attrition, and maximizes results. I know some bloggers who receive a barrage of complaints as soon as they send an email or publish a blog post offering something to buy. You really need to know the “vibe” of your newsletter and work with your people, but never let a few noisy complainers stop you from being a marketer. If you are there to run a business, you have to make money – or get out of business!

Your newsletter will be different from mine, but I hope what I did in this campaign gives you some ideas. You don’t need a huge list – certainly not as big as mine – to start segmentation. As long as your email system is like Aweber and you have the tools available, you can begin the segmentation process.

Further Study: Another Case Study

I’ll leave you with two recommendations…

  1. For another detailed breakdown of how I used email segmentation to increase profits, read this –

    How Email Segmentation Made My List Stronger AND $31,940 More Profitable

  2. And if you don’t yet have an email newsletter or a system that gives you the power to segment your messages, I highly recommend Aweber.

    They have a 30 Day $1 Trial you can begin immediately, after that it is $19 a month.

Thanks for reading,

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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30 Comments

  • Hi Yaro great post really usefull info. I am only just getting started in the field of blogging but I have found that your information is the easiest to follow. Thanks keep up the good work

  • Hi Yaro
    Awesome article and tips as always.

    You did mention something that I think a lot of other affiliate marketers will struggle with also – How do you track which email led to a sale when you don’t have access to the affiliate thank you page?

    You can do it with cpv labs.

    This is great for affiliate marketers as it can track everything, from a keyword that got someone on a mailing list to an email that resulted in a sale.

    No need for access to vendor thank you page.

    I talk more about it here: http://entrepreneurkickstart.com/maximize-sales/

    Just thought I would share that because I know your not the only affiliate marketer who has shared that annoyance.

    Leevi

    • Thanks Leevi, I’ll check your link to track those variables. I’m curious how they can even do things like that without placing something on to thank you pages that the affiliate can’t control.

      • Hi Yaro

        Its done through dynamic tracking id’s.

        Just like we can add tracking id’s to our affiliate links, the smart people behind these companies use dynamic tracking id’s which you can then import and match up with your affiliate reports.

        I know seems unbelievable…but so good for tracking and optimizing campaigns.

        Makes life a lot easier seeing as many times we don’t have access to the thank you page.

        Hope that helps you out.
        Leevi

  • Yaro, your blog posts are a bit overwhelming. In a good way, of course, but like someone else already mentioned — I’ll need to seriously study this one.

  • Hi Yaro

    I have always tried to avoid email marketing but when I read your article, I must say I’m rethinking my reasons for not doing it. You make it sound all so easy ;-)

  • Vim

    Yaro, your info is very useful for newbie. Your articles can provide inspiration for me.

  • Sorry to hear about your Mom, hope she continues to recover well. This empire you’ve built up is so inspiring!

  • Great…i have reached here at perfect time. As I am learning this and just 2 days has passed so this would be very useful for me. I am very much interested in this techniques and going to learn in deep.

    So thanks a lot for this.

  • Thanks for this post, Yaro. Your way of segmenting your list made real sense to me.

    I’ve always been reluctant to bombard my list a second or third time with launch info. But with your method, this wouldn’t happen. That’s really excellent advice.

    I think affiliate marketing is a great strategy – if it’s done well. I only promote products I’ve tried myself and find really useful. And I like to know the person behind the products.

    Thanks for an extremely useful post, Yaro.
    Mary Jaksch

  • A good blogger won’t lose his readers even if he doesn’t post new articles for awhile. :) I have heard so much about Aweber but I haven’t tried it yet. I guess I should start working on it now. Thanks Yaro!

  • I love reading your posts as you always have some great insight from which I benefit. I receive your emails and you really do practice what you preach. Never have I been offended, ticked-off, or bothered. So, to anyone just starting out in this realm, follow Yaro’s lead.

    I also want to say thanks for the link to your mum’s blog. I have only read a bit of it, and it sounds like she is making good progress. I know how it is being with someone in hospital day and night, just try to get some “you” time (aside from work). Take care of yourself, though easier said than done.

  • Love the post Yaro. A tad long, but excellent information. Really like how you did the promotion and the way you emailed your subscribers in segments. I actually made $1000 promoting the launch which was ok considering my IM list is tiny. Good stuff!

