Email marketing has been around for very long, it still has plenty of established ‘wisdom.’ Most of those ideas were inherited from old-school ‘Mad Men’ like Claude Hopkins, Eugene Schwartz, and David Ogilvy.
Buy, buy, buy, now, now, now is the all-too-common refrain. Grab your audience’s attention and do whatever it takes to “get ’em on your list” and make the sale as fast as possible.
Big idea-driven curiosity, over-the-top ‘ethical bribes,’ false urgency, and a dizzying array of upsells, downsells, cross-sells — whatever it takes as long as you sell, sell, sell…
And let’s be honest right up front — in the right markets, with the right offers, the right audiences, and the right resources, this approach can and does work.
Until it doesn’t.
If you’ve been in the boardrooms and around the water coolers of the biggest names in direct response marketing you’ll know they’re scared. The world is changing and their tried-and-true playbook of tactics is crumbling before their eyes.
On the surface, it’s sunshine and unicorns. But, behind the scenes, it’s common knowledge that the sun is setting on high-pressure, hard-sell tactics.
Change, and the new normal that comes with it, takes no prisoners.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has already shut down some of the worst offenders — plenty of 8-9 figure businesses disappeared as a result. Hundreds of millions of dollars in sales and thousands of employees gone — poof — overnight.
And big tech companies like Apple and Google are rewriting their rules, focusing on privacy and protecting their customers’ experiences (and their inboxes).
But, hard-sell tactics and unethical marketing aren’t the real problem.
The real problem is that conventional wisdom in our little corner of the universe says that these hard-sell tactics are the only way to succeed online.
After more than four decades of combined experience with our own projects and working with hundreds of clients, we know that’s just not true.
In fact, most of the time, those hard-sell tactics are counter-productive.
They’re often the result of something called the Law of the Instrument — better known by the phrase: “To a person with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
What are we supposed to do instead? We’re glad you asked.
Lean in for a moment and we’ll share a secret that might just change your world…
But, before we do that, we need to show you where we are and point the way to where we’re going. Let’s start by looking at a 10,000′ view of email marketing’s so-called conventional wisdom.
It all begins with an assumption (usually left unsaid) — that’s some variation of “I have to act FAST or people won’t buy and I’ll lose that opportunity FOREVER.”
That assumption leads to three perfectly rational decisions.
First, do whatever it takes to grab an audience’s attention! Curiosity-driven big ideas, over-the-top “ethical bribes,” social proof, contrived influencer / affiliate endorsements — whatever it takes to “get ’em on the list.”
Second, go for the sale immediately! Persuasion, pre-suasion, (maybe a little coercion…), engineered urgency — who doesn’t love countdown timers and limited availability notices to move a prospect over the finish line?
Third, maximize customer value! Upsells, one-time offers, cross-sells, forced continuity — and, if that doesn’t work, maybe a downsell to put some money in the bank.
Then, once they’re on your list, run them through your “email gauntlet” of back-end and affiliate offers to squeeze every last drop of value from your new customers as quickly as possible.
Sure, this churn and burn approach is hard work.
To keep the party going we have to add names to the list faster than we’re losing them. But that’s the business we’re in — gotta scale bro, right? Wrong.
So. Very. Wrong.
Here’s the problem with conventional wisdom (and this is the secret we mentioned before) — it’s a house of cards that’s built on a lie.
If you believe that you have to act fast or people won’t buy, the churn and burn email marketing philosophy makes perfect sense. But here’s the thing — most people who buy eventually WON’T buy quickly. Ever.
Let’s look at the numbers.
Legendary marketer Dean Jackson has analyzed his customers’ extensive data and found that only 15% of people who buy within two years make a purchase in the first 90 days.
Everyone else — 85% of people who buy — don’t make a purchase until AFTER 90 days
That means there’s FOUR TIMES THE OPPORTUNITY waiting for you after three months — if, and only IF, you don’t screw it up.
Let that sink in for a moment … it’s (very, very, very) important.
If you’re starting to feel a dull ache in the back of your brain (or the pit of your stomach), we get it. Once you see reality, it’s hard not to be affected by it.
The problem we’ve been told we need to solve isn’t really the problem. That, by itself, is hard to handle.
But wait, there’s more…
The bigger issue is that the choices we’re making based on what we think the problem is actually make the situation worse (Re-read that last part again…it’s very important…)
Let’s unpack this idea and see where it leads…
We think the problem we’re trying to solve with email marketing is that we have to act fast or we’ll lose an opportunity to get a customer.
If we believe that, we do our best to grab our audience’s attention as quickly as possible, we do what it takes to get a sale as fast as possible, and we pull out every trick in the book to maximize short-term customer value.
Then we run those customers through a never-ending series of offers until they stop paying attention actively (unsubscribes, refunds) or passively (ignoring our emails).
However, the problem we’re trying to solve in this scenario isn’t the real issue.
The overwhelming majority of our customers won’t buy from us in the first 90 days no matter what we do.
And, here’s the worst part — all of the things we’re doing to solve the imaginary problem make people LESS likely to buy from us in the future!
The Art of Email Course Outline
- Module 1 (Foreword, Introduction, Strategic Upstream Decisions, Strategy + 10,000′ View, How to Think About Writing, and the Nine Dot Puzzle)
- Module 2: Principles of Serialized Narratives
- Module 3: Soap Opera Series
- Module 4: Relationship Building Series
- Module 5: Value Newsletter
- Module 6: Bridge Emails
- Module 7: Story-Powered Promotions
- Module 8: Product Launch Series
- Module 9: Customer Onboarding Series
- Module 10: Putting It All Together
- Module 11: Advanced Ideas
Sales Page ( more info )
Andre Chaperon & Shawn Thing – Art Of Email with Live Workshop
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