Welcome to another episode of Explode Your Expert Biz Show, brought to you by http://gtex.org.uk/,
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Today I have the pleasure to Interview Ken Countess
Ken Countess is managing director of The Countess Group, a marketing consultancy.
He’s an internationally recognized expert on Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing.
Ken’s held executive positions at 3 Fortune 100 companies.
Now a marketing coach, he helps companies just like yours Gain An Unfair Advantage Over Their Competition.
In this episode, we talk about
- How to grow your email list
- How to convert your list into buyers
- How to automate the process in the right way
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– Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of Explode Your Expert Biz Show. And today, we are here with the one and only Ken Countess. How you doing Ken?
– Hey Simone, how are you today?
– I am incredibly well, how about yourself?
– Excellent, looking forward to our conversation.
– Alright, so today’s all about email marketing. How can we make some good money with emails? It’s a topic I’m pretty excited about because I personally use email marketing every day. I send an email every day to my list or sometimes multiple emails every day to my list. And I’ve been obsessed about it. It worked magic for me so I’m really curious to hear what you have to share around this topic. But before we go dive deeper into great strategy, tips, tricks, techniques, tell us a bit more about you, your background, like, how did you stumble into email marketing?
– Yeah, sure, happy to do that. By the way, I would say, it’s not how to make good money, it’s how to make great money using email marketing.
– Alright, even better. I like it, okay, I like it even better.
– Yeah, better still. So, how did I get started with email. Well, you know, I mean, email goes back a really, really, really long time. You know, I was using email way back in the 1980s. Not for business back then, it really wasn’t used for business then. But I started using it on a serious level for business probably in the late 1990s. I was working for some pretty big companies. I’ve worked for Motorola, I spent 20 years there. I’ve worked for a company called CVS, which is one of the largest drug store chains in the United States. I’ve worked for Marriott. And, you know, in all of those companies email became a really important part of just how we communicated with one another. And when I left the corporate world in 2010, I began to focus on teaching businesses how to use marketing, and email marketing specifically, as a tool to grow their business. And so, one of the companies that recruited me to be one of their trainers was Constant Contact. They’re one of the largest email marketing services on planet earth. And so, you know, what I found, Simone, over time, and I’ve been teaching email marketing for seven or eight years now, is that once people really get to understand how to use it as a tool, they really start to appreciate it. And I talk to them about it as, look, just think of your own behaviour. When you get up in the morning, one of the very first things you do is, do what? You check your email. Right, I mean, we all do it. It’s just become a habit. For some, an addictive habit but–
– Yeah, a lot of people do.
– Yeah, a lot of people do so then flip the, flip it around and you say, okay, as a business, what’s the best way for me to reach my customers, my prospects, my clients, or from a nonprofit, a donor? Well, if you know that they’re checking their email every day, that’s where you need to be, is in their inbox. And it really is as simple as that.
– That’s really fascinating because even if someone doesn’t check their emails every day, I, for example, myself, I check the emails once a week because my assistant will check the emails daily. So, the emails will be checked but my assistants will filter out the most important one. But there are still people that I’m following. Cause I went through the phase at the beginning, you know, every subscribe to every single list on the planet, and just getting every freebie I could, but then arrived to the point where my time and my energy became more scarce and therefore, I was even more focused. But still then, I’m still checking people and there are three, four, five people that I follow and I want to read their emails.
– And I will keep them in my inbox because I want to read their emails. So it’s very fascinating because even if someone, like myself, doesn’t check their emails daily email marketing still works.
– Yeah, sure. I get 650 emails a day, on average. You probably get something similar. Yeah, it’s a big number. And so, who is going to spend all that time reading all of those emails? If you do the math, it’s over 4,000 a week. And if you’re reading email every day, how are you working your business?
– Right? So, you have an assistant that filters your email and sends you the ones, or you’re aware of the ones, that are most important to you. I use technology and an assistant but the technology filters out everything that I really don’t care to see every day. I may look at it from time to time but regardless, yeah, whether you sign up for lots of lists or just a few lists, the point is that email helps you cultivate a relationship.
– And marketing is relationship building.
– Absolutely. So in fact, let’s go into the topic of relationship right now.
– What, cause a lot of people will say, well, Iwant to use email marketing to make great money, as you said. And now you mentioned relationship. So, can you talk a bit more about how do we build that relationship so that we can make great money using emails?
