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  • BEHIND THE SCENES: Why Q2 Scared The 💩 Out Of Me

    This is a transcript from episode 67 of the OMGrowth podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and I’ve never had a scarier quarter than what Q2 2022 was for me. Today, I’m going through some of my “lessons learned”, key take-aways and yes, my OMGrowth moments, in the hopes that sharing these will help you tap into them for yourself as well.

    I want to start off by admitting that I only kinda planned my Q2. This is typical for me because I go into super-mega-ultra in-depth planning mode for Q1 and Q3, but then my Q2 and Q4 tend to lean on its previous quarter’s planning so that I kind of just outline what I’m looking to accomplish.

    I’m going to blame that lack of thoroughness on why I took so dang much on but also, everything I did in Q2 had been on the horizon during my Q1 planning. Plus, I never felt burn-out or drained but it really did make my boundaries clear for Q3 planning so, I don’t see any what happened, what I did or how I spent my time as a bad thing at all.

    But scary? Oh, definitely.

    THE PODCAST

    I kicked off Q3 talking about why I uninstalled Google Analytics (GA) from my website and I have been a major cheerleader for the platform over the year as THE option for knowing your website numbers so heck yeah, it was scary to publish that episode.

    I had prepared for this in Q1 in more ways than one:

    • I installed privacy-compliant analytics software on my site in January;
    • I uninstalled GA in February;
    • February was also when I started removing all of the GA-related products I had on my site; and
    • I recorded and scheduled that podcast episode in March.

    The week that episode was going out was the first time in years that I had felt NERVOUS about something I was publishing.

    That thing they say about doing things that make you nervous? Yeah, there’s definitely something to that because episode 53 about uninstalling GA and episode 54 about analytics options I recommend instead are definitely my highest downloaded podcast episodes and they’re about double the amount of my other episodes.

    Did that translate to more podcast subscribers? You can’t actually see how many people are subscribed to your podcast, and I’ll need to see a longer data collection period to identify whether I retained those listeners but at this point, it looks like I’ve had a marginal increase in long-term listenership and I’ve had a significant increase in brand awareness.

    If you’ve listened to me for any period of time or read any of my books, you’ve heard me say this many times before, but…

    The most useful thing you can do with your data is to interact with it and ask it questions. A good place to start? “What are these numbers telling me to do more of and what is it telling me to do less of?”

    In this case, the numbers seem to be telling me that solopreneurs and online business owners want to be better informed about the platforms they’re using as well as what their options are.

    I thought maybe this meant listeners wanted to hear more about their legal obligations but then my episode on the laws that govern email marketing didn’t do especially well. In fact, that episode had my lowest downloads all quarter.

    So I have you, my dear listener, living in this very interesting and specific Venn diagram where it seems like you want resources to better and more easily understand the Terms and Conditions you’ve agreed to, and yet you’re not super-stoked about listening to the legal implications that govern you.

    Fair enough, and please feel free to email me or to DM me to let me know if you think I’m hitting the nail on the head here or totally missing it.

    But based on those insights, I have it on my new Q3 To Do List to integrate a new series on the podcast called “I agreed to WHAT?…” where I break down the Privacy Policies and Terms and Conditions for some of the most popular business tools we all use as online entrepreneurs, and that we may not realize or understand what happens with the data we’re collecting, entering and using on those platforms.

    SOCIAL MEDIA

    I also started putting my podcast episodes on YouTube in Q2. It’s literally a production to do this and so time-intensive BUT! it also makes social media in general easier to manage and be consistent about because I just take a few snippets from the produced episodes to repurpose.

    So at this point, it feels worth it and I’ll be looking at ways to more efficiently outsource some parts of this. For now, it still feels fun and it makes me not worry about things that keep us all up at night like “social media visibility” so wins across the board for this one.

    I also started showing up on TikTok. The way I decided to approach TikTok felt very sustainable to me because I read a lot of news on digital marketing and I keep informed on changes in the online business world anyways. The idea of just sharing those stories on TikTok felt like an extension of something I already did so that was fine and I do enjoy showing up in this way.

    However, I was not as consistent as I would like to be and there are a few reasons for that.

    THE BOOKS

    The biggest one is because I wrote, published and marketed 2 books in Q2. No biggie, right? I learned all I could about self-publishing, dealt with all that comes with adapting to a new learning curve for the first one, I explored Amazon ads in-between books, parlayed all I did learn into making that second book a best-seller – it was a LOT!

    Who writes, publishes and promotes 2 books as a first-time author in 3 months? What was I thinking? I still don’t know but I do know that it’s been a great experience, there will be more books to come including planning tools and paperback editions but I think I did more than enough in the time I had in Q2. Like, way more. Like, a goofy amount more.

    TRAVEL

    Especially when you consider that I had a little trip planned in the midst of all this. I was in New Orleans the February before the pandemic started because I typically spend any spare moment I have there, but I hadn’t been back since then so it was an understatement to say it was great to spend time with friends and loved ones for the first time in 2 years.

    Did I bring work to do on this trip? You bet I did. Did I do any of it? I didn’t crack it open until I was in a queue of return flight delays, so I actually didn’t mind the flight issues for a change.

    I was very anxious going into this trip. I was very isolated over these last 2 years and this took a toll on my mental health. I’m obviously not a mental health specialist but I’m going say that I’ve benefit exponentially from doing the things that used to be “normal”, even if they felt scary to do at first. Everyone has to do what’s right for them but sometimes doing the scary thing IS the right thing to do, and personally, I have no other way of explaining it than to say that I feel “fixed”.

    These last few years, I’ve also developed a whole new sympathy for anyone who feels like they “just can’t”. Whether that’s taking on more work, or even a baseline like getting out of bed, I have a better and more personal understanding of what that means now. It’s a real thing and it’s a hard thing and doing the thing can be really effing hard and whether it felt easy or hard to do, you have to make room for acknowledging yourself and all that you do. It is so, so, so important!

    So hey! make that an action item and a priority today and feel free to pause this episode RIGHT NOW to do this, but you don’t just have a To Do list, boss. You have a DONE list and if you haven’t been keeping tabs on all that you do and you’ve done, create one right now of all the things you’ve done in the last quarter. You’ve done A LOT, even if most of what you did was take care of yourself – that’s a lot! – and please take a time-out from “the next thing” to just BE with all that you’ve done. Spend some time with it.

    When I looked back on all that I’ve done in Q2 – including and especially the big scary things! – it felt easy for me to make decisions about where I was going next. For instance, that podcast series on “I Agreed to WHAT?….” feels important and relevant, but also time-consuming to research so I’m giving myself some space in Q3 to get that done.

    I also want to live in the moment and effing ENJOY summer music festivals – do you KNOW how long I’ve waited for this Rage Against The Machine tour? I’ve had these tickets in my possession for almost 3 years now, and I’ve been waiting to do it again since I last saw them at Lollapalooza in 2008. I don’t want to just look forward to things anymore, because I want to enjoy them as they’re happening.

    My nerdy little heart wants to enjoy putting that podcast series together, I want to enjoy the process of writing the next book, I want to enjoy the time I’m spending on social media.

    And to do all of that, we’re going to take a few weeks off from the podcast and come back with Season 3 of the OMGrowth, which will give me more space to spend time curating that habit I want to flex for delivering the digital marketing goods over on TikTok so if you’re worried about missing me, follow me @omgrowthpod because I’ll still be showing up, just not in your earholes exclusively.

    If you have suggestions, if you have comments, feel free to slip into those DMs.

