Discover the real power behind learning to monetize and leverage your own style as an email marketer. In this podcast, learn how you can effectively connect with your audience through emails.
01:32 – The unusual style of Andre Chaperon
02:45 – Email as the perfect platform
04:25 – Effective storytelling
06:22 – Learning from Hollywood’s storyboards
08:15 – How people’s viewing habits change
08:55 – Do you have to be a great writer?
09:35 – Should your emails be conversational?
10:10 – Autoresponders or broadcasts?
11:33 – Hybrid email strategies
12:18 – Follow-up sequence is the spinal cord
13:15 – Most popular solutions from Andre
14:00 – The introvert as entrepreneur
15:30 – Monetizing and leveraging your own style
16:05 – Common mistakes of email marketers
16:58 – Researching techniques
18:46 – Should you do segmentation?
20:40 – The power of the “from” address
21;22 – Subject lines that lead to more opens
22:25 – Why you need to set up filters in your email
23:11 – Tweaking messages
24:25 – Creating your email system
26:12 – Taking the stress away with autoresponders
27:27 – Email service provision
28:50 – Why James left Aweber
29:26 – Wrapping things up
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James: James Schramko here, welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. And I’ve tracked down one of the earliest people who I can remember from when I went online who was publishing good stuff back then and flies pretty close to the radar, in fact a little bit under it. And you won’t hear too much from my next guest out there in the public, because he’s quietly just doing his thing, making good revenue, and I guess he’s built up quite a reputation for just a few products that have made it out publicly.
I’d love to welcome to the call, Andre Chaperon. How are you going, mate?
Andre: Hey, mate. Top of the world. I’m doing good. It’s a lovely sunny day here in Spain.
James: Yeah, it’s great that you’re in a different place than when you started out. I think, back in maybe 2006 you were in London?
Andre: Yeah, I was. I started this craziness in 2003 and I was in London, living just outside of London, so doing the whole commute. And then it all started in 2003. We moved to Spain in ‘07, so..
James: Gotcha. So I think I started around 2006 was my real sort of first year. And by then, you’d already figured out a lot of stuff. You had a pretty powerful WordPress blog.
The “Soap Opera” Technique
James: You had an unusual style. It was very different to the American style. You actually had well-written content, and you used to publish case studies of actual results, and I remember you were posting your campaigns and I’m pretty sure that’s where I got a hold of the idea that you should track the results. And you were using tracking IDs and ClickBank.
And I was very interested in what you were doing there. I picked up some ideas from that. I recall about that time was when I started messing around with WordPress and knew that I had to track stuff. And then you went on of course to be quite the specialist in email writing autoresponders and you had a very famous course, Autoresponder Madness, which again when I bought that the first time around, you used to email your list occasionally and say, oh, you know, there’s something coming, keep your eye out for it.
And you’d do this with affiliate offers from time to time, and then you’d do it with your own products. But you have this very seductive email technique, and I think you call it “soap opera.” But I’d love it if you could just give it a little bit of a window into how this style of email marketing works.
Andre: Sure. I’m a shy, reclusive dude, which is why I don’t do these things because it just scares the life out of me, so when I was trying all sorts of things in the very beginning because I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t know what to do, I was just trying all sorts of stuff. And one of the things that really clicked with me, it felt so comfortable and right, was emails. I guess it’s the perfect medium for someone like me to communicate with a massive audience with.
You know, I don’t have to jump on video or on an audio thing, I just have to write emails. So yeah, I started writing emails early on and out of all the different things I tried, it was the one thing that I really enjoyed doing. And I just used to write stories. It just seemed intuitive to me to – I mean, I wasn’t any good at them back then, but I noticed that when I was telling stories about what I was doing and my experiences and family and whatever and people were just bonding and connecting with that, so that’s how the whole story thing started.
James: Well, of course stories are extremely popular these days. A lot more people have figured out that storytelling is what’s it about, whether it’s the great fraud, Lance Armstrong.. and he had like the ultimate comeback story, and you know, it draws people in, they’re fascinated by it, everywhere from Hollywood through to your humble email marketer. And certainly, I’ve been toying with this a lot, dialling in more personality, behind the scenes stuff.