– Yeah, sure. So, you know, one of the things that we do and what we teach with email marketing is you are building a relationship with someone. And when we talk about building a relationship, that means that you’re not trying to sell them something every time you send out the email. I think of it as the 80 20 rule where about 80% of the time you’re providing information that someone would find helpful or valuable or educational or help them live their lives a little bit better. And when you do that, when you follow that kind of a rule, the 80 20 rule, that gives you permission, if you will, for about 20% of the time, to maybe pitch a product or service. You know, if most of the time you’re giving them information that in some way they feel is going to make their lives better, they will welcome your email, they’ll anticipate your email, and hopefully share your email with people they know in their circle, which helps you build your audience.
– Yes, absolutely. So, how do we, tell me through the steps of, how do we then build this relationships? Because, get the concept, now it’s time to go deeper into the nitty gritty. How do we get to build this relationship? What type of content do we need to send?
– Okay, so I’ll give you a specific example. A few weeks ago, we’re recording this at the end of November of 18. A few weeks ago, I was in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was speaking at a conference and there were, let’s call it, a couple hundred people in the room and I invited them to sign up to join my mailing list. And what I said to them was, look, I’m not going to be trying to sell you stuff all the time, I want to help you. They were all business owners in the audience. I want to help you build your business and I wanna give you tips every week on ways that you can grow your business. And so, when they sign up to be on the mailing list, the first thing they get is a welcome email. Which is something like, hi Joe. Thanks for, this is Ken, thanks for joining my mailing list. I look forward to being in touch with you. And by the way, any time you wish, you know, send me an email back and let me help you find ways that you can grown your business. And so, maybe a week later, and we may use an autoresponder. Something that automatically gets those emails out so I don’t have to be on the keyboard every week. But the next one may be, hey, check out this free download. Five ways that you can get better mileage out of your own email marketing campaign. And the week after that it may be a video that says, here, let me show you step-by-step-by-step how to build an email. And one after that may be, these are best practises on what you need to do today to generate more sales. And the week after, and so on. So, here’s the point. In each one of those first four emails that I just described, not once was I trying to sale something but rather to warm up that individual, give them the confidence that they have found a marketing guy who is truly looking to help them grow. And so, what that does is it enables me then to tap into that relationship over time and then invite them to attend an event, maybe it’s a webinar, maybe it’s an onsite thing. And so, that’s how it begins to cultivate that relationship. And here’s something really fun that I know that your listeners could probably relate to. One of the emails I sent out last week had to do with the fact that now, when you’re a business owner, if you have an email marketing service and you send out an email and you feel distressed that your opened rate is, you know, 12, 15, 20% and you say, what am I doing? I’m spending all this time sending out emails and nobody’s opening the email. Right, so now there’s resend technology where the system you’re using will automatically send out that email, maybe you make a few tweaks to the subject line, but it’ll send out that email again to people who have not opened it in the past.
– Or within a few days. So, here’s the interesting thing, and this gave me a tickle, a chuckle. Is that I got an email back from somebody who received that specific email that said, hey, using a resend option is a good thing to do for your business. And the individual wrote back to me and he said, “Hey, I was at that session you taught “in Las Vegas, a few weeks ago, and I really appreciate “that you sent me this email but I’m not so sure “resending is such a good idea.” Alright, so I wrote back, you know, I don’t remember the person’s name, let’s say it was Richard, “Richard, thanks so much “for replying back. I’m glad that you received the email, “that you’re learning from it, and I’m really glad “to get your feedback and let me tell you a little bit more “about why resend is a good idea.” Right, so the point there, again, is I’m not trying to sell him a service but rather, educate him on how he can be a better marketer himself.
– So, then you create an interaction. So, it’s not just, what I’m hearing you saying is that those email are not just a blast but also they are an invitation for a conversation, as well.
– That’s right.
– That you want, because now, at this point, you can also take the conversation from automation into one-to-one. I’ve got a question on the technology that you use. Do you use Constant Contact, did you use something different in terms of technology? Cause I use Infusionsoft, for example, for our emails. There is ActiveCampaign, which is another great system to use. What’s your preferred one?
