[00:00:00] Jeanne Jennings: You want to put yourselves in the shoes of the people you’re sending to. I worked with a great copywriter years ago, she’s retired now, but she used to tell me that before she started writing, she would sit at her desk and close her eyes and just sort of visualize the people who would be reading this and where would they be and what would they be doing? Because when you’re writing, she worked with me when I, I, Hasbro was one of my first big clients. We did the email for them for two years. So, you know, that was a very different audience than say, um, PayPal, where we did B2B stuff.
You always want to make sure that you put the most important stuff first. Emails that kind of go on and, you know, no. What do you want from this person? You want to have a couple different calls to action, because you want to make sure that no matter where they are in the, in the email, that they don’t have to scroll to see a call to action.
[00:00:57] Bumper Intro-Outro: Welcome to Endless Coffee Cup, a regular discussion of marketing news, culture, and media for our complex digital lifestyle. Join Matt Bailey as he engages in conversation to find insights beyond the latest headlines and deeper understanding for those involved in marketing. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat, and thanks for joining.
[00:01:24] Matt Bailey: Well, hello listener, and thank you for making time to be a part of the next, uh, Endless Coffee Cup episode. And I have got a great guest with us today, Jeanne Jennings. Jeanne is, uh, well, when you talk about email, you have to have Jeanne in the conversation. Uh, Jeanne is, uh, the founder of Email Optimization Shop, she’s the chair of the Email Innovation Summit, she’s the adjunct professor at Georgetown for graduate programs, teaching email. Jeanne, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?
[00:01:59] Jeanne Jennings: Hey, I’m really great. How are you today, Matt?
[00:02:01] Matt Bailey: Doing well, doing well. We both got this snowstorm we’re dealing with, so, on both ends.
[00:02:08] Jeanne Jennings: It’s great when you work from home and you don’t have to go anywhere, it’s just all kind of pretty.
[00:02:12] Matt Bailey: It is. You can actually enjoy it and, uh, not have to worry much about shoveling and getting snow out of the way.
[00:02:19] Jeanne Jennings: Exactly. Hey, I wear one more hat. Can I plug it?
[00:02:23] Matt Bailey: Yes, absolutely.
[00:02:25] Jeanne Jennings: I know I have a lot of hats, so it’s hard to get them all in. Um, I’m also general manager of Only Influencers, which is actually a community of email marketing professionals. It’s been around about 10 years. I took over as GM when Bill McCloskey, who founded it, retired. And, um, it’s tied to the Email Innovation Summit, they actually are related, but, um, just a plug if you’re in email marketing, check out OI. It’s a, it’s a great group. We have a, we have a lot of fun talking about email.
[00:02:53] Matt Bailey: Okay. Now, this is where I want you to shine, Jeanne, because I tell you what, in my training, when I’m going through different marketing channels and I try to funnel things down to email that, you know, when you look at everything that’s going on, you can’t ignore email. And, and there are times I get some eye-rolls, I get, you know, that, “Email?” you know, “Who dug that up?” Jeanne, why is email number one, so, still very exciting and why should it never be neglected?
[00:03:25] Jeanne Jennings: Wow. Email’s funny, right? So, email has been the number one channel in terms of ROI, like forever. Like, it beats all the other digital channels as far as return on investment. It beats all of the offline channels. It, it’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s king. But I think the problem with email is it’s been around longer than a lot of the other digital channels, quite, quite honestly. So, it’s not sexy. Email is like that grandmother that’s got, you know, the huge bank account, and social media and all of the other sort of newer channels that don’t have the ROI, it’s like the, the hot, sexy granddaughter.
And, you know, the grandmother kind of pays for her hot, sexy lifestyle, but nobody really thinks of, so I think that’s, that’s kind of one reason. I mean, I’ve been focused on email for 20 years now, and even 10 years ago, I remember I had relatives say to me, “Well, like, what are you going to do? ‘Cause email’s about to die. You’ve got like 6 minutes left. How are you, what, what are you going to do with your career?” And I said, “I just, I don’t think it’s going to die,” and knock on wood, it hasn’t died. Um, there’s actually been a huge resurgence lately. If you’ve seen all, all the, all the stuff that’s going on around email newsletters…
[00:04:40] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:04:40] Jeanne Jennings: …you know, Quartz sold for a lot of money a couple of years ago, it was the Skimm’. So, email is really kind of, um, still a very hot channel, still a channel to get in if you’re looking to, to jive revenue, and you’ve got that one-to-one relationship with your subscribers that you can’t get in social media.
[00:04:57] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that, and that’s one of the biggest differentiators that I love to propose is, this is something I own. It’s actually my audience. And when I’m using or targeting an audience on social, it’s someone else’s audience, and I’m just renting their attention and, you know, I love the metaphor. It’s the grandma with a big bank account. That is so good. I, it, that is so perfect because you can’t neglect that. You gotta give attention, especially if you want something.
[00:05:30] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah, no, exactly. You know, and that’s a big thing. I, I often talk to people, showing my age here, talk to people about Myspace. I don’t know if you remember Myspace.
[00:05:38] Matt Bailey: Oh yeah.
[00:05:39] Jeanne Jennings: But I had a very good friend who was in a band, Boogie Hog, and, um, they had a huge following on Myspace, and, um, when everyone left Myspace in mass, uh, they couldn’t get in touch with those people again. So, they lost…
[00:05:54] Matt Bailey: Yeah.
[00:05:54] Jeanne Jennings: …this channel to get people to their shows. So that’s, that’s the good thing you have with email. Exactly what you said, you own that audience, you have the relationship with them, and so, you don’t have to worry about losing them. And, um, and yeah, and, you know, we’re seeing that now. I mean, I don’t know about you, I know a lot of people personally who have left Facebook and Twitter and some of the other social channels. Um, so the good thing about email is, um, it’s, it’s really that one-to-one relationship. As long as you as a brand don’t do something that’s offensive to people, they’ll probably be happy to stay on your email list.
[00:06:24] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. In fact, yes, just last week I was working on Google Trends, and I was looking to see what were the trends for people searching for? “How to delete Facebook,” or, “How to delete the Facebook account,” and it’s growing. I mean, it’s really been kind of holding steady, but I’d say for the past 3 months it has increased substantially. Again, we’re seeing major shifts in social media, and that’s going to change how you, how you relate with people.
[00:06:50] Jeanne Jennings: There’s a big backlash going on right now about social, and the problem is that even if your brand has nothing to do with it, it’s going to impact you.
[00:06:57] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:06:58] Jeanne Jennings: The two things I see is one, a lot of people are getting tired of the divisiveness they see on social media, and so they get off social ’cause they don’t need that negativity in their life. There’s another group of people, and I think this group is actually going to be growing, that’s becoming more and more concerned about the data that is collected on social media. The idea that…
[00:07:19] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:07:19] Jeanne Jennings: …Facebook is free, but they’re collecting data and basically, you’re the product they’re selling to their advertisers. And that’s the other group, and I think that that group is growing and is going to continue to grow. And again, those people get concerned about this, they get off social media, neither of these has anything to do with your brand in particular, but they’re gone. They’re gone. And if you don’t have an email relationship with them, it’s going to be very hard to continue to communicate with them.
[00:07:50] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. Yeah. We had, uh, John Marshall in a couple of weeks ago.
[00:07:54] Jeanne Jennings: I love him. He is awesome. I have his book.