I think it’s super compelling. You did get onto it nice and early, but one of the specific techniques you seem to do is to hold back parts of the story for future episodes, much like a TV series, so that you create that maintained interest.
Andre: Yeah. I mean, over time, I grow better at creating the stories and putting them out there. As I was learning more about what I was doing and honing the skill and the more I was connecting with the right people and reading the right stuff and you know, there was also an element of I used to enjoy watching TV series like “Lost” and “24,” and it just seemed to make sense that you tell stories across multiple emails. So nothing’s written in isolation, so you know, typically marketers write emails and it’s just like, one email is essentially the whole story, and typically, it’s blind as well.
You know, they just want people to click on a link and then go somewhere. I just took a different approach, and yeah, telling stories across multiple emails just seems perfect, and I use some of the techniques that they use in Hollywood, using the open loops and…Through the day, people want to be teased and it builds tension and people will enjoy… when there’s no tension and anticipation, people lose interest.
I mean, that’s just human nature with everything. It’s the reason why those launches, that whole product launch stuff works so well. It’s because it teases and there’s tension and all the cool stuff that us humans get drawn to.
Multiple notepads for storyboards
James: So would you say that it’s a good technique for someone listening to this to start thinking about how they could tie their emails together more or their communication is, you said, not in isolation. I did hear someone credit you with a technique of opening up a whole bunch of different notes all at once, and then writing your email series across multiple notepads so you could then transfer the story, much like you would a book with chapters.
Andre: Yeah. In Hollywood they use these things called storyboards, so I just borrowed that technique. I mean I don’t necessarily do it any more, though I still teach it because when you’re still new to writing emails in a certain way, it’s just easier to stretch out a whole bunch of blank notepads across your computer screen and then you can just start writing and the story will just flow across those things and you can visually see and cut and paste different elements from the emails between all the different windows, each notepad representing an email.
So you can just visually see the whole thing. So yeah, that’s a technique that I used, and it’s the one I still teach, because people can visually see what they’re doing and it’s easy.
James: It does make sense. I guess at the very least, I’ve been thinking about how can I mention what’s coming in my next video, to at least think about more than just the one email, kind of like a game of snooker, where you’re thinking about the next shot after – where will the white ball be after this one, so that you can line up for the next one.
Andre: Right. Yeah, yeah. I mean, all the good TV shows do that. I don’t know if you get E! Entertainment over there…
James: No, we don’t. There’s no TV in Australia, I probably forgot to mention that, just prior to your trip here for SuperFastBusiness Live.
James: No. We get a lot of American and UK TV here, as well as local content. It’s quite a mixed bag, because we’re such a small country, we don’t really have huge resources.
Andre: Yeah. You’re still using CRT computer screens there, no doubt?
James: No doubt. Yeah. No, actually, we’re fairly early adapters for stuff, but we are a pretty small market, so things that cost a lot like television production, we’re not so big into. We steal content from other countries. We license it.
So we get all the famous American TV shows coming here, but on a little bit of a delay. And it’s really interesting watching how people change their viewing habits with the advent of things like Apple TV. And a lot of people here I think are now using proxy VPN sort of facilities to be able to get accounts with NetFlix and…
Andre: Yeah. We don’t have NetFlix in Spain and although we’re connected to the UK, there’s NetFlix UK, but it gets everything like ten years after the US, after the US NetFlix streams just perfectly.
Do you need to be a great writer?
James: So let’s just continue on, then. We’ve got the idea that we can loop stories around. Some of the things that come to mind are, do you have to be a great writer to be able to write great emails?
Andre: Well, one thing’s for damn sure, and that is I wasn’t a great writer when I started. I mean, English is my first language, but I still joke I can barely speak English. It was the one subject I almost failed back in school. I’m dyslexic, so I’m rigged not to be able to write really well.
James: So you don’t have to be an English major.
James: Would you say that your emails fall under the category of conversational? So they’re not like formal English, they’re more just the way that you would speak to a friend?