– Well, you know, that’s a great question. There are so many great ones out there, you know. I’ve certainly had experiences with Infusionsoft, AWeber, Constant Contact, iContact, Mailchimp, you could run down the whole list. I use Constant Contact for a few reasons. You know, I certainly like that things like Infusionsoft and HubSpot have more advanced technology and allow you to do different things. But, because I’m in front of so many people who tend to be small business owners, I want to be able to relate to them and speak a language that they understand and Constant Contact is a really powerful, easy-to-use, simple email marketing platform that I can demonstrate very easily. And so, whether I’m in a big room or small room they get it and if they then get to a point where they, they buy Constant Contact and they call and they say, you know, maybe I need something a little more powerful then I help them with that, too. But it’s a good starting point, it’s a good launching point for most–
– I like what you’re saying because I remember, I started with Mailchimp and just because it was simple and got into the habit of creating lists, augmenting lists, sending emails. And yes, Infusionsoft, you cannot really show it in 15, 20 minutes on how to use it. That’s a weeks long, month long process to understand how to use that bloody thing, but it does anything you want. So, for someone who’s starting out, don’t go for a complex system, use a simple one. If you then, you’re ready of a big list, you are a bit more internet marketing savvy, and now you want to create complex campaigns or interaction or payment system all integrated in one place then absolutely upgrade to another system. You mentioned as well of frequency. So, you will send an email once a week. Is that your strategy, and if yes, why once a week instead of once a day, or once every two days, or three days?
– Yeah, you know, I’m glad you asked the question, Simone. It’s a lot of testing that goes into this. Three years ago, perhaps, once a month tended to be best practise but now that so many people are accessing email on a mobile device, you know, they pull out their small screen, right? And so, the emails have to be really short so, for that reason, when you observe that and when you respect the fact that people are checking your email on the go and the average person only spends about 15 seconds on an email that they actually open, that tells you, keep it much shorter. So, when you do that and when you respect their time, then they appreciate that fact and they welcome your email on a more regular basis. So, more regular meaning instead of once a month, now it’s once a week. Now, I have tested doing it several times a week, I’ve tested doing it less than once a week, and the sweet spot for, at least my business as a marketing coach, going after the people who follow me once a week tends to be about the right cadence. Now, for my podcast or maybe I have a special offer, I may, during the course of a week, send two emails out but typically I limit it to once a week and I try to do it, also, on the same day of the week. So, someone will anticipate, oh, Ken sends out his email every, let’s call it every Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock local. Right, and so you build a sense of anticipation.
– I really like the consistency and fact that, what do you think about one email a day? Because in the internet marketing community there is the one email a day model, which is very popular and that’s personally the one that I use. Every single day, for the past two years, my list received an email. And, there are pros and cons for that. What are your thoughts because we did actually a podcast interview and you guys can go back with Mark Mawhinney, which I know interviewed you as well on his podcast, I actually saw that on Facebook recently. And we talk about it, he uses the one email a day model and we talked about how to use it on that interview. So, check Mark Mawhinney on our podcast. But what’s your opinion about that?
– I actually, you know, I signed up for his list, too, of course, and I think Mark, in particular, does a fantastic job of delivering some really good content every day. You know, and that’s great for him, and he has structured his business around that. For me, I can’t write something every single day. Of course, you get to a point where you can reuse and the average person doesn’t know that you sent that same email seven moths ago, so you can take advantage of that. I applaud Mark and anybody else who’s been able to develop that one-a-day cadence. And it works as long as you’re providing good information. I mean, after all these are people that signed up to be on your list. You didn’t just randomly decide to send out to 10,000 people. So, these are your followers and they have become accustomed to receiving your email every day and they’re not unsubscribing, then you’re doing them a service and the likelihood is you’re cultivating a great relationship with them. Again, it’s all about relationship and that opens the door to doing more selling. For me, I mean, this might sound weird as a marketing guy, I hate to write. I’d much rather speak than write. But I also know that people aren’t going to, if you send them a video every single day they’re not going to watch it every single day.
– So, that’s why we do the podcast once a week and the email once a week, so they get a little sprinkling of each. Now, people gravitate to what they enjoy participating in the most. So, once again, I love the once-a-day if you can do it. For me, it’s a little bit too much, so, once a week works fine. And the people who follow me have even said to me, when I tried to step it up to a couple or three times a week, whoa, that’s too much. I have a hard time keeping up with once a week, keep it to that.
