Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Killer Email Follow Ups - Convert Like Crazy!

Hi everybody,

I recently received an email about a post by one of my colleagues who has certainly established himself as a respected authority in the internet marketing game and I would like to share that post with you. Unedited and unadulterated.

How To Write A Killer Follow-Up Series That Converts Like Crazy

Welcome to the second installment in my survey based, list building article series. Today I’m going to show you how to write a great email follow up series for your auto responder.

But first of all… the strategies I’m about to reveal won’t make much if you didn’t read my last article. Afterall it does not make sense to write a follow up series unless you are actually building a list. So, if you missed it last week - please go read How To Set Up Your Squeeze Page… first.

The Meat & Potatoes…

Your follow up series is the meat and potatoes of your internet business. It’s where you will pull in consistent sales and commissions. For myself the goal is always to make the follow up series turn a profit - meaning that it should at least cover the cost of getting new subscribers. For example, if I spend $1 on average per new subscriber, I want my follow up series to at least generate $1 per subscriber. Fortunately that is not very hard to achieve. In fact I can often turn a handsome profit on the follow ups - that of course makes the revenue from future broadcasts and promotions pure profit.

In this article I’m going to give you the step-by-step blueprint for setting up a great follow up series - But there are a few topics we need to cover first, so here goes…

Training Your Subscribers

Your follow up series has one main purposes (a part from making sales), and that is to train your subscribers to perform the tasks you want them to (e.g. click, read, watch, join, buy etc.). I recently wrote an article about this, it expands a bit on some of points in this article - You can find it here: The 3 C’s Of Affiliate Marketing.

Train them to click: you always want to make your readers click a link when they read your email. That means that even if you just want to deliver some content, you should always put it in a PDF or on a blog. If people always anticipate that they have to click something when you mail them, they will get used to it, and it will boost your conversion rates.

Tell them what to do: Don’t be afraid to tell people what to do (in fact most people like that, although they may not want to admit it). Tell your readers to click that link, to go to the blog, tell them to go watch this video or download that ebook. Getting into the habit of telling people exactly what to do will significantly increase your conversion rates. At the same time you need to limit your emails to one action. Don’t promote more than one product in a single email and don’t give people multiple choices of actions to take. If there really are multiple possible actions with you promotion, then let your email focus on one thing… Get them to click and then deliver the multiple choices in an ebook, video or on a blog.

They will follow systems: People may like to be told what to do, but there’s one thing they like even more, and that is to follow systems. If applicable you should mark the actions they need to take as Step 1… Step 2… Step 3 etc. It’s not a coincidence that what I’m writing right now, is broken up into several articles with a step by step approach.

Make them expect the pitch: Here’s as statement that often pops up in various marketing forums.

I’ve been sending quality content to my list for months, and then last week I sent a pitch for this great new product - my list went ballistic in a fury of unsubscribes.

The problem is not that they have been delivering good content. The problem is that they have been training their subscribers to only expect good content - no wonder they got offended when they got a sales pitch out of the blue.

There is nothing wrong with writing great free content (articles, blog posts, ebooks) for your subscribers - it can help you build a relationship with your list, install customer loyalty, and thus making selling a lot easier.

But let’s face it, you are not building a list because you want to make friends, or because you find writing content super fun. You are building a list because you want to make money… period! Don’t try to hide that from your subscribers. You want to include a link to something to buy in every single email. It might just be a short P.S. but you always want to have something there. This way you will train your subscribers to expect the pitch and they won’t feel “exploited” when you try to sell them something - especially not if also give them some valuable content on a regular basis.

How often should I mail my list: Another question I get asked a lot. Again there’s no single right answer (except maybe to mail them when you have something to write about ) But here are a few pointers.

You want to be fairly consistent in your mailing schedule. If you usually mail your list once or twice a month, and then suddenly move to mailing every day, you are going to piss people off (along the same lines as the “pitch” example above). Again you are training your subscribers and letting them know what to expect from you.

Pick a mailing schedule you are comfortable with and try to stick to it. Be careful not to go too long between mails. Once or twice a month is probably not enough to make an impact in the fast flowing IM world, and you risk painting yourself into a corner - I would advice you to mail your list at least once a week (including follow ups).

