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Copy My Blogging System To Sell Your Online Course. Follow My Step-By-Step Blueprint, Updated For 2017
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.
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 –
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.)
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.
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…
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.
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…
(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.
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.
I’ll leave you with two recommendations…
They have a 30 Day $1 Trial you can begin immediately, after that it is $19 a month.
Thanks for reading,