    If you think my podcasts are the bee’s knees, I love when you tell me this in my DMs and my inbox but nobody else sees those, while reviews are top shelf value for someone like me who publishes a podcast and publishes books. If I being any kind value, I value a gold-star review more than ANYthing else you can offer to me, ok? So please, hit SEND on those reviews.

    Have a great summer. Make some memories, it has been too long since we’ve had the opportunity to make enough of them and always, always remember – you’re my favorite – talk soon, baiiiieee!!!

    CONTINUE READING

  • What To Do When Your EMAIL MARKETING Just Isn’t Working

    This is a transcript from episode 65 of the OMGrowth podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and I would like to know where all my bobby pins go to die. I keep buying them, and they keep evaporating, and I’m not sure what happens in-between… but I know that I’m fresh-out of bobby pins and I’d love to an episode of Stranger Things dedicated to that.

    Just as I would like to know what happens to my bobby pins, I’m sure you have equally puzzling concerns about your email marketing so today, we’re answering a bunch of the questions you have ask about why your email marketing is not working.

    I like to say “the beginning is always a good place to start” (because it is!) and when it comes to improving your email marketing efforts, the beginning does not start with what YOU are doing, but with what the technology is doing.

    EMAIL DELIVERABILITY

    Before you change anything with your approach to email marketing, it’s a good idea to look at your email deliverability. Email deliverability is a term used to describe the ability for an email that you send to reach an inbox to which you’re sending it.

    So how do you know where your email deliverability status stands? You can use a deliverability audit service and I speak more in-depth about this in episode 41 of the podcast, which I will link in the shownotes.

    You don’t need a perfect score to have good deliverability rates, either. For instance, I’m not especially concerned that the emails sent to domain @yandex.ru are not being delivered; I do not have any email subscribers who are registered with this domain and I don’t suspect I’m a big deal in Russia (which is what the top-level domain “.ru” represents). I’m not an Olympian and it is not worth the effort for me to seek out a perfect score among the Russian judges, and I encourage you to use the same type of discernment as you review your own results.

    Since we already have a whole episode dedicated to this and there are a lot more questions to answer, let’s get cracking on some of the other concerns you may have about your email marketing.

    “PEOPLE AREN’T CLICKING ON MY LINKS!”

    If you aren’t satisfied with how many people are clicking through on the links you’re embedding in your emails, consider checking yourself. I’m not being sassy, either – I mean this literally: open your emails and look at your links.

    • Is it obvious that these are links? Are they different colors and are they underlined differently from the rest of the text? Are your links visible, easy-to-find and frequently displayed?
    • Are your calls-to-action (CTAs) strong, clear and compelling?
    • Have you tested your links on desktop, mobile AND tablet to ensure they work on all devices and see if there’s anything that can be improved about those specific user experiences?
    • Are you sending the same emails to your entire list? Would there be a benefit to further segmenting your list and changing the messaging within your emails to speak to your subscribers in a more direct, personalized manner, like we talked about in episode 63?

    Another approach to improvement would be to completely disassociate yourself from your status as a marketer and approach your content with fresh eyes.

    Examine your subject lines and pay attention to the first line of text that shows up in the inbox, and then ask yourself, “Would I click on that? Am I offering a compelling reason to open this email? Am I connecting with my audience in this subject line?”

    If you aren’t sure, it may be worth testing different subject lines to really see what does and does not connect with your subscribers.

    ABOUT SPLIT-TESTING

    Sometimes called “A/B testing”, split-testing is the practice of publishing more than one version of a marketing asset in order to see and test what your audience responds best to. While it is sometimes used on websites and landing pages to test things like copy, positioning, colors or graphic usage, among other things, most email marketing service providers will allow you to also split-test your email subject lines and/or content to see if version A outperforms version B. (Hence the term A/B Testing.)

    A word of warning before we get into how to split-test your email subject lines: this optimization strategy shouldn’t even be on your radar if you’re sending the email to less than 2000 email subscribers.

    Why? Because that’s what you need to work with in order to begin seeing significant results. Think about it: version A of your email will go to 1000 subscribers while version B is going to another 1000 subscribers. Since we can no longer rely on open rates as an engagement metric (which we discussed in episode 61), we’ll have to focus on click-through rates, which is why you need at least 1000 people whose behaviors and preferences you’re measuring.

    With these numbers, let’s say version A of your email has a click-through rate of 4.5%, which means that 45 people clicked through; meanwhile, version B has a click-through rate of 6.2%, which means that 62 people clicked through.  While version B outperforms version A by 1.7%, we’re talking about just 17 people and the statistical relevance of these smaller sets of numbers makes it hard to gain reliable insights to make any real decisions about your marketing and results.

    Hence why I suggest 2000 subscribers as the absolute minimum list size you want to be working with if you’re going to split-test your subject lines. If your list size is smaller than that, the optimization strategies you’d most benefit from are the ones that focus more on list growth and increasing engagement before you invest your time and effort into testing.

    With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk about how you conduct a proper split-test. You’ll want to get downright scientific about what you’re testing and go into your test with a hypothesis. You remember when you did science experiments in school, right? You always started with a hypothesis you were setting out to prove or disprove. 

    Same deal with split-testing!

    Examples are our friends so let’s use one and say we think that our subscribers would be more interested in our emails when we use emojis in the subject line. As such, for the next quarter, we are committing to split-testing each email we send over the next 3 months with subject lines that contain emojis versus ones that don’t.

    “But Lanie,”  you may be saying. “That’s a lot of email!” Yes, as per usual, you’re correct and this is a lot of email. But that’s the point: we want to have enough tests and results to make some accurate assessments about our hypothesis. You don’t “one-and-done” science, amirite?

    If you want the breakdown of how to tag and track and see this data, check out my book Email Marketing Optimization – link for that is in the shownotes.

    But once you wrap up your quarter and you’re doing your quarterly review, you’ll set some time aside to evaluate your results. It’s a good idea to start with your email marketing service analytics to see if you can identify any type of patterns or trends you’re seeing and to make note of anything that gets your attention, especially if there are specific email sets that stand out to you. Then, you can move onto your website analytics to see how each email subject behaves and interacts with your offers and content.

    The example we just used was testing the use of emojis in the subject lines but there are a lot of other things you can test in your subject lines as well. Here are some other subject line-related content you can consider testing:

    • The use of passive voice (like, “subject lines you’ll love”) versus active voice (like, “you’ll love these subject lines”);
    • The use of personalization (like, “Lanie, open this now”) versus non-personalized (like, “You have to open this now”);
    • The use of punctuation (like, “did you know this?” versus “I have to tell you this!”);
    • The use of captions for urgency (like, “[TIME SENSITIVE] Check this out” versus “Today only: Check this out”);
    • The use of intimate language (like, “See you tomorrow?”) versus professional language (like, “Sign up for tomorrow’s workshop”);
    • The use of attention words such as “now”, “free”, and so on.

    Keep in mind that I am not a copywriter and don’t pretend to be an expert at subject lines, although I do have awesome sauce recommendations in the shownotes if you’re looking for that type of help.

    My goal in sharing these is to get your wheels turning with what is available for you to test. Another thing is that even though we’ve been talking about subject lines, there’s a whole lot more you can A/B test in your emails than just subject lines. You can also test that first line of preview text that shows up in the email header, which shows up in the inbox like this:

    INSERT IMAGE

    You can split-test the language or copy you’re using in your actual emails, or the colors of your links and buttons, or the types of images you’re using in the emails, and of course, as long as you’re getting enough traffic to make the results worth it, you can also split-test your automations and evergreen sequences as well. 