Consistency Is The Key

As I have just discussed above, consistency is the key when in comes to training your subscribers on what to expect from you, and in getting them to take the actions you want them to.

But it’s also important that your are consistent in your writing style. You want to build a relationship with your subscribers - you want them to know, like and trust you - because that makes selling a whole lot easier.

You need to pick your writing style and stick to it. Don’t try to be something you are not, people will see right through that. You can never please everyone at the same time - stick to your writing style, your topics and the kind of products you want to promote… The people that like it will stay and be your best customers, the ones that don’t like it will go away - if you try to please them all you will end up with a list of indifferent people, and that does not put bread on the table.

Time For The Cynical Comment

Everything I’ve written so far today might come across as very cynical, and a lot of people don’t like this very “in your face” approach… But again, we are in business because we want to make money. Being nice and giving away free stuff does not make you money - but it is a valuable strategy to help close a sale.

Unsubscribes are good: a lot of people get frustrated when people start unsubscribing from their list, but unsubscribes are actually a good thing, here’s why:

It means that people are actually opening your emails
Unsubscribes are a lot better than spam complaints. Or having people leave your emails in a “dead” inbox that fills up and starts bouncing.
You are just getting rid of the people that would not buy from you anyway. And you are left with a cleaner list of people who are actually interested in what you have to say.
It makes it a lot easier to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns. People that really don’t want to hear from you will only mess up your stats.
If have often said, that if you aren’t getting unsubscribes, you are not pushing hard enough. Here’s a great article from my friend Robert Puddy that expands a bit on that: Internet marketing is a game so play to win.

Once your list gets big enough, you will probably come to realize… That it does not matter what you send to your list, your unsubscribe rate will be steady. I can almost guarantee you, that the email announcing this blog post will get as many unsubscribes, spam complaints etc. as my last “pitch only” email.

On To Writing The Actual Follow Up Series

People often ask me how many emails they should put in their follow up series. There no right or wrong answer here, but in my opinion, more is definitely merrier. I would say that you should at least have 8 emails lined up - But the more you have, the more hands off your business will run. Generating auto pilot income, as long as you continue to put new subscribers into your system. I know people that have years worth of emails lined up. I prefer 1-2 months though and will then shift to regular broadcasts (when I have something to mail about e.g. this article).

The funnel: in line with my comments about training your subscribers, you want to set your email series up as a classic sales funnel. You start by giving something away for free (your hook, so all subs get that), then you move on to offering free to join sites that has an upgrade option attached to it. Next step is to offer them some low cost products, and then you gradually raise the entry price. Of course far from everyone will funnel all the way down to the higher price points - but you will make far more money doing it this way - rather that slamming a $1000 product in front of them as soon as they have downloaded their free gift.

It’s also important that the entire sales funnel in your follow up series is relevant to what people signed up for in the first place. Your recommendations can stray a bit from the original topic/gift - but then your writing has to reflect how this can be used with, enhance, or help them use the original - or maybe how it can take them to the next level.

Step 1: Your Welcome Email

This one is very important, and you want to accomplish a few things with it:

Give them the download link again in case they missed it.
You want to make them another offer. You are building a list because you want to make sales, you might as well be upfront about it, so people know what to expect (that way they won’t be offended when you try to sell later on) - Again, people who just signed up are the hottest prospects on your list, and you want to cash in on that.
You want to hint at what is coming - make them curious, so they look forward to your next email. And let them know that you ARE going to send them more emails.
Here’s my suggested template for your 1st auto responder email (of course you would need to change it to fit your campaign):

Subject: Thank You {!firstname_fix}, Here’s Your Download Link

Hi {!firstname_fix},

Thank you for requesting the “Automatic Money
Machines” Report. Here’s the download link again,
in case you missed it on the confirmation page.

=> Download Automatic Money
Machines Here!

And if you haven’t already, I *highly* recommend
that you sign up for Affiliate Cash Secrets. It’s
my #1 recommended resource for affiliate marketers.

=> Affiliate Cash Secrets

Thanks again {!firstname_fix}. I’ll be in touch shortly,
with a powerful tip that can easily triple your affiliate
income + an extra free ebook for you.

