Subscriber Rich has an unusual business—at least in my little corner of the marketing world.
While most of the entrepreneurs I talk to are selling information products, like a course on how to write a killer resume or negotiate a better salary…
Rich is building a site to sell murder mystery stories.
Recently he asked for help setting up his product launch—specifically, how to create an automated email sequence that counts down to launch day.
And his question reminded me of a mystery of my own I confronted a few months ago…
My business partner John wanted to run a “spring sale” at Simple Programmer.
And I had a better idea:
Why don't I create an “evergreen sale”—an automated email sequence that goes out to all of our new subscribers a couple of months after they sign up?
That way we don't have to think about doing a quarterly sale ever again, it'll just happen on “autopilot.”
So I carved out a week or so to write the emails and set up all the automation workflow in our email software, Drip.
When I was done, I manually added all of our subscribers to this new genius contraption I'd built, and John and I sat back and waited for the sales to roll in.
Based on past sales, we were expecting we'd bring in around $15-20K over the course of a couple of days.
And judging from the open and click rates for the emails, it looked like we were right on track.
But halfway through the sale, we hadn't even cracked $3,000.
What the… ?!?
I spent several frustrated hours digging around through all our analytics and tracking, wondering all the while:
Did I totally whiff on these emails?
Sure looks that way…
And then I found a clue that led me straight to the real perp.
The number of people who were getting the emails was HALF of what it should have been.
Turns out, botched automation was to blame.
When I set up the email automation workflow, I messed up a single time zone setting.
And that meant that half of our list would get the sales emails THIS week…
And the other half would get it NEXT week.
No harm no foul in this case, but it sure was frustrating while it was happening.
This is NOT the first time I've done something like this.
In fact, every time I've tried to completely automate a product launch or major promotion right out of the gate, I've made at least one forehead slapper mistake that threw the whole thing completely out of whack.
These days, when I have a big important event like this, I do NOT try to build a bunch of complex automation around it.
It's just too easy to make a mistake.
There's nothing worse than flipping on the “autopilot”—only to realize you just locked yourself into a collision course with a mountainside!
Instead I “run it live” the first time around.
I'll write all the emails in such a way that they are “evergreen” and reusable later.
But then I'll queue the messages up manually as one-time broadcasts (instead of an automated sequence).
Then after the smoke clears, I'll go back and carefully build and test the automation required to reuse the campaign in the future.
Sure it's a little bit of duplicate work, but the extra flexibility and peace of mind it buys you is WELL worth it.