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Archives for September 2008

What Are Your Constraints?

A few years ago a book changed my thinking about business in a way only one other author has managed to do. The first of these will be familiar to a lot of you, especially my clients, it is the E-Myth series. I’m not alone in having a light bulb moment with those books. The book I am talking about here though blew me away because it made me realize what was wrong with the systems I was fighting against every day.

The book was, I think, “The Goal” by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, and the light bulb wisdom was his “Theory of Constraints“. I say “I think” because I quickly read all of his books that I could lay my hands on.

You don’t need to read up on the theory as much as I did though. In a nutshell, quoting from Wikipedia …

every organization has – at any given point in time – at least one constraint which limits the system’s performance relative to its goal

Common sense, right? Well the trick is consciously looking for the constraint, finding the real constraint, then elevating the priority of the constraint in order to fix the problem. The solution is, again, forehead-slapingly simple.

0. (Step Zero) Articulate the goal of the organization.
1. Identify the constraint (the thing that prevents the organization from obtaining more of the goal)
2. Decide how to exploit the constraint (make sure the constraint is doing things that the constraint uniquely does, and not doing things that it should not do)
3. Subordinate all other processes to above decision (align all other processes to the decision made above)
4. Elevate the constraint (if required, permanently increase capacity of the constraint; “buy more”)
5. If, as a result of these steps, the constraint has moved, return to Step 1. 

Again, online marketing consulting clients who work with me will be familiar with these steps.

Very often clients are worried about traffic, or their web design. I will sit down with them or go over the issues via the telephone and we will realize web design or traffic is not their real problem relative to their goal.

Had they just fixed the symptom they identified they would be wasting their money, because the root cause is something else entirely. This is why system thinking is so important rather than reliance on tactic-du-jour.

Rich Schefren has written a fantastic report that gets right to the heart of it, and it is free to download. Go click, download it, and read it today.

Email Marketing Tips: Writing Effective Email Subject Lines

Email Marketing Tutorial

In the last article of this Email Marketing tutorial series we looked at email copywriting and the goal of each element of your emails. We also looked at the importance of your subject lines in getting your emails opened. Let’s look at this aspect in detail.

As previously discussed, your email subject line has one main priority; get the recipient to open the email.

A Word of Warning

First of all, we have to keep in mind the risk of being flagged as spam.

While there are plenty of ways you can ratchet up the impact of your subject lines, balance this impulse by remembering you want to maintain the long term value of your list.

What do spam emails look like? Just look in your spam folder. They shout, they use lots of dollar signs, excessive punctuation, and tend to be, well, needy. Having said that, you can learn a lot from the good spams, there is a reason why spam continues … it makes money, so some of this has to be down to copywriting and not just sheer quantity.

Keep your email subjects familiar and consistent also, start with the same words so the recipients recognize you. I tend to start with the name of the newsletter. You are better off starting with the name of the newsletter because a lot of email clients will chop off the words at the end for space reasons.

Now, some of you will be thinking “Hey, there is no need – the recipient gets my email address”, which is true if you send your emails from “XXX Newsletter” but a lot of people don’t have a special email account for your newsletter. For example I like people to reply to the emails I send out so I send them out from me. Also, a lot of times email software shows the email address, not a friendly name, or the recipient only looks down the subject lines. My advice, as always, is do your own testing.

Optimal Email Subject Line Lengths

“How long should my email subject line be?” is the next question we need to cover. I get asked this a lot, and my answer is always “Long enough but not too long” :)

The maximum subject line length will be enforced by your software, but always try to keep it below 50 characters (including punctuation and spaces), because after that you are almost guaranteed to get cropped by email clients. Personally I aim for much lower, a goal of 20-30 characters has worked well in my testing, and certainly those with below 30-40 characters perform much better than those above …

That said, I do NOT rigidly stick to this. It’s important to get your point across clearly, and if that takes a few extra characters, so be it. I refer again to my point above about long term value. Your emails have to make sense.

Writing Compelling Email Subject Lines

The trick to writing email subject lines that get your messages opened is to appeal to the recipients emotions, needs and curiosity.

Consider your own behavior. When you are going through your inbox, what are your thought processes? You open emails based on the five ‘I’s …

  1. Importance – If it is work-related, or a PayPal payment, you are going to open that email smartish
  2. Intrigue – Curiosity, like a good joke or riddle, causes you to open the email to see what the punch line is.
  3. Interest – We all have subjects that we love to read about, so sometimes all you have to communicate is the topic
  4. Involvement – Pull on the heart strings, appeal to passion, greed, narcissism or any other emotional hot button
  5. Investment – Recipients will be personally or financially invested in something. Craft your subject line around it and it will get opened.

So how do you put that into practice?