Have a great day,

Soren Jordansen

Step 2: Your Extra Bonus - Build A Relationship

In the next email I give away an extra “no strings attached” bonus, this could be an ebook, a video or similar. I’ve already hinted at that in my welcome email, so people will be looking for the bonus email. Gives me the perfect opportunity to enter their inbox again, and set myself of as the generous guy, they want to hear from. Here’s an example email (of course you also need to change this to fit you).

Subject: Here’s Your Bonus Download Link {!firstname_fix}…

Hi {!firstname_fix},

I hope you enjoyed the “Automatic Money Machines”
ebook, I sent you the other day. As promised I have
a bonus ebook, one that can easily triple your affiliate

But first… I wanted to tell you a bit about my self.

I live in Denmark and as most Europeans I’m a bit of
football fanatic. But when I’m no rooting for Liverpool
or my local Danish team Aab, I’m working hard on
building and expanding my full time internet business.
Thankfully that is my other great passion, so it doesn’t
really feel like a job.

Over the coming weeks I will send you a series of emails
that will recommend various tools you need, in order to
be a successful affiliate marketer.

I will also teach you how to use them and more importantly,
why you need to use them - and I’m very much looking
forward to sharing the tips, tricks and secrets that allowed
me to replace my army job with a full time internet marketing

And now for your bonus ebook… It’s a great ebook called
“The 5 Critical Tools for a Successful Affiliate Business”,
you can download it here:

=> Download 5 Critical Tools Here!

Thanks again {!firstname_fix}, enjoy the ebook - I’ll be
in touch shortly with some hot internet marketing tips
for you.

Have a great day,

Soren Jordansen

P.S. And if you haven’t already, I *highly* recommend
that you sign up for Affiliate Cash Secrets. It’s my
#1 recommended resource for affiliate marketers.

=> Affiliate Cash Secrets

As you can see I’m trying to accomplish a few things with this email:

I tell them that the bonus is there, but I don’t give them the link right away - I want them to read the email first.
The little blurb about me is meant to put a face on the marketer, and build a relationship with my subscribers. I’m not just the cold hard selling machine, I’m the Dane who loves football and roots for Liverpool.
Then I tell them a little bit about what to expect. I let them know that I am going to mail them on a regular basis and that I am going to recommend products to them.
But then I let them know that I’m going to teach them the “how and why” - that I’m successful, and that I want to share my knowledge with them
Finally I use the P.S. to soft sell something to them - both to “train” them to expect that, but of course also because it’s nice to give them a second stab at the product I recommended in my welcome email.
Hopefully the end result is that they are happy (the got a bonus download)… They feel they know me a bit better (maybe they even like and trust me)… and they are looking forward to seeing what kind of tip I have to share in my next email.

Step 3: Promoting Free To Join Sites

Next you want to add some emails promoting good free to join sites, that pay you commissions when people buy the one time offer. At this stage in your follow up series it’s much easier to get people to join a free program, than it is to get them to buy something. It’s also my experience that you can make as much (if not more) in commissions, if you do it the right way.

You will be seen as the nice guy finding all this great value content and giving it to them for free . If you write some good emails you can cash in on the one timer offer commissions, and use the “free to join section” to expand your relationship with your list, setting yourself up to make future sales. Fortunately it’s pretty easy to write an email that gives away free stuff, here are a few components you should include.

Include a small blurb about yourself - It just has to be a few lines that will help people relate to you and feel that they are getting to know you even better. Remember that this is going into an auto responder. Don’t writing something about wrapping x-mas gifts, people might read it in July.
Relate the free gift to the original topic/gift of your list. It does not have to be more than one or two lines. But it’s important that you don’t just throw random promotions at them - it has to be something that will help them accomplish part of what they originally signed up to learn (if not you have to tell them why this new thing is also important).
Then you actually pitch the product - doesn’t have to be much, as it’s not hard to sell free. The sites will almost always have some good affiliate tools, so you can borrow a few lines to use here.
It will most likely boost your conversion rate on the one time offer, if you also mention the upgrade options. Tell them that it’s free to join, but if they want to put their xyz into overdrive, they should pay close attention to the special offer - The extra videos really helped you etc… (you get the idea )
Here is a sample email that includes all the components above:

Subject: My Geeky Day Is Your Gain {!firstname_fix} - Free Step-By-Step Video Tutorials…

Hi {!firstname_fix},

I was just sitting here rummaging in my Cpanel, cleaning
up a few cluttered data bases - Yes I can be a bit geeky,
but it’s internet marketing, so that’s allowed.