[00:07:57] Matt Bailey: He is, oh, the “Free is Bad?”
[00:07:59] Jeanne Jennings: Yes. Yes. I downloaded it…
[00:08:01] Matt Bailey: Yes.
[00:08:01] Jeanne Jennings: …as soon as it came out. Um, he is so smart. I’ve known him for years. He’s awesome.
[00:08:06] Matt Bailey: Yeah. I mean, there’s a chapter dedicated to email and the history of email, wasn’t that fascinating, uh, the history of email and how it came about. And now, you, you know, if you want that privacy, you, you pay for that email account so that it’s yours and it’s not ad supported. I, I love the whole premise of the book. It speaks exactly to what you were saying, that, that growing surge of people that are becoming much more aware of privacy, advertising, and, and the impact, and also how it can impact your brand.
[00:08:36] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah. And you know, I, in the email world, I mean, I think the biggest thing we’ve seen in the states on that is GDPR, which is the California law that came into play a few years ago, which basically gives consumers transparency into what data you’re collecting on them, how you’re using it. So, a lot of people in the email industry were very concerned about that, very, “The sky is falling,” that didn’t end up to be.
[00:09:00] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:09:00] Jeanne Jennings: The thing of it is, when you look at that law, yeah, it, it reigns us in a little bit, but you know what, when you look at it from a consumer perspective, ’cause all of us who are brands in marketing, we’re also consumers, you go, “You know what? This kind of makes sense.” Like, I want these…
[00:09:15] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:09:16] Jeanne Jennings: …from my mom or my kids. You know, as much as there was a very Chicken Little thing about GDPR, it’s, it’s um, I’m sorry, CCPA is the one in California. I apologize. I misspoke. GDPR is Europe, but they’re very similar. So, CCPA.
[00:09:29] Matt Bailey: Yes. Yes.
[00:09:30] Jeanne Jennings: Sorry about that. But, you know, we’ve been able to, to put things in place and work with it and it really hasn’t killed our ability to do marketing, and if anything, I think that as a brand, when you comply with CCPA or GDPR, you’re showing your consumers that you actually do respect them.
[00:09:46] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:09:46] Jeanne Jennings: And so, I think, uh, doing that actually helps our brands. It helps our email relationships with people.
[00:10:00] Matt Bailey: Conversely, I think anyone who’s aware of GDPR or CCPA and the expectations now, when they receive email, when you receive an email that tells you to reply to unsubscribe, that’s the outlier now. And it really, I think it makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing or you’re, you know, maybe even malicious about it because it’s so easy to have an unsubscribe, and when you don’t put that there, you’re starting to stand out.
[00:10:23] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah. That’s, I mean, that’s a time warp thing, right? That was pretty typical in 1995. Let’s do time warp again. But yeah, no, no company that’s serious about email marketing has that as an unsubscribe mechanism. That’s just, that’s a non-starter. You know, it’s interesting because for the most part, brands are pretty good about things. I, you know, I, I got an email from a friend of mine from high school, which is awesome.
But it’s really funny because the subject line was “Brand,” I won’t say their brand, “Needs your Help.” And it was like, what? And it’s been this ongoing trauma for about two or three weeks now. He was being, he felt like he was being over-mailed by a brand that he liked, a brand that you would know if I told you the name. And he unsubscribed, and they offered him an opt-down in the unsubscribe, but the lowest frequency was once a day and he’s like, “You know, if they’d offered me like once a week or once you know, twice a week,” but, so he unsubscribed and he kept getting emails.
And I said, “Well, technically under CAN-SPAM, they have 10 days to remove you.” And I said, “That’s, there’s no excuse for that either anymore. You should remove people immediately.” But I just got a note from the other day, he said, “It’s been two weeks and I’m still getting emails from them.”
[00:11:38] Matt Bailey: Wow.
[00:11:39] Jeanne Jennings: So, I think that’s probably a mistake and a glitch in the system, but that’s the kind of stuff that, that get people angry. He’s angry now. And he used to love…
[00:11:47] Matt Bailey: Oh.
[00:11:47] Jeanne Jennings: …this brand and, you know, so there’s, yeah, there’s a lot of stuff going on. And like I said, it, it’s funny ’cause I have, I have a, I’ll probably reach out to the community and ask if anyone in the OI community knows someone at this brand and just send them a note saying, “Hey, I have a friend who’s having a real problem and is starting to really hate you guys. And do you want to look into it and just see if maybe it’s a glitch on your side, ’cause he’s probably not the only one.”
[00:12:12] Matt Bailey: Right. Yeah, all, most of that, I mean, anymore, all of that is automated, that as soon as someone unsubscribes, you, you know, an, an ESP is managing the vast majority of corporate accounts. Uh, so yeah, an absolute glitch or I don’t know, I, I will say that the combination of the Christmas season and the pandemic, I was amazed at the daily, I, I, I, I was just, I was keeping track because I was amazed at how many people are emailing me daily, if not, every other day with deals, with things.
And it’s like, I, I’ve seen you before. I know what your message is. I don’t need more. But it was just constant. Uh, I, I think just this convergence of, of things and everyone being home that maybe they thought the frequency could be stepped up. I don’t know. That was, uh, it was very noticeable.
[00:13:09] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah, so, uh, COVID was interesting. So, at the start, um, obviously we all got those emails from brands that were sort of useless saying, “Here’s what we’re doing to protect…”
[00:13:19] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:13:19] Jeanne Jennings: “…from COVID,” with, uh, 20-point. God bless them. So, there was that, and then there was a lot of writing about how this was going to change email, and it was going to impact us, and, oh my gosh. And what does this mean? And more Chicken Little and, and empathy. Oh, empathy is so important and, and which, I’m sorry. Empathy is always important.
[00:13:37] Matt Bailey: It, yeah, absolutely.
[00:13:39] Jeanne Jennings: But it was funny because then we started to get some metrics report about the first few months of COVID, and what we found is that people were actually opening and clicking on email more frequently. Our, our average industry metrics went up in most cases. And so, then people went, “Oh, maybe this is going to be okay.” And so, they went back to like a normal cadence, uh, and frequency, and then they said, “Well, more people are buying online. People aren’t able to go to stores anymore, so let’s up our frequency ’cause we haven’t had any problems with,” so, they upped the frequency and then holiday hit, which everyone pretty much ups their frequency during holiday.
So yeah, there’s a lot more email coming in everyone’s inboxes and, you know, it’s a tough one, right? I mean, there are brands that say, “You know, if I can send an extra email and get an extra dollar in revenue, I’m going to do it.”
[00:14:29] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:14:29] Jeanne Jennings: But the problem is in the long run, that’s not a good strategy.
[00:14:32] Matt Bailey: No.
[00:14:32] Jeanne Jennings: There, there’s definitely kind of a bell curve. And so, one thing, you know, I have a client right now who did exactly what we said, ramped way up during COVID, had a lot of initial success. Um, what we’re seeing is falling efficiency. Every email, fewer people open, fewer people click, less money, revenue generated, and basically these are signs of over-mailing.
So, I’m working with them on trying to pull back. But I think a lot of companies are in that situation right now. They were so happy that COVID didn’t kill email marketing and then they, they went all in, and they initially saw success, but what’s happening is you’re, you’re eroding your list and that’s not a good thing for the long-term because it’s much more efficient, um, from a cost perspective, to keep an existing email subscriber than it is to find a new one.