Andre: Oh yeah. I mean, if would show the way that I write now to any English teacher, they’d fail me on the spot. And the only way to write better is two things: is to read more and write more. It’s the only way to get better.
Autoresponders vs. Broadcast Emails
James: Well, I’ve noticed you do some cool stuff too, like you share book recommendations with your audience, and you involve people in… I remember you sold off some of your old info products. I remember these things, they’re really quite unusual compared to your typical affiliate blast. This leads me to a few sort of related questions.
Are you doing a lot of autoresponders for your house lists, or are you a broadcaster?
Andre: No, I don’t do broadcasts very much. Well, yeah. I mean, follow-up sequences just are perfect for the type of stuff I do. And also the way that I see it is, when I write an email, I want it to… I don’t want it just to be used once. It needs to be used over time, so every piece of asset, every asset that I create, there’s an evergreen element to it.
And it can be used forever, over time, so loading up all these emails into a follow-up sequence that are essentially going to be there for years if I choose to leave them there, it’s just perfect. And then, every single person that comes into my sphere of influence is going to be exposed to those emails, and obviously those emails are all sequenced out in a certain way so it tells a story and it moves people along a predefined line, and it’s all very predictable.
When you’re doing broadcast, I mean, Ben Settle does daily broadcast emails, and again there’s nothing wrong with the different methods that…they all work, it’s just for me, I don’t want to write an email and hit the Send button and it goes out to X thousand people and that’s it. You know, the person that gets added to my list or adds themselves to my list the next day wasn’t exposed to an email that was potentially a really good one or something that could move the needle for somebody.
James: Yeah, I guess in my boat I’m a hybrid, because I send broadcast emails every day or two, but I also have a bunch of behavioral-based autoresponders that are fired… you know, the trigger or the sequence will happen when someone visits a page on my site, or they purchase a product, then they will be added to a sequence where they start receiving information that has been leveraged and structured. I wish there was a way that I could leverage a lot of my broadcast stuff, but I guess it ties in with my fresh videos.
Andre: I mean the hybrid of both works really well as well. It’s not that I don’t send broadcasts; I do, but follow-up sequences basically is the spinal cord of everything. So like you said, when the people visit a certain page or they trigger a certain event, it can launch a series of emails and you can’t do that any other way. And obviously, things that are more time-sensitive, you can send a broadcast over the top, and that works good. That works well.
James: Why do you think you have been held up as such a great email marketer? What sort of qualities do you think people keep talking about when they come back to you? Anywhere you go, any Facebook group, any forum, when the topic of email marketing comes up, you get Andre Chaperon, Ben Settle, and then some of the proteges are coming through.
You know, like the people who study the material and get sort of public out there, like John McIntyre. What are the things that you think people really admire the most about the stuff you’ve been doing?
Andre: I think the stuff that I’m known for the most is the soap opera sequences. It’s just the name I gave to sequencing of emails. I just call them soap opera sequences, because that’s kind of what it feels like. I think that’s the thing that I’m most well-known for.
James: Yeah. So there’s really a lot to be said for naming a process in your industry.
James: Get in there early with your name. I do it too. You know, I’ve got Own The Racecourse, and people refer to that when I’m not around. And that’s really one of the goals, I guess.
An unusual introvert
James: But it is kind of remarkable to me, because you have been very under the radar. You hardly ever pop out. But then you do some unusual stuff for an introvert. Like you’ll tell people when you’re going to an event or wherever and encourage them to meet you and have drinks. So I think you’re really making an effort as a… maybe you’re reforming.
Andre: Yeah. I’m actually strange. I actually do enjoy meeting people. It’s not like I need to hide in a cupboard all day long. It’s just meeting people in a little setting in a bar setting or whatever, that’s great and I love chatting to people and helping them out like that. It’s just when there’s a setting like this, I guess, I’m doing OK at the moment but yeah, if I were to jump on stage I wouldn’t know where to start and I kind of, I don’t know.
For me, I can articulate my thoughts when I’m writing. And as I’m writing, I get this clarity that happens. And I can’t get that any other way, so when I‘m just talking and ad libbing, I don’t have that level of clarity. I can’t articulate my thoughts in the same way, so things come out a bit jumbled, which is why I love writing, because it just, yeah, it’s cool. It works well.
