“I don’t want to be a pest”

The shiny premise behind automatic resends is: You avoid “bugging” your subscribers by segmenting out people who have already seen an offer, and only sending the offer a second time to the non-responders. The assumption here is that everyone who saw the offer the first time around has already made up their mind about whether […]

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The danger of automatic resends

A popular tactic for increasing your email open rates is “automatic resends.” This isn’t a bad idea at all. However it can cause you to miss the biggest opportunities in your email list. With an automatic resend, you create a segment of your list that didn’t open a specific email, and then resend them the […]

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One word

Subject lines are important, right? Just switching up the subject line can often swing open rates by a pretty wide margin. Thinking about subject lines in terms of open rates is a trap though. Here’s why: I recently ran a simple test on an email list of around 80,000 subscribers. I was promoting a free […]

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Small but mighty

Longtime reader Peter John Reilly reacts to my crazy idea of turning off the email automations and interacting with your audience in a more personal way: This is gold advice. I’m just starting out and every subscriber I get is literally talked about over dinner, the whole family gets excited. By dumping the automated response […]

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Ninja AI segmentation voodoo?

One of the new subscribers I interacted with during my “hand crafted welcome email” experiment was CJ McDaniel. He read my email yesterday about this, and replied (sharing with permission): That is insane! I was wondering how in the world you knew I was into book marketing. Man that must be time consuming though. Your […]

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The automation dilemma

“Marketing automation” is a huge buzzword right now. It seems like everywhere you look someone’s offering to build you a Rube-Goldberg automated funnel that stamps out new customers like a convict cranking out license plates. This creates a dilemma though: When you automate some piece of your marketing, you’re trading effectiveness for efficiency. Here’s a […]

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Wanna buy my SSL?

Last week I was talking with a consultant who happens to belong to a well-known, well-regarded professional association. She was wondering whether it would help to mention this membership in her marketing emails. Membership in a professional association is a small “trust signal” that can help reassure a client who’s considering working with you. It’s […]

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You rip-off!

Some guy sent me a nasty reply to one of my daily emails: From: Zoki Subject: You ripped off Brennan! Body: Couldn’t get more creative than Brennan’s headline? Apparently the subject line I used that day was similar to one that Brennan Dunn has used in the past. Oh noes, I’m a plagiarist! Once upon […]

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Should you tell “quirky” stories?

Some months back I sent an email about a memory from my teenage years: Listening to old-time radio broadcaster Paul Harvey spin masterful, suspense-filled stories on a battery-powered boombox while massacring knee-high weeds in a 12,000-square foot garden, sweat pouring off my face. Pretty specific, no? Don’t you risk alienating most of your readers when […]

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Loss aversion monkey cage rage

The subject of deleting inactive email subscribers really triggers some people. I think I understand why. Building an email list is a lot of work. Unsubscribes are bad enough—the thought of deleting subscribers that you worked so hard to acquire… It’s enough to set your inner “loss aversion monkey” screaming and rattling the bars of […]

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The sale to wake the dead

Well the attempt to get 80,004 “pruned” email subscribers to reactivate their subscriptions did a whole lotta nothing. What about if we offered them an absolutely killer deal? This effort to reengage the disengaged segment of our list happened to coincide with Black Friday. So we put together a firesale to wake the dead: 6 […]

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Spam hammer slam

Got some great predictions from readers about what happens when you send a series of 13 offers to 80,004 unresponsive email subscribers. My favorite was: As someone who sends a lot of emails, I love this practice. My guess is (1) your MailChimp account got banned because of the number of spams/complaints and (2) that […]

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You did WHAT?!?

A lot of people disagree with my stance on deleting inactive subscribers. I’ll admit it is a bit… Aggressive? Why would you delete people from your list when you worked so hard to get them to subscribe in the first place? And isn’t there a chance that you might make a mistake and delete some […]

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Dead subscribers

In the last year, I’ve deleted 80,004 email subscribers from one of the email lists I manage. That’s more subscribers than are currently on the list. Why on earth would I do this? Well if you pay attention to the behavior of your email subscribers, you’ll start to see that there’s a pretty large segment […]

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Mystery shop mystery

Recently I “mystery shopped” a email marketing guru’s site and signed up for his email list. After completing the obligatory (and I would argue, unnecessary) double-optin dosey doe, I got this: Your subscription to our list has been confirmed. You should receive your first newsletter in a week or two. For your records, here is […]

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More cowbell

The oldest con in marketing is: “Just give it more time—it will start to work as you get more repetitions.” That line is responsible for more wasted time and marketing dollars than just about anything else. Case in point: I once tested out a way of collecting email optins that I’d seen promoted by several […]

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Trust-building secret of an unemployed bald guy

Last week I linked to this 2 minute video by a company called Chip Drop. (My favorite part was the deadpan, “That sounds… inconvenient.”) This video employs a powerful trust-building technique. Reader Stuart replied: They’re showing all their faults right away. “Hi I’m George. I’m balding, I’m unemployed, and I live with my parents.” That’s […]

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White list hogwash

Got a number of great theories and replies yesterday about why my “add this address to your white list” experiment failed to increase subscriber engagement. The most common point was one raised by email marketing pro Ian Brodie: Err, at 4.1% of 1,078 new subscribers we’re talking about the behaviour of 44 people here, right? […]

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“Be sure to white list this email address…”

Today a lesson about blindly following the crowd: You’ve no doubt seen a welcome email before where the sender told you, “Be sure to white list this email address so you don’t miss any of our messages!” A lot of people do this. The premise is that getting a percentage of your subscribers to white […]

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Can Bonuses Actually Hurt Sales?

I spent the first half of 2017 on a massive project: Launching The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide, written by my business partner, John. Overall the launch went great—we hit #2 on all of Amazon for non-fiction (actually it was #1, since we only lost out to a John Grisham novel that was *ahem* completely […]

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Never Ask Your Customers This Question

Ever tried to console a sobbing 2-year-old? I’ve been through this stage three times now with my boys. With my youngest, a typical conversation might go something like this: Him: WHAAAA!!!! Me: What’s wrong? Him: YEAH. Me: Are you hungry? Him: YEAH. Me: Did you get hurt? Him: YEAH. Me: Did you lose your toy? […]

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The case against testing headlines

Recently I shared the results of an interesting study. A group of researchers looked at hundreds of A/B tests for ecommerce stores, and basically validated what experienced copywriters have said for generations: Don’t waste your time fiddling with cosmetics. Test big things like your guarantee or adding customer testimonials. In response, reader Karl points out […]

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How Long Does It Take to Create a Successful Business?

Question: Are you satisfied with the level of success in your business? Subscriber Osman isn’t. He asks: How old were you when you first started seeing success in your online business ventures? I turned 31 this year and the older i get the more depressed and demotivated i feel. The “time’s running out” kinda feeling. […]

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How I Turned a Grouchy Subscriber into $6,696 (Part 2)

Quick recap of part 1: My business partner John and I were launching a product to our list—a “whitelabel” version of a popular JavaScript course that was available on Udemy for $175. The wrinkle is that Udemy frequently discounts the course to $10, which made our discount price of $79 look like a ripoff, even […]

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How I Turned a Grouchy Subscriber into $6,696 (Part 1)

One morning a while back I woke up to this: And let me tell ya, it felt a lot like getting kicked in the gut. To understand why, I need to fill in some backstory. This all happened at the tail end of a product launch I was running for Simple Programmer. For this launch, […]

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