Nov 19 email marketing report

Philip Morgan

The next cohort of The Expertise Incubator begins Jan 13, 2020. If you're curious, let me know.

I'm surprised, but my email experimentation is having an effect.

The effect is small, but positive.

I'm surprised because I'd gotten kind of negative in my thinking about the free segment of my email list. It just felt so dead and unresponsive.

I've been experimenting with this Axios-inspired format. Most of the time I really like it, and then other times I feel like I'm just randomly sprinkling bolded words and sentences throughout the email willy nilly.

But when it works -- which almost always requires that the email be less than 400 words -- it works really nicely to turn the email into a more scannable, dynamic piece. Thus far, this format works most harmoniously with the Q&A emails I've been writing, like this one.

I've been emailing the free segment of my list more frequently. I emailed twice yesterday and a TEI member joked that I must have moved to from daily to hourly emailing. I was actually channeling Bob Lefsetz, and just emailing whenever I felt like it. I depend heavily on the routine of waking, feeding the cats, making coffee, and then writing and publishing my daily email, so I can't imagine an "email whenever I feel like it" approach working for me, but it does work for others.

I rarely look at this chart, but you can see the effect of increased frequency:

Increasing frequency initially repels a certain number of subscribers and then stabilizes after you re-set expectations, which you don't need to do actively by announcing anything to the list. You just increase frequency, lose subscribers, then things stabilize. No announcement needed.

My untested theory is that the subscribers you lose when you increase frequency are ones for whom your topic is not important or your PoV is not compelling. They are unlikely to be potential clients anyway.

There are also "email frequency fundamentalists" who just can't tolerate daily publication, even if the topic/PoV is relevant to them. You can't please everybody, can you? :)

I have friends who have set up a "why did you unsubscribe" questionnaire for unsubscribers. To me this has always signaled mild desperation and felt like a way of crowdsourcing your list philosophy to its least valuable members, but it would be a test of my theory. I'll ask my friends and report back.

All that said, I need to be doing more to expose my expertise and PoV to more people. I would expect the negative list growth to reverse if I did that.

I've been consistently using the tophat CTA you see at the top of this email, along with a "Go deeper" and "Take action" heading at the bottom of the emails to the free list segment.

These all have promotional links.

Here are some recent, thus-far-typical results:

Clicks are some of the more accurate numbers that email marketing software can show you, though I'd prefer absolute numbers rather than percentages because I think of my email list as a collection of individuals I'm trying to serve, not as an abstract percentage I'm trying to optimize.

Most meaningfully, a lead for TEI has shown up. They responded to an email to the free segment of my list, and referenced the idea of becoming a visible expert.

It's impossible to attribute this to a single email, but it's encouraging.

Another TEI lead has also shown up via a different channel, which has got me thinking there's a good chance of assembling a full Jan2020 cohort of TEI.

When a full cohort of your premium offering is 5 people, each person represents 20% of the whole. That makes 2 new leads in a short period of time into a significant event. And that's encouraging when you see one of those leads coming from a segment of your email list you'd gotten bummed out about.

Email marketing is strange. The popular advice seems to be based on a different context than ours: large lists where each potential response contributes relatively little to your business goal. In that context, using shitty behavior to extract a few more percentage points of a response makes sense, I guess.

I'm almost ready to put a PoV stake in the ground:

Most marketing advice is about how to sell stuff to consumers who are spending to relieve boredom. That advice actively hurts us.

The above is phrased in an intentionally provocative, probably over-broad way.

But I do think it expresses a truth.

Happy Tuesday, y'all!