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It’s time to get into the nitty gritty of re-engaging unconverted leads. David Bonney, Carey Ballard, and demand generation specialist Jared Kimball talk email subject lines, preview text, email layout, CTAs and more. It comes down to proving to your recipients that your email not only deserves to be read, but that you deserve to be engaged with.
Want to write better re-engagement emails? Check out our ebook, “The Small Business Guide to Writing Copy That Converts"
Also check out our free email template pack, “10 Emails You Need to Close a Sale.”
Scott Martineau: Hey, everybody. It's Scott Martineau. I just wanna introduce what we're gonna be doing in the next few episodes. We've had many listeners who have been asking for, "Hey, give us some more tactical advice. Help us know how can we do better at finding leads, closing our sales, creating better relationships with our customers, using automation." So what we're gonna do is we're gonna focus on that over the next few episodes and we would love to have your feedback. Our goal is to help you be successful. We want this content to be valuable for you. So please e-mail us at [email protected] and let us know if you like these. Let us know if you've got more and if you've got specific topics you want us to cover. Again, that is [email protected] We look forward to hearing your feedback [music playing].
David Bonney: Hello. Welcome to the Small Business Success podcast. My name is David Bonney.
Carey Ballard: And my name is Carey Ballard and I'm here today with our very special guest, Jared Kimball.
Jared Kimball is our senior demand gen strategist, which means what, Jared?
Jared Kimball: Basically I help develop strategies on how to generate leads for the business.
Carey Ballard: I love it. Kind of an important thing.
Jared Kimball: Yeah. It is.
David Bonney: And we love you for it, Jared.
Jared Kimball: Glad to do it. It's fun.
Carey Ballard: We do. And we're glad you're here because today we're talking about reengagement, which is fun.
David Bonney: Yeah. Reengaging those unconverted leads, people that you're capturing, the leads that are closest to the cash, leads where you can make a minimal investment, get them reengaged, drive them to an offer, and we can do that initially by taking your list and sending a broadcast a sequence of e-mails to drive them to a sale and after doing that now we have something that's tested and we can put systemically in for every single lead that you collect, drive to an offer if they don't convert, throw one to two week timer on there –
drop them right into that sequence and you always have that consistent – you have multiple converting funnels going on all the time in your business to create more monthly revenues consistently.
Carey Ballard: So if people are selling, you're selling, well, you're sleeping virtually when you get to that point. I like that.
David Bonney: That's a good concept.
Carey Ballard: I do too. I like that.
David Bonney: I wanna go to sleep actually after you said that.
Carey Ballard: Exactly. Well, we talked a little bit in the last podcast about what some of those high end strategies are. If you're selling a product what does your product reengagement strategy look like. If you are a service based business what does that look like for your business? We set some of the high level concepts out there. So now it's time to talk details. I wanna dig into how, tell me how. So what are some of the things we need to consider when we're planning and launching a program like this?
David Bonney: I'd specifically like the stuff to really focus in on within your e-mail marketing. We only have so much attention and focus. Where do we wanna place it? What are the key areas that drive conversion?
Jared Kimball: So there's actually like different things. If we just take a look at e-mail, for example, there's one key place that a lot of people forget is the from name. So, for example, if you're sending it from your company it actually doesn't really have as much pull as if it comes from a person. It's amazing how it really can impact your open rates on your e-mail. So one recommendation is have it come from yourself or one of your team members. That's a great way of having the e-mail come from somebody rather than just a blanket company name. Another place to focus on would be the subject lines. So subject lines are a key thing. Now if you look at most people who are very savvy in the inbox, which most people now are 'cause everyone's got e-mail or a lot of people. I think I read something like 4.6 billion people are gonna have an e-mail address by the end of this year. It's ridiculous. But a lot of people scan through and they look at the from line and then the next thing they look at is the subject line.
And they decide, "Do I wanna open this e-mail? Is it worth my time to potentially open this e-mail and read the content inside?" And so one of the things when it comes to creating subject lines like there's some cool little tactics that you can use to help increase your open rates and it depends on what you're offering. So one little formula you can use is what I call the questions formula. Ask a question. It doesn't have to be a long, in-depth question. It can just be like, "Hey, are you there?"
Carey Ballard: And it probably shouldn't be a long, in-depth question.
Jared Kimball: Yeah. Exactly. Keep it short and snappy. Something like, "How are you today," or "Have you noticed this?" Something that just tease up that e-mail that you're gonna now open with and that question is a great entry way to get that.