– Yeah, it’s a very great point because, again, there is not, when you are talking about strategies, everyone will have a different strategy. And, the most important things that you is providing value, give something helpful, and do it consistently. And do something that also, you as a marketer, as a business owner, you can sustain. Because, a lot of people fantasise to do the one email a day model but, for example, I never reuse an email. Ever reuse an email, so every day I will sit down and I will write down my content. And that became part of my routine but it’s something that I enjoy doing. It became a habit right now. I actually feel weird if I don’t sit down and send my email. I feel like withdrawing symptoms and like, oh my god, I need to send my emails right now. But then, a lot of people that join my mailing list, they send me immediate, the beginning they said, hey, I’m receiving too many emails, I’m opting out. I’m like, okay fine. That’s fine cause you are not then my ideal customer to be on the list.
– Yeah, exactly. Hey, you know the funny thing for me, Simone, is I have enough content that I could do something every day. Right, I think as marketers we come across so much information that we’d love to be able to pass along. But for me, as I say, it’s a little bit too much. But your audience will tell you, you know, yes, I loved receiving it.
– Exactly, and you will see the opened rates, the opt-out rates, that there is and is fascinating and so knowing your audience, seeing does your audience wants to receive an email once a week? Twice a week? Every day? Check with them and then they will tell you and build that relationship in this way. So now, I want to transition and talk about more selling via emails. Cause we talked about adding value, creating valuable content. So, how do we integrate, now, or how do you integrate the sales when you have a campaign or when you have an offer in the email sequence process?
– Yeah, well, I pay attention to the clicks. You know, to me someone opening up an email is an indication, but when people are interacting with your call to action, that gives you a sense of how effective your campaign is. Now, if they click on the link to go to the website and buy something, that’s one thing. If they actually buy, wonderful, you know. The cash register rings, ding, ding, ding. But if they don’t, if they click and nothing happens, there’s something broken in your conversion process. Your emails will tell you that, too. So, I pay great deal of attention to the analytics. The other thing, though, also, is there are some products and services that we offer that are more of a longer term sales cycle. So, one example, might be a workshop. We may offer a workshop that’s three or four months from now and so, we’ll begin to promote it in an email campaign and see what the interest level is. But if people are not buying tickets, then we’ll change that up a little bit. Or, maybe we’ll send them into an autoresponder sequence and let the autoresponder take over from there and continue to warm them up with a personalised email, video, and so on. One thing that we are doing right now, is we have an online email academy where they can sign up. It’s a monthly service and right now the library has 70 different videos teaching someone how to create an email campaign that works. But the way, what we do with that is, because no one’s gonna consume all of that information and they may not be really sure what your product is right off the bat, is we drop them into a sequence, an autoresponder, that delivers a video, a two-minute video about every other day. And if they’re interested, they sign up and if they’re not interested, the campaign stops.
– And so, we use technology in that way to increase sales just using email.
– I really like it. Do you, I’m really curious about the process cause that’s something I’ve been doing recently. Before, I was just seeing the emails and not paying attention to any click or any analytics or any open. And recently, about a month ago, I started actually paying more attention to it. I know, very rookie mistake but that’s, everything happened at the right time. And that’s why I started paying attention and I started developing, also, some strategies or some reengagement campaigns with people that click but don’t buy, people that open but don’t click. What do you do, let’s say, in your process when you check your analytics. So, let’s say you send an email and then after how long do you check the analytics? After how long the email has been sent do you check the analytics, generally?
– Generally, I will check the analytics the day after the email went out just to see what the initial–
– So 24 hours.
– 24 hours, yeah. And then I’ll check again 72 hours because within a three day span, that’s about when you’ll get the maximum engagement.
– Absolutely, because then that email gets buried under the other tonnes of email that they receive. And so, what do you do then, when you look at those clicks? Do you just watch them and analyse them or do you reach out to the people that opened? Do you reach out to the people that click? Do you do something like that or you just use it for data and improving the campaigns?
– I’ll give you a specific example. About a week ago, we had a special offer for someone who wanted to, who was interested in Constant Contact. We’ll use that as this example.
– And it was this special offer of 40% off and it was only good until last Friday at midnight. And so, the email campaign went–
– Black Friday, woo hoo! You guys in the US love Black Friday.
– We had a sneak-peak email that went out on Sunday night that said, hey coming tomorrow, it was actually Cyber Monday through the end of the week. And so, on Sunday it was a sneak-peak, you know, this is coming in your inbox tomorrow. And so, when it got in their inbox that next day, I saw who was able to, who clicked on the link but didn’t buy. And so, I waited 24 hours and then I created another autoresponder campaign. So, and the email went something like, hey Simone, I see that you clicked on the email but you didn’t sign up for the service. Here’s another shot at it. And so, but that only went to the people who clicked and didn’t buy, right? So, you’re not intruding on people who really didn’t express any interest in the first place. And so, the conversion rate actually wound up being pretty good because we did that another time or two, as we followed up and then took a look at the analytics for people who, during the course of the week, clicked on that link.
