Welcome to the Advanced Email Marketing Course

Hi there!

First of all, I’d like to welcome you to this course, which is going to give you a lot of interesting and useful information about email marketing automation. You’ll learn how to ask the right questions, at the right time and, finally, how to organize the work to get it all up and running.

Email marketing is one of the most effective channels of digital marketing, especially when used with principles of marketing automation. It’s a part of the direct response marketing palette often said to bring an amazing ROI (some even mention 40:1) and that an average engaged subscriber is worth anywhere from $10 to $50, depending on the source. None of this really matters because these are all content fillers that people add to their email-related articles to tell you why email is important and why you should get on the email bandwagon. If you’re already here, you probably have a pretty good idea of what email can do for your business.

The truth is that you won’t find anything like this anywhere, especially not for free. The reason is in what I mentioned before: the entire email industry revolves around selling either information or technology. Or both.

But I’m not in the business of doing that. I believe that knowledge should be shared freely because it’s a positive-sum game: the more each of us knows, the higher the chances all of us will benefit. As if it’s not already hard enough to learn and implement something new. Charging for it just seems wrong to me.

This course will heavily feature the 9 Steps of Email method, which is something I created back in 2013. Since then, it underwent several iterations and has been used in many different scenarios and industries: from dating, SaaS, info products, services to job portals. It’s probably safe to say that it’ll work well for any digital product or service.

The method is basically a framework of steps required to take when building a sustainable, automated marketing program. Actually, they’re not steps per se, because they’re not sequential. You can think of it as a checklist of things that you have to do, but not necessarily in the exact order.

We’ll start with the basic questions like identifying your personas and value propositions (of the email channel). Then we’ll go over the flows to, inside and away from the product (opt-in, conversion points and opt-out). After that, we’ll build a matrix of messages and their respective triggers. Then we’ll dive into creating individual email messages, writing the copy, coding and QAing them. After that, we’ll talk about dynamic automatic segmentation, sending and actually delivering the message to the mailbox. The last phase is analyzing the data and identifying where we can improve.

But why just email marketing? Aren’t we talking about the automation of marketing in general?

Unlike Facebook and Google, email is a protocol of the Internet, it’s free, peer to peer and without an owner.

Let’s dissect that.

Email is a protocol of the Internet.

You may think of email as a marketing channel, but it’s actually a part of the Internet, unlike apps and services on the Web, like Facebook or Google.

Email is over 50 years old and its principles and protocols are encoded in the Internet itself, much like the Web or file sharing.

Furthermore, being the electronic inbox it’s actually a personal part of the Internet.

As a matter of fact, I like to say that

Email is the most intimate place on the Internet.

As such, it’s natural that there are very high stakes when it comes to it and that a lot of stakeholders on the Internet who’d like to keep it safe and secure. Interner Service Providers (ISPs) offering email services like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and now Verizon Media are the biggest players, but there are a lot of smaller ones you’ve probably never heard of. Practically every self-respecting ISP and organizations and companies like the SpamHaus Project, SpamCop, M³AAWG, SORBS, and many, many others.

Email is free. Well, sort of.

Being a protocol on the Internet, email is free the same way Internet is free. Hooking you up to it isn’t, though. Laying down all the infrastructure, cables, people to manage it and etc. has some intrinsic costs which you pay to your ISP to hook you up to the Internet, but from that moment on, using the Internet is free. So, it’s the same with email, if you could muster the knowledge and the hours to build your own email server and maintain it, it’d be free.

Sending an email to someone sure does feel free. But sending an email to thousands of people requires technology which, unless you know how to establish yourself, costs to have done for you or to use. Enter ESPs – Email Services providers like MailChimp, SendGrid, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, which rent you the technology to be able to send an email to thousands of different email addresses within just a few clicks.

But you own the list of email addresses, and that’s what separates email from other advertising platforms like Google or Facebook. It’s not an audience you’re trying to target, it’s a list which you can choose to segment the way you see fit.