[00:15:23] Matt Bailey: Right. Absolutely. And yeah, you get that fatigue, especially when everyone’s home and I mean, I don’t know why people would’ve thought the sky would be falling during COVID. Everyone’s home and working from home and what else are you going to do besides either look at social media, look at your email, do your work or whatever, I don’t know why they thought that would be terrible. I, I mean, right from the beginning it was like, this is a perfect storm for marketers. It’s, everyone’s working from home. We can get them.
[00:15:53] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah. It’s, I, I love the email marketing industry, but we tend to be a bunch of Chicken Littles, anytime any, I remember GDPR was the end of the world and, and then CCPA was the end of the world, and, and uh, I mean, not everyone, but just, you know, but I think it’s good to be cautious. But yeah…
[00:16:08] Matt Bailey: Yeah.
[00:16:08] Jeanne Jennings: …I think that’s exactly, and, you know, we need to adjust that, you know, this year I’ve seen so many articles written about how it’s all different now, email marketing is all different now and I’m like, “No, it’s not. It’s really not.” There’s, you know, and the other thing you have to realize is there’s, there’s different people on your list. There’s people on your list who probably do want to hear from you every day, and that’s fine.
There’s other people on your list who want to hear from you once a week or once a month, or, you know, I always use the example of, you know, I have a brother and he’s married and, um, you know, there’s probably times that he’d like to get emails from, you know, say his wife’s favorite, you know, clothing brand, like before her birthday, before Valentine’s Day, before Christmas, before their anniversary, he would welcome emails from them. But to be getting a weekly email from that brand all year round…
[00:16:52] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:16:53] Jeanne Jennings: …make sense. Now me for that brand, I would love to get emails every week. So, that’s the other thing you need to think about your list. There’s no one, right frequency for everyone on your list. It’s really based on their relationship with your brand.
[00:17:05] Matt Bailey: Well, that gets to one of the numbers, the metrics that I saw for last year is that marketers who are segmenting their campaigns, doing just what you said, who wants a daily email? Who wants a, you know, timely email around holidays or something? That, and, and this is just an, this is those unreal numbers that marketers who segment their email campaigns see a 760% increase in revenue. I mean, that’s just mind blowing.
[00:17:33] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah, no, it makes sense though, and it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s segmenting on frequency. It’s also segmenting on content.
[00:17:38] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:17:39] Jeanne Jennings: Um, I worked with a, a big brand, uh, a couple years ago, and they had 12 different divisions and whenever a division wanted to do a send, they had one shared database. The division would say, “Hey, I want to do a send and I, let’s just send it to everybody.” And they would just send it to everybody. And so, these people were getting hit constantly. So, we put in, um, a lot of carrots and sticks, again, they were over-mailing to try to fix the problem. But one of the things we did was they had a great data team.
So, we worked with the data team, and the data team was able to analyze their past couple of sends and let them know which segment of that database, which unique group in that database was best suited to purchase their products, was most likely to purchase their products, high propensity.
So, we took a look at what all the buyers had in common, and we identified it, and then we took a look at those people with those, you know, criteria in the database. And some of them had bought and some of them hadn’t, so we had, you know, what you call look-alikes. And then we were able to say to them, “You know, instead of sending the whole database next week, you’re going to send to this segment, and it’s customized for you based on who’s bought in the past.”
And so, what we found was we were able to make the same amount of money, but we weren’t hitting the whole list. And that did a couple things. One is it freed up that, those other parts of the list for other divisions to send to. So, that one day we would have gotten X dollars from one division sending the whole list. Now we were able to have 3 different divisions send on that day, just to the pieces of the list most likely to buy for them, 3 times the revenue.
So, there’s things like that that you can do when you’re smart about it. And there’s a million ways to segment, and with most of my clients, we segment different ways for different campaigns. So, segmentation is, is critical and you know, you don’t have to have a big list to do it. Um, you just have to have a little bit of data. Can I share one of my best segmentation secret…
[00:19:32] Matt Bailey: Oh, absolutely.
[00:19:32] Jeanne Jennings: …secrets with you?
[00:19:33] Matt Bailey: Absolutely, Jeanne. Yeah, absolutely. I’d love to hear this.
[00:19:37] Jeanne Jennings: One of the things that I do, uh, you know, there’s a lot of people who do resends, and most people who do resends are basically resending the same creative to the whole list. And that’s not bad, but that’s, if you do that too much, you’re going to burn out your list.
[00:19:49] Matt Bailey: Well, just before you, what is a resend for anyone who’s listening who doesn’t know what you’re talking about?
[00:19:54] Jeanne Jennings: A resend is when you take an email message, and you send it again within like a 10-day period to the same list. If you resend to the whole list, your best-case scenario is probably going to be half the performance you got on that first send, best case. Here’s what I’ve been doing for years with resends, rather than sending to the people, to everyone, just send the people who clicked on that email, but didn’t end up converting.
[00:20:00] So, conversion is usually a sale. Maybe it’s signing up for a free trial. This sounds really counterintuitive if they clicked through and they got to my landing page and they didn’t convert, well, then they’re just obviously not interested.
[00:20:33] Matt Bailey: No, yeah.
[00:20:33] Jeanne Jennings: But that’s not what we see. What we see is these are people that were on the fence. You don’t know what happened. They may have clicked through to your landing page and we’re all working from home now, maybe a kid ran in with a bloody knee and they had to run away and deal with that. Maybe their boss called, and they had to jump and take that call. Maybe they were on the fence, they were really close but they just, um, when we do resends like that, we see revenue per email that is 2 times, 3 times, 4 times, 5 times what we got on the original set. We see amazing open rates and amazing click-through rates.
[00:21:07] Matt Bailey: Wow.
[00:21:07] Jeanne Jennings: It’s a very small group, but the thing is that by doing the resend just to them, you’re not burning the rest of your list. We tend to not see high unsubscribes on that ’cause these people were already interested in this product ’cause they had clicked once, they’re relevance. And it’s an easy way to just up your revenue from every send you, that you could do. You can literally do that on every send, pick up extra revenue and not burn your list.
So, that’s one of my favorite things to do, and we did it a lot. Actually, we did it with every send over holiday for a client that I was working with this year, and that was one of the major contributors. We actually generated 60% more revenue from holiday than they did last year.
[00:21:45] Matt Bailey: Wow. Wow. I…
[00:21:47] Jeanne Jennings: Kind of nice.
[00:21:48] Matt Bailey: That is amazing. And, and that, I think, is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of email because, uh, you know, a lot of brands I, that I, I look at their analytics, I evaluate their campaigns, and they’re focused on offers, they’re focused on, again, the sexy social media, they’re focused on those things, but yet, the, the email list, how they position themselves to the email list just tends to get overlooked.
And it gets into that, “We’ll just send out the, you know, the promotional emails or the holiday emails,” and not really considering, you, you know, as you say, this is a one-to-one relationship, and I, I love the term engagement because like 20 years ago, the word engagement meant commitment. And now it just means someone liked your post. Uh, you know, but yet…
[00:22:45] Jeanne Jennings: Yes.
[00:22:45] Matt Bailey: …email engagement is so different because I can track a behavior. And, you know, I think especially in holiday planning, not enough brands are focusing on, “Who’s our audience? What behavior have they exhibited and how can we take, how can we learn from that? And, and that is a fantastic, fantastic, uh, you know, I love how you’re using that. That’s fantastic. I’m going to take that, use it, uh, recommend it. That is just, thank you.
