Ken: I will say that my primary service to my clients is to help them see how they can position themselves as thought leaders, position their companies as thought leaders, as well as their CEOs and their business owners. And to that regard, in that regard, I have published two important books that can help them do that, one is called “The Expert’s Edge,” published by McGraw Hill. And the other is my latest book called “The Speaker’s Edge,” published by Maven House Press. And what we’re gonna do is talk about, why email, as you’ve just said, is underrated and not used anywhere near to the extent it should be. And how effective and powerful it really can be.
Divya: Well, now before we start there are a few pointers for those who have joined us for the first time. So the deck has been uploaded in the handouts section. Feel free to use the resource. If you have any queries, feel free to punch them in the question panel of your GoToWebinar control panel, we’ll take them towards the end. I guess we are good to go. So Ken, I would request you to share the screen with our users and take the webinar forward.
Ken: Well, our topic is, “Why Email is Still King. Building Word of Mouth, Top-of-Mind and Profits Via E-letters and Eblasts.” And what I wanna ask first of all is whether, you as a company, or you as a professional, are what I would call a best-kept secret. There are a lot of companies that do terrific work with their clients and have done so for years, and to their clients to your clients; you are not a secret at all, you are the best. But there’s often a big mistake made, in that you keep it fairly quiet.
You don’t market or advertise the great work that you do so that a lot of companies are very frustrated in that they’re not getting the business that they know they should get, because they are what they call a best-kept secret, they don’t know how to break out of it. What I found when I began my business years ago, was that when I sensed that frustration, what I wanted to do was a boast, or as we say here in the United States, crow about things that I had done for my clients and things that I know were of benefit to many other businesses and potential clients out there. So, I started an email, it’s very, very unsophisticated, where I headlined it something to crow about. And I would just list three, or four, or five achievements that I had…I had just had with clients of mine. So that people would know outside of those clients that I was doing great work.
What I did at that point in my business career was to just gather as many emails as I could of all the various contacts that I had. And it was fairly a small list in the beginning, might have been 50, it might have been 100, and I would send out, well, let’s say, once a month or every few weeks, this list of something to crow about. That was for the purpose of getting the word out. And knowing that everyone checks their email, and checks it every day, and most of us check it multiple times during the day.
It was important to use email because I couldn’t make phone calls to everyone, and I couldn’t send letters to everyone. So, why not use email, it’s such an efficient, easy, fast, inexpensive service. So, I was getting the word out and I was also keeping the word out. That is to say reminding even my own clients and those people who knew what I did and were impressed with what I did. Reminding them that I am in-deed still in business and still doing great things. So, this is what we call a, “Stay-in Touch System.” And this is what every business needs to do, most businesses need to do it much better than they typically do.
Now, I look at the next slide, to tweet or not to tweet, and what I’m really looking at here are the various social media that grew up over the course of the years since I started that initial something to crow about email. We all know what they are and this is…at this point only a small sample of the kind of social media that’s available to us. Blogging was the first thing that started to appear and LinkedIn of course has grown monumentally over the years. Twitter, we all know what that is and at that, and Facebook have grown, and grown, and grown, and grown. And then I say, should you…are there, you know, there are just so many that we can’t, we can’t name them all. But, you know, what I found and I think is a big mistake is that, a lot of businesses are relying on these vehicles to the exclusion of other vehicles. Twitter is so easy for so many marketing managers to use and to do, but it’s not necessarily effective. So, email has kind of…begun to fall by the wayside in many cases and I think it’s a big tragic mistake, because email is still king.
There is no real research. You might be able to find a little study here and there that says the opposite of what I’m going to say here. But there is no real hard good research, no great study that shows that social media yields results for most companies. Yes, it’s helpful for some companies particularly B2C companies to get the word out, and keep the word out, and kind of be an adjunct to their advertising. But in terms of particularly, let’s say, professional services and kinds of services that involve human-to-human contact in a long-term way. There really isn’t anything except a little anecdote here and there that each of us might know of. That suggested social media really yields any great results.