  • Hi Yaro,
    Interesting article, it seems that many more bloggers are using Aweber today, both on good and bad. It has in recent months increased number of emails with repetitions if unopened message is from blogs. If I get too many emails with sales message from a blog, block I their mail address as spam.

  • You are the man! I’m going to have to re-read this article a couple of times so I can follow in your footsteps. Thanks a million!

  • [...] Email Marketing Case Study: How I Generated $40,000 In Sales Without Annoying My Subscribers [...]

  • Great post Yaro! I didn’t realize AWeber did all fo that. I knew you could email those who clicked on the links in your broadcast, but this takes it up a notch. On to map out my plans and help my clients as well. Thanks so, so much!

  • After reading the post, you almost have it down to a science. You should start collecting data on your different methods and running statistical analysis on it to see what is most effective. I think you have a good strategy now, but it wouldn’t hurt to possibly know what has the greatest effect. Keep up the good work!

  • [...] Email Marketing Case Study: How I Generated $40,000 In Sales Without Annoying My Subscribers (entrepreneurs-journey.com) [...]

  • [...] Email Marketing Case Study: How I Generated $40,000 In Sales Without Annoying My Subscribers (entrepreneurs-journey.com) [...]

  • Wow! Extremely informative post! Most of this info would have people charging for money, thanks for giving it away for free! I find most times people tend to unsubscribe from your emails the second they find you annoying. There are some great tips in here to avoid that. Thank you for sharing!

  • Hey

    That doesn’t make sense?

    Email 1: Everyone (Pre launch content)

    Email 2: Those who opened email 1 (Pre launch content)

    Email 3: Those who didn’t open email 1 (Pre launch content)

    Email 4: Those who opened email 1 (Doors open)

    Email 5: Those who clicked email 4 (Deadline)

    Email 6: Those who clicked in email 5 (Deadline #2)

    Where are you adding in the subs that opened or clicked in email 3? Shouldn’t they also get email 4?

    Also, there seems to be a gap on email 5 – why not send this to those who opened #4 and then send email 6 to anyone who clicked in email 4 or 5?

    Am I missing something?

    From the looks of it I got emails 1,2 & 4 and nothing from Eben directly which is odd considering you had to opt in to watch the videos if I remember correctly.

    This strategy seems like it has a disconnect because if you open and click through and watch the first 2 videos, you will miss the 3rd video. And then when Eben references the content from the 3rd video in the sales pitch, you sudden think “but I didn’t see that?!”.

    – Nick

    • However, that said, I didn’t close $40k last week.

  • Hat’s off. Well done, as we know that “hard work always pays off”, after a long struggle with sincere effort it’s done.I will follow your footsteps..

  • Hi Yaro!

    Hope your mum do get better! Best wishes.

    Anyway, to the point of the post. It was a bit long but great story. Nice information that you share with us. You make it possible. I like the way you promote the offers. I have done some e-mail marketing and I have eraned about 400$ with CB products!

  • [...] Email Marketing Case Study: How I Generated $40,000 In Sales Without Annoying My Subscribers – The great thing about having a list and a blog, is you can promote products via email and segment messages to whittle down promotions so they only go to people who show interest. [...]

  • Howdy Yaro,
    Thank you for all of the great information that you share. I have purchased one of your begining website building programs in the past. It had great information that I am just now starting to use. 2011 feels like I was in a personal retrograde for most of the year.
    You are my trusted source of information on website building and web marketing.
    My best to you and your family. Lee

  • Hey Lee, your post was full of great information on email marketing. I’m still learning it and what I haven’t done at all is the Segmenting my email marketing. I will start doing this as you wrote about it in your post.

    Thanks!!

  • Hello,
    Many thanks for this very very useful article.
    I tried segmentation on my e-product and I got good results
    80% open rate and 25% click rate on my final e-mail (the one with the link to the sales page), not so bad for a newbie, is it?
    If you ever decide to do an e-course about e-mail marketing, count me in.

  • […] Email Marketing Case Study: How I Generated $40,000 in Sales Without Annoying My Subscribers By Yaro Starak, published at Entrepreneurs-Journey […]

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