[00:23:14] Jeanne Jennings: Can I tell you one more story from the trenches about, um, segmentation and engagement and behavior?
[00:23:19] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. That’s what we’re here for. Yeah.
[00:23:22] Jeanne Jennings: Another thing that we did extensively over holiday that I’ve actually done with a lot of other clients as well, is, um, basically, we sent, uh, what I call a cattle, a category email. So, basically it was an email that had 9 categories of products in it, you know, drinkware, apparel, and a picture of one product and a link to go to that section. So, we sent that out. Um, we’re doing some campaigns now with it. So, that’s the second email that we send in the campaign of 9.
And then what we do is, so there’s, there’s an email send, we’re looking for revenue, we get revenue off it. This email sells. But the next time we send that email a couple of weeks later, anyone who clicked but didn’t convert on that first email, they get a category specific email. So, let’s say I clicked on drinkware, but I didn’t buy drinkware, you know, three weeks ago.
[00:24:11] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:24:11] Jeanne Jennings: Instead of getting that same category email with all the categories in it, this time I get an email that is 6 drinkware items.
[00:24:20] Matt Bailey: Nice. Yep.
[00:24:21] Jeanne Jennings: And again, you told us that you were interested in drinkware, we know that ’cause we can see what you clicked on, it’s behavioral, and then we use that to send you an email later on that’s all drinkware, ’cause that’s obviously what you’re interested in. And again, we have really good returns on those. Anyone who didn’t click gets the category email again, and that gives us a second chance to pick up on that behavioral. But again, the use of segmentation targeting, increasing relevance, it’s just huge and it’s so overlooked and it’s not that hard to do.
[00:24:48] Matt Bailey: No, not at all. I mean, these are, these are simple things, and it honestly just requires someone to sit down and think about it, and, and also think about their own behavior when they receive promotional emails and, “What do I do and why do I do it?” And if we apply some of that, I, I think marketers would be able to come up with some amazing campaigns instead of just relying on the same old, you know, pray and spray that, you know, to use some of the email terms.
[00:25:17] Jeanne Jennings: Spray and pray, man. I love that. That was a, that was a term I first heard in the UK, in the States we always said batch and blast.
[00:25:23] Matt Bailey: Right. Right.
[00:25:24] Jeanne Jennings: But I actually prefer spray and pray. It’s a little, it’s a little more fun.
[00:25:28] Matt Bailey: You, you know, and I think it’s much more honest about, uh, that level of marketing. But yeah, just that analysis of behavior is so critical and so important. And, and, you know, to your point, I think all marketing media is so over-reactive of everything that happens. And so, that’s one of the reasons I do the podcast is, is let’s sit and talk through these issues. Let’s look and see what’s really going on and, you know, from the trenches, what are people experiencing because you can’t just run off headlines and react to those and expect to have a successful business.
[00:26:06] Jeanne Jennings: I think one of the big problems with email is there’s sort of two things that sort of a, a double-edged sword. It makes it good and it’s, but it’s also bad. And the first is that email is inexpensive. Um, and it’s not, you know, compared to direct mail, you don’t have printing costs, you don’t have, you know, paper costs. You don’t have postage. So, it’s inexpensive.
The other thing is that everyone sends email. So, people don’t think it’s that, that hard. How can it be hard? I send emails all day. But, but, but there are different kinds of emails, right? Just ’cause you can write a letter to your mom doesn’t mean you can write a great direct mail piece for your brand. They’re completely different, even though they’re both, you know, postage, paper, ink, but those two things really work against email.
I think the biggest problem I see when I go into companies is they don’t have the production schedule they need to do really great email. I mean, they’re like, “Well, you know, a week ahead of time, we figure out what we’re going to mail, and we have somebody write it and we throw it in design and then we send,” but a week ahead of time or less doesn’t give you time to think through things like, “What kind of a personalization strategy can we put in place?”
Not just, “Dear Jeanne,” but I have a client now where we’re testing actually putting the recipient’s brand on a, on like a mug ’cause they sell mugs and things. Um, you can’t think through, “Wow. Let’s do an A/B split test on that landing page and see if we can move things around and, and make it perform better.”
[00:27:38] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:27:39] Jeanne Jennings: You don’t have time to think through, um, things like I talked about with that category email, let’s do a send and let’s set it up so that it gives us some really good behavioral data that we can use to target later. And so that’s, I think, the biggest thing, you know, the production schedules that I work with with clients are anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, depending on what the campaign is.
The other thing that a lot of companies don’t do with email is they don’t leverage their successes from the past. You really have to go back, you know, they’re, they’re so focused on the send, “Oh, I have another send. Oh, I have another send. Oh, I have another send,” that they never take the time to go back and say, “Hey, how did that send do? What can we learn from that? Why did that work well? Why didn’t that work well?”
You know, taking, you know, what we did for the holiday campaign is I looked at their 2019 holiday campaign, ranked all of their emails from best to worst, and then used the top half of that list to create templates, uh, for the new campaign. And we had, you know, probably we had, gosh, 7 or 9 different templates and, you know, we had, uh, this and a that, uh.
And so, that’s the other thing people don’t do. It’s almost like they’re starting from scratch each time or they’re reusing something that they’re not really sure that it is is, is the best. So, people, because it is so inexpensive to send email, it’s not hard to make a profit. So, people are like, it’s profitable, leave it alone. But the problem is if you get in there and, and give it a little attention, um, you can actually increase, it’s not unusual when I work with clients to see, uh, you know, uh, uh, double the revenue with small tweaks in an email.
[00:29:19] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:29:19] Jeanne Jennings: Triple the revenue.
[00:29:20] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:29:21] Jeanne Jennings: And so, that’s what they don’t understand. You, they’re settling for profitable when they really should be spending a little more money to constantly optimize and increase revenue.
[00:29:30] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. I, I see that in analytics all of the time where we will compare channels and we’ll compare campaigns and over and over, we see always email is highly profitable. It’s generating a substantial amount of business. And, and my, my response to that is just imagine what would happen if you actually cared about it. Just imagine what would happen if you, if you put some time and effort into this, it could be amazing. Uh…
[00:30:00] Jeanne Jennings: Give it a little love.
[00:30:02] Matt Bailey: Yeah.
[00:30:03] Jeanne Jennings: Watch it grow.
[00:30:04] Matt Bailey: Well, and one number that’s thrown around a lot and, and you can go down a rabbit hole trying to chase this. Uh, but I think it was, uh, the return on investment or return on spend was for every dollar it’s $42 in revenue. And, and I think it’s, uh, fairly accurate, I mean, I’ve seen that, but it’s one of those things that you can fall down and make that. And if…
[00:30:27] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah.
[00:30:27] Matt Bailey: …and, and to your point…
[00:30:29] Jeanne Jennings: You could fall down and make $20.
[00:30:31] Matt Bailey: Yeah, exactly.
[00:30:32] Jeanne Jennings: Yes.
[00:30:33] Matt Bailey: Yeah. But to your point, I mean, what you’re talking about, I, I, I mean, I’m just going to boil it down here. It’s planning. It’s, it’s…
[00:30:39] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah.
[00:30:39] Matt Bailey: …it’s coming up, like you said, a production schedule of when we’re going to send, why we’re sending, what we’re doing, and it, you know, learning from what we’ve done and not just being content with just filling out a template and pushing it out.