James: Well, I think the real message in that is this is probably very encouraging for someone who doesn’t feel like they want to be on camera and upfront and center like a lot of the marketers out there. I’ll put myself in that bucket. My preferred medium is to just create a video or an audio off the bat and record it and then just leverage it. That way, I tend not to write much at all.
I hardly write anything. The real takeaway is that it really doesn’t matter what your style is. There is a way to monetize that, and to leverage it, and I think when you combine a few of them, that‘s got some real power as well.
Andre: Yeah, absolutely.
A common blunder
James: You said you meet a couple of people, you help them out. I know you’re in small group sort of mastermind with some very interesting people. I’m really quite interested in the sort of examples of things that you’ve helped people with in terms of… what are the common mistakes people make, that when you look at, you go, “Aww, OK, so if you change this you‘ll get a better result”?
Andre: You know, the biggest one is, the most simplest one, sometimes people think it’s too simple, I guess. But it’s just understanding the market, understanding your audience. People seem to, in my experience, anyway, they kind of just presume a lot, and they have these assumptions that this is what the audience wants, and it’s typically not the case.
So I do a huge amount of research upfront and it makes writing emails, whether you’re writing emails or talking on an audio interview, if you don’t know much about the people out there that are listening to your stuff, you’ve got a very little chance of saying the right things that are going to move that person in the right direction. So yeah, typically, that’s where they fall short, right there in the beginning stages.
James: Give me an idea or sense of some of the researching techniques that you do. Does it involve surveys, does it involve you reading and finding out stuff?
Andre: Yes, if they already have an asset, a list, it’s easy enough to send out questions, send a survey out to their audience. Typically when you meet people live, you get a feel for what they’re about. If you’ve been in that position yourself, which I think most marketers have, we’ve all started out doing, coming into this space as a nobody and figuring it all out, so we’ve all been there to some extent.
It’s not like we’ve just appeared in the marketing space and knew exactly what we were doing. So we can kind of connect with that audience, as long as you don’t forget that. I was speaking to a friend and client the other day and he was following what we teach about doing all this crazy research stuff.
And he said he was speaking to one of his clients in the golf space and he asked his client, “So tell me about your audience. Who’s the actual ideal golfer?” And his client said, “Well, every single golfer that swings a golf club,” which obviously wasn’t the right answer, because being a golfer, you’re already different and you can’t have one thing fits all.
So that golfer’s got his whole campaign redone based on doing all this research, figuring out who his ideal golfer is, which is an elderly, high handicapper person which, when you’re talking to that audience segment, it’s going to have a completely different effect to thinking that you’re going to just talk to everybody and help everybody that swings a golf club.
James: Yes, so it’s really zooming in on your market. I’m curious, do you do much segmentation of your email list?
Segmenting your email list
Andre: Yeah, that’s one of the biggest things. If you don’t segment your list, and you just stick with one big house list, it’s very difficult to figure out what to do. So yeah, I segment a lot, and there’s certain platforms that make it really easy to segment and some that make it really difficult, but, it’s something that you have got to do.
That’s one of the key things that I do is whenever I send out any, well not every email, but certain emails that say certain things, I will then code the link, that if somebody clicks that link, it tells me that they’ve raised a hand and they’re interested in a certain thing. Or if they purchase certain product within a certain category, I know that that person is obviously really interested in a certain thing. And then I can, you know, when I send out offers later on, or stuff later on, I can target the right people in it, and ignore the ones that aren’t interested in certain things.
So I certainly don’t hit everybody over the head, whenever I send out emails.
James: Yeah I’ve seen you sub-segment many, many times. I even remember you pretty much tried to take everyone off your list at some point. You’re like doing it full-on Howard Hughes. You really only want people to be there if they’re actually interested in getting your stuff. I wonder what sort of effect that has when you do that.
Andre: Yeah. It conditions people to pay attention.
Important parts of the email
James: Right. Now, let’s talk about other stuff like for example, how important are subject lines and the first line of the email and the send address?
