Catherine Langman:

Well, hello there, it’s Catherine Langman here back with another episode of our Productpreneur Success Podcast. Welcome to the show if you are new to the show, and welcome back to our long time listeners. Today’s episode, I’m going to be talking about one of my favourite topics, email marketing, but specifically three automation tweaks that made a $30,000 difference in my business.

Catherine Langman:

Have I got your attention now? I hope so. I think any of you who have been talking to me or working with me or listening to this podcast or even re reading my blog for a few minutes would have probably picked up how much I believe in email marketing. Email marketing, generally, but specifically automated email marketing. Email marketing generally, I think a lot of the time, these days, there’s the fallacy, the incorrect belief that email marketing is dead.

Catherine Langman:

It’s like the old spammy kind of direct mail that we used to get cluttering up our actual physical letterbox, of course that’s kind of a novelty these days. But at the end of the day, email marketing really still does generate the highest return on investment, or it has the potential to generate around 3800%. So, that’s 3800% return on investment. That’s a 2021 stat goes. It’s pretty hard to get that kind of a return on investment with any other marketing channel.

Catherine Langman:

Although, of course it goes without saying that we actually need to have an email list to be able to get some results. If we don’t have an email list, we’re not going to get those sorts of returns are we? And I tell you what, I actually learnt the necessity of having a database, having a list, having an audience way back when I first started out my career in marketing and in e-commerce. Funnily enough, I actually had my first e-commerce job in 1999. If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the.com boom, before the.com bust, and of course we’ve had more recent explosions in e-commerce as a business model over the last few years.

Catherine Langman:

But 1999, great year. I’m sure there’s a song about that. And that particular job that I had, it was my first job out of university and it was selling Aboriginal art, not an easy product to choose really, I’m not entirely sure… I can’t remember what the motivation was for the guy who started that business. He wasn’t an Aboriginal guy but he had spent a long time living in communities and really wanted to support the artists I believe.

Catherine Langman:

Anyway, I guess promoting a product like that online, pretty tough. There weren’t platforms like Shopify or Klaviyo for email marketing. None of that sort of really existed at the time and everything had to be coded in by hand by a developer so it was a pretty expensive business model back then. But what was very quickly abundant was customers were not going to make a really quick snap purchase decision when they came to a website, they really needed to have a bit of a conversation and they needed information and they needed time to think about it. These days, of course, we think about those sorts of things as your buyer journey and being able to provide whatever information your customers need to know, understand and believe. And email marketing is definitely one way that you can communicate that.

Catherine Langman:

We were obviously doing that all by hand, so I learned very quickly that if you don’t have people to have these conversations with, say on an email list, it makes it really hard to grow a business. And over the years, over the decades, I’ve stuck to that belief and it served me very, very well. I guess, along the way, one of my many mentors along the way said to me, “If you can write emails, you will never be short of a dollar.”

Catherine Langman:

So, essentially anytime you need to make money in your business, if you’re good at writing emails and you have an email list, then you will never want for money, you will never want for customers, you’ll always be able to generate revenue. That has absolutely been true. In my first business selling cloth nappies, some of you would remember me from those days, there were always times, not always, but sometimes stuff happens in your business. It doesn’t necessarily go to plan. Perhaps a production run is running really late and you don’t have stock to sell and what do you do then? Can you pre-sell it? Sometimes, gosh, various different things happen.

Catherine Langman:

I remember in the Brisbane floods we lost an entire container load, ironically of swimming nappies. There were times that would interrupt your regular income, your regular traffic and sales, and email marketing never failed me. I was always able to come up with something and be able to write some emails and my list would respond and I would be able to make some money.

Catherine Langman:

Now, automated emails is a fantastic way to essentially clone yourself and your business several times over. I mean, there’s only so many hours in the day. If you’re writing email newsletters all the time, that’s in real time, you can’t do that personally for every single subscriber that joins your list. But automated emails is kind of like cloning yourself in your business several times over and it allows you to create those personalized and timely communications with your customers and your potential customers, but you’re utilizing automation. Basically you’re utilizing the tools and the systems to be able to deliver those when the subscribers need it and want it and when it makes sense.

