James Schramko and John Mcintyre (John is from dropdeadcopy.com) talk about how to establish an effective autoresponder sequence and how to overcome different challenges along the way.
In this episode:
- Start off an effective offer by identifying your target audience
- What things can you offer and which ones work the best
- Providing a less-intimidating multi-step problem solving crash course
- Switching from a free report to a training sequence encourages a recurring commitment
- How to double your email opt-ins and improve engagement through the 2step optin process
- Relevant opt-in positioning will get you better results
- How good should the training course be
- The importance of solving the problem through a conversational tone
- How to write a really good email
- Identify the type of relationship you want to create with your list
- Hinting out a solution after solving the problem and establishing trust
- Using your emails to point customers to the right direction
- Taking things to the next level
- Building your autoresponder sequence structure from scratch
- Start with an outline and list compelling subject lines for each part
- Send your interrelated sequence in email segments (try to keep texts within 50 characters to maintain attention)
- Make use of “open loops” to encourage curiosity and readers’ interest to bring out that unconscious engagement
- What comes after the initial sequence
- Nurturing that lifetime value
- What are the biggest challenges that people have when creating an autoresponder sequence
- How to overcome writer’s rust
- Frequency of your autoresponder sequence
- Example of emails that could get the most effective results
- Try out the “three email challenge” today
James: James Schramko here. Today’s guest will be talking about a topic that everyone knows about, but hardly anyone does, and that is the subject of creating a killer autoresponder sequence for your opt ins so that you can actually build and nurture your email list. To cover this topic, I went out there and had a look around, see who’s doing this well. I came across a fellow by the name of John McIntyre from DropDeadCopy.com. Welcome to the call, John.
John: Hi, James. Thank you.
James: John, I first became aware of you via another podcast that I listened to, Dan Andrews and Ian Schoen have LifestyleBusinessPodcast.com. One of the episodes I heard somewhere, maybe in the air or TropicalMBA, that they felt a need to build an autoresponder sequence for their email list, and I think they interviewed you about it, and you were the one who actually assembled it. Is that true?
John: Yeah, correct.
James: Right. So what I think would be really useful for our listeners is, we all know we should have Aweber or Office AutoPilot, or some kind of email capture on our website. And we know that we have to have a list, and we have to have a relationship with that list, and that’s where our buyers come from. It’s like an ATM. If you want to make some money, you send out an email, you make an offer, and all that money comes into your bank account. You can buy a big, luxury ocean liner and retire for the rest of your life.
Now, the bit that they struggle with, from my experience, is what do you actually send people after they have given you their details? And I think that’s where you could probably step in and help us out a little bit. Maybe we can workshop this through, if you have the steps that are involved in what it is that you do.
What to do when people opt in
John: Sure. So the main thing, the most important thing is, basically, like the offer, which really begins with the audience and figuring out the exact prospect that you want to attract, whether that’s a beginner or someone who’s at an intermediate level or an advanced person. Depending on the person that you are trying to attract is going to change the autoresponder that you write for them.
James: Well, that makes sense. When it comes to the offer, what sort of things can you offer someone in exchange for an email address? What things can you offer and which things work the best?
What to offer
John: OK. So number one, I think eBooks are really, really overdone. Everyone’s doing them. It’s the free report. It comes from kind of like direct response days. It’s just, everyone’s just doing it. So there’s not much that’s compelling about it anymore. So I would not even bother with an eBook. I would figure out whatever the main problems are of the target market or the target prospect. Brainstorm their problems. I would do instead 5 or 10 main pain points, and then you would write an autoresponder that solves those specific pain points or gets them on the path to solving them. You could work on an eBook in there that could be part of it, but the essential idea here is as that you’re solving a problem, not that you’re giving a report.
James: So it’s more about the solution rather than the way you deliver it. Is that what I’m hearing?
James: Right. So if you’re doing this multi-step problem solving, what do you name that? Is it a training series, is it a mini-course?