    The email optimization world is truly your oyster but a word of caution: stick to testing just one thing at a time to make sure you have boundaries as to what your results are and to ensure you have clear insights that you’re assessing.

    And remember that your insights are meant to be parlayed. This means that you can and want to extend the trends and patterns you’re seeing with your emails into other areas. For instance, if you’re seeing something that works in your email subject lines, look at how that information can be applied to your social media captions, your sales copy, your advertising campaigns, and more. The better your data is about what your people engage with and how they interact with your content and offers, the easier it is to use that information to see better marketing results in other areas as well.

    “PEOPLE ARE UNSUBSCRIBING. LIKE, A LOT!”

    When you put so much work into growing your email list, it may not always FEEL like people unsubscribing from your email list is a good thing… but it can be. If people aren’t picking up what you’re throwing down or perhaps they’ve  learned all they’re interested in from you, they’re really doing you a favor by removing themselves as someone who you have something useful to share with. After all, you ARE paying for these subscribers through your email marketing services fees and people aren’t like souvenirs that you have to hang on to.

    Having said that, you don’t want to be seeing more than 2% of your list unsubscribing at a time on a regular basis because it typically means something isn’t right. If those unsubscribes are accompanied with SPAM complaints, this is especially important for you to look into; if people are reporting you as SPAM, this can impact your sender reputation and email deliverability.

    Here are some areas you can look at to help minimize your unsubscribe rates and SPAM complaints, as well as some go-to questions to gain some insights on what exactly you could work on to improve this:

    YOUR SUBSCRIPTION PROCESS

    • How are people getting onto your list? Are they signing up to your offers intentionally or do you have people signing up who don’t really understand what they’re agreeing to receive from you?
    • Is the messaging you’re using to get people on your list the same as what you use once those people are on your list, or could there be a “disconnect” between what your subscriber’s expectations are and what you actually deliver?

    YOUR TAGGING PROCESS

    • Are you segmenting your subscribers in a way that is providing them with emails and content relevant to the interests they have for being on your list?
    • Is there a way you could be more precise with how you’re tagging your subscribers’ interests and motives for being on your list so that you can better match their needs with the emails you’re sending?

    YOUR EMAIL DELIVERY

    • If you have multiple automated email sequences running, is it possible that they overlap each other and you’re overwhelming your new subscribers and/or buyers with too many emails and conflicting promotions or messaging?
    • If you’re running a specific promotion and you’re sending more emails than you usually do, it is normal to see your unsubscribe rates rise during this period. But are you giving people who are not interested in this specific promotion and/or offer the opportunity to opt-out of that series while still being able to stay on your email list and continue receiving correspondence after this promo?
    • Also, consider reviewing the frequency of your email delivery. In this case, you’ll want to do a little cost-benefit analysis by not only focusing on your unsubscribe rates but looking at the number of sales and/or engagement that those same emails generated as well.

    YOUR ACTUAL EMAIL CONTENT

    • Similar to the last point, you don’t want to assess an email solely against its unsubscribe rates; you want to assess the overall performance, including click-throughs and sales or engagement generated. You’re seldom able to look at one metric in isolation and have it tell the whole story of your performance, and you will have to look at the “big picture” of what happened to understand if it’s the actual content of your emails that need to be changed.
    • We spoke of split-testing your subject lines earlier but you can also split-test the actual types of content in your emails. Do your people respond better to video? Do they prefer long-form emails or shorter ones? Have you tested the use of GIFs and images versus text-only?

    There’s a reason why almost every email marketing service integrates testing options into its platforms; all marketing is a constant wash-rinse-repeat process of testing, assessing and modifying how we’re promoting ourselves, our messages and our offers.

    We’re often so focused on getting more traffic and more subscribers that we overlook the optimization opportunities we already have to build on our existing list. As such, improving our email marketing performance isn’t always our first priority, even though it can result in the biggest returns.

    There’s a lot that goes into your own email marketing optimization and my new book Email Marketing Optimization covers a whole lot more of that ground if this is a priority for you.

    But here’s the kicker: you’re never going to be done with any of this. All digital marketing is a wash-rinse-repeat process of publishing, tracking and improving, and then taking what you’ve learned to publish, track and improve, all over again.

    While your email list is usually your most engaged traffic source, HOW engaged they are is completely up to you. You have a responsibility towards these lovely people who have put their trust and contact information in your hands. 

    Try to always keep in mind what a privilege it is for you to have and foster this relationship with your subscribers, and that like all relationships, you want to do everything you can to make the benefits mutual and to deliver those benefits as often as possible.

    And if you want help, I have a book dedicated to that and dedicated to youit’s true, you can read the dedication and see for yourself – because I’ve told you this before but you’re favorite. Talk soon!

    CONTINUE READING

  • My EMAIL TAGGING and SEGMENTATION STRATEGY for Data-Driven, Customer-Focused Bosses

    This is a transcript from episode 63 of the OMGrowth podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and I’m a big fan of what I call “party water”. That’s bubbly water with fun flavors like mango and peach and pineapple – you know, party flavors! – and for the quantity that I drink, I’m certifiably a party water animal.

    Now, depending on the type of business you run, that could be useful information for you to know if I were your client. I mean, for most of you listening, it’s probably a terrible example but I promise you I have more examples that are much better-suited for today’s episode…

    Because we’ll be talking about email tagging and segmentation, some best practices and all of the superpowers it can give you like improved deliverability and better affiliate sales, and who doesn’t want more of that?

    WHAT IS EMAIL SEGMENTATION?

    You have an overall email list but in order to begin sending hyper-targeted emails to the “right people” who will be most open and receptive to receiving what you’re sharing in those emails, you want to adopt a practice that is referred to as “email segmentation”. This happens when you divide that overall contacts into smaller, more defined groups, or segments.

    “But Lanie!”, you may say. “I only talk about one thing. All of my subscribers share the exact same, single interest.” Cool beans! That simplifies things… but you still want to segment your audience based on where they are in their interactions with you.

    For instance, if they already bought the offer you’re going to remind your list about next week, you either:

    a) don’t want to send those promotional emails to that segment of your audience who already purchased it; or

    b) you want to send a modified version that reminds your buyers of the great features their past purchase that they can revisit and continue benefiting from.

    See what I mean about meting people where they are in their interactions with you? Basically it’s the same message – “hey! look at my offer!” – but it’s shared in different ways that are an appropriate reflection of how they’ve interacted with you and your offers so far.

    Tagging and segmenting is like a muscle; the more you use it, the more uses you’ll find for it and the stronger your game will be from putting it to use.

    What is the difference between “segments” and “tags”?

    This is one of those “similar but different” concepts where both terms serve the same purpose – in this case, to identify a specific quality or aspect of a person – but each is used in a different way.

    When you segment a list, you’re taking your overall contacts to create “micro-lists” based on something that defines them. Think of it as the citizenship they have in your world, and they can be citizens of several segments as they may be citizens of just one.

    Meanwhile, when you tag a person on your list, you’re creating reference points for their preferences and behaviors.

    I’m a big fan of examples to paint a picture so let’s use one and say you run a group program. You have one email list with 2 segments: one segment made up of your overall list and another segment for the people who are paid members of your program.

    Having these two segments allows you to use your “paid members” segment to communicate program-related information to the people who are already a part of your membership while you can take your “overall list” segment to exclude anyone who is in the “paid members” segment when you’re sending promotions that encourage people to join the program.