Catherine Langman:

I know that many listeners to this show, they probably already have been growing an email list. I think it’s pretty common now that we all know when we set up an online store, we need to have a popup opt-in form, something that entices people to subscribe. Still, though, many people kind of stop there. It’s like a coupon code to entice people onto the email list. Then there’s what happens next.

Catherine Langman:

Let me illustrate what most websites still do to this day. I’m going to share a little story. Some of you have probably heard it before, but it’s a fun one. Let me share this story to illustrate what so many e-commerce businesses are doing now. You meet a cool lady briefly at a dinner party. She seems nice. Maybe a potential friend, someone to hang with, could be great. She asks for your phone number and your email address and promises “pinky swear” to get in touch ASAP to set up a girly date. And you’re thinking “Yay!” Visions of pedicures and buttered popcorn and Ryan Gosling movie marathons are dancing in your mind. But then months go by. She doesn’t ring, she doesn’t email, not even a friendly text, nothing.

Catherine Langman:

Then, almost a year after you handed her your email address, you wake up in the morning to find a bizarre pile of urgent requests in your inbox. “I’m moving. Can you help me pack?” She asks, quickly followed by, “I’m getting married, be my maid of honor!” Followed by, “Oh, could I get a ride to the airport tomorrow?” And then, “Support my cousin’s Kickstarter campaign.” And then, “I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. How are you?”

Catherine Langman:

Huh? What? No, thanks. You’re not feeling the love. You’re just baffled. This woman is not really your friend. It feels like she just wants to get something from you, but you don’t even have a relationship yet. Plus, she’s been missing in action all year long. Everything about this just feels wrong. You’re not going to help her out. You don’t particularly want to play with her. And if there was an unsubscribe button at the bottom of her annoying emails, you’d be clicking it fast. Goodbye.

Catherine Langman:

Now, obviously, you would never behave like the bad girlfriend in this story to one of your friends. I know you all have much better manners and more common sense than that. But yet, many business owners behave just like bad girlfriends to their subscribers and their customers. And they add people to their email list and then they never get around to actually emailing them at all. So, how is this helping you to sell more stuff on your website? Right?

Catherine Langman:

And I get it, I know that there are several very logical reasons for why you never get around to emailing your list or you’re doing it inconsistently. Perhaps you are worried that your audience might find you spammy and annoying because they’ve already got a really full inbox, or maybe you don’t know what to put in your emails so you leave that task at the bottom of your to-do list and you’ll get around to it when you’re less busy doing other stuff. Or, maybe you do email your email list every now and again when you’ve got a sale on? Or, I’m sure there’s a few other reasons you can let me know.

Catherine Langman:

The bottom line is, if you’ve got people who’ve subscribed to your email list, they do want to hear from you, right? So, you can put that first concern aside. For the other concerns, hopefully what I’m going to share with you in today’s episode is going to kind of, I guess, shine a light on how you can go about it. Hopefully you’ll realize it doesn’t need to be that hard and you can actually automate quite a bit of this. It’s not always about hustling in an email newsletter.

Catherine Langman:

Now, as I kind of hinted with the title of the show today, when I learned some of these strategies like I was explaining, I’ve always known that about the benefits of email marketing and I did make it a goal and kind of made it my business really to become quite good at writing email marketing, writing emails to market and promote my business and my brand. And it definitely did work.

Catherine Langman:

But when I really stuck into it, it made a big difference. So let me talk about some of these tweaks that made such an enormous difference to my bottom line. Because, at the end of the day if you have more people opening your emails and taking action, you’re going to generate more sales in your business. And this is the beauty of automated email marketing as well, you’re going to get more people opening your emails, more people buying. You’re going to get more consistent sales generated from your email marketing and you’ll be consistently adding new people to your email list as well, which of course is only going to amplify those results over time.

Catherine Langman:

I’ll tell you something else, actually, I think a lot of people are actually starting to use some email automation, especially for those of you who are getting into Klayvio, which I love as you know. But there’s this easy trap to fall into whereby you go into Klaviyo, you find the template, automated flows in there, fill in the blanks and publish them and a way you go and then never look at them again.