David Bonney: "Are you still dealing with the problem" –
Jared Kimball: Exactly.
David Bonney: – "my company solves?"
Carey Ballard: It's interesting. What you just described I think feels like you're talking to a person versus what I think a lot of companies do which is create a manufactured feeling, "From said company. Here's the six things you need to know today," dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah.
If somebody says, "Hey, from John Smith, are you there," that feels like something my friend would send me or somebody who knows me sends me. Is that the psychology behind getting people to open it?
Jared Kimball: Exactly. Because you're a small business owner. You're not like Apple. We're not Apple.
Carey Ballard: Which you can use to your advantage.
Jared Kimball: You can. Exactly. And that's one of a key thing is it's a differentiator and it's a way of really connecting with your audience.
Carey Ballard: I love that.
Jared Kimball: And whether they're the CEO of a company or you have a team member who's sending e-mails on your behalf.
David Bonney: And I remember you talking about how the preview ties into that that you can see in your inbox just that initial, "Hi, Jared," what that personalized intro looks like.
Jared Kimball: I've seen a lot of people, they'll send me e-mails and then you'll see it in Gmail, you'll see it in Yahoo, MSN, most e-mail service providers now have this preview text. What a lot of people do is they'll mistakenly take an image and make it the very, very first thing of their e-mail.
And then they don't put in any type of what's called alt text, which is kind of how do you describe the image. And then sometimes they'll describe the image, they'll say "E-mail banner."
Carey Ballard: I've seen a lot of that lately.
Jared Kimball: And so you're gonna see, "How are you today" –
David Bonney: Automatically _____.
Jared Kimball: – and then there's a question mark and then it's gonna say, "E-mail banner." And it's gonna be really weird for the person reading the e-mail.
Carey Ballard: You just – you delete most times. Let's be honest [laughs].
Jared Kimball: Yeah. That's exactly – or you just completely ignore or whatever. So you have to think about, "How do I wanna position this?" So you can actually – you can either go into it and you can code it if you know how to code HTML. You can set up preview text and you can designate that or make sure if you're gonna open up with some sort of image you have the alt text there 'cause that will be pulled into the preview text or you just –
Carey Ballard: And that they're looking at that alt text from the perspective of somebody who's only seeing the alt text. You don't write something very corporate or machiney sounding, say, "This is a girl on the beach," or something like that if that's what you're…
Jared Kimball: Yeah. Well, I would recommend like if you're gonna open up the subject line with something like, "Have you noticed this lately," say that's your subject line. The alt text on the image could be something like –
"I was checking this thing out the other day and it really blew me away."
Carey Ballard: So you're really inviting somebody into that e-mail.
Jared Kimball: So you're really – you're just – you're not even – 'cause it's different than a web page, for example, 'cause with a web page you're using alt text to describe to the search engines what you're trying to describe this e-mail as whereas in an e-mail search engines aren't calling that. So this is how you can connect with the audiences plus if they don't download the images or load up the images they can see that text as well.
David Bonney: And for people that aren't strategy specialists like yourself, what is the alt text? Where do they find it? What is that – how do they find that to go ahead and make sure that they can make changes to that?
Jared Kimball: Oh, yeah. Pretty much any e-mail marketing tool whenever you put an image in it it'll have an option for alt. It'll say "A-L-T is alt text" or it'll say "alt text" and you just type in the text right there.
David Bonney: Beautiful. That's simple.
Carey Ballard: And should it almost always be a sentence? Are there some rules or does it – are you really just looking for something to invite them into the conversation?
Jared Kimball: Yeah. I'd say that's only if the image is at the top and you're trying to get into the preview text. If you just open up straight with text and you don't have a picture at the very top or an e-mail banner then you can just write whatever text you want. But it's also a great way if you do have an image and let's say you wanna track opens and you only know when people open your e-mail when they download the images. So you could have a picture of you and your family in the e-mail and in the all text you'd say, "This is a picture of me and my happy family." And that gives the person the incentive, "Oh, well, I'll need to load the images here," and now you've got an open. That's another wave of kind of looking at that too.
Carey Ballard: Very cool.