There’s no certainty that people are really reading your blog for example, you must be tracking it, and you might be tracking it. But, you know, it’s still hard to know how much those people who are actually checking in on your blog are really reading it, reading it carefully and responding to you as potential business. And there’s no certainty that your target market checks in every day with your Twitter, with your tweets, with your LinkedIn, your Facebook, your blog, etc., every day. But everyone, every single one of us the world over, checks our email multiple times each day, every one of us, all of us. And when studies are done, email comes out ahead as specifically yielding results. You see this of, “Forbes Magazine,” “Harvard Business Review,” all the prestigious publications have done articles. And they always come to the same conclusion and that is, when you really get down to it, email is still the winner in terms of getting the word out about whatever it is we want to get the word out about.
Now, I add here my own experience confirms that it works, and my clients agree. I’m a big advocate of this and I work hard to get my clients to use email and putting out what I call, “Eblast,” and I do it as well. And I have to tell you, that when I started with that something to crow about, almost 20 years ago. And I started to be regular with it, sending it out at least every month.
I started to see prospects coming my way on a regular basis in a way that I hadn’t before. And that was a, I’ll say it’s maybe 19 years ago. And I have to say that ever since I started that, I have always consistently had perspective new business in front of me from people who are on my email list or from people on my list who told someone about me. I was reminding them as I said before, and I was keeping the word out about my services and the great things that I’ve done for my clients.
So, here’s what happens as a result of that. Repeat business takes place. I can’t tell you how many times I have had clients come back to me because we’ve done good work in the past. And then, even literally years later, when the time came that they needed my services again, they came back to me because I stay in connection with them. At this point, I do it week after week as opposed to month after month. Referrals and new business, as I just mentioned, those who are on my email list who may not need my services today may run into someone today who needs my services and I am the one on the top of mind.
I’m the only, if you will, thought leader that they have when it comes to some of my main services, which by the way include things like helping my clients publish articles, helping them publish a book, helping them develop speaking engagements, and things like that that have to do with becoming a thought leader. So, invitations to speak, by the way, at companies events will come my way, that’s happened to me many times. And that’s again is because I’m reminding people of my expertise, I get sought out by the media, so, I’m continually being asked to quote to make comments and quote on stories being developed by major media including, “The New York Times,” “Fortune Magazine,” and other high-level publications. This has made me what I call a, “Go-To Thought Leader,” it’s a reputation that’s developed for me. And so, I am no longer a best-kept secret. That’s what happens when you use email, when you recognize that email is still king.
So, how to get started? Well, I moved from that very rudimentary something to crow about system, years ago, when Constant Contact came on the scene. And that’s been a good system for me, a good process. What Constant Contact allows you to do is to format your emails among other things so that you can have this be more of a system rather than just kind of randomly sending out emails to some emails that you have on a list. I do want to add though that WebEngage who’s sponsoring this webinar, and iContact, and some other organizations, may be more appropriate if you’re a larger firm, Constant Contact’s very good for me, I have a very small firm of half a dozen employees. But when you really get into a larger system you tend to need something very, very sophisticated. So, just to let you know that Constant Contact, which I use, is not necessarily the right thing for you. But it has been good for me and what all these systems do is they’re relatively inexpensive.
They all have different costs of course but they’re relatively inexpensive for what they do. The great thing is that they allow tracking. I can actually track how many people on my email list are opening my email, are responding to it, are clicking through to a link, as I mentioned before, there’s formatting so that they can look really good. And they also, will allow you to link your Eblast to social media. So, I don’t ignore the social media that I mentioned before. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and my own website, as well as my blog, it automatically receives my Eblasts when I send them out primarily to my email list, they all go simultaneously over to these social media systems. So, I don’t ignore them, but I also don’t make them king, maybe I make them princes or princesses.
So, what I’d suggest also in terms of getting started is to start building your email list. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone out and spoken to business groups and asked them to raise their hands, if they have an email list at all. Do they have an email list put together of contacts, of customers, of prospects, colleagues, all sorts of relationships that we have in business. And do they have them together so that if they had to send something out today, would they be able to do it? And the answer is typically, some people do, some people don’t, of those people who do, I will ask them, do you use it? And a lot of people of that group will say they really don’t. But the important thing is to build it. So, whenever you…whatever you do today, whoever you meet, whatever business cards you exchange, whatever your emails you exchange that perhaps is somebody new to meeting you.