Catherine Langman:

And yes, it’s great to have those templated flows in there, but they’re not tailored to your business. They’re not tailored to your customers. And if you never look at them again, how are you going to know if they’re working? So, first of all, first task, if you do have some automated flows going in your business, go and have a look at the results and try and figure out whether they are actually bringing some money into your business.

Catherine Langman:

Klayvio, there’s so much useful information on their blog actually, you can even find links to where the benchmark averages are for response rates. You can kind of see where you’re at compared to where you should be at. And if you’re not quite hitting the mark, then you will want to implement some of the adjustments that I’m going to share with you that I made in my business.

Catherine Langman:

The first of three headline tweaks that I want to talk about is subject lines. Because the first thing that people are going to see from your email is the subject line. If it’s a rubbish subject line, then they’re not going to click to open it. And if they don’t click to open it, they’re not going to see the message and they’re not going to buy from the email. How can you improve your subject lines? And the first tip I want to suggest is to be interesting. If you can arrive at a subject line that is interesting to your audience, then they’re going to click to see what’s inside. And if not, they’re going to ignore it or maybe even delete it. Right?

Catherine Langman:

It’s probably not surprising that statistics show almost a third of email recipients open an email just because they liked the subject line. I know I do it all the time. How can you try and really get skilled at your subject lines? The first thing to remember is you’ve got to keep it short, less than 50 characters if you can. You’ve got to remember the vast majority of us these days are reading emails on our mobile so we don’t have an enormous amount of real estate to write long subject lines.

Catherine Langman:

You can, of course, utilize the pre-header text for a second line underneath that headline. When you go to create an email, there’s always the subject line field and then the pre-header. The pre-header basically is the non bold text that appears in your email inbox. So you can read it like the follow on from the subject line sentence, if that makes sense? Keep the headlines short, less than 50 characters.

Catherine Langman:

Don’t make false promises that are not supported by the content of the email. That’s sometimes referred to as click baiting. I hate it when that happens. It always makes me think that the email is just some kind of a scam. Don’t use all capitals or exclamation marks because this comes across like you’re shouting! We don’t want to do that. And also, I guess you don’t want to come across as really spammy and that’s probably going to land you in the spam folder anyway. So, yeah, don’t do that stuff.

Catherine Langman:

Avoid using words that imply that the recipient has to do something difficult, like reading a long report, for instance. Instead, you want to use words that can describe benefits and what is the benefit or the outcome that your customers are really wanting. And then, you definitely want to try and test different subject lines to find out what sort of subject lines work for your audience. You can certainly do that through your email marketing program, keeping track of the open rates for your emails over time. Or, there’s a really cool subject line testing tool called CoSchedule.com, it’s a free tool so I always recommend people use that.

Catherine Langman:

I love using an emoji or two, that kind of helps a subject line to stand out in their inbox. And, I know it’s really hard, I feel like the subject line, it’s the shortest part of the email you ever have to write, but it’s the hardest… Totally get it. And I would recommend you try really reviewing and analyzing all of the subject lines of the emails that you receive. If you’re not subscribed to a whole bunch of really great email lists and some crap ones as well, you’re never going to really learn. That’s great input when you’re subscribed to other people’s… I don’t know? I seem to receive a whole bunch of emails from lists I never subscribed to, which is kind of annoying.

Catherine Langman:

There’s one in my inbox at the moment with the really boring subject line, “15% off September Sale.” I don’t even know who it’s from. Anyway. Have a look through your own inbox and see what’s standing out. How are people making it seem interesting and enticing you to open their emails?

Catherine Langman:

Second tip is to be personal. Sending your emails from your own name rather than the name of your business is one way. You can address it to the recipient’s first name. I’ve kind of stopped doing that a little bit with subject lines because it became a thing for a while. And now with subject lines needing to be shorter for a mobile phone, I find I tend not to take up the real estate with that. However, that is one way to do it. But certainly within the email content, you can also add in personalization throughout the content, making it a bit less formal, like you’re having a conversation, signing off with a friendly message, that sort of thing. So just being like you’re having a chit chat, you’re having a conversation with your mate that sort of tone of voice, I guess, rather than being spammy or promotional or formal.