    INSERT IMAGE 1

    As for tagging, you’ll tag people based on interests, preferences and behaviors. What does that look like?

    Let’s push this example further and say you’re running a promotion to your membership. You now want to follow-up with those who showed interest in joining your membership but have yet to follow-through; you can tag the people who clicked a link in your promotional emails to visit your sales page as having shown interest in the program. 

    INSERT IMAGE 2

    Furthermore, if you have the different types of people in your audience – say you help fitness professionals – you could tag your audience based on whether they identify as fitness competitors, personal trainers or brand models/ambassadors. This will allow you to hyper-customize your messages and promotions to these 3 different interest groups you serve, and adapt your message to the specific incentives you can offer each interest group has to join.

    Think of your segments as the overarching lists such as the contacts you promote to, your buyers and then your affiliates, while your tags are more interest- and behavior-based tools to help you define and identify aspects of your subscribers that will better equip you to serve them.

    Let’s turn this example into a case study of someone who uses your segments to demonstrate their communication preferences.

    INSERT IMAGE 3

    Someone subscribes to your list, which populates them into your “overall promo” segment. They take a quiz that identifies them as a “brand ambassador”, which is an identifier you tag them with.

    They go on to visit your sales page and they attend a few of your workshops, all of which are behaviors you also tagged them with. 

    Because you sent targeted emails to those who showed interest in the product, this person eventually did buy your product and you can then add them to your segment of buyers. In fact, they loved your product so much that they signed up to become an affiliate, which is another segment they’ve been added to.

    Meanwhile, their brand ambassador status means they have an inbox so cluttered and busy, even the messiest teenager would be critical. Your subscriber decided to de-clutter their inbox and they’ve chosen to opt out of receiving further promotional emails from you, but they also want to keep receiving affiliate and product updates.

    Had you not segmented this person, they may have unsubscribed entirely from your email list. This could get messy when they tried to access their purchase again but couldn’t after unsubscribing, and it could cost you some word-of-mouth sales your affiliate program may have otherwise continued sharing with them.

    Had you not tagged this person, you may not have known enough about this person to craft the hyper-targeted message for brand ambassadors who already showed interest in the product that resulted in the sale of your product, and the subsequent affiliate sales they brought to you as well.

    Establishing a strategic approach to the way you segment and tag your subscribers will consume some of your time, energy and brain space, but the above example should demonstrate the value in doing so for both your subscribers as well as your own bottom line.

    SEGMENTATION AND TAGGING STRATEGIES

    I’ve already alluded to some of the ways in which you will segment your list so let’s start with those:

    PURCHASE SEGMENTS

    As a baseline, you want to create a segment for the buyers of each of your offers and there are a few reasons for this.

    The first reason is that if someone decides they want to unsubscribe from your marketing materials but they want to continue receiving updates on a product they bought from you, creating this type of segmentation will empower them to do that.

    You may grumble about not being able to pitch new offers to them, but this would be a short-sighted view. Someone who wants to continue receiving product updates is clearly happy with the product they purchased. They may not want to hear about your offers anymore but they still want in on what you’ve brought to their table and that has value. After all, these are the types of people you can count on for word-of-mouth; the opportunity to reach out to them to let them know you’ve updated something they already got value from is also an opportunity to be front-of-mind for a moment, which is all-the-more reason to keep engaging with your buyers after the purchase and to avoid investing your entire email marketing efforts on just sales and pitches.

    Another reason you want to segment your buyers is for a reason that was touched on already: when you’re promoting an offer they’ve already bought, you don’t want to pitch this segment with something they have already paid you for. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t also email these subscribers during this time. 

    The difference is that while you’re sending emails that pitch your product to non-buyers, it’s a great opportunity to switch that messaging out for the people who already purchased your offer and let them know this is a great time to join your affiliate program to make sales during this promotional period, or to remind them of updates or changes you’ve made to the product that they may want to revisit and continue receiving value from.

    And finally, by segmenting your buyers, it is easier for you to personalize upsell and downsell messages based on where they’ve already invested. For instance, if you’re promoting a new offer, you may write a more targeted email that speaks directly to those who have some experience with your products versus what you will write to those who have never bought anything from you.

    You want your people to feel seen. You want your people to feel like you’re connected and meeting them where they are rather than just selling them what you want them to buy. You want your people to feel like they’re valued and they aren’t “just another email address” you market to.

    The simplest way to achieve this is to put some time, effort and intention behind “seeing” and segmenting your buyers intentionally and appropriately.

    AFFILIATE SEGMENTS

    Affiliates are people who have raised their hand and said “I’ll vouch for you and your offers!”. The idea is that if they direct buyers towards your offers like air traffic control, you can thank them by paying out a commission or affiliate payment every time they do so.

    It’s a good idea to either tag or better yet, segment these subscribers from your email list because the communication you share with them will be very different from your “regular” emails. In fact, you may have people segmented as affiliates on your list who are not and don’t want to be subscribed to your promotions and offers, and you want to accommodate that. After all, it would be a shame to discourage someone from giving you “online street cred” when they spread the word about you, just because they aren’t interested in receiving your promotional emails.

    In any case, you will be sending emails to this group about your promotions but the messaging of the emails you send to this segment will be very different from the ones you send the rest of your list. First of all, you will typically be letting this segment know of promotions ahead of time so they can prepare to promote them before your main email list even knows about it. You’ll likely also be sharing folders of done-for-you promotional materials like social media graphics and swipe copy that will help your affiliates sell your offers and these are materials you wouldn’t share with your main email list.

    That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a segment of your list that is separate and dedicated to your affiliate subscribers as the way you communicate with them is also separate and dedicated.

    IDENTIFIER TAGS

    I used the earlier example of a business serving fitness professionals with multiple sub-categories for the people it serves, including fitness competitors, personal trainers and brand models/ambassadors.

    With some of the first few emails you send, you may ask your new subscribers to self-identify and tag them accordingly. This allows you to not only create more targeted communications but it also provides you with deeper insights as to what your audience consists of, which may influence how you choose to market yourself with paid advertisements, social media messaging and even your offers.

    Another strategy to interact and get subscribers to self-identify is with a quiz. A quiz can be used as a lead magnet that encourages people to sign up to your email list, but it can also help you hone in on those interests and characteristics you want to tag and target.

    While industry or job title is one area where your people can self-identify, other aspects you can consider tagging are their goals, their values, their location, their lifestyle, their opinions, or their gender, just to name a few.

    Keep in mind that these are just examples and you don’t want to be collecting personal information you don’t need and would not use. 

    For instance, if your offers aren’t geo-centric, then you don’t want to be collecting information about their location when you’re never going to actually use it. However, if you run a t-shirt shop with multiple locations that each has its own events and promotions, it would be relevant for you to collect this person’s location to better keep them informed of the events happening at their local shop.

    ENGAGEMENT TAGS

    You can also tag people based on how they’re engaging with your communications and offers. For instance, you’ll tag people based on which opt-ins or lead magnets they’ve signed up to join on your email list and you may tag specific links they clicked-through in your emails and/or pages they visited.

    How your subscribers are engaging with your brand and its content can be valuable information. How? Because you can use that information to:

    • Determine the conversion rates for different types of subscribers and hone in on how and why specific types of subscribers convert to sales better than others;
    • Assess the popularity of specific offers – both paid and free – as well as the subsequent engagement levels you expect based on a subscriber’s interests, attendance or engagement;
    • Follow up with subscribers who didn’t buy your offer, but engaged with/showed interest in your promotional materials; and
    • Identify trends in the way you’re currently promoting that you can parlay into future marketing campaigns to see better results with your next efforts.