[00:30:55] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah. Just kind of taking it all to the next level. It’s, there’s so much money to be made. I had a client a couple years ago, did an audit of their whole program and their cart abandonment process was manual. So, there was a junior person on the team who if she had time, if she had time on a Friday afternoon, would go in, pull the email addresses of people that stuff in their cart, load them into the other system, there was no personalization like, “This is what’s in your cart.” It was just like, “There’s something in your cart.”
[00:31:25] Matt Bailey: Oh, wow.
[00:31:27] Jeanne Jennings: And send it. And when I was talking to her, she’s like, “Yeah, I know I keep reading it’s important, but I mean, I don’t know. And it’s a lot of work.” And when I said, “But you know, automated it wouldn’t be a lot of work.” “Well, yeah. But, you know,” and management’s like, “Yeah, but would it be worth our time to automate it? I mean…”
[00:31:41] Matt Bailey: Oh my goodness. Wow.
[00:31:43] Jeanne Jennings: So, we did the math on it. They were generating $16 in revenue on average for every email they sent.
[00:31:51] Matt Bailey: Wow.
[00:31:52] Jeanne Jennings: So, imagine, imagine, you know, and, and granted it’s cart abandonment, so it’s not a huge number of emails and there’s no personalization. So, imagine if we could actually show them a picture of what they left in their cart. You’re probably gonna raise that $16 number. Imagine if we made it a series of 3, you’re gonna raise that number. Imagine if, instead of sending it anywhere from a week to a few hours after you left your cart, we sent it 3 hours after you left your cart. So, that was kind of a no-brainer, and we were all, and they were all like, “$16?” And I’m like, “Yeah, $16, like, if you’d known that, you would’ve been telling her to do that manually every single day.”
[00:32:33] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:32:34] Jeanne Jennings: But, um, so, that was one of the first things that we automated. So, there’s a lot of really kind of quick wins in email if you really take a chance, take the opportunity to look at your program and analyze what’s happening.
[00:32:45] Matt Bailey: I mean, that is such an example of yeah, you can fall down and make money on email because you’re just doing, if you just do what everybody else does, I mean, that’s one thing, um, and then do it well, and that will, you know, dramatically increase what you’re doing. It’s amazing. That is amazing.
[00:33:03] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah. It’s really fun.
[00:33:05] Matt Bailey: Hey, we’re going to take a quick break here and uh, if you need to refill your coffee cup, I already did that, and we’ll see you on the other side.
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[00:34:47] Matt Bailey: Hey, welcome back to the Endless Coffee Cup. We have Jeanne Jennings with us talking email, and, uh, hopefully this has been motivating you, dear listener, to get into your email and start looking to see where you can improve your campaigns. Jeanne, I got to ask you, what are the top 3 things that you see where people can improve their campaigns?
You went into, I think the first one which is production schedule, planning. That’s got to be the first thing. Uh, but what are some other things where maybe you see businesses just aren’t taking advantage of either some marketing trends or some basic tools that are available to them?
[00:35:30] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah. So, I think a big thing that we’re focused on right now is, um, imagery in email. And there’s a couple different angles to that. You know, one is, this had already started before COVID pandemic, but I think it’s actually even more important now is people are, are not so enamored anymore of stock imagery.
[00:35:50] Matt Bailey: Right. Right.
[00:35:50] Jeanne Jennings: I mean, think about it. Remember the days when we were in offices with business suits, perfect makeup and hair, um, you probably didn’t wear makeup, but I did. And pantyhose?
[00:36:00] Matt Bailey: I didn’t wear those either. Nope.
[00:36:01] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah.
[00:36:02] Matt Bailey: But yeah.
[00:36:03] Jeanne Jennings: But that’s really gone now.
[00:36:04] Matt Bailey: Yeah.
[00:36:05] Jeanne Jennings: So, you can use imagery of people who look like real people like we look now. So, it doesn’t matter whether it’s business or consumer, but things have gotten a lot more casual as far as imagery goes. So, that’s the first one. The second thing is interactivity. And that could be in the form of a, an animated GIF. It could be in the form of a video, which there’s a screenshot in email, but then it plays on a landing page. Um, you can actually do animated gifs that look like videos, which are kind of cool because they can actually play in the email because they’ve got a smaller file size.
[00:36:37] Matt Bailey: Yeah.
[00:36:37] Jeanne Jennings: I worked with, um, a really interesting company a few years ago. They had this trainer for soccer players, um, football if you’re over in the UK. Um, my nephews are big soccer players, so it was really interesting to me. I don’t know if you were, it was basically, it was this machine and it would shoot the soccer ball at you and you could set it up to shoot it at you at different angles, and so it gave you a lot of practice, almost like, remember those tennis ball machines…
[00:37:00] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:37:00] Jeanne Jennings: …back in the old days. So, it was just like that, but for soccer.
[00:37:03] Matt Bailey: Yeah. Oh yeah.
[00:37:04] Jeanne Jennings: And, um, I worked with this fabulous, fabulous designer and we were able to take one of their videos and cut it down to just a few frames so that it was an animated GIF, but it had the look and the feel of movement.
And that was really key to selling this machine, to see a static picture of this machine doesn’t really give you the impact to see a player there getting balls teed up for them and kicking them. It gave you a, a perfect feel for what this was. It, it, so much more powerful than a static image. So, looking at ways to use that kind of movement, that interactivity in your emails, whether it’s an animated GIF or a video, videos would, would tend to play on a landing page, but still get huge clicks.
Um, anything you can do, um, but make sure that it actually supports what you’re trying to say in the video and your brand promise. Throwing in a bunch of stock imagery, like if you were running a business conference, throwing in a bunch of stock imagery of people sitting in a room or sitting in front of a computer, that’s, that’s not going to do it.
[00:38:09] Matt Bailey: No.
[00:38:09] Jeanne Jennings: Um, the other thing that works very well is if, if you’re, if you’re promoting something that has a person attached to it, a picture of that person. So, if it’s a webinar or a podcast or, or an engagement, people like to see people.
[00:38:21] Matt Bailey: Yeah.
[00:38:21] Jeanne Jennings: And again, you’re trying to get, um, how shall we say, newer headshots that are perhaps more casual in nature that, that look more like we all look today. Um, so that would be the thing I would say is imagery.
[00:38:34] Matt Bailey: Yeah. Well, my daughter is a photographer and yeah, at the beginning of COVID, she saw her business dip dramatically, but it’s interesting that where she’s getting business right now is businesses who are, yeah. They’re replacing all their stock photography, they’re getting employee pictures redone, doing just what you say. Uh, and, and it is, it’s a much closer feeling you get when looking at those images on the website and in their marketing, because they’ve removed all the, the fake office imagery and you’ve got real people and, and you know who they are now. And it, it’s really, you know, a nice trend anyway, but I think COVID has helped to accelerate that.
[00:39:18] Jeanne Jennings: Definitely. So, I would say, you know, definitely images. The other thing to think about images, um, I have a client I’m working with now. You want to be careful on email. You don’t want to rely too heavily on images, and here’s the reason. Most desktop email clients still block images by default.
[00:39:36] Matt Bailey: Yep.
[00:39:36] Jeanne Jennings: So, um, when I see emails that come in that have a big hero image, kind of like you would see on a website where the whole top of it is an image. And let’s say, I even see this, which amazes me. You’ve got your headline as part of the image. It looks gorgeous.