– That’s great. That’s something I started doing recently from a month ago and it made a huge difference, a huge difference. Because then, the email that we can send in the campaigns that we can create and they become so relevant to the people because of the action they took. And instead of receiving general messages then they receive something and it’s specific to them, to the conversation that is already in their head. Which is one of the rules of marketing.
– Exactly right.
– So, is there anything, before we wrap up and we go to the session of lifting the veil, is there anything that will be important to mention in the email marketing strategies that we haven’t mentioned yet? Something that for you is like, okay, I want to wrap up with this, bam, with this firework thing that can work that we haven’t talked about.
– Yeah, you know, and as simple as this may sound it’s for those who are listening who aren’t using email, start using it.
– Good point.
– I mean it really, it’s that simple, start using it. People are afraid that like, well, I don’t know what will happen. I’m afraid people won’t like me. I’m afraid, you know. Hey, your business isn’t going to crumble, if anything, and the only place it can go is up. So, just start using it and if you need a coach, get a coach, there’s so much help available online. It’s easy to get it started. You know, for those who are sceptics, who have never tried it, just start using it and see how well it works cause, you know, email has the highest return on investment year after year of any tool out there, aside from personal selling, where you’re immediately face-to-face with someone. But the ROI on email is 44 to one. Where else do you get that kind of return on your money?
– Yeah, absolutely. I 100% agree with you, Ken. So, we’re now moving to the part which is called, lifting the veil. That’s where I’m gonna ask you to share something that you’re using, can be a business tool or a personal tool, an app, a book that you’ve read, that is making a difference in your life right now or business and that is like, oh my god, this is so good, people must know about this. What is it for you?
– For me it’s getting out there and being seen. You know, I think it’s so easy for people to just hide behind the keyboard. So, yeah, I use apps and I use different marketing tools, I use social media, I use YouTube a lot. To me, right now, if you said, what is the one tool, beyond email, that’s really working for you, it’s YouTube, it’s video. Because right now, everybody is so engaged to their smartphone, you know. We’re checking not only our email but we’re looking at videos online all the time. So, if you have a physical presence, whether it’s virtual or onsite, to me that’s the thing that’s generating the most business. I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and say, I saw your video, I listen to your podcast, I met you at this meeting. It’s relationship, that’s really all it is.
– So, get out there, don’t hide, show your face, teach, tell people what you do and how you can help them as much as possible.
– Yeah, cause if people haven’t seen you or know you or hear you how are they going to do business with you?
– Absolutely. Ken, what is, now, something, how can people reach out to you, how can people get in touch with you if they want to know more about email marketing, about the service that you offer, maybe they want to go onto your mailing list and see how you do things. So, where can people get in touch with you?
– The easiest thing to do is to go to our website. We have two ways to remember it. It’s www.thecountesssgroup.com or something a little bit simpler is marketyourbusiness.co. Marketyourbusiness.co, they both go to the same place and there you can find free resources, you can download email guides, you can listen to our podcast, get access to our YouTube channel. That’s the best place to find us.
– That’s fantastic, so also, we did a podcast together. You can also see the episode that Ken and I did on public speaking and selling. So, I’m sure you will love it. So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for listening. Ken, thank you very much for being on the show. It’s been absolute pleasure to have this conversation about email marketing, which is a topic I’m really passionate about. So, thank you for being on the show and guys, make sure that you go on the website. Get on Ken’s list, you can see what he does, can see how he does it, you can learn about email marketing. The links are going to be here in the show note. Ken, thank you very much.
– Thank you, Simone. It was great seeing you again.
– It’s my pleasure, and listeners, thank you very much for listening. If you haven’t subscribed yet, to the show, what the heck are you waiting for? Hit that subscribe button right now. I know you want to so do it right now. And also leave us a five star review. If you like our content, a review for us goes a long way. That’s how the podcast world works. You give us a review, more people are going to see it. So, if there is one thing you can do for us it’s to give us a good review about this episode. Really appreciate it. And until next time, remember that together we grow exponentially. I’ll see you next time, ciao.