    OPT-IN TAGS

    It’s a good idea, whenever possible, to tag how people came onto your list. You can and should expect to see wildly varying engagement levels based on how people found you and joined your email list.

    For instance, a joint venture where someone else vouched for your expertise will attract a different type of subscriber than your paid ad campaigns would.

    Likewise, people who opted into your list to download a PDF will typically exhibit different behaviors than the people who opted-in to a workshop where you dropped all the knowledge bombs.

    This use of tags can be useful when you’re trying to identify trends in interests and behaviors from people who have already bought from you. This way, you can easily identify those free offers you want to put in front of people you’re trying to warm up prior to launching and you can identify which opt-ins aren’t supporting your business the way you want them to when it comes to engagement or unsubscribe rates.

    ENGAGEMENT LEVEL TAGS

    Another thing worth tracking is HOW engaged a subscriber is. If someone isn’t reading or engaging with your emails, that’s a problem and it’s one you want to address.

    You don’t want people ignoring your emails and you certainly don’t want to be paying for the “privilege” to do so. Because here’s the fact of it: the more subscribers you have on your email list, the higher the service fees are from your email marketing service. That’s just one of the many reasons why you don’t want to carry people through as subscribers if they’re just deleting and/or ignoring your emails.

    Another key reason you don’t want to keep unengaged subscribers on your email list is because it can impact the deliverability of your emails. We’ll talk about this more in my book Email Marketing Optimization but when your deliverability rates are impacted, it means that the people who actually want to receive your emails either a) won’t receive them at all or b) you’ll end up in their spam folder instead of their inbox. 

    That’s why you keep tabs on the engagement level of your subscribers and once they reach a certain point of disengagement, you can then take action to either re-engage them or unsubscribe them for your email list since you’ve confirmed that they aren’t interested in your communications any longer. We’ll also explore re-engagement sequences and how they work in Email Marketing Optimization but before you can re-engage your subscribers, you’ll have to prioritize keeping tabs on their engagement levels in the first place.

    For most online businesses, your buyers and your affiliates in addition to your promotional contact list will be what make up your segments, and anything that has to do with characteristics, behaviors and interests will be a tag.

    However, what I’ve share with your today are just suggestions; there are no “rules” about any of this. Remember that you’re the boss, apple sauce. This means you know your business better than anyone, you get to make the decisions as to how you feel your subscribers are best identified and how your business model best operates and should be defined.

    And at the core of just about everything I’ve been saying for the last few months applies to day’s talk, too: thinking and acting like a real, feeling human being will take you further than any strategy or tactic du jour, so if you are questioning your tagging and segmentation, ask yourself “what do I want to see in my inbox, what do I NOT want to see, and what makes ME feel most seen?”

    Everyone wants to be seen, and your people want to feel seen by you. That’s why they gave you their email address. The least you can do is meet them where they are and your tags and segments should be tools that you use to identify where that is.

    CONTINUE READING

  • Email Marketing KPIs and ENGAGEMENT METRICS That Actually Matter… and Why

    This is a transcript from episode 62 of the OMGrowth podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and I’ve been called a monster for this practice – in fact, I’ve been called worse! – but this is how I read a novel: I read the first page, the last page, the first chapter, the last chapter, and then I read through the book. I know, I know, we’re 7 seconds into the episode and I’ve already upset a bunch of people but I’m not a big fan of surprises. Which is why I’m going to tell you straight-up that I have a shiny new book out called Email Marketing Optimization and there’s a link in bio for you to buy your copy as soon as possible because it’s a brand new release and those right-away purchases is what helps me rank and get found. And just know that I EXTRA appreciate that you support me even though you don’t approve of how I read novels. M’kay, let’s get into it.

    Before we get into any discussion about engagement metrics and Key Performance Indicators – or what the cool kids like us call KPIs – let’s clarify what the difference is between a metric and a KPI.

    A metric is something that you measure and can attribute a numbered value to that represents the outcome of something specific you’re doing. An example of this would be your click-through rate, meaning the percentage of subscribers you sent an email to who clicked on a link within that email.

    Meanwhile, a KPI is also a quantifiable measure but it holds more weight than a metric because you are using this value as a measure of success, achievement or a target you were working towards attaining. This is why your KPIs will typically be made up of a combination of metrics. If we stick with the click-through rate example, it isn’t a KPI on its own because clicking on a link isn’t any type of indication for success; after all, someone could be clicking on the “unsubscribe” link and I doubt this is something you would define as a target. However, you may combine your click-through rate with some type of conversion rate – let’s say the conversion rate for your product/service sales – and take that to create a KPI for the conversion to sales you’re making from email subscribers.

    You want to start by establishing your metrics and looking at them in isolation; however, it’s what you do with those numbers that make them valuable and when you use them to establish KPIs, this is one of the most “boss mode” things you can do with that data.

    But again, being able to use and synthesize this data starts with knowing your baseline number, or metrics, so let’s look at the ones your email marketing service provider packages and provides you with.

    EMAIL MARKETING SERVICE METRICS

    OPEN RATES

    I want to start with “open rates” – not because it is important but – because it is useless. Once upon a time, your open rate carried all kinds of value: it was an indicator of how many people were actually reading (or at least skimming) your emails, it helped you assess the popularity of your subject lines, it could even be a planning tool in terms of identifying what time of day your subscribers were most active.

    Those days are behind us and you’ll get a lot of finger-pointing towards Apple’s iOS update back in June 2021 as the reason why. This update came with all kinds of privacy features, one of which included Mail Privacy Protection that stopped email tracking for Apple mail users unless consent to do otherwise was provided. As a plot twist to this blockade, email marketers actually saw increases in their open rates. Why? Because what Apple implemented didn’t actually block the tracking pixels from tracking but rather, all tracking pixels are pre-loaded; this means that emails that may not have been opened at all had those tracking pixels pre-loaded and therefore inflated email open rates beyond what they actually were.

    TL;DR: Your Open Rates are unreliable.

    Sure, you’ll find advice from people telling you that you can still use Open Rates if you segment your Apple mail users but that’s a short-term solution. I instead encourage you to accept the inevitable and to give your Open Rates the same treatment as that date you went on that you want to forget ever happened. That’s the vibe here.

    Because for all the finger-pointing at Apple for doing this, you can look around and see this is a trend you’d do better to join the bandwagon on than to resist. According to Gartner, 65% of the world’s population will have its personal data covered under modern privacy regulations by 2023, up from just 10% in 2020.

    Changes are coming from browsers and service providers in regards to cookie-blocking and limiting third-party tracking while international legislation will increasingly force marketers to behave in a more ethical, privacy-compliant manner with how they do business online. This is why I insist that you get onboard, adapt to and even embrace weird concepts like “consent” – yes! even as digital citizens! – because in an ironic twist of fate, those who do not are inevitably going to have consent forced upon them.

    But as Forbes reassures us, the end of Open Rates doesn’t mark the end of email marketing and “the sky isn’t falling”… but clicks and engagement are now the new Open Rate against which you can measure engagement that matters.

    CLICK-THROUGH RATES

    Welcome to your new baseline email marketing metric that answers the question: “are my subscribers engaging with the emails I’m sending them?”

    The title should describe it all but what we’re talking about is the rate at which your email subscribers click-through on the links you include in the emails you send.

    A question I often get asked is “what is a good click-through rate?”… and I hate this question. The reason I hate it is  because it assumes that the answer exists somewhere outside of yourself when it’s actually all very Glenda The Good Witch telling Dorothy “you’ve always had the power, my dear – you’ve had it all along!”