[00:39:51] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:40:00] Jeanne Jennings: It doesn’t show because if it doesn’t show, you have a big white space and then maybe you’ve got an alt tag, which says in plain text, very small, “This is an image of our headline.” And, and so, that’s one thing. You always want to make sure that you’ve got rich text up there in the preview part of the email, and you want to make sure that if images aren’t enabled, the person can still get the gist of the email. So, anything you want someone to read, don’t make it part of an image.
[00:40:21] Matt Bailey: Alright. That is absolute, yeah. I think that is, uh, day one on email is don’t put your important stuff in images. What, what are some other things, uh, people should avoid? Is there, is there something that I would say, and, and I love doing this, things that get passed around as conventional wisdom that, absolutely no. Don’t ever do this. What are some strict, “Don’t ever do this,” rules?
[00:40:46] Jeanne Jennings: This is sort of the, the, the flip side of that, but let me throw it out there and then let me see if I can come up with a big, “Don’t ever do this.” There are so many myths about email marketing out there. And whenever you hear a myth, whenever you hear anything, you want to, we want to check it out. So, Google it.
But one of, one of the things that happened in the midst of COVID, all of a sudden there was this thing all over Twitter that said, “Okay, everybody. Stop using the word ‘COVID’ in your emails because it’ll immediately send your email to the spam folder.” so, I’m reading this and I know that back in early aughts, 2003, 2004, there, we were, we were heavily reliant on content-based filters that looked at words in emails to filter it.
[00:41:34] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:41:34] Jeanne Jennings: That was a big thing back then. Now in 2021, most of the spam filtering actually depends on other things. Not so much content. You can still get filtered for content once in a while, but it’s not like it was back in 2003.
[00:41:49] Matt Bailey: Right. Right.
[00:41:50] Jeanne Jennings: So, I read this and I’m saying, “You know, this just doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t think, I think this is a myth. I don’t think this is true.” So, this is one of the great things about the OI community. We have an email list, or we have discussions, everybody’s on it. We have about 400 members.
So, I literally went on the OI list, and I said, “Hey, here’s something I just read on Twitter. It’s all over Twitter. Deliverability folks, is this true or is this a new myth?” Like that myth that you can’t use “Free” in the subject line, which is also not true.
[00:42:17] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:42:19] Jeanne Jennings: So, it was wonderful. Immediately I’m getting feedback from deliverability folks. “Nope. Nope. This isn’t a thing. This is a myth.” I, I’m getting email from brands on the list, “We’ve been using ‘COVID’ in our emails consistently for, for the, for the past three weeks. I just checked our sends from this week and last week, no deliverability issues, you know, not seeing anything.”
Um, so, we were able to very quickly dispel that myth. And then basically I went back to Twitter and said, “Hey, this is actually a myth guys, calm down.” Um, but I think that’s one thing about email. There’s all these myths out there, and so, you really have to be careful about what you believe, uh, because we were actually seeing at that point things that had “COVID” in the subject line, we saw an increase…
[00:42:59] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:43:00] Jeanne Jennings: …in opening…
[00:43:00] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:43:00] Jeanne Jennings: …click-through rates. So, if you believed that myth, you would have been sacrificing. So, that’s, that’s one of the problems with email. There’s a lot of myths out there. So, there’s a lot of people who don’t know or they think they know. Um, we’re really lucky on Only Influencers because, so for instance, there was just a Sendinblue article published, which was, uh, “Email Marketing Predictions from 15 Email Experts.” Um, I was honored to be included.
[00:43:24] Matt Bailey: Cool.
[00:43:24] Jeanne Jennings: That was really nice, but I just went through that list for OI, and half of the people mentioned in that article are OI members. So, Only Influencers members. So, we have most of the people that are in the industry who are well-respected, who are considered experts, who write and publish and speak at conferences, the vast majority of those people are members of OI. So, it’s a great place to go to get those kinds of questions answered, and you can trust what you hear, ’cause, you know, you know the names. You see someone replying to you and you know that they’ve been in the industry 20 years.
[00:43:56] Matt Bailey: Right. Right.
[00:43:57] Jeanne Jennings: They’re all respected. But that’s, that’s the first thing I would say is be careful if you’re starting out, be careful with all these myths that are out there. The other thing I would say is the great thing about email is the metrics that we get. We can see how people are engaging literally at every stage. So, make sure that you leverage them to the fullest. I think that’s another thing. Some people get concerned about numbers. Sometimes the email platforms don’t make it easy to understand what the numbers are and what they mean.
We’re actually launching something called the Metrics Project. Um, it Only Influencers, it should be up, um, first quarter of this year. Uh, and it’s basically going to be a free resource for anyone that talks about each of the key email marketing metrics, how you calculate it, what it means. And then we’re also going to have links to trusted resources, writing about metrics from all different angles.
[00:44:45] Matt Bailey: Oh, wonderful.
[00:44:46] Jeanne Jennings: So, it’s, it’s a volunteer committee on OI. Um, it’s led by Ada Barlatt who is amazing, a Canadian email marketing person. Um, and we’ll have that up. So, that’s something that we’re putting out there to try to help the community because that’s another place that we see newbies really struggling, ’cause it can be very confusing and even things like we have a click-through rate and a click to open rate and how are they different? And they’re very different, but you need to understand what they are and there’s total clicks and unique clicks, and why does that matter? So, all sorts of questions like that, we’re trying to answer to help folks when they’re just getting started.
[00:45:20] Matt Bailey: Great. I am looking forward to that resource. I will definitely link to it and use it in my training. Every discipline needs that, that expert led resource, uh, because like you said, otherwise myths takeover. I, I feel like anyone can write an article about anything, especially, well, I mean, especially in everything, uh, but in, in digital marketing, we’ve got so many people writing articles because of content marketing.
Uh, and, and really, I, I wonder sometimes where do you get your data? Where are you getting your ideas from? Because what you’re promoting isn’t exactly the healthiest or the easiest. Uh, sometimes I, I just saw an article today about doing keywords and it had everything to do with APIs and doing all these things and extracting, and I’m like, “There are easier ways than getting keywords than, than dealing with that stuff.” It just seems too, like, almost like they’re trying to one up each other in technical or something, and it ends up being just really bad advice.
[00:46:23] Jeanne Jennings: I think it’s really hard. I mean, the, you know, the great promise of the internet was that, you know, everyone has an opportunity to publish and get their ideas out there and thoughts, and, and in some cases, that’s been a really good thing. I think we have a lot of voices that, you know, without the internet wouldn’t be out there. Um, the downside is, you know, anyone can put up a website and put up a blog and, you know, we’ve seen a lot of it, you know, I don’t want to go into it, but there’s been a lot with fake, fake information out there.
[00:46:49] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:46:49] Jeanne Jennings: And, you know, it’s, it’s not as dire in the email marketing industry. No one’s gonna, you know, die if you, you know, do something stupid or believe a myth and don’t use “free” in your subject line, it’ll hurt your performance. No one’s going to get hurt. But there is a lot of that out there and you need to kind of know who to trust, um, and you need to know how to do it right. I mean, there’s a lot of people out there.