David Bonney: And one of the reasons why your from, that subject line, and that preview, when it comes to your open rates, if you double your open rates and every other single point of conversion in your marketing campaign is the same you've doubled your sales. The open rates are so critical 'cause it's at the top –
and the people that open, those are the opportunities that you actually have to position your offer and drive through. So don't let that paralyze you, but also allow that to drive you to really listen to what Jared's talking about here in terms of the detail of that from address, of that subject line, and of that preview because that's really an area where you can invest some time and energy to learn and it'll really, really pay off for your conversion numbers.
Carey Ballard: I think it's crucial and I've said this many times when I've presented. I have 10,000 unopened e-mails in my inbox, which to me is heartbreaking because I know that there were 10,000 plus hours that went into work that people spent writing, figuring out what to say. You're gonna spend all this time on the offer, you're gonna spend a lot of time on what you wanna say and how you wanna say it and the design of the e-mail. Put that same, time, energy thought into the header, into the subject line to make sure that you actually get in front –
of the people that you worked with so hard to create this message for otherwise you're gonna be one of my 10,001, which you don't wanna be. So I can't – where I don't want it to be paralyzing, I also don't want it to underestimate the importance of that space and those pieces.
David Bonney: Yeah. So we've gone through – we've looked at those to try to drive open rates. Then what are some of the details of execution after that point?
Jared Kimball: Yeah. So it all starts with the layout of the e-mail. You wanna look at the intro because typically you have different people who have a different relationship with you as a business owner. So one of the things you can do is there are gonna be people today that just love your company, they love what you're doing, they're really well-connected, and you can easily put the call to action right at the top and just simple like, "Hey, I created this new thing. It's called this. Go check it out." But then there's gonna be people who are like, "I'm not gonna check it out 'cause I don't really know exactly what this thing is," and then you take that next section to explain what that thing is.
Carey Ballard: Got it.
Jared Kimball: And dive into the details of it. So when it comes to like intros though there's different ways on how you wanna position it because you're trying to figure out a way to hook people and get them to continue reading down. So there's like little ways you can do it.
David Bonney: Yeah. You got my attention, are you gonna be able to keep it?
Jared Kimball: Exactly. If you hook them with a question, how do you follow-up with that question and kind of – one of the things I believe in a lot that works really, really well and helps drive buyers, not just Looky Lou's, but actually buyers is by using stories. How can you take that question, you can take a story and just create something where it's like, "The other day I was walking down the street and this person just dumped hot coffee all over me." Right there you've hooked them like, "Whoa, what happened next? What did he do? Did he freak out? Did he get mad? Did he just say, 'No worries. It's okay'?" That's a great way to get people in is by using stories.
Carey Ballard: It actually increases the value of your product. They've done studies that have shown that if you –
invite people into your world with a story or you tee up the concept or whatever the offer is with a story surrounding it it increases the value of that offer for the viewers, which I think is a fascinating additional power point for that.
Jared Kimball: Yeah. Business owners, they'll get into this thing like, "I've got create value. How do I create value?" And all you have to do is just share some personal stories or share situational stories or examples and people get value from that because they start interpreting it through their own world and through the way that they're thinking. Unbeknownst to you the way that you're communicating the story it could relate with something that happened in their past or something that happened in their life that just makes a good connection and creates this value for them inside them.
Carey Ballard: Again, going back to making it human. Stories are one of the quickest ways to get to peoples' core emotional set.
David Bonney: Yeah. That reminds me of Made to Stick and the formulas that they have in that they basically break it all down in a nice little acronym that's very sticky.
It's a great, great book to go read if that's something that you wanna learn more about. So when we're talking about that story, when we're trying to create that intro in a way that, like you said, is catchy and it hooks them, what are some other things that that we need to be able to focus on with that immediate intro to make sure that we guide people in?
Jared Kimball: Totally. One of the things you don't wanna focus on is creating a huge block of text because what happens with the way people read online versus on like a physical printed paper is very different. So you wanna add in white space. Don't be afraid to have one sentence line, white space, one sentence line. You don't have to necessarily follow true like MLA style of writing or anything like that.
Carey Ballard: You're offending me on some level. I'm just kidding [laughs].
Jared Kimball: But it's about making it –
Carey Ballard: Use proper grammar.
Jared Kimball: Yeah. Definitely use proper grammar.
David Bonney: The tension that is in this room right now. It's thick, thick.
Carey Ballard: I get what you're going for though. You're trying to make it digestible to the reader in that format.