    While you may hear people talk about what a “good” industry standard is, you already have your own results that are probably pretty good for where you are right now. That’s the great thing about any data sets you have: you know everything that went into getting that result, which puts you in a position to improve those same results in a way someone else’s “industry standard” never will. If you want a baseline for what a “good click-through rate” is, take your top 10 emails with the highest click-throughs and figure out what the average click-through rate is, and voila! you have what a good click-through rate is for you.

    Another thing I would like you to start looking at is HOW your own click-through rates differ. For instance, your email marketing service will provide you with the click-through rate for your overall campaign, but I challenge you to look at how your different tags and segments engage with your emails.

    Let’s use the example where you have an audience of fitness professionals: it would be valuable for you to consistently check-in on the different engagement levels you’re seeing from your fitness competitors versus your personal trainers versus your brand models/ambassadors.

    Likewise, when you’re running a campaign that is heavy on the emails, it’s a good idea to really look at how engaged your audience is throughout the campaign, and if there are differences in how click-happy different segments or tags are, even within one specific campaign.

    Because there are a lot of numbers you can look at and there are a lot of things that other people can tell you about what is “good” or what you should adopt as a “standard”; I say the grass is greener where you water it and for all the energy you would invest listening to others and comparing yourself to results you don’t have enough information to even know what it means, you’d be better off investing that same energy taking your own data the extra mile.

    Because, yes, it can seem tedious to go through each of your emails and compare your different segments, tags, subject lines, and more. But it’s just as tedious to listen to what others are saying you “should” do and you’ll go a whole lot further investing all that energy into your own results than it would letting someone “should” on you. (Ew!)

    If you’re feeling like “Lanie, I’ve sent so many emails! Where do I even start?” Just pick a series of emails you sent out that was part of a specific product push or promotion, or look at a sales sequence or automation you have in place. Establish “an idea” of what you’re working with and take that information to move forward. The idea isn’t to bog you down with stats but rather, to develop the habit of doing a little “lessons learned” at the end of any launch or promotion, and to check in with yourself as a quarterly review habit.

    “Knowing your numbers” is NOT about obsessing over the numbers; it’s about using what insights you can gain to move forward, move faster and do better.

    HARD AND SOFT BOUNCE RATES

    When you look at your website analytics, your bounce rate represents the people who came to your site and left immediately, or if you’re a cool kid, you can say they “bounced”.

    Because the world is an unfair place, your bounce rate means something entirely different when we’re talking about your email marketing analytics; it means your email could not be delivered to the email address you sent it to and it therefore “bounced”.

    Since we’ve established the world as being an unfair place, let’s further complicate the matter by segmenting your email bounce rate as you have a “hard” bounce rate and a “soft” bounce rate.

    A hard bounce means the email address you used is either invalid or you have been blocked from being able to send emails to this address. When you send an email from your inbox and immediately receive one of those creepy “mailer-daemon” replies, you’re in hard bounce territory.

    A soft bounce, as the name suggests, is a more temporary issue than its hard counterpart. There may have been a problem with the email server at the time you hit send, the person’s inbox may be too full or perhaps your email used too many large images and GIFs, and could not be delivered.

    While I usually advocate for establishing your own rates as a benchmark and to not rely on industry standards, your bounce rate is the exception to this rule. You never want either your soft bounce rate or your hard bounce rate to be higher than 1% as this can have an impact on your overall deliverability.

    If this is something you’re concerned about, I have a whole module devoted to trouble-shooting this and more email marketing issues in my new book EMAIL MARKETING OPTIMIZATION and I encourage you to get your copy today – there’s a link in the shownotes- and if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app for free on any mobile device or tablet.

    UNSUBSCRIBE RATES

    This one is pretty self-explanatory: it is the percentage of people to whom you sent emails that chose to unsubscribe from your email list.

    Your unsubscribe rate will typically hold steady but the more people you send emails to, the more people you should expect will unsubscribe. This shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing and isn’t necessarily a reflection of how valuable other people view your content. There are a lot of reasons that people unsubscribe from email newsletters that have nothing to do with the sender: they may be receiving “too much” email overall and they’re doing an email purge, they may have signed up to your list using 2 different email addresses and they’re good with hearing from you just once, or maybe what you have to say and offer no longer connect with where they are in their own journey.

    Unsubscribe rates are not a metric to take personally but having said that, you do want to keep your overall rate under 2-3%; if your unsubscribe rate is higher than that, you probably have other problems on hand (which I address in that aforementioned troubleshooting module in my book, Email Marketing Optimization) and you want to get some control over these before it impacts your deliverability rate (which we is also covered in the book).

    SPAM RATES

    According to DataProt, nearly 85% of all emails are spam, which translates to a daily average of 122.33 billion email messages per day. As for the other 22.43 billion emails, that’s the sweet spot category you want to be in. That’s because spam email is communication that is deemed as unwanted and solicited, and not only are they annoying to receive but they can also be dangerous phishing or malware attempts designed to collect and exploit your information or take over your devices.

    Depending on the location of the recipient to whom you are sending email, there may have legislation in place to protect them from receiving these types of exploitative or junk emails, which we talked about in last week’s episode.

    This is a matter that browsers and email providers take seriously. To avoid getting your emails labeled as junk, your spam rate must be kept below 0.1%. This is why you can be OK with people unsubscribing from your email list: you don’t want to send email to people who don’t want to receive it anyways because you’d rather have a few people leave your list than have all of your emails categorized as spam.

    This is also why you don’t want your emails to be a machine-gun of sales pitches; your deliverability WILL be impacted if you aren’t providing value in your emails. In fact, here’s a fun exercise: check your email’s junk folder right now. You probably have emails in there from people whose email list you actually did sign up to so why are they sitting in the junk folder? I’ll let you draw your own assumptions based on your own experiences, but I’d bet the person sending these emails tends to be high and heavy on the sales pitches, and probably don’t provide a lot of incentive to open their emails regularly. This is another reason why you have to be considerate of your email strategy and make sure you’re sending things that people actually want to open, and that aren’t just about supporting your bottom line.

    OTHER EMAIL MARKETING METRICS

    Your email marketing service provider has some metrics but not all of them. There are other data points about your email marketing that you want to know and track that you will either have to get elsewhere or you’ll have to calculate yourself.

    DELIVERABILITY RATES

    Since we’re on the subject of spam and deliverability, let’s talk about your deliverability rates. We talked a little bit about this in episode 41 and we cover this in my new book, but you’ll want to run an email deliverability test using a service like GlockApps to assess how your emails are being delivered to various recipients (like Gmail, Outlook, etc.) and get your finger on what your sender reputation is. After all, the first thing to improving your email marketing results is making sure they’re actually getting into the inboxes to which you’re sending them.

    The goal will seldom be to score 100% on your deliverability. For instance, you can see a test I ran below has me scoring a 93% deliverability.

    However, when I click through to see which recipients are labeling my emails as spam, I can see it is people with email addresses that end in @yandex.ru and that’s fair because the top-level domain “.ru” means this is a Russian address. But my emails aren’t written with Cyrillic letters; they’re written in English and it’s fair for them to see this as suspicious. I also don’t have anyone in my email list who is subscribed with a @yandex.ru email address. As such, it isn’t worth it for me to focus on improving this value that really doesn’t have much to do with my performance.

    However, you do want to have and keep your finger on the pulse of this metric to make sure your emails continue to see the light of day.