Catherine Langman:

I mean of course, you do need to stick to the tone of voice that your brand usually uses. Don’t go super chit-chatty casual, conversational, if that’s not your normal way of communicating in your brand. But certainly for email marketing, that tends to work a little bit better than something that’s super formal and corporate language.

Catherine Langman:

The third part about your subject line is don’t be spammy. I kind of mentioned that before, but more than 20% of emails sent never make it to the subscribers inbox. It’s actually probably more than that now. And the reason for that is that they get caught by spam filters. Why does that happen? One big reason is because of the subject line. You really want to avoid using lots of exclamation marks, words like free or buy or rich or things that are going to really trigger a spam filter into thinking that it’s not legit, if that makes sense? It’s not what the person wants to receive.

Catherine Langman:

On that CoSchedule.com subject line testing tool, there is actually some resources on there where you can actually see what words typically trigger spam filters. And it will give you a bad mark for your subject line if it’s including one of those words. So, really good idea to go in and use that tool. I’m not affiliated with them at all, by the way, I just have always used it and I really love it.

Catherine Langman:

The thing about spammy emails is, when a lot of people do mark your email as spam then this passes a negative signal to the spam filters and the end result is that all your emails end up in the spam folder even before people see them. So, that’s not great. And then something else, this is not to do with the email subject line but just another tip about being spammy, if you have too many links in your email content then that’s another reason that can lower the integrity of your emails. You want to avoid sending an entire magazine worth of images and links and buttons in your email, just try and keep it a bit shorter and to the point and you stand a little bit better chance of getting through to your recipients.

Catherine Langman:

Fourth thing here about subject lines is try and be quality. In many cases, people configure their email marketing platforms to send out an email automatically whenever they publish something new and every time they have a sale or a promotion on. This might be a great method to save time, it’s not really the best when it comes to the quality of your email content. This can also happen if you are only broadcasting to your entire list as well. So really, you to try and segment your list a little bit. You’re going to have people on your list who are your most frequent shoppers. You might have some on your list who are more lapsed shoppers. You’ll have people on your list who’ve never bought before, they might’ve bought one time before. So try and segment your list every now and again.

Catherine Langman:

And then, definitely using automated email flows. When somebody is getting the automated emails, that is triggered by an action, the action might be subscribing to your list in the first time, the action might be maybe abandoning their cart. It might be that they’ve purchased from a certain product category or whatever the case may be, there’s a bunch of triggers that might kickstart an automated flow.

Catherine Langman:

But the point is that when that trigger happens and those automated emails are going out, they are highly relevant to the stage in the buyer journey that that customer is at. Hopefully that makes sense. You’re never going to get that kind of high level of relevance with an email broadcast that’s going to your whole list. You still want to send those newsletters out to your whole list, of course, but you don’t want it to just be that because it will impact your deliverability scores over time, if that makes sense.

Catherine Langman:

What do your customers want to hear from you about, what do your email subscribers want to hear from you about? Do you have some commonly asked questions that you receive? Does your product require different usage depending on the season or the time of the year? What else can you think of that might be of interest, might be useful, might be entertaining, might be educational? Try and think up what might add value to your customers and your subscribers day.

Catherine Langman:

You can do this with pretty much any product, it doesn’t just have to be for the really kind of big impact type products that are really trying to change the world. It could be even the most regular kind of products like clothing, for instance. There’s times of the week that you might be really wanting to wear your comfy jammies or looking for the perfect jeans or hopefully one day where we can all get dressed up to go out. There’s all sorts of different things that might be useful.

Catherine Langman:

A couple of really good email lists to subscribe to, one would be Who Gives a Crap, for the toilet paper brand. They don’t send emails to their whole list all that often, but they’re great emails when they go out. Another one would be GewĂŒrzhaus. I don’t think I’m even going to try and spell it. It’s German. It’s a Melbourne based brand, but it’s a German word. G-E-W, I think, U-R something, something, something. It’s a spice brand and they send great recipes. Their email newsletters are fantastic. Anyway, be quality is the tip there and that should come through in your subject lines for sure.