You shouldn’t ask them to…if you may put them on your email list, and also to say that they should do the same. So, every day you have to have a mindset of acquiring emails to add to your email list.
Now, whom to send it to? Well, segmenting your user base on the basis of user activity and behavior is also one of the advantages of using these systems. And I think Divya has a…
Divya: Ken, I’d like to interrupt…
Ken: I think I wanna let Divya step in here and add to this.
Divya: Yeah. So, Ken, while I’ve been sending emails for so long, say, two years now. And I’ve seen that now email blast do not work, like you cannot send the same email to everyone. You do have topics that have mass appeal that you can send to everyone. But then every time sending the same email blast to everyone in your contact list doesn’t make sense. Now, if you try that and you’ll see the open rates diminishing, keep one down to this air of you say automation, where personalization is the key to targeted and successful campaigns. So, I’ve seen, if I have targeted a group of people, send them relevant content, my open rates were way too higher than when compared to sending a blast to everyone else.
Like you could segment your users in different ways on their behavior activity or how they consume your content. So, for example, if there’s a B2C [inaudible 00:15:56] company, and there is a list of people you see their browsing history shows that they browse for wallets. And there are a group of ladies who look for dresses, so sending them all or incentivization offer based on say, wallets or dresses doesn’t make sense. Sending them personalized offers on the basis of their history makes more sense. And say, again, if you are a B2B company, so, say somebody registered for a webinar. Or, so, it is established that they were interested in a resource. So, sending them something from the knowledge base makes more sense. Now this is practically what I have felt. And it makes sense to me. By the way Ken, what are your thoughts about it?
Ken: So, I agree with that completely. I will say that sometimes there are tactics and I think this one, email is king, is still king is a good example. I mean, I believe everybody should know about what we’re talking about here today. No matter what might be their industry or what might be their profession. So, one can make a case for sending this one out without segmentation. However, there are also ways to segment even a topic like this. For example, some of my clients are attorneys, some of them are in finance, and some of them are management consultants.
I could customize a topic like this with examples from each of those professions that would help those particular professions and target markets of mine to understand better what they can do and how they can do in this case, this topic email is king. But again, I’ll say the great thing is to work with a company like WebEngage or Constant Contact, so that you can do the segmentation fairly easily. Because it allows you to do that, to set up your list so that they’re segmented, and it really takes away the pain and trouble of doing that.
So, I would move on to, what about content? And I would say one thing you want to be careful is not to just make it an advertising campaign. You know, 90% or 100% of it being ads, ads, ads, because people will kind of turn you off. If you take the kind of content that we’re…that we’ve developed here on this webinar for you, you know that we’re trying very hard to educate you to how email can still be king, and why it should be, and what you should do about it. So, this is important for you. And this is educational. And in terms of the kind of products or services that you have, you want to do the same thing.
In my business for example, I mentioned that I help my clients primarily get themselves published, get their ideas published. So, in that regard, what I wanna do is I wanna send…I wanna do webinars and send out email, email blasts or Eblasts as I call them, to educate my email contacts. How they can get their ideas published. How do you go about getting a book published? How do you go about getting an article published? And things of that nature. And that’s my current book, “The Speaker’s Edge.” How does one find speaking engagements?
So, this is done more as what we call, “Thought Leader Content,” rather than as an advertising item. And a few thoughts here about what thought leader content means exactly. If you have a book that you’ve published you could send an excerpt from your book. That would be helpful to your clients and contacts. Another thing you could do is if you’ve got a white paper or you have articles you’ve written, you could send those out. If you get quoted in the media, you should send out an announcement about that and then what that looked like.
A speaking engagement coming up or even one you’ve just done, you could report on one you’ve just done, or announce one that’s coming up. And if you have it, actually develop an E-letter, there are a lot of things you could do: tips, industry news, client case studies, it all needs to be customized to your particular business and service. But these are some examples of the kind of things that I call thought leader content that you should focus on.
