Feeding Your Fish — I’m going to stretch a metaphor and then mix it up — On purpose! I’m going to talk nets, bait, funnels and fish. Bear with me. I think this is a fun, simple way to think about both email captures and autoresponders.
Imagine your website is a boat, out on the big blue ocean of the Internet. Now let’s envision your prospects as fish. Your job is to always be filling your nets with big hauls of these fish. These fish are what keeps your sales funnel full. (See? Metaphor, mixed!)
You need a continual influx of fish/prospects and – once you bring them onto your boat – you need to feed them something to keep them alive.
So if your prospects are fish that makes your email mailing list a net. You need to attract as many fish into that net as possible. How do you do that?
You use bait!
The bait you use to initially attract your fish into the net can be anything that’s particularly tasty to them: a free eBook, a coupon of some kind… whatever you want.
What kind of bait you use to initially lure them and hand over their email address is up to you.
So okay, you lured them in. Great job. Now how are you keeping those fish from dying? What are you going to feed them?
Keep Them Alive
To convert them to a sale you need to keep them alive!
You’re going to continuously feed them, day by day, bits of fish food. And in Internet marketing parlance, this fish food = an autoresponder.
Dribbling out interesting, compelling content to your email list over a period of time is the best way to keep them interested, engaged, alive.
Can you imagine how many prospects you’d convert if you had the time to sit at your computer at the start of every day and shoot out a fun, engaging email to your entire list, day in and day out?
Pfft. Dream on, right?
Don’t despair, though! The good news is that you don’t have to email them each and every day, forever and ever.
In fact, the best time to talk to those new prospects is right away. As in the first few days and weeks after they sign up.
So really, depending on how much time and effort you want to put into this, we’re only talking about a range of 10-25 emails spread out over time.
The even better news is that you can automate the heck out of this.
Any email provider worth its salt has an ‘autoresponder’ feature, where you can load in those emails beforehand.
So let’s talk about what kind of food you should load up for those fishies.
Before we get into what to say in your autoresponder emails, let’s talk about how you should be saying it. Let’s talk a bit about tone.
Prove Yourself, Subtly
When prospects sign up to your list they want to be assured that they didn’t make a mistake. The fish food can’t be junk food, in other words.
They need to know that they have created a connection with a proven expert in the industry… not a spam artist who’s going to make them rue the day they handed over their email address to you.
So one of the first things you need to do is subtly give them proof that you know what you’re talking about.
I say subtly because you don’t want to come at them with a hardcore ad that brags about how incredible you are at everything.
They will unsubscribe so fast it will make your net spin.
You just want to assure them that other people have trusted you and have been very glad they did so.
In one of your first autoresponders, just casually weave in a story about a happy customer or a recent success story.
Something that casts you, your product or your service in a flattering light. (Tip: If you add humor to it and/or praise the customer as much as you praise yourself, this will come of more as interesting storytelling and less as bragging.)
Once they are convinced they know you know what you’re talking about, show them they can trust you.
One way to build trust is to be consistent.
If you only sporadically send out emails, on different days, at different times or worse – if you go for long stretches without sending them anything at all, they’ll never know they can count on you.
So establish a cadence, a reliable pattern.
Whether you go the “one email per day for 10 days straight” route, or you send an email every Wednesday for 3 months, show them they can set their clock by you.
You’ll establish trust, which will make them like you and your brand that much more. In other words, feed them regularly!
Just because your emails are automated doesn’t mean they have to sound like they are.
Creating a successful autoresponder series means writing in way you should write any of your other marketing emails – with personality!
Be relaxed, be interesting, be personable.
Talk about what you like, love about your industry. Share what frustrates you.
The more you share of yourself, the more your audience will feel like there’s a real human behind those emails.
Ready to start writing? Not quite yet. Two more things you should consider first. You need to be a bit strategic here.
Begin with the end in mind. Why are you sending out these autoresponders?
What are you hoping will happen?
That you’ll end up selling more products? Selling pricier products? Maybe you’re just trying to establish yourself as a trusted voice, an authority in your field.
Building your business and its profitability happens in many different steps.
Which step are you taking with these autoresponders?
Once you establish that, make sure that all roads lead to that end. Don’t wander off and lose focus in your autoresponders.
Keep them interested, sure, but keep them on the track you want them to be on.
This seems like the hardest thing to figure out.
But honestly? It should be the easiest. Let a few simple factors dictate how many and how frequently you mail out.
- How much time can you put into writing these? Can you research them and make them as content-rich as an eBook? Or is this just a simple, quick way to stay connected to them?
- Do you have budget to pay a copywriter to make them really shine?
- What’s the point of them? Are you doing a simple tip of the week or are you trying to teach a real ‘mini-course’?
Basically it comes down to what level of intensity you want these emails to deliver.
If you want to set up a series of uber-informational articles that will culminate into selling a particular product, you might want to make them longer, more valuable and send them out every few days for two or three weeks.
If, however, you just want to throw something out there to help you stay top of mind then by all means, set them to go out once a week for the next 2-3 months.
As with all marketing efforts, I recommend you test. Pilot an idea, set up a test schedule, watch the reports and tweak accordingly. You might get better open and click through rates by sending less frequently. Or more!
You never know until you test, test, test.
TIME TO WRITE:
Now that you know how to sound and how often to mail, it’s time to write. Time to actually make the food. So make it good and irresistible. Go for it and have fun with it.
If you agonize over writing these and you overthink them, they won’t be that fun to read.
And if they’re not fun to read, they’re not going to keep your prospect’s interest, much less convince them to buy from you.
Here’s one way to make it fun and simple: choose one topic per email.
That’s it. One concept per email.
If you need help getting started simply take a spouse, partner or staffer to lunch. Brainstorm the top 10 FAQs your customers have. The Top 5 mistakes they make? How about the best, funniest, most inspirational customer experiences?
Weave a story around it. Again, if it’s not flowing and you find yourself agonizing about it, stop and start something new.
True stories, funny stories, real stories should come easily to you. Be real, be you, be authoritative and be consistent.
Before you know it your nets (and your funnel) will be overflowing with happy healthy shiny new prospects.
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