Catherine Langman:

The next tweak is having a clear call to action. I see people make this mistake all the time. If you could only have two things in the email, they would be the subject line and the call to action. Okay? The first thing is the subject line, you’ve got to get people to open the email. The second thing is, if you don’t have a clear and compelling call to action nobody’s going to click from the email to your website and therefore they are not going to buy. Okay?

Catherine Langman:

A call to action, literally, is you’re inviting them to click and make a purchase. That’s kind of the goal here, but you can do it in various ways, right? The first tip here is to make it short. You don’t want to have really long winded instructions that are really wordy. You want to make it really easy for somebody to understand what they have to do.

Catherine Langman:

Essentially you’re trying to get the reader to take action here. And honestly, I spend some time sometimes because I do review people’s emails because I’m an email marketer, obviously I just take note of what’s coming into my own inbox. Sometimes it’s really hard to find where you’re supposed to click. It might have a really great image and I really like the look or the sound of a product, but I don’t know where I’m supposed to click to buy it.

Catherine Langman:

These days, none of us have particularly long attention spans. We’re not going to spend much time trying to figure it out. We’ll just go, “Too hard,” and we’ll move on to the next thing. You can make it super easy. These days all email platforms have the ability to add a button, the number of emails that I see going out that do not have a button is just unreal.

Catherine Langman:

Don’t assume that because you’ve got a picture in your email that somebody is going to know to click on the picture. Yes, you still have a hyperlink on that picture and clicking on it might take them to your website, but you also need to have a button that makes it really clear.

Catherine Langman:

The next thing is that you need to tell people what to do specifically. For some of you this will be call to action 101, and for others it might be a bit of a revelation. Either way, everyone that needs to remember this tip for calls to action. Tell people exactly what you want them to do. One thing. Not a series of different instructions. You can start with a really short verb, like “look” or “send”, “buy”, “give”, “shop”, “go”, or “share” and then keep it really brief.

Catherine Langman:

“Click here to look now,” or, “Click here to buy it now,” or something like that. Definitely tell people exactly what to do and just remember, people just want to be told what to do. If they can see an image and it’s really beautiful and they want that thing, they just need you to tell them exactly what do they need to do and where do they need to go to get it. Make it really, really easy using the buttons and the right short words to take them there.

Catherine Langman:

Also, just as part of that, make sure you put things like pricing on there, make sure you’re using bold headlines as well. Don’t make people read through really long blocks of paragraph text, nobody’s going to do that on their phone, it’s too hard.

Catherine Langman:

Next thing is including urgency. When do you want your people, your readers to take action? Now. Now is an almost a perfect call to action word. It’s really short so you can add it to almost any call to action. It’s also about as simple and clear as you can be so it’s easily and universally understood even toddlers and dogs understand that word.

Catherine Langman:

But urgency, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have a discount. If you have new products coming out, you don’t want to be discounting your new stuff, but you do want your readers to realize that there’s only as much as you have. It’s, “While stocks last,” right? So, “Shop now,” right? Including urgency is important. Essentially, at the end of the day, the point of urgency is not to push people into buying, it’s just to get people to make a decision and not sit on the fence.

Catherine Langman:

Number four here, with a clear call to action, is to make it stand out. Some conversion experts use an interesting trick to see if a call to action is eye catching enough and they blur their eyes or they look away from the page and they look back quickly to see which element they notice first, which is quite a cool trick to try. Certainly, I would recommend doing this with your website as well as your emails when you’re working on it next.

Catherine Langman:

It is a pretty imprecise method, but it does give you an idea of how clear your call to action needs to be. It needs to be as visible or even more visible than your hero image or the headline. That’s why you often see the call to action as a red button, but it doesn’t need to be red if that’s really not part of your brand palette, but don’t make the button so muted that you can’t see it standing out at all. It needs to be some kind of a contrasting color and really obvious so that it does stand out. Hopefully that bank sense. And again, I’ll just highlight, I see so many emails that do not have any kind of obvious call to action at all, and it is costing those people money. So, don’t make this mistake.