Now, a lot of people wonder how often? Yearly, twice a year, quarterly, weekly, daily, hourly. I subscribe to certain Eblast like a lot of you do, let’s say newspapers, breaking news, “The New York Times,” that sort of thing. Those things can come up, come through, or throughout the day, almost hourly. That doesn’t bother me, that’s what I wanna hear. On the other hand, you have the other end, yearly where some people will send something out maybe at the holidays as Christmas, or even here in the United States, so Thanksgiving, or something like that.
Once a year is definitely not enough. What I find is a lot of people are afraid to send out too much or too often because they think that they’re gonna annoy their customers and their clients. I would say it’s more important to err on the side of annoying than to be invisible, because again, you become a best-kept secret. So, is it twice a year, I don’t think that’s enough. You want to keep reminding people about yourself. Quarterly, that’s better, getting better, ultimately though we’re talking about weekly or monthly, monthly at least and even daily if it makes sense for your business. You have to go buy your own, your own sense of what works for you. But I definitely would leave you with once a year is definitely not enough.
And metrics to track, you want to use your system too and to understand what your open rates are? How many people are opening them? And you click through rates, your click to open rate, and your bounce rates. The bounce rate is something good because you can take care of your….
Divya: Hey Ken, I think we’ll explain people because sometimes you will just forget how important it is to mark the metrics right. Because all the effort goes in vain if you do not quantify it. So, for the people in the webinar, you need to keep an eye on the open rates. That is how many people open your email. And the more important metrics becomes the CTR, that is your Click Through Rates. That is how many people clicked on your call-to-action. That is whatever action that you wanted people to take. Why I find it more important than all the other metrics, is because it exactly tells you if you were able to get the user to do the favorable action you were looking for. And then, yes, you need to have a high click to open rate and then a perfect eye on your bounce rate because the higher your bounce rate goes, it impacts your availability score.
Which is, if your email will land in the Inbox or in the Spam section, so, you need to reduce your bounce rate to as low as possible and keep removing the emails from your list that come under hard bounce. That is the emails which are wrong or the emails which will never be delivered. So you need to have a very high look on the bounce rate all the time. Ken, have you noticed any change in metrics when you changed or tweet your campaigns? Any trends that you saw?
Ken: Yes. I think…well, I think what I notice is…if I pay attention to it, then I start to notice various things. I’m not sure I could boil them down but I can say that you start to notice, well, what types of content works and what doesn’t. And you…for example, with what I like to do and obviously part of what I’m trying to do is the click through rate or the click to open rate would be, can I get somebody over to Amazon to look at my books? And it depends on the type of excerpt I might send from…about a book, and if I include, let’s say, a testimonial and this sort of a thing. So you’re experimenting, and then that way you’re able to find which ones work better than others. So, it’s a great thing to be able to monitor the metrics and do some experimentation.
Divya: Well, I guess that brings us to the end of the webinar. That was a really crisp, concise, and great station Ken. I really loved it to the core.
Ken: Thank you very much. I love this to the core too.
Divya: So, yes. We are open to questions now. Feel free to ask us as many questions as you can. We already have a question, Ken? It is Zoya [SP] asking us, “What is the best day of the week or time of the day to send an email?”
Ken: You know, I don’t think there’s a great answer at least I don’t have one. You might have one. I’ve experimented with different things, and I…interestingly enough for me. I’ve always heard that it’s bad to send it at the end of the week. But I have found that I have experimented with the end of the week like a 4:00 on a Friday. And I have found that over the course of the weekend, people have opened it and have responded. Now, you know, that’s me. Other people would say, Tuesday is the best day, Wednesday is the best day. You know, I think it’s just a question of experimentation. So, I don’t know if there’s one answer for everybody in terms of which day.
Divya: I agreed to you Ken, because even when I was doing my studies around this. I saw some people said, Tuesday 6 a.m., would be a good time for B2B companies. Sometimes people said, for B2C companies, weekend are a good time because people are more free. So, it depends from business-to-business and from a person-to-person. So, you need to keep experimenting and sending your emails at different days and different times and keep tracking your open rates. So, within a month you’ll have a great deal of data around your open rates and you can see at what time and day your email blast would work the best.
Ken: I agree.
Divya: Yeah. We have another question for you Ken. This is from John, who is asking us, “Should an email come from a business or from a person for a better open rate?”