But then it dawned on me, that I’m in the minority here.

A lot of affiliate marketers never get their business off
the ground, because they are too busy banging their
head against a wall of tech problems they have no idea
how to solve. Even if they wanted to outsource it they
would have no idea what to ask the programmer to do.

Does that sound familiar {!firstname_fix}, if so you could
probably use these great step-by-step videos.

=> Discover Cpanel

They go through all the different aspects of managing your
own hosting. It’s how I learned it, and I’m sure you can use
it for your websites too.

You get the first videos and some cool bonuses for free,
but you should keep an eye out for the special offer when
you sign up. If you see it, you will get a chance to snap up
the entire package for next to nothing - I did, and it made
a world of difference for me.

=> Discover Cpanel

Unleash the geek within!

Soren Jordansen

P.S. With these step-by-step video tutorials, you’ll be
able to control your own hosting, fast. Get started with
a free video on setting up your email accounts now…

=> Discover Cpanel

I would say that you need at least 5 of these “free to join” emails in your follow up series, but the more you have the better - as long as you can keep them relevant and follow the formula above.

With all the BFM and LFM sites out there, there are thousands of sites to chose from and you’ll be able to find offers for just about any niche.

Here are a few of my favourites, I get a regular paycheck from all of them. To get your own affiliate links, all you have to do is sign up:

Discover Cpanel
Free Website Builder
Email Promos Exposed
Instant Squeeze Page Generator
OTO Goldmine
Mini Site Profits Exposed
Affiliate Funnel

Step 4: Selling Products

Now that you have warmed up your list, built a relationship and showed them that you have some good stuff to share - You can start adding some emails that sells products directly. These emails should follow the same basic formula as the “free to join” emails above. But when you are asking for money upfront, you generally have to write a longer email - to highlight the benefits of the purchase, and to counter their possible objections. If you want to learn more about how to write good emails that sell, I highly recommend that you watch these free videos.

I personally don’t like to add a lot of sales emails to my follow up series, as I prefer to keep my schedule open for JVs and new launches. But you can add as many as you like - I have a few sub-lists that are maxed out with these super cut & paste emails.

You should keep the “sales funnel” in mind if you are adding more than one product to the end of your follow up series - start with low cost first and then work your way up to the more expensive items. If you are adding a lot of products you want to break up the barrage of sales pitches with the occasional free gift or free to join site - or maybe some good content blog posts that links to a few recommended products.

Power Tip 1: When you are promoting a new launch to your list, consider writing an honest review on your blog and send them there first. You can then keep adding short emails to your follow up series, sending people to these reviews. This way you can set yourself up as their “crap filter” - you are giving them content, honest reviews and recommendations (but of course you are selling at the same time). By adding these to your AR you will be making sales long after all the other affiliates have forgotten about the launch and product.

Power Tip 2: I like to add products with recurring commissions to my follow up series. That way I can make the sale once and get paid over and over again. Here are a few that work great for me (+ instruction on how to join the affiliate program).

Affiliate Cash Secrets (Join to become an affiliate).
Wealth Building Portfolio (Join the affiliate program here).
Internet Entrepreneur Club (Join the affiliate program here).

If You Have Your Own Products…

The steps above were written with affiliate promotions in mind, but they also apply if you have your own products. If you are selling your own products and services you want to write as many of them as you can into your follow up series (if they fit the list/niche topic). Follow the same approach, free gift(s) first, then free to join with upsells, and finally selling your products (going from low to high cost).

What You Have Now & What Is Coming…

If you have read the first article and implemented the steps, you should have a squeeze page system set up and properly monetized. When you are done implementing the steps in this article, you will also have a profit pulling email series in place - That is basically all you need to become a successful list builder and make some serious money in this business.

Of course now you need to put some people through your system and sales funnel, in other words, drive traffic to your squeeze page. Funny enough that is what I will be covering in my next article “How to drive traffic to your squeeze page and make it convert”. If you can wait to get started you can go read this Traffic Generation article by Mike Paetzold.

-Soren Jordansen