John: We call it a crash course, with Tropical MBA and Lifestyle Business Podcast. So that was an easy way to digest the material. They were giving away 50 free podcast episodes but that sounds intimidating. No one wants to just download 50 MP3 files. Listening to them is kind of scary. So what we did is we took the 10 most interesting and most compelling ones, split them into 10 different emails, and called it a crash course. So it was exactly the same thing, but we made it positioned in a very different way that made it easier to consume.
James: Nice. So what actually happens when you implement something like this? And by the way, just from my own experience, when I switched from having a free report to a training sequence, that was getting me people continuing to open my emails, whereas I found with the free report, they would download the report and then they would never open another email again. So by having a multi-part promise, the commitment when someone gives the email address is that they’re going to hear from you again and again. That actually seeds the rest of the relationship better, in my opinion, even if the opt ins were a little bit lower in percentage. The agreement is better off for you as the product provider. So that’s consistent with my findings.
Changes in results
What sort of changes to results have you seen when you implement stuff like this for other clients?
John: So we use basically what you described there, it’s like someone who downloads an eBook and then stops opening your emails after that, they’re not very engaged and they’re kind of like a waste of the slot on the list. In some cases, you get lower subscribers but the engagement level is so much higher that these people are opening the emails; they’re more likely to buy stuff with the Tropical MBA when we did it. They had a stock standard sidebar form. So they had a little “Sign up to receive the 50 free episodes. Put your email address here and hit the Submit button.”
And so what we did, that’s called a one-step opt in. So you take one step and then you’re on the list. So we turned it into what’s called a two-step opt in, which means that in the sidebar, there is a link which says, “Tropical MBA Crash Course.” So someone would click on that, they would go to another page, which had about a thousand words of copy that explained what we were trying to do and what the offer was. And then we hid the opt-in form at the bottom of the page, which is kind of like counterintuitive. People say make it as easy as possible for people to get on your list, but we actually made it harder. Email opt ins more than doubled. So we made a harder opt in and we started getting more subscribers than what we’re getting before, which is really interesting.
James: That is interesting. I have seen research; I think it was on Unbounce, about putting the opt-in in the most relevant position even if that is the counterintuitive below the fold. If you’ve done a mini sales letter to sell the opt-in and you have the opt-in right where you have the call to action; that is probably the most relevant place. So I can understand how you got that result. In fact, on SuperFastBusiness.com, I have a Free Training button, and that Free Training button gets more opt ins than the in-line form that’s at the top and the bottom of my page. Isn’t that interesting that we can use a two-step as something that I did actually, luckily, on one of my very first affiliate sites. I had a blue hyper lined link on the home page that said, “Get access to the free training course,” and that took people to a dedicated squeeze page, because I had learned that you have to sell an opt in now. It’s not enough just to ask for someone’s email, you have to actually sell it.
I’ve got a question about how good a free training course does it have to be? Should we have light content? Should it be amazing stuff that someone would normally pay for? Like how good? Is there a level of goodness?
How good should a free training course be?
John: I always come back to this idea of, like, solve problems. Like, I listened to one of your podcasts the other day and you talked about how when you start making videos, when you’re a beginner, the quality is pretty low because you just don’t know the right techniques or the right software or the right tools, and you get better. But the central idea here that drives the whole thing is that a problem is being solved.
I use text emails. I don’t use HTML in my emails because it can be disabled. I don’t use images either, so my emails are just straight up text. There’s nothing else on them. You don’t need to be a writer, either. You don’t need to be anything special in the way that you write the emails. You just got to think like, “Am I solving a real problem?” If that’s the case, then it doesn’t really matter. You could be a really bad writer with bad grammar and have typos all through it. But the person, the subscriber, most of them, their primary objective is to solve that problem. So if you’re helping them with that, it doesn’t’ particularly matter how polished your delivery is.
James: Yeah, that is a great point. It is about solving the problem. And I think people will forgive the format or the delivery mechanism a little bit if it solves their problem. I guess the greatest autoresponder writers that I’ve ever seen; Andre Chaperon springs to mind, they just have a very conversational tone, and they really are good at addressing the situation and moving the reader to take action or to feel something.