    LIST GROWTH RATE

    According to HubSpot, your email list degrades by 22.5% every year – meaning that is the overall percentage of people who unsubscribe or otherwise stop opening and engaging with your emails – and you therefore always want to be aware of how your growth is happening and work at growing your list to make up for those lost contacts.

    By keeping tabs on your list growth rate, you can ensure your list growth is outpacing your list attrition. You can integrate this calculation into your quarterly review process and to do so, you’ll need the following data points for a specific time period:

    • Total number of email subscribers;
    • Number of new subscribers; and
    • Number of unsubscribes.

    You’ll then calculate (New subscribers) – (Unsubscribers), then you’ll divide this by the total number or people on your list, and finally multiply by 100.

    I love examples so let’s make one out of this calculation: you have an email list of 2,000 people at the end of this quarter, and you added 400 of those this quarter while 150 unsubscribed.

    This means 400 – 150 = 250 / 2000 = 0.125 x 100 = 12.5%.

    INSERT IMAGE: LIST GROWTH RATE

    This metric can be especially valuable when tracking specific strategies you’re employing. For instance, you can keep your eye on the specific list growth happening with your ads/paid traffic and keep on top of the trends in terms of what you’re spending versus what you’re getting in return. After all, just because someone signed up to your email list from an ad you ran doesn’t mean they stayed there.

    Likewise, if you’re going to focus on list growth prior to a launch, it’s good to set some benchmarks in these regards and see how these numbers impact your overall launch performance. 

    RESPONSE RATES

    You probably won’t have this metric on hand for your overall campaigns but there are instances where you’ll want to track what is called your response rate. This is the percentage of people who are actively engaging with your email by communicating something to you.

    These are useful when you’re sending out surveys or asking people for feedback. You’ll calculate this by taking the number of people who responded to your emails and divide it by the number of people to whom you sent the emails and then multiply by 100.

    INSERT IMAGE: RESPONSE RATE

    For instance, say you have an automated sequence designed to go out to people who have bought a specific product of yours and one of the emails in that series includes a call-to-action to provide a testimonial. You received 20 testimonials last quarter from the 125 sales you made.

    This means last quarter’s response rate for your product’s testimonial request was 16%, or 20 testimonials / 125 sales = 0.16 x 100.

    Again, you’re not going to track the response rate for every single email you send out. You want to be especially strategic about tracking these because 1) these have to be done manually and 2) you need to have and know your reason for collecting this data.

    Some good reasons may include testing different subject lines or calls-to-action, switching out the order of your engagement-focused email delivery to see if timing is a factor in whether people are more or less likely to engage with you, or even to change the positioning of your options as buttons within your email versus redirecting them to a form on your website.

    SUBSCRIBER VALUE/REVENUE PER SUBSCRIBER

    If you use an all-in-one system that houses your sales pages and cart processing like I do with Kartra, the platform itself will provide you with your email subscriber value and I’ll provide a link for what that looks like in the shownotes. Your subscriber value may also be called your revenue per subscriber and it serves to indicate what every subscriber is worth to you.

    This will be one of the most valuable metrics for you to know when you’re ready to invest in areas like advertising because it helps you forecast how much you can afford to spend to attract a lead and how much you can expect to make from each lead you attract.

    If your service doesn’t automatically calculate this for you, you can calculate this for yourself by taking the revenue you’ve made from your email list over the last year and dividing it by the number of subscribers you have. 

    INSERT IMAGE: SUBSCRIBER VALUE

    Let’s say you made $100,000 in revenue from your email list last year and you have a list of 5,000 people. This means that each email subscriber was worth $20/year to you.

    Start with an annual baseline as your benchmark and then depending on the frequency of your reviews,  integrate this calculation as a regular part of your monthly or quarterly “health checks”. You’ll want to continue seeing this number on an annual basis seeing as some quarters are more launch- and sales-focused than others, and you’ll want to keep that overall view. But if you are getting into advertising, it’s a good idea to tag those specific subscribers as such and look at what that segment of your email subscribers are valued at as a means of forecasting your paid promotion profit margins even more efficiently.

    CONVERSION RATES

    Last but certainly not least, we have to talk about your email conversion rates. Now I have some strong thoughts and feelings about how people speak about their conversion rates, and I go into this in my book on publishing, tracking and improving your overall digital marketing campaigns and strategies called Results On Repeat.

    But when someone says something like, “My launch converted at 20%”… I’m over here asking, “converted what to 20% of what?”

    Because to calculate a conversion rate, you need a beginning and an end. If we stick with this example of a launch, you could convert 30% of your email list to sales for your launch, but you could also convert 30% of your email list to visits to your launch sales page… and these are two very different stories being told.

    I would even venture to say that “email list” isn’t a specific enough starting point; after all, you’re likely to be segmenting your email list and you can expect to see a very different conversion to sales from your general email list than you would see from the much-warmer segment of people who were on the waitlist for your next launch.

    This is why I’m always suspicious of the use of vague, undefined conversion rates in other people’s marketing, and why I encourage you to focus on your own test paper. When you’re looking at your own specific numbers, based on your own specific segments that you are clear about, you’re able to understand WHAT your conversion rates mean, how they’re showing you the areas for optimization and you get to define success on your own terms and numbers, literally.

    So now what? Now is when I strongly encourage you to get EMAIL MARKETING OPTIMIZATION, my new fresh-off-the-presses book because we’re covering the A-to-Z of email marketing optimization and it’s at a price that everyone can afford.

    Broadcasts, flash sales, email challenges, welcome sequence, evergreen sequences, surveys and testimonials, re-engagement sequences, and more are all covered in EMAIL MARKETING OPTIMIZATION. Every campaign is mapped out – literally, with process maps and workflows – showing you what to track, how to track it, and what you can do to improve your email marketing results and your link is in the shownotes.

    Don’t forget to leave me a review – you’d be my top shelf favorite if you left a positive, glowing review here where you’re listening to this podcast as well as over on Amazon. In fact, I get such great feedback in my DMs and my emails, but nobody else is seeing that but me and when you submit those same kind words as a review, the benefits are exponentially huger for me so please, if you think I’m the bee’s knees, don’t keep that to yourself. Make it an OMGrowth moment for ME, okay? Okay. We’ll talk soon, baiieee.

    CONTINUE READING

  • Is Your EMAIL MARKETING COMPLIANT to International Laws like GDPR, CAN-SPAM and Anti-Spam Legislation?

    This is a transcript from episode 60 of the OMGrowth podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and right now, I have a problematic relationship with dill pickle sunflower seeds. I’m not sure how I’m going to kick this new habit but hopefully it’ll be as easy as being legally compliant to international law with the emails you’re sending. Today, we’re going actually break down what being compliant with your email marketing means for you and for the people on your email list, and I have all the confidence in the world that this episode will make you feel more confident about how you’re operating your own business.

    Getting legally compliant with how you’re sending email sounds intimidating… until you start doing it. Then you realize that most of it is common sense and all of it is based on getting email marketers to act and interact like actual human beings who were raised to be polite and kind to one another. (Yes, even online!)

    Which is something we can all get behind, n’est-ce pas?

    Before we get into the specific laws that impact your email marketing practices, let’s start with the most important element of any email you send: acknowledge that you’re connecting with a real human being and they are the most important part of this entire interaction.

    The laws you have to abide by aren’t the laws that you, the sender, are governed by. Instead, it is the laws that protect your recipient that you need to obey when you’re sending email to them. It makes sense if you think about it because these laws are put in place to protect the consumer. When it comes to email marketing, the recipient of your email is the consumer.