Catherine Langman:

The third tweak that I want to talk about that really makes a difference is about building your email list. If the money is in the email list, then the bigger the list, the bigger the bank account. The best way to go about getting a high opt-in rate for your email list building is about giving away something of value to your customer. So, for an e-commerce website, the temptation is to just go straight for “Subscribe to receive 10% off” or something like that.

Catherine Langman:

But think about it, is your best, most ideal customer going to be attracted to you like this, or are you attracting the discount shopper who just wants the cheapest price? I get that sometimes a discount is the only thing that works. But I also know from experience that a lot of people haven’t tried something else and they’ve just used the 10% off or the discount, whatever percentage it is, they’ve just used that because they see it around and they think that’s what you have to do and they haven’t thought about it any more than that.

Catherine Langman:

So, hopefully you’re going to think about it after we’ve had this little chit-chat here. I like to try and protect the average order value by not using a discount. If I’m ever going to use a financial incentive, it’s going to be something like a free shipping code or a gift with purchase, or I might do a value pack or a bundle. That might be discounted, but you have to spend a certain amount of money to get the whole bundle in order to get the discount. Does that make sense?

Catherine Langman:

Yes, you’re still offering some financial incentive, but you’re not cheapening the brand there and you’re less likely to end up with an entire list of discount shoppers. So, have a think about how else you can attract your ideal customers and grow a quality email list as well. Another example that I really love is… And I don’t know that they do this anymore, but Birdsnest.com.au, I know those of you who’ve worked with me or gone through my course, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now. I think so many people have ended up buying from that particular store at my recommendation. They used to offer a free style guide that was personalized to the individual fashion and style preferences of the customer. That was one of the things that they did to build their email list. I think they probably still have it on there somewhere, but it just works so well.

Catherine Langman:

Answering a simple questionnaire, giving your name and email address, you received your .pdf style guide. Their their whole system was put together by a stylist, obviously, the way that it worked for a subscriber was automated. But you got this document that was personalized to your preferences that showed you exactly what colors and clothes would suit your figure and your personality and your needs and your budget. So that was a really great way to attract quality customer, quality subscribers that would more likely to go on to become customers, if that makes sense?

Catherine Langman:

Now you may have more than one email signup offer, which is totally fine. You might have something that is a value giveaway like that personalized style guide. Which, incidentally, it’s basically a product selection quiz. There’s apps for this stuff now, it’s really quite simple. It’s still involving technology, so it’s perhaps not so simple for some, but it’s not as hard as it used to be is what I’m trying to say.

Catherine Langman:

You might have a value giveaway like that and you might also have some kind of a financial incentive that tries to encourage a more immediate purchase. That’s totally fine, because you’ve got the value giveaway that’s going to appeal to someone who’s trying to figure out what sort of clothes that’s going to suit her before even considering making a purchase. And then you might also have some other kind of special offer, like a free express post offer, which is aimed at the customer who is ready to buy right now. I like to combine them both.

Catherine Langman:

At the end of the day, really putting some thought into what enticement is really going to suit your ideal customer and help them make a purchase decision with you, and really tailoring it to your business, your brand, your customers, rather than something that’s just a template out of the box thing in your email program.

Catherine Langman:

There you have it. There are three tweaks that I think all of us need to be making to our emails, email marketing and our marketing automation that will make a difference to your bottom line. In my first business, it made a $30,000 difference. It can be really incredible what a difference it can make when you really start to focus on what is working and what needs improvement, what you can optimize and improve in your email marketing so that you can start enjoying the much bigger returns and the much more lucrative and profitable revenue generating from your email marketing.

Catherine Langman:

Of course, if you’re looking for some more help with your email marketing, there’s a few ways that you can get help from us. You can join our course, Productpreneur website formula. That is available at productpreneuracademy.com/pwf-join. You can book in a call with our e-commerce strategist for a free chat if you’re looking to have more personalized help. Or, of course, you can join our free community. You can go to Catherinelangman.com/rockstar if you are looking to join our free community and just kind of get a little bit more of an idea of what we’re all about. Hopefully that helps, hopefully you’ve enjoyed that and I look forward to being with you on the show again next week. Bye for now.