Andre: Yeah. So, I don’t know if my response is going to be the typical response but for me, it’s because of the way that I write emails and I nurtured that relationship over time, the most important thing for me is the from address. I mean, when I send email, and I don’t mean for this to come out all conceited or whatever but yeah, when an email comes out with my name on it, it’s almost irrelevant what the subject line is, obviously the subject line is important but..
James: So you’re saying that the “send from” person is really important.
Andre: Yeah, it’s the most important factor in my book. I mean when a Frank Kern sends an email at you, you know, he can have any clever subject line. It’s really irrelevant. People that are following Frank Kern, when the email comes out and they see it’s Frank Kern they’re going to read it right?
James: Gotcha! And then there’s quite a different schools of thought on the subject line. I know there’s a lot of tricky subject lines that force people to open it. And then there’s the very factual, codified ones, that sort of make it very organized, it’s clear what it’s about, what category, even in brackets sometimes, and then a very factual headline, you know like, episode 40, topic of help, or whatever. Have you found a particular preference?
Andre: For me it just depends on the context. So if I have a customer list and people have come in, they’ve purchased a certain thing, then those next sequence of emails are more, they’ll be more structured, that will be in square brackets, the abbreviation of the product that they’ve purchased or whatever, and then it will be a subject line, and then in brackets at the end, it’ll say something like, email 1 of 10. So it just gives people an understanding and some clarity of what they can expect.
And again, I do that because it subscribed to lists as well. And it just makes things easy to set up filters from a client’s perspective, from a customer’s perspective, to set up filters in your emails, so then, you know, when the subject lines are predictable, it allows you to be able to set up these filters, and I know that my customers want the same thing. So you know, I hold them out by by creating some sort of clarity with the emails.
If I’m just sending out a broadcast or whatever email that I need to filter per se, yeah then it will just be my name and subject line, nothing clever.
James: Very cool. Alright, so, you’ve been very generous already with your time and I know how difficult these are for you. So let’s just recap here. You’ve got this great formula that involves sole properties, which more or less means, you’re thinking about emails over a whole sequence, you’re leveraging them because you’ve pre-loading them up and getting to use them over and over again. Do you actually go in and tweak some of the messages if they’re not getting their appropriate open or response rate, or flowing through to the next one?
Andre: I do. But I don’t stress out and get crazy over every single individual email. I mean there’s just too many emails to have to stress out about every single one, because the way I write these emails, you know, they all work together. Again, the emails are under isolation. It’s typically a story that happens over, I don’t know, let’s say two weeks.
So it’s that block of emails are going to have a certain result. And it’s no, no one individual email is going to mess up that system. Obviously, if I say something or swear in an email, and those customers aren’t into bad language, yes, then there could be a drop off. But that’s easy enough to see.
But for the most parts, I just write these blocks of emails and I’ll then measure the results, more or less. And yeah, I will really go back and tweak something because it isn’t working.
James: So how many emails would you have in your system pre-loaded? Have you ever counted them?
Andre: It just depends on the funnel, because every funnel has the end sequence of emails, and what I do is, that’s the nice thing with follow-up sequences, you don’t have to write a million emails. If you have a brand new follow-up sequence, you would write five emails that would span five days or a week, and you load them up there, and you create a system that once a week, you would write emails, and just add them to the end of all your sequences.
So you write an email in a day and you just load it onto the back of one of your sequences some way, over time, those things are growing. So you don’t have to move everything out the gate and have this perfect thing. It’s just over time, all your follow-up sequences become longer and more involved, and as people enter in your various funnels, they get exposed to these things.
James: So how many segments or lists would you actually be having in your system now? Have you got like hundreds of them?
Andre: No, I’ve got a handful of them I’d say. And there’s a whole bunch of funnels that I’ve removed the opt-in from them while I redo them for this year, just freshen them up a bit. So while I’m doing that, I just removed the opt-in form on those funnels and then I’ll have a link that goes somewhere, so there’s no way for them to add themselves to that list.
James: Nice. And then so you update them, I guess you freshen up some of the references and…
Andre: Yeah. And you know, stories change over time and you get new stories that you want to tell that are more relevant so, yeah.