It’s funny because we call ourselves the email marketing industry. There’s people using email who, you know, are doing things like, well, you just gather email addresses from all over the web and you buy a list and that’s definitely a “Do not do.” Don’t, don’t go buy lists. And anytime anyone calls me and, and I, and I get this, there’s like, “Hey, somebody offered me a list. It’s a million names. It’s only a hundred bucks.” And I’m like, “So, I’ve got a Ferrari in my backyard that I’ll sell you for a hundred bucks.”
[00:47:40] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:47:40] Jeanne Jennings: And they’re like, “What’s wrong with it?” And I’m like, “Exactly.”
[00:47:43] Matt Bailey: Well, and to get your point about metrics, it’s, okay. So, what’s the cost per email? What’s the value per email that you’re buying there? And let’s compare this with some of your other metrics of what revenue are you generating on your own? If you, if you’re aware of what you’re generating on your own, then you’d realize very quickly that this is a low cost, cheap, worthless list. Again, it’s just knowledge about metrics and applying that in some of these sales pitches you might see.
[00:48:12] Jeanne Jennings: And just understanding if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And you know, those lists, it’s funny because it’s bad if you spend a hundred dollars, then that list doesn’t generate any money for you. That’s bad, right? ‘Cause you’re out a hundred bucks.
[00:48:24] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:48:24] Jeanne Jennings: But the problem with most of these lists is they’re filled with spam traps and honeypots. And so, you get this list, and you send it, and all of a sudden you find that your IP address is blocked.
[00:48:36] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:48:37] Jeanne Jennings: And if you’re using email service provider, they’re probably going to fire you and say, “Hey, we don’t want any parts of you because you’ve signed an agreement saying your lists are gonna be opt-in, and this obviously wasn’t an opt-in list ’cause you blew up our, our spam complaints.
[00:48:49] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:48:50] Jeanne Jennings: So, you get blacklisted, you get kicked off your ESP, your domain gets blacklisted, which means even if you change ESPs and go to a different ESP, your domain is still blocked. So, it actually causes a lot of problems that are above and beyond just that hundred dollars that you’re out.
[00:49:06] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. Yeah. That, now there’s pain. There’s pain, there’s loss, there’s, I mean, reputation and I mean, there’s not a lot of other channels that you could damage your company that quickly and, and that much. So, avoiding, yeah, some of those things and, uh, yeah. I’m glad you said that. Buying a list, yeah, avoid all costs.
[00:49:29] Jeanne Jennings: I had, I had a client who bought a list literally like last, last week or the week before.
[00:49:34] Matt Bailey: Oh no.
[00:49:35] Jeanne Jennings: Didn’t ask me, just, just bought it. I heard about it from the person who manages their email, but…
[00:49:40] Matt Bailey: Oh no.
[00:49:40] Jeanne Jennings: So, here’s the funny part. So, we had already contracted to do, uh, a list cleanse. You, you should really do a list cleanse and verification annually on your list. Um, so, we had just contracted to do that, and the email person said, “Yeah, so, basically we bought this list like two days before I was doing it. So, I just threw the new names into the list cleanse and verification.” And I’m like, “Thank you. Smart.” We found a good percentage of that list was spam traps and things that we shouldn’t send to.
[00:50:00] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:50:08] Jeanne Jennings: So, we actually dodged a bullet there, but I said to him, we need to write this up as a report to show the person who signed off on buying this list that, “A, it’s good. We put it through cleanse and verification first, ’cause it would have damaged us. And B, we need to track the performance on this and see how it’s going to do. I, I don’t know what it cost, but it probably wasn’t really worth it.”
[00:50:31] Matt Bailey: Right. Right.
[00:50:32] Jeanne Jennings: Um, so, there’s a lot of, yeah. People who, who really are in this industry and kind of know we don’t buy lists. When you rent a list, that’s different because a list rental, the owner sends on your behalf.
[00:50:46] Matt Bailey: Yes.
[00:50:47] Jeanne Jennings: So, any spam complaints, any issues like that go back and hit them, not you. So, list rentals, very good. List purchases, steer clear.
[00:50:55] Matt Bailey: Well, and I look at a list rental as a, it’s a promotional email and it’s a, it’s a third party recommendation. So, you might get a few spam complaints on that, but it’s related, it’s someone saying, “I trust this business,” you know, or there’s, you know, an economic incentive, whatever, but it’s a recommendation.
So, there is knowledge of the party. There’s a familiarity. And, and you have that in, uh, so, it’s still, yeah. I think, I, I think it’s a good way, especially for companies starting out, it’s a good marketing tactic, it’s a good way to start building your list. But overall, I mean, anything, again, what you earn, what you earn through your site, through your marketing, you can’t compare to it. It, there’s nothing else like it in the world, and there’s no other marketing that one-to-one, other than what you earn.
[00:51:46] Jeanne Jennings: Yeah, no, exactly. And you know, if you’re looking to build a list, typically your website is going to be ground zero for that. ‘Cause anyone who comes to your website and spends any amount of time is probably a good candidate to be on your email list. So, you want to have an email opt-in above the fold on every page of your site.
There’s been a trend lately, website designers are putting it in the footer, which cracks me up. I, I just had a client where, and I’m like, “We got to,” and their like, “The website designer said that’s where it belongs.” And I said, “So, we’re testing it. We’re going to put it above the fold, and I can guarantee you, ’cause I’ve done these tests before, it’s going to generate 30% or more increase in names to the email list.”
‘Cause it’s going to be, you want to have benefit-oriented copy in there, tell people what’s in it for them if they sign up for email from you. ‘Cause if you say to me, “Hey, you want to get an email from me?” I’m going to say, “No, I get plenty of email. I don’t need it.” But if you say, “I have an email and it’s going to help you do your job better, help you enjoy this hobby of yours more, keep you informed on this topic that you’re interested in.” That’s something I might sign up for.
[00:52:46] Matt Bailey: Well, and you make a great point that when you know the value of what your email list produces, you’re not going to hide your subscription form in the footer. If, if you understand the value of your email, and I, I love some of the metrics, especially that you push and many others in the, in the Only Influencers, it’s getting to know, what’s my revenue per email? What’s my revenue per send?
When you start looking at that data and comparing it to my other channels and what that’s generating, I’m not hiding that email subscription form. That is front and center because that leads to revenue, and I can track it all the way through. Uh, but you bring up a good point. It’s not just the, the sending, the timing, the testing. You’re going deep into the writing. The writing, the positioning, uh, the words that you’re using, that there’s a, another aspect to it that you’ve alluded to there that it’s marketing and it’s understanding marketing copy and how it’s used in the email format that really helps you excel as an email marketer.
[00:53:56] Jeanne Jennings: Definitely. Yeah. So, you definitely, you want to put yourselves in the shoes of the people you’re sending to. I worked with a great copywriter years ago. She’s retired now, but she used to tell me that before she started writing, she would sit at her desk and close her eyes and just sort of visualize the people who would be reading this and where would they be and what would they be doing?
Because when you’re writing, she worked with me when I, I, Hasbro was one of my first big clients. We did the email for them for two years. So, you know, that was a very different audience than say, um, PayPal, where we did B2B stuff. You always want to make sure that you put the most important stuff first. Emails that kind of go on and, you know, no. What do you want from this person?
You want to have a couple different calls to action, because you want to make sure that no matter where they are in the, in the email, that they don’t have to scroll to see a call to action. So, I usually have one at the top and one at the bottom, and then if it’s longer than that, you know, there’s, there’s one or more in the middle. But it’s really important to put the most important information first.