    Does this mean that you are expected to adhere to the laws that govern every different nationality you have on your email list? Well, actually yes, that IS the expectation. However, you don’t have to enroll to law school or become an international privacy expert or anything to do that.

    There’s a lot of overlap with what these laws cover and that makes sense. After all, the purpose and focus for all these laws is to protect the consumer, and no matter where the law is coming from, the ways to do that have much more in common than they are different.

    If you live by the motto “don’t be a grossy-pants marketer”, you’re probably good. But just in case, let’s walk you through what that actually means and some of the ways “being a decent human being in the inbox” is legislated.

    If you have any specific questions or concerns about this, I would encourage you to seek out counsel from either a lawyer or privacy expert who specializes in this area to provide you with individualized feedback.

    GDPR

    Just like music festival posters start by putting their headlining acts up to in big bold letters, we’re going to take the same approach here and begin our conversation with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or what the cool kids like us refer to as GDPR

    If you were in the digital marketing world back in the spring of 2018, you’ll remember the straight-up “chicken little, sky is falling” vibes that felt all over the world wide web at the announcement that GDPR was about to be enforced and everyone had better fall in line.

    It was full-on panic mode as to how small-scale marketers like you and I would be able to segment our EU-based email subscribers from the rest of the world in order to comply. That is, until about 6 months into it all and we realized that what GDPR was asking us to do was actually easier to apply to all of our email opt-ins rather than trying to segment everyone’s opt-in options by region. Especially when most of what we were talking about was obtaining consent to collect someone’s email address, a practice that really should not have been the cause for such wide-spread concern.

    But at the time, the belief and general consensus was that GDPR would represent “the end of email marketing”. Of course, this isn’t the case and email marketing remains the top converting traffic source for most online businesses. What GDPR did put an end to, for some, was the facility to spam people who did not want to receive your emails or who did not agree to receiving emails from you in the first place. For most people, this wasn’t actually a problem. While some worried that GDPR was “anti-business”, that wasn’t at all the case; the enforcement was actually “pro-consumer” that placed the consumer’s consent to communications as a priority. This wasn’t a zero-sum game the way some had frame it but rather, it created more transparency and compliance between business owners and their customers.

    The major change that came from reinforcing GDPR was the act of collecting explicit consent from the person whose personal information you, the business owner, were collecting from EU residents.

    Email marketers were expected to provide the purpose for which they were collecting this personal information and explain the intent behind how it would be used, and EU-residents had to be provided with the clear option to agree or disagree to the stated intent of use. There was also the added element of agency: by law, these same people would have agency as to how you would use this information. If they chose to no longer me on your email list, GDPR law states that they must be provided with an easy way of unsubscribing from receiving any further correspondence from you by way of a link or a button that was included in every communications you sent their way.

    In short, the logical, ethical and dare-I-say reasonable enforcements made to email marketing by GDPR included:

    • Obtaining consent from email subscribers to receive further communication;
    • Requiring email marketers to identify and communicate how an individual’s contact information was obtained; and
    • Providing email subscribers with the option and agency to manage their subscription settings in every email that is sent.

    Not exactly restrictive, right? At least, that’s how a lot of email marketers saw this. As a result, the practices enforced with GDPR made more sense for most marketers to take an “across the board” approach than it was worth the trouble of trying to segment EU traffic from the rest of world.

    Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

    While GDPR is the most popular kid in the class of email marketing legislation, it had its predecessors.

    In 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) was passed. In the summer of 2018, just after GDPR was enforced, the Spam Reporting Center reported more than 137,000 spam complaints, the top reason for this stated as receiving email to which they did not consent. They also reported that text message spam was on the rise and I suspect that as marketing is more inclusive with the use of text messages, messenger and chatbots, we will see more specific privacy legislations covering those areas as well.

    We will talk a lot more about spam next week and how you can avoid being labeled as a spammer (ew!) but if this is a subject you want to learn more about, there’s a lot of great info to be had at fightspam.gc.ca. The reason I mention this now, though, is because those same themes of “obtaining consent” that define GDPR are also found at the forefront of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation. It also stipulates that the sender has to be forth-coming about who they are and as such, email marketers must include:

    • A “from” field that clearly indicates who the sender of this email is;
    • An honest street and/or mailing address where the sender can be reached; and
    • The use of subject lines that are not designed to be misleading, deceptive or dishonest.

    I, for one, do not want to live in a world – not even a digital one! – where these aren’t accepted as baseline courtesies we all respect and adopt. I know the main issue here comes up with solopreneurs who say, “But Lanie! I don’t want to post my home address”. Fair enough and you can write off a PO Box or virtual mailbox as the cost of doing business.

    You’re entitled to keep the “personal” aspect of your personal information, but you’re sending these emails as a business owner and there’s an expectation that you will act like it. Meanwhile, when the situation is reversed and you’re the consumer, you can be glad that the people you’re doing business have to be transparent about some basic concepts like who they are, where they’re located and what they’re contacting you about.

    CAN-SPAM Act

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was the first to enact a national standard for the sending of commercial email with the CAN-SPAM Act in 2003. Its official title is a little more of a mouthful, though, because CAN-SPAM stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003.

    While the Act does not reference obtaining explicit consent, it touches on most other items we’ve already discussed like providing a physical address, providing the option to opt-out of communication, and avoiding the use of deceptive or misleading subject lines.

    It also stipulates that if a message is actually an advertisement, the sender is required to make it clear that this message is, in fact, an advertisement. This includes any other framing you may use for money or products you receive in exchange for sharing the message, such as affiliate commissions or brand sponsorships.

    If you’re getting a little something-something in exchange for sending a message out, you are expected to disclose this fact.

    There are also many other related laws covering many different nations. I encourage you to read up and research these topics further based on where your email subscribers are coming from, and to speak with a legal and/or privacy professional for any concerns you may have.

    However, as I promised you, there are a lot of common themes and overlap with what these laws set out to cover, and an over-simplified but not-entirely-wrong approach is to ask yourself “am I treating this like an actual human interaction?”. The most significant differences between these laws are typically in what constitutes a breach according to which law and to what degree the penalty is enforced, but the foundations they’re grounded in are all share.

    My hope is that you’re reading this and thinking, “OK, Lanie, but this is a whole lot of common sense and human kindness, right?” Because yes, you would be right to say this. As I mentioned earlier, these laws aren’t set out to be “anti-business” but rather, they’re positioned to be “pro-consumer”. Nobody’s trying to “ruin” your email marketing campaigns but there was always that one kid who CAN ruin it for the rest of the class, and these laws prevent that from happening by setting a baseline of acceptable ethics and behaviors with how we communicate online.

    Because hey! not EVERYONE sees these requirements as the common courtesy we should all be entitled to and they’re the ones keeping these lawmakers in business. The truth is that you’d be hard-pressed to take a legal wrong turn if you looked at your email marketing campaigns and asked yourself “what would I like and what would I want to receive? how do I like to be spoken to and communicated with?”. 

    And look, next week, I have a big announcement to make. Another big announcement? Yes, another big announcement – I’ve been full of them this quarter, right? Does it have to do with email marketing optimization? Of course it does, boss! You know I’m no good at surprises – so, next week, I’ll talk more about that as well as email marketing KPIs and engagement metrics because your open rates are officially vintage now. But like, not the good type of vintage; the kind of vintage that HGTV is like “we have to take this house down to its studs” and we’re doing THAT next week because you’re my favorite. Talk soon, baiiieeee!!

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