Jared Kimball: Yeah, 'cause the way the eyes read online is just totally different. So when you add the white space it makes it easier and consumable for the reader. So that's definitely a big thing to focus on too.
Carey Ballard: You mentioned a tool, I think it was Hemingway, is that a tool that could help break up jargon language? 'Cause I think the other thing that people struggle with is they wanna write a lot and then they wanna write about it in the way that they talk, which might not be the way people listen. So the Hemingway app, is that what you called it?
Jared Kimball: Yeah. The Hemingway app. So it basically is just a tool you can use online. You just Google "Hemingway app." We'll probably put it I'm guessing. With that you just – you'll take your text that you've written and you can paste it right in and it'll simplify it. So it'll take if you're writing words like if you utilize the straight piece of this thing or using very complicated words it'll help simplify –
those words and say, "Just use the word 'use.'" It's much easier. Instead of chasing and pursuing you can just say "go get." It just simplifies some of the words and makes it easier for people to read.
Carey Ballard: Got it. Makes it more conversational too actually, which is what at the end of the day I think part of the problem is we use e-mail to communicate on a daily basis and when businesses use it they use it to educate and you shouldn't. Use it to communicate and invite people in.
Jared Kimball: Yeah, and remove the jargon. So if you've got lingo in your world, like if you're a pool company you're gonna use stuff like, "We use Pebble technology." The consumer has no idea what Pebble Tech is. They're gonna be like, "Oh, well, what is that?"
Carey Ballard: "Does it make my pool look nice?"
Jared Kimball: "What is Pebble Tech?"
David Bonney: Yeah. And I think from a psychological level we have to evaluate our own e-mail consumption habits and when we open up an e-mail we are literally asking ourselves, "Do I wanna spend the time and energy to continue to read this?" And if I look at that opening paragraph –
and it's long that means I have to make the decision right then and there, "Do I wanna invest that time to engage in this long paragraph?" If it's shorter I'm much more likely to. If I see that type of jargon that I don't understand I have to then ask myself and we do it subconsciously, but we will. Watch your own habits. You will leave that e-mail. You will leave your inbox. You will get out of that. And we wanna make sure that we don't ask for that type of investment right off the bat because we wanna be able to provide value and once we provide value then they'll be more willing to give that investment of their time and energy to continue to consume the copy.
Carey Ballard: I think it's interesting that you bring this up 'cause I view almost every e-mail as if, "Prove it to me." Everything is "prove it to me," and I honestly have to say I have a very negative view of I don't wanna read it. You have to make me want to read it. It's not that I wanna read it and you have to turn me off. I'm already turned off. You have to turn me back on to pay attention to it. And so not to scare you, but again, to remind you how important every aspect of the e-mail is.
So we've talked about from. We've talked about subject line. We've talked about keeping the intro punchy, short, crisp, non-jargony. So what else? What else? How else do you prove it to the reader?
Jared Kimball: I'd say one of the things to focus on is the call to action. So I kind of hinted to it a little bit earlier, but you have people who have a different level of relationship with you. So if you put a call to action link near the top the people who have a close relationship with you, they're just gonna click through because they're like, "Oh, yeah. He always creates good stuff," or "She always makes good stuff," or "I'm always interested in their products or learning more about it." They're just gonna click right through. But then other people who are newer in your funnel or might not know you as well they're gonna be like, "What is this thing that you're trying to tell me?" So you have to explain it more and then give them some other call to action. Typically, right then and there you're gonna give them maybe a button as the next step and then you can have – there's gonna be people who also will just skim right through the e-mail and then barely read anything and then they'll go all the way down to the bottom –
and a good technique you can use is put in a PS. There's people in there who will just go straight to the PS and you can emphasize, "So you probably skipped over this entire e-mail and if you did this is basically what I talked about. Here's the one sentence you can go here and found out more," and then you make a link.
Carey Ballard: I thought I was the only one that did that. I always go straight to the bottom. That's a great tip. I love that.
Jared Kimball: Yeah, but the key is I kind of believe in the framework of three. So how can I put three links that go to the same place?
Carey Ballard: Interesting.
Jared Kimball: An opening link, a mid-link which is typically some sort of button, if you can do that that'd be amazing, and then you have that last PS.
Carey Ballard: That PS. And are they always different links? Like are you inviting them in in different ways and they're driving to the same thing?