Ken: Again, I think that there’s not one answer but I have to tell you that for myself, for years literally I was sending it from my business. That was because I didn’t want to see him as though my business was just me, that I had a staff which I did. Again, not a large staff but a staff, that I had a team. I started to wonder if it would make a difference if it came from me. And so, I experimented with that and I put my name, a comma, and my business, Emerson Consulting Group. And I think…I mean, I did see a higher open rate when I did that. Probably in my case, it’s because almost everyone on the list was somebody that I met as opposed to my team. So, I mean, it may be different for a larger company, but I did personally see not an incredibly different change but I did see an upward change when I added my name.
Divya: Yeah. There was something that even I would agree too because when we send something from our name, it goes via a person. So, people know that it is not an automated email or something on those lines. While sometimes there are businesses that are known by the name of their businesses, say B2C companies, so, they send it via their…or a businesses’ name. So, you could choose either of them. As we have already said, it differs from business-to-business and from person-to-person.
Well, there is another interesting question Ken. “So, there are multiple links in your email copy, how do you balance the attention you give to each one of them?”
Ken: I try not to bunch them up, I guess would be the answer to that. And I also try not to have too many of them. I will say that, I probably have about half a dozen or so. But I could…given the content, I could at times have it be much more 10 or 12, I found that the Spam filters sometimes. End up taking it away when there are a lot of links. So, I’ve just tried to keep it down. Again, that’s a sort of a guess work on our parts in terms of how many that might be, but probably roughly for me it’s about six links and I try to keep them at different items or paragraphs in my Eblasts. I try not to have them a little too close to each other.
Divya: Ken, you just mentioned something about a Spam Filter? Could you just explain to our audience what exactly a Spam Filter is?
Ken: So, a Spam Filter is the idea that automatically your email or Eblast is being seen as something you didn’t ask for that it was Spam, it’s being sent out to you without your permission. I think one thing we do want to emphasize that we haven’t so far in this webinar is that this is very permission-based. This is not buying email lists of people that you don’t know, but this is building your own email contacts list over time. And in that sense you do want to have their permission. So, when you don’t have permission, then, it may go into someone’s Spam Filter.
I will say that using a system like WebEngage or Constant Contact is very helpful with that, helpful for keeping it down so that it doesn’t go into a Spam Filter when it shouldn’t. So, that’s basically what you want to do, I believe that you want to try to keep it so that people are expecting your email, and they’re okay with it coming, and that way, it typically won’t go into a Spam Filter.
Divya: I guess that you would sum it up for the spam filter thing. We will take just one more question and I guess, which there are a lot of questions and I guess I choose, yeah, this one. So, Sam has asked us, “Should emails be mobile customized as well?”
Ken: Should emails be customized?
Divya: For the mobile?
Ken: Well, for mobile, yes. Oh, yes, yes, absolutely, absolutely. Without that it’s very hard to read on your smartphone. And so, my company two years ago, made a major effort to convert so it would show up on your mobile easily, easily to be read, and to be seen, and click through, and opened, and all of that. It does, it does make a big difference and, hey, that’s the world that we’re living in now, isn’t it? Most people are not…they’re on the go, we’re all on the go, we have our iPhones and all. And you know, we’re quickly checking our email and between meetings or, you know, a quick check on your email when you’re out and on the go. It’s important to be able to see the Eblasts that we send out. So, that they don’t get lost and forgotten when the person goes back to his or her desktop, or a MacBook, or whatever it might be. So, yeah, it’s a very, very important action that needs to take place today.
Divya: We are running short of time. So, if there are any more queries which are left unanswered, you could shoot them to firstname.lastname@example.org. I request Ken to share his details as well. So, you could subscribe to his email blast on www.thoughtleading.com and you should always go and have a look at “The Speaker’s Edge,” the book by Ken. And it will really help you improve your business metrics. Ken, it was great to have you with us for the webinar and thank you so much for being here and sharing your knowledge base with us.
Ken: Thank you Divya for having me and I implore everyone to take notice of what we talked about today because it’s very, very, very powerful antidote to being as, you know, as a best-kept secret.
Divya: So, keep tuned into WebEngage webinars. We’ll see you soon again with another webinar…