Subject lines, subject lines are so much fun. It’s like an art and a science, and it is critical that you get them right. And that’s another one. I mean, I can’t even tell you, I get emails, got an email from a client the other day and they said, “This email is going out in a couple hours. Can you give us a subject, you know, can you give us a subject line?” And I was like, “Can you,” “It’s about, it’s about this.” And I’m like, “Can you show me the email?” And so, you want to make sure that your subject line focuses on what’s in it for the reader if they open the email.
[00:55:24] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:55:24] Jeanne Jennings: And you want to put that information within the first 25 characters. Now, your subject line can be longer than 25 characters, but you can only guarantee that the first 25 characters are going to be seen because of truncation. So, usually when I did a test for the client they had a, again, it was a holiday campaign, and it was like the 12 days of Christmas.
So, every day, the first part of the subject line was, “12 Days of Christmas Day 1, this product is on sale.” “12 Days of Christmas Day 2…” simply by flipping that and saying, “This product is 50% off, 12 Days of Christmas,” you know, “Day 1,” comma, “12 Days of Christmas,” we saw…
[00:56:04] Matt Bailey: Right.
[00:56:04] Jeanne Jennings: …a huge boost in, in, not only in open rate and click-through, but in revenue ’cause we, most, most, put the most important things up front. Nobody cares that this is day 3 of your Christmas thing.
[00:56:14] Matt Bailey: Right. Right.
[00:56:15] Jeanne Jennings: They care about that that t-shirt that they saw is on sale today. That’s what they care about. Things like that are really important, and then the other thing I always do when I’m working with clients, and I make sure that the subject line and the pre-header text and the headline all work together and support each other and aren’t redundant. Because those are three pieces of prime real estate that are critical to getting the open.
And so, you want to make sure that they’re not saying the same thing over and over again, and you want to make sure that you’re, you’re getting the key and secondary points in there. Um, and that’s another thing. There’s a great case study on my blog about some work we did for a client. And again, just, you know, by changing the pre-header boosted performance, so.
[00:57:02] Matt Bailey: Oh, absolutely. I, I, that is probably one of, if I were to look and see through my emails where I see a consistent, I don’t want to say failure, but a consistent place where things can be improved, it’s that pre-header. I’m amazed at how many times it’s, it’s just repetitive or it’s the same thing, or I’ll see code in the pre-header, which that drives me crazy. Uh, that, that…
[00:57:28] Jeanne Jennings: Don’t put code in your pre-header.
[00:57:30] Matt Bailey: Oh, no, no, no. It, I, I, and I’m amazed. I’m like, “Didn’t you test this? Didn’t you look to see what was going to happen?” Uh, it, it really, it, it sets you apart and not in a good way.
[00:57:40] Jeanne Jennings: Exactly. Exactly. So, yeah, for people that don’t know, pre-header text, the other term for it is snippet, which I kind of like, but everyone’s kind of settled on pre-header. So, um, if you’re, if you’re using Gmail, pre-header appears next to the subject line in gray type. So, the subject line’s in black, the pre-header’s in gray.
If you’re using Outlook or some of the other desktop clients, or even on your iPhone, it appears below the subject line. And so, it’s there and it has kind of the same rules as your subject line. 12 characters can, can be assured, but yeah, so, you know, oftentimes I’ll make the primary, so for instance, if we’re doing like a sale, it’ll be like, “Site-wide 25% off,” and then the pre-header will be, “Ends February 10th.” So, you get what the offer is, you add some urgency with the pre-header. So, the idea of making them work together.
[00:58:36] Matt Bailey: Right, right. Yeah, if you don’t use the pre-header, I think what sometimes things get, uh, repeated or, you, you know, it’s just a good place to add in, it’s almost like a, a secondary headline or a subheading or something like that that you can put in there. Uh, that, yeah. Great, great advice there, because that, that pre-header is probably one of the biggest things I see overlooked in a lot of campaigns.
[00:59:01] Jeanne Jennings: Years and years ago, and I’m talking years and years ago, I did a, an A/B split test and we created a Johnson Box, which is an old-fashioned direct mail term, basically a, a headline on top of this letter, and the test version, that was the only difference was that it had this copy. It was like 22, 22 words or 220 characters, but we got like a 200% lift in performance, like it drove, like, 3 times the, the revenue.
Um, and, um, when we looked back to try to analyze why we did it, ’cause we knew it was the headline, but what I realized is that that headline showed up in the preview pane. It, not in the preview pane, in the pre-header text in Gmail and in Outlook and desktop clients. And so, that was kind of my first light bulb going off about pre-header.
[00:59:49] Matt Bailey: Wow.
[00:59:50] Jeanne Jennings: Um, so, I had never thought much about it, and then of course I became completely obsessed with it, but yeah, what happens is if you don’t, so with email clients now, typically there’s a field where you can designate the pre-header, just like there is for subject line. If there’s not a field, what will happen is the email client will pull in the first piece of, of text that appears in your email. So, that’s why sometimes you see a URL, which is it’s pulling in the logo URL.
[01:00:00] So, definitely figure out whether there’s a field that you can do it or the other thing you can do is you can just put it in the top left, like above the logo in small type, which is another thing we do, but make sure you’re paying attention to that pre-header, ’cause that can really make or break a campaign.
[01:00:31] Matt Bailey: That is great, great advice. Uh, Jeanne, I gotta say, this, this hour has gone so quickly and, and man, it is just, you have just like punched an amazing amount of information into a small time here. Uh, I, I, I’ve just got a lot of notes that I’ve taken down and fantastic, Jeanne. Uh, thank you so much.
And we didn’t even get into ESPs, we didn’t get into email clients, uh, that might have to be something else we do, uh, in the near future, because I would love to, to help you bring this message to other marketers about just how important email is and how easy it is to leverage, uh, and, and get some massive gains out of your list. Jeanne, okay. I’m going to give it to you for a minute here. Where can people find you? How can they get in contact with you?
[01:01:19] Jeanne Jennings: Uh, well, first of all, thank you so much for inviting me. This has been just really fun talking to you about email. It’s always good talking to you, but this is just really fun. So, yeah, so I have a blog, emailoptimizationshop.com, emailopshop.com for short. So, I write about email marketing things there, and I also have a list of my speaking gigs. So, feel free to check that out.
You can also find me at Only Influencers. Again, we have a different blog there, lots of different voices about email marketing, but, um, always love to talk to people, reach out to me on LinkedIn, and yeah, and if you’re interested in email marketing, definitely consider joining Only Influencers. It’s, it’s $200 a year. You can also join for $20 a month, lots of chance to network and learn and improve your skills and really kind of help your career. Um, but yeah, check out my blog, reach out to me on LinkedIn. I always love to talk to people about email.
[01:02:07] Matt Bailey: Great. Great. I will put all of those links in the show notes so that people have it right there in front of them. Jeanne, thank you so much.
[01:02:15] Jeanne Jennings: Thank you so much, Matt. Have a good day.
[01:02:17] Matt Bailey: Alright. You too. Thank you, dear listener, for tuning in to another episode of the Endless Coffee Cup. Be sure to send this to anyone you know who is struggling or has questions about email marketing. Here’s some straight talk right from one of the experts in the industry that you can share with them. Be sure to let us know if you like this kind of content. We’ll definitely dig into it more. And I look forward to seeing you again on another episode of the Endless Coffee Cup. Thanks again.