Jared Kimball: Yeah. One of the things that people love to fall into is "Click here." That's okay and you can do that, but why not just take some of the words that you're writing that are related to whatever it is you're selling or you're promoting or you're trying to invite people to go to and just use those words.
If it's, "How I beat this thing," and make that your entire link. There's nothing wrong with that.
David Bonney: And one of the things that I see that can be really common is people will bury their CTA's. They'll make them difficult to find. They bury them in text and it's just the very placement of it there's a bit of passiveness to how we're executing on it. I love how you're calling out there's three of them. They're gonna be clear. They're strategically at different points in the content, and when we do put them there whether we use buttons or links there's gonna be a very specific language that we're gonna put on there. We're gonna make sure that it's clear what the CTA is and what they need to be doing next and what they need to click.
Jared Kimball: Exactly.
Carey Ballard: That's perfect. Great.
David Bonney: And I think one of the last things that I would say about that is we can be really passive about trying to sell our stuff as small business owners, but I think we need to look at in terms of if we really provide something –
valuable to the community that we're serving, if we don't create clear calls to action, if we don't help them understand, "You have pain or you have a problem right now, that's why my business exists." And if we don't make it easy for them to be able to take advantage of their offer and to be able to cure their pain you're really not doing anybody a favor. People are not put off by you positioning your offer. Everybody knows that if we do something of value that people are gonna expect money for it. So don't be timid. Don't be passive.
Carey Ballard: Recognize that you're an expert.
David Bonney: And that does not mean be salesy. Understand you're not a sales person. You're a servant and you can't serve anybody if you don't allow them to understand what they need to be doing and how they can take advantage of what it is that you're offering to solve their pain.
Carey Ballard: I love that. Thank you for that. That's perfect. And I think it's probably one of the biggest points when it comes to people writing content is they're fearful that they're gonna come across as arrogant or pushy and you might. So be careful.
Don't be pushy, but if you're really clear on what value you provide and you use this context to get people to understand that, that's a value to them and it's a value to your business. So I think that's it.
David Bonney: Yeah. And I think overarching here, guys, a lot of what we're talking about is we wanna look for incremental improvement. So we're just taking what you're doing today and if you take that and you make some of these tweaks and adjustments, if you get a little bit more calculated about your from line, about your subject line, about your intro, about your CTA placement, this is not about overhauling everything that you're doing. It's about creating that incremental improvement across all of those areas, that's going to drive improvement across your conversion rate. And as we talk about all eight strategies across your perfect customer life cycle, if we can drive incremental improvement across all of those areas that's where we start to see a 50, 60, 70 percent increase in your revenues. And it's when we overthink it and we get too far into it and we try to make too much improvement that's not what we're trying to do.
We're trying to create incremental improvement in your business that you continue to build on, continue to build on.
Carey Ballard: And I would say to that my best advice is publish, publish, publish, learn, learn, publish, publish and watch what other people do. Follow your favorite brands. Follow all sorts of people in all different industries and you will learn so much from everybody's perspective on it. Keep a file of all your favorites. Keep a file of all the stuff you hate just to keep reminding yourself what not to be when you grow up. But I think those are some of the tips to keep you – keep publishing, keep testing, keep iterating, keep e-mailing.
David Bonney: Absolutely.
Carey Ballard: All right. Cool.
David Bonney: As we move forward with this what we wanna do is we wanna dive into additional strategies within your perfect customer life cycle. We wanna dive next into your collect and offer strategy, how you collect leads, drive them to an offer. And getting this are engagement campaign and strategy up and running is critical not only for the reasons that we talked about now, but once we start optimizing that collect –
and offer strategy you're gonna have a reengagement strategy just sitting there waiting for all of those unconverted leads and we can just connect those together. We'll go through the same type of routine. We'll wanna get high level talk about what it is that we're doing and why we're doing it, break it down to the next level, and then try to get into the nitty-gritty. Please leave comments, subscribe –
Carey Ballard: Rate.
David Bonney: – tell your friends, rate. Do all of that stuff. We appreciate everybody that jumps on here with us and we're having a lot of fun doing this.
Carey Ballard: So thanks for joining us again. If you do wanna take a look at some templates that we've had, we've got some in the notes. There's the "Ten Most Essential E-mail Templates" that you can download and take a look at today. Thanks again for joining us on the Small Business Success podcast. Thanks to Jared Kimball for joining us. Don't forget to rate, share, and subscribe and for more information about the Small Business Success method and other great content go to keap.com [music playing].