James: Do you keep a story clipboard or something, an inventory of stories in your Evernote like I do?
Andre: You know, I probably should, but I’m not a very structured person like that. My wife’s the one that’s a lot more structured. I’m more creative so, yeah, I just have little sticky notes everywhere and try to remember stuff.
James: I believe that.
Andre: Yeah. I could be far more organized if I just had a decent system, like you.
James: Well it’s because you’ve got these autoresponders in the background that takes a bit of strain off of the here and the now, doesn’t it?
James: It’s a clever thing. The discipline is to keep growing it and doing it when you don’t have to, and that’s really interesting.
Andre: Yeah, I know it is. I still get emails from.. and then it hits the customer support and then Anita wanders over to me and says that “Someone’s emailed you about a certain thing,” and I’m thinking to myself, that’s a follow-up sequence or a funnel from that I didn’t even know existed still. I mean, these things are out there.
James: That’s funny. I get some bizarre old inquiries as well, like people find old pages or whatever, and no matter how hard you try… You know, it’s such an interesting topic, but having been around for a few years now, I think no one talks about this but there’s such a requirement to actually clean up and delete and roll up your old tail and refresh. You know? You’ve got to redirect domains and delete old sites and update stuff. It’s quite a big task to keep house on your inventory of stuff.
Looking into Email Provision
Now a couple of other things. In terms of email systems and sending reputations and stuff, I know you’re doing some stuff in the background around email service provision. Is that something you want to talk about?
Andre: Yeah, I guess I can talk about that. I’ve been an AWeber customer for nine years now, since 2004, I think. And I don’t know, I’ve got a love-hate relationship with AWeber. Their system’s simple but it’s really… if you want to do the stuff like you’re supposed to do, it’s really a very restrictive system. And I’ve used a whole bunch of other systems.
There’s no one autoresponder out there or ASP out there that really is the best of everything. Everything has their issues. I hate InfusionSoft for many reasons. And then there’s also things that they do that are really amazing. I was lucky enough to meet this German dude at the last Awesomeness Fest with MindValley and he’s got this amazing system in the German space.
And he showed me this thing and it just blew my mind. I was speechless for a little while. Yeah, it’s the best of everything. So we’ve partnered up and we’re going to be bringing his system to the English market and so, yeah, in the next few months we’re going to have a complete product out and yeah, it’s going to be pretty bad ass.
James: It’s something you’re excited about. Very cool. Yeah, I long left Aweber. It’s hard for me that they kept getting hacked, which was a pain in the ass. The really inefficient thing was this idea that they would store people in lists but not as an individual record. And as soon as I moved to a system that has tags, and has a one record per person, it’s really opened up a world of possibility.
And most importantly for me, it allows me to follow someone up upon unsubscribe, and I wasn’t able to do that before, because it was ridiculous that they would have to double-opt-in to receive their email about why they left my service. That wasn’t practical, and that feature alone has just made such a difference. So I wish you success with that.
I’m looking forward to catching up with you shortly, when you come and visit me here in Manly, and I’ll see if I can figure out a way for you to share some great ideas without being uncomfortable at our event, so I’m looking forward to that.
Andre: I’ll drink beer first.
James: Yeah, we have beer. There’s plenty of beer here, and I’ll get you doing some surfing lessons as well.
Andre: Oh, yeah, I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to the surfing and I’m not looking forward to the flight. It’ll be the longest flight I’ve ever done, so…
James: Oh, don’t worry about it. I just flew back from New Orleans yesterday or the day before, and really if you think about it, it’s just, watch a couple of movies, have a few meals, and maybe a little sleep, and then you’re here. Just like that.
James: Well, great to catch up, Andre, and thank you so much for being a pivotal influence in my online career and for publishing really good information that was factual and instructive and for putting out what is the most famous course in the email marketing space, because it’s good, and inspiring a lot of other marketers. I’m very grateful for that.
Andre: Oh, you’re welcome, man, and yeah, it’s been a good chat this morning. I haven’t felt uncomfortable yet.
James: There you go. That’s soothing to hear. Well, catch you later.
Andre: Good, mate, take care.
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