The place of email marketing in your marketing mix

Zoom enough and most businesses will run on the following model:

  • attract
    Usually done through investing in ads (Google or Facebook’s networks), strong organic exposure (SEO or social) or affiliates
  • nurture or otherwise make believe they have the optimal solution
    Basically establishing authority and trustworthiness
  • convert
    From visitors, subscribers or free users to paying customers
  • retain
    Once in the system, make sure they keep paying
  • win back the disengaged ones

Here’s a simple graph I did for this purpose:


As you can see, email can be used for wither nurturing, conversion, retaining and re-engagement. When we combine that with an excellent ROI (from a properly done email marketing) and a relatively low click cost,

What about that low cost?

Let’s say that you have 10,000 emails to send to. And let’s assume they’ve all opted in, know well who you are and that some of them are actually looking forward to an email from you (more on this later).

Sending to 10K will cost you anywhere from $50 to a $100. Let’s say $75.

You open rate will be around 20%, because you’re sending to a clean and well-nurtured list.

Your CTR (clicks to opens) will be around 25%, because your message is enticing. Basically that means that every fourth opened will click through.

That means you’ll get around 500 clicks for $75. That’s $0.15 per click.

If you’re spamming (or “cold emailing” as some like to say), it’ll be much worse.

If they are looking forward to an email from you, because you’ve established yourself as an authority or a desirable brand, it’ll be much better.

Governing Principles in Email

Two basic principles governing email since it’s inception until today are:

  1. relevancy
  2. security

Relevancy pertains to the nature of peer-to-peer messaging: I send you a message, you receive it and reply back.

Things went south a little bit during the ’90s when people started to realize the power of the online mailbox and email SPAM was born. And up until several years ago things weren’t that great. So the users yearned for filtering solutions that fight spam and the companies answered by providing them.

That has shifted power from marketers to mailbox providers, who remain to this day the grand masters of the industry.

Nothing gets in or out if they don’t allow it.

If they put you on their black list, you immediately lose a big chunk of your list.

Of course, I’m talking about the big ones: Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft (with Hotmail, MSN and Outlook domains) and AOL. Technically, now just Google (Gmail), Microsoft (Hotmail, Outlook.com and MSN), Apple and Verizon Media (AOL and Yahoo).

Even if you’re using a premium ESP (Email Service Provider, like MailChimp) that takes care about a lot of technical aspects of mass email sending, you still have to worry about being relevant enough so that your in-email engagement percentage doesn’t fall way below a certain threshold that those mailbox providers have put.

Which, by the way, you can never know. Tough.

But, you might say “yes, but all marketing needs to be relevant! If I post a Facebook ad and it’s not relevant, people won’t click on it,”and you’re right. But…

What separates such “offenses” on Facebook or Google from email is that Facebook won’t block your account (unless you’ve done something really terrible) for not being relevant. They’ll just up the price of a click. Pretty much same with Google.

But email providers will block you. Put you on a blacklist, which then tells everyone that you’re an offender. It will be bad, you’ll have to beg them to remove you and if they won’t, you’ll have to redo your sending domain and IP addresses and set up everything from scratch.

By the way, this is what spammers do all the time. “Swapping IPs” they call it.

SEO is similar, in fact. Google might severely punish or even block your domain from being shown in the SERPs if you simply don’t abide by their rules.

Now when I think about it, SEO is becoming more and more similar to email marketing. It’s complex, technical, and requires relevancy, authority and engagement.

Security is the second principle that’s rooted deeply in email technology. This is the reason why the front-end technology of email is changing so slowly: almost no scripts are allowed in the email message body and, until recently, no GIFs were either.

Because email is such a private space, offenders who are clever enough to trick you might cause great damage. This is why mailbox providers prefer to lock off all the fancy functionalities. Better safe than sorry.

What I want to point out with this is that you need to embed both principles into your marketing automation program because without them, no matter how classy your copy, sassy your design or techy your code is, you’ll get nowhere.

You can’t expect anything else from email other than getting someone interested to learn more about what you have to say.

Let me repeat this:

You can’t expect anything else from email other than getting someone interested to learn more about what you have to say.

That interest is represented in a click through the link in your email.

That’s it.

You can’t expect nothing more.

But nothing less as well.

The goal of the first step is to help you identify the goals that you’ll assign to the email channel and get to you answer the three big questions.