Should You ‘Incubate’ Your New Email Subscribers Before Pitching Your Product?

On a private forum I belong to, the whole topic of “incubating” new subscribers came up recently.

There are two warring schools of thought on this.

One group INSISTS that you can’t just sell to your new subscribers straight out of the chute.

That just turns people off.

You have to “incubate” them for a while.

Smother them under piles of warm, comforting, feel-good content…

Until finally they’re ready to “hatch” into baby customers.

This particular forum has the exact OPPOSITE bias.

They prefer hard-boiled selling from the word go.

The reasoning goes, your subscribers have a problem—and you have the solution. So why would you hold out on them for a few days or weeks? That’s almost cruel…

Both sides seem to have a point—so who’s right?

Here’s my experience with this:

At Simple Programmer, most of our subscribers come from signup forms on the blog.

Some of these are people who have been fans of the site for a while and finally decided to pull the trigger and sign up for one of our email courses.

Others are first-time visitors who stumble across the site during a Google search.

Now with all of the email courses I create, the first thing that you see after you opt in is a confirmation page.

This confirmation page has a short video with a “bonus lesson” related to the email course they just signed up for.

And the video ends with a short pitch for the paid product that the email course promotes.

In other words, I’m “incubating” these new subscribers for about 3 minutes before I start pitching.

So, this video and email that goes out the next day account for around 40% of our overall sales.

Yup, 40% of our sales come within the first 24 hours.

Not only that, but 75% of our sales come within the first 12 days.

Well, says the pro-incubation crowd, that doesn’t mean anything. Obviously those sales are coming from people who are already big fans. They’ve already had time to incubate before they ever opted in.

Sounds reasonable—but how does that theory hold up in the real world?

Recently we did a big “cold traffic” push that got us as many new subscribers in one day as we typically get in an entire month.

So I got a rare chance to see how stone-cold subscribers respond.

You’d think they’d need some time to warm up and get to know us.

What I observed in this case was, almost no one bought from the pitch on the confirmation page.

But the sales came tumbling in the next day.

And by the time the smoke cleared, I found that…

40% of people bought within first 24 hours…

And 75% bought within the first 12 days.

To me the answer is clear.

If you have an offer that’s a good fit for your target audience, you DON’T need to wait around and spend weeks wooing them before you make a pitch.

So don’t be a chicken.

Get your product in front of your new subscribers quickly—because many of them want what you’re selling RIGHT NOW.

Jascha Brinkmann - July 30, 2016

Such a valuable message and awesome that you made your argument based on real experience and real numbers. You probabbly just have to test what works best with your particular audience and product. I made the experience that we had a really bad conversion rate on one of our free email courses for a information product. On the other side its working really well with a software product. For the information product we changed the content and pitch and are seeing great results now with warm traffic. I am excited to see in the next few weeks if it works as well good with cold traffic.

    Josh Earl - July 30, 2016

    Hey Jascha, thanks for the kind words!

    Great job tweaking your course to make it work—I’d love to hear more about what you changed.

    My goal with cold traffic is usually breaking even on the front-end offer. That way the ads are paid for, and I have the next 1-2 years to build rapport with the new subscribers and make more sales on the backend.

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