  • News – Tell your recipients what’s new, something that is happening or just happened that they will want to know about
  • Tips – “How to” is a great way to get your email opened, providing you connect your solution to the recipients needs
  • Offer – Make a compelling offer that the recipient will want to take up
  • Question – Ask a question that the reader will answer “yes” to, or maybe put the subject in the form of a mystery or puzzle where the they will feel compelled to find out the answer.

You can mix and match, of course. Consider the headline “Who else wants to learn how a librarian made $1,000 in one day?”. It’s a question, a how-to, and it is news.

The Most Important Factor in Email Subject Effectiveness

What people forget, of course, is that it is not how clever the email subject is but how much it appeals to the reader. The main factor that will impact your success (or lack of) will be how well you address your target audience.

In fact, naming your target audience (“Freelancers! Now you can …”) can sometimes increase performance.

Appeal to your audiences current interests, needs and challenges and your emails will get opened. As an example, I knew my readers were interested in the Thesis theme but had a reason to resist buying, read about how my email overcame their sales objection.

It’s all about knowing your market.

Got any email copywriting tips to share? Please add your tip or link in the comments. Remember to subscribe so you don’t miss the next part of this email marketing tips series!

Using Customer’s Sales Objections to Sell More

Sales objections do not only cost you sales, but they can increase your sales too.

This might seem paradoxical, but consider a market where you are selling the same product or a very similar product to competitors. Whoever does the best job of addressing objections can sell more.

Overcoming sales objections is essential in making sales, but it also makes you more competitive, or can even give you an entry into a market that would otherwise be closed.

As proof you can take a look at a recent article of mine where I wrote about the brilliant Thesis WordPress theme. I had no hesitation in linking to this product with an affiliate link as I stand by it 100%, and in fact now use it as the basis for all my new blog build service customers unless specifically requested otherwise.

Now there are a lot of people writing about that product, Brian does well marketing it at Copyblogger alone, without his army of followers and affiliates. But still I know a decent amount of people bought through my link.

The trick with affiliate marketing, especially when you know you are going up against established affiliates, is to find a new angle. Luckily Brian let me know of a couple of new features that gave me the hook I needed.

I knew an objection that was stopping people buying the theme was “it looks great, and will help me in the search engines, but won’t by blog just look like everyone else’s?”.

That objection, connected to the new features that allowed you to easily personalize the theme, became my hook. “You no longer have to worry about looking the same, so you can have a great looking, unique blog, and get all the other benefits too”.

Objection removed, affiliate sales created.

Talking about affiliate marketing, I will be on the “Affiliate Doctors Live” panel at the A4U Expo London in October. If you would like to go for free, Kieron is giving away two full passes worth £299 each, check it out.

Authority Blogger Course Re-Launched

You may have already spotted, I have started allowing people back into my Authority Blogger Course. This is not the full launch, just a quiet re-opening of the doors. Customers get a special deal, I think you will like it. Three 30min 1:1 coaching calls Email support Private forum members area Early access to all […]

3 Great New Books to Buy Today

3-great-books

I’m a book addict, I must buy hundreds of dollars of books each month, enough that I dare not count how much I spend at any rate. But I am a lucky guy too, I get sent great books for nothing. Yes, it is not just fancy bean bags I get sent through the post, I also get excellent reading material like these books that I want to tell you about.

Now, that first paragraph might come across as a little smug, and it might also make you a little cross that I am suggesting you buy something that I got for free. That’s why the links in this post are not affiliate links, I will not gain anything should you buy other than a warm feeling that you took my advice :)

Click Here to Order

Click Here to Order: Stories of the World's Most Successful Internet Marketing Entrepreneurs: Joel Comm, Mark Joyner: BooksThis book is being heavily promoted in the internet marketing space and for good reason. It’s a fascinating look at the history of making money online and how the big stars got to where they are today. In fact, it is such a good idea for a book, I can’t believe nobody did it before.

As well as being a fantastic read, you should also take note of Joel’s promotion of the book. He is sure to get this book onto the best-sellers list if he carries on the way he is going. Buy it now and you also get special bonuses.

50 Kick-Ass Keyword Strategies

Wordtracker - 50 Kick-Ass Keyword Strategies

SEOBook must be the product I have recommended most over the years. Not just because Aaron Wall is a great guy, not just because he knows his stuff and is the “SEO’s SEO”, but because his advice works. Whole successful businesses have been built from scratch off the back of his techniques.

Now Aaron has done it again with another brilliant ebook that rather than just telling you how to perform keyword research, teaches you how to PROFIT from keywords.

If you want to know how to really rock your SEO, this ebook is for you.

How to Start a Business Website and Hire a Web Designer

How to Start a Business Website and Hire a Web Designer EbookNow the last book might have seemed a little advanced for anyone who has yet to build their website. Well, good news, Michael has the book for you. No doubt you realize just by browsing around your competitors there is a right way and many many wrong ways to build your first business website. In this ebook you get all the advice you need to get it done right, first time. If you are about to embark on getting your website built, this ebook could save you a fortune by showing you how to avoid getting it disastrously wrong.