Gary V, Jay Baer, and 500 Startups all missed this email marketing opportunity

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My life is overtaken with email marketing. I even built a startup that runs primarily on email. Over the past 12 months I’ve written, designed, and pressed “SEND” on well over 1 million emails. I also happen to read A LOT of email newsletters, which means I go through the sign up process multiple times a week. I present you these numbers not to share the sadness that is my life, but to back up the claim I’m about to make: such marketing luminaries as Gary Vaynerchuk, Jay Baer, Ann Handley, and 500 Distro (among others) have completely overlooked a huge opportunity to make an impression on their audience through email marketing. Here’s where they dropped the ball….

Recognize this trail of messages immediately following a newsletter sign up?

email marketing best practices

email marketing best practices

EMAIL MARKETING IS ABOUT CATALYZING ATTENTION

If someone gives you their precious email address, you’d want to take good care of it, right? What that typically means for marketers is 1) sending the right emails at the right time, 2) sharing contextually relevant messages and 3) making your intrusion in the recipient’s inbox worth his time. In plain speak, don’t waste anyone’s time, don’t be a pushy sales dick, and stand out by being interesting / fun / unexpected.

Considering the first emails you send after someone subscribes are the ones with the highest open rates, you’d assume those first few touch points would check the boxes above, hardcore. I mean, these are certainly considered warm leads, are they not? Errrrr….not so much.

How the pros do email marketing automation

Assuming you use an email service provider like Mailchimp, setting up a simple sign-up form and subsequent automated emails is par for the course. Here’s how it almost always looks from the user’s POV:

sign up -> thank you page telling you to check your email for confirmation -> email asking you to confirm your subscription -> thank you page for confirming -> email confirming your confirmation

Still with me? That process right there includes at least five touch points with a brand new audience member. That’s five chances to make an impression. Five chances to wow them. Five chances to convince them to stay opening your future emails. Five chances to stand out from all the other boring ass newsletters they unsubscribe from every day. Why then do some of the best minds in personal branding and audience engagement treat these opportunity areas like every…other…marketer?!

gary vaynerchuk

The dude is a content creating MACHINE who builds audiences left and right and gets paid to share his outspoken ideas on many different stages. I wonder how he takes advantage of these automated emails?

 

Gary V email marketing

Gary V email marketing

Gary V email marketing

And then it just bounces you to his homepage where you’ve presumably already been. No landing page or anything. The same exact image throughout every single touchpoint.

You’re mailing it in, Gary! And he writes about email marketing’s value:

They key is the upfront promise, and then the actual delivery on that promise. If you promise amazing, exclusive content and you deliver, you’ll keep intrigue high.

jay baer

Jay calls himself “the world’s most inspirational marketing and online customer service speaker” and boasts almost 200k Twitter followers. Alright, how does he do it?

Jay Baer email marketing

Jay Baer email marketing

Jay Baer email marketing

Jay Baer email marketing

Pretty boring and drab. Not tailored to a warm lead in the least.

At least he directs you to his other website instead of back to his homepage.

neil patel

Neil Patel = Content Marketing, that much I know. And, finally, something worth applauding:

Neil Patel email marketing

Like many marketers do, he requires no double opt in or confirmation. And right after signing up for his newsletter, he bounced me to a sign-up page for his next webinar. This man gets it.

Ann Handley

A WSJ bestselling author, she followed Neil’s lead and ditched the double opt in and confirmation. However, after I hit submit it bounced me to her homepage with the sign up now bar yelling in my face.

Ann Handley email marketing

Chris Brogan

Chris was one of the first people I followed on Twitter many years ago.

Side note, was filling out my info in the sidebar when this pop-up appeared and got in the way…asking me to sign up for your email marketing. Maybe it’s not timed properly?

Chris Brogan email marketing

Then, this:

Chris Brogan email marketing

Chris Brogan email marketing

Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. The confirmation page has an unexpected picture of Chris screaming (cute, bro!) along with a couple “learn more” options to check out. The confirmation email could be a little more market-y, but better than the bland, grey Mailchimp ones.

Chris Brogan email marketing

Mehhhhh.

500 Distro

These dudes are beasts and their daily afternoon growth tips newsletter is one of my personal favorites. But…

500 Distro email marketing

500 Distro email marketing

500 Distro email marketing

Here we go again. Stab myself in the ears with how bored I am of these emails. And then they bounce me right back to their homepage, where I’ve already been! What about all those “zany pictures” and “weird gifs” you promised? Why do I have to wait to get there??

MAILCHIMP

OK, how about an email marketing service provider? They MUST be killing it, it’s their friggin business after all.

Mailchimp email marketing

Mailchimp email marketing

Mailchimp email marketing

Mailchimp email marketing

At least giving me the chance to change my email frequency is SOMETHING, though not very exciting, is it?

Side note – dude, you are responsible for helping MILLIONS of emails get delivered and YOUR EMAIL is going to my Promotions tab. Ut oh.

Mailchimp email marketing

email marketing and lawyers

The only reason I can conjure up for all these pale-ass emails is CAN-SPAM fear, but I’m not advocating that anyone violate laws here. Nor am I telling you to skip double opt-ins or email confirmations. To the best of my knowledge, adding some flavor and relevancy into these emails won’t hurt your delivery.

do like louis c.k. does

The classic structure of a joke involves a set-up and a punchline. The set-up gives the relevant backstory to the audience and leads them down a certain path. The punchline drops in a twist that takes you some place you did not expect to land.

A priest, a minister and a rabbi walk into a bar and the bartender says:

“What is this, some kind of a joke?”

If the expectation for these emails is logistical, transactional, vanilla snoozefest stuff, you can use that to your advantage. Make the first 4 or 5 interactions you have with your audience fucking cool instead.

Since I regularly use Mailchimp and by the looks of it so do many of the peeps called out above, let me demonstrate how easy it is to customize these emails.

In Mailchimp, go to Lists -> [choose a list] -> Signup “thank you” page. Here you can upload an image, write your own headline, and add any copy you want. Or you can kick the subscriber over to a landing page, which is like bonus awesome points.
Best email marketing practices

Now go to Opt-in confirmation email. Again, you can add an image and mess with the headline and body copy, though you want to keep all the included opt-out copy from Mailchimp.

Best email marketing practices

Now head to Confirmation “thank you” page. You can customize this just as the previous messages, or bounce ’em to another landing page (see that Neil Patel example above). What’s new here is the “continue to our website” button, which WAY too many email marketers ignore. Why direct me to a place I’ve already been when I started this entire process? Give me something new, something engaging.

Best email marketing practices

 

Now head to Confirmation “thank you” page. We’re given a little less leeway here, as you can’t delete the “For your records” part. But all other options remain.

Best email marketing practices Best email marketing practices

i guess dave is better at marketing stuff than gary vee

Maybe. Probably not. My hair is nicer, though, more flowy, able to adapt to a multitude of societal and geographical situations.

Though I should probably check my own email automation, huh?

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One response to Gary V, Jay Baer, and 500 Startups all missed this email marketing opportunity

  1. Great article Dave, I will make the changes you’ve suggested
    And you definitely have better hair than Gary Vee.

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