Have you had a deep background in sales writing or copywriting to be able to do this?
John: I don’t call myself a writer and I’m not planning on writing a book. But I’ve always been the type of person that writes stuff down. I only started writing copy earlier this year. Yeah, you said, like Andre does it, the conversational type of thing. That’s what all it needs to be. Like just a conversation between you and the subscriber. I’ve done a little bit of study copywriting and advertising and that, but I don’t find I use a lot of that in the emails. What’s important in the emails is that you feel like you’re writing from a personal perspective. So you’re writing from James Schramko, or that’s how you sound in emails as opposed to SuperFastBusiness. Just like Andre Chaperon does, that its first person and it’s conversational, just like you’re writing a story. You’re telling your friend about the lunch you had the other day, or whatever it is.
Good technique when recording
James: Yeah, this is a good point. In fact, one of my earlier interviews on Internet Marketing Speed was with John Carlton. In fact, I think I’ve had him on a couple of times. And he said a good technique for people who are struggling with this is just to record yourself. Just talk as if you’re having a conversation with someone and literally hit the recorder. And then whatever you say is probably a good basis for the words that you might put in an email. Is that a useful technique?
John: Absolutely. So if a business owner, if they were to speak to a customer, if they’d get them on the phone, they’ll probably going to know what to say. So one way to do it would be to get a handful of A4 sheets of paper and write down the 5 biggest problems on each, one problem to each piece of paper. And then get a tape recorder and just record yourself telling a customer. Have an imaginary customer in front of you, and tell them about how you’re going to solve their problem or how they can solve their problem with the information that you have or whatever it is. That works really well.
James: Nice. Now, a technical question here, do you deliver the emails, are you sending the whole solution in the email itself? Would you have a call to action to drive them back to a blog or a Web page or some kind? What’s your preferred strategy there?
Should you send the whole solution?
John: It depends on what sort of relationship you want to create with the list. Some people, they just want to blast the list. That’s fine and it works depending on the strategy. But my preferred way of doing it is to, like I won’t pitch, or offer, or sell anything for at least three or four emails. Mainly because that’s sort of rare these days. Everyone’s trying to sell stuff, especially online. Don’t try and sell them anything. You just talk about cool stuff, help them solve their problems. You can hint at a solution. That’s another thing that we should talk about, open loops, Andre Chaperon talks about this.
So you can hint at a solution. But the main thing to focus on is just solve the problems. And then when it comes time to promote something, you promote it in the context of the value you’re already providing. So it doesn’t come across as a pitch anymore. It comes across as you’re just trying to help them out.
James: Right. So you will put the email there and that might be it? There’s no “click here” or further discovery required?
John: Right. Yeah, pretty much. So there’s a text-based email, there might be no links in there at all. But then, sometimes I find it’s really cool when you link out to, say, a YouTube video. So if you’re on a list, I have kind of a list in the weight loss niche. So I’ll sometimes send them aspirational kind of emails to try to get them, like a pep talk, and then I’ll send them to a motivational YouTube video just for a bit of fun. I think that creates a really cool vibe because you stop taking yourself so seriously and it allows people to relate to you.
James: Yeah, absolutely. Well you know, I have two main types of emails I send. By far, the majority is the one that will send them to my blog, where I’ll embed the video. I want to get all those views, I want Google to take notice of my site being active, and I want comments and social proof. So I would take that video and embed it on my site. And again, my very first successful autoresponder campaign was where I’d set up 7 or 8 different videos or screenshots on a website and I kept sending them back in each lesson, and I was training them to keep going back to my site and to consume the information there, and at the end of each of those modules was a call to action to buy the product.
And what I found was that more than half the people would buy the product before they got to the end of the sequence, which was handy, and I was able to log in to Aweber and check the effectiveness of each of the messages and see which ones got the unsubscribes and which ones got the opens, and then tailor my offer. And I note with OfficeAutoPilot, now I can A B C D split test follow up sequences, which is kind of sexy stuff for anyone interested in testing. Do you go that far into it or do you find that most people just don’t even have a sequence set up in the first place?