092: How To Write Email Autoresponders That Generate Sales On Autopilot With John McIntyre

093: How To Write Enticing Emails To Close The Sale With John McIntyre

Today I’m excited to have John McIntyre on the show. I was introduced to John by Laura of Ecommerce Fuel, checked out his site and became intrigued by his email skills.

John runs the site TheMcMethod.com where he talks about how to automate sales via email autoresponders.

Sound familiar? 90% of the sales of my blog and a good portion of my ecommerce store sales are through email so I knew I wanted John on the show to see how he does it.

So today we are going to cover how to run email marketing campaigns to maximize sales. Enjoy!

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What You’ll Learn

  • How John got started with email marketing and how to use the McMethod
  • Some case studies illustrating John’s biggest wins with email
  • How John analyzes a client company and decides his plan of attack with email
  • What email campaigns you should be running with your online store
  • The difference between writing copy for email versus a landing page
  • How to structure a high converting email autoresponder

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Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. And if you are new here, it’s a show where I bring in successful bootstrapped business owners to teach us what strategies are working and what strategies are not. Now I don’t bring on these famous entrepreneurs simply to celebrate their success, instead I have them take us back to the very beginning and delve deeply into the exact strategies they used early on to gain traction for their businesses.

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Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m excited to have John McIntyre on the show. Now I was introduced to John by Laura of eCommerceFuel, checked out his site and became intrigued by John’s email skills. Now John runs the site, TheMcMethod.com, where he talks about how to automate sales via email auto-responders. Now if this sounds familiar to you it’s probably because 98% of the sales from my blog and a good portion of my ecommerce store sales are through email. So I knew I wanted to have John on the show to see how he does it. Today we are going to cover some real life case studies that he’s had on how to do email marketing to maximize sales. And with that, welcome to the show, John. How are you doing today man?

John: I’m doing really well Steve. It’s good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Steve: Yes, so before we start, give me the quick background on how you got started with TheMcMethod and how you got into email.

John: Sure. So I’m originally from Sydney, Australia but in 2011 I landed a job as the marketing director for [inaudible 0:03:56] in the Philippines. While I was there I got the entrepreneurial niche, and wanted to go and start my own things so I could travel around Asia and have that lifestyle. Before I worked with [inaudible 0:04:07]. And so, along the way I decided to teach myself how to write copy, how to write down words, how to write sales pages or emails that made people buy stuff.

And it started by being for a small website, a very small business that I had with my own website selling advertising. But eventually, someone, one of the visitors– he had a business and wanted some help with this email sign up and his email list. And so we did a deal together and he basically offered me some cash to create for him some emails and that’s where it all started. From there, in that case, that guy was the original thing. We basically set up a, we’ll go into the details later. We set up a course sort of an email program for them. And at the time, I didn’t actually mention it; we wish we had some results before this. I didn’t mention it. That was a 257% increase in his opt-in signage from the same traffic. It was actually a cool story. Then that’s where it started. He was happy obviously.

So we decided to do a podcast for it, on the stats, on the process on basically what we are doing right now. And he’s always very engaged. Let him have businesses. So afterwards they came to me, we made an offer and podcast. A number of them came to me afterwards and said, “Well can you do the same thing for me,” in that sort of style. So it was about three years ago now, and then actually picked up steam from there, more and more people came to me for email and gradually as it build up sort of a pretty good reputation as one of the main email address online.

Steve: So just curious the clients that you kind work with are they mainly selling like info-related products or what is the nature of the customers that you typically have?

John: Well, that’s the interesting thing. So, some of these we are going to talk about today. I’m going to give more info products based on more traditional into the internet marketing stuff. But here are some changes I think in my own vision and my own goals and also just realizing some of the mistakes I’ve made over the last years. Right now I’m doing a push store site, ecommerce email marketing. It’s very much in the early face.

There are at the process, the results, we don’t have too many results to share. But I think overtime it’ll– so that’s the new direction but up until now it’s been everyone from– it’s been a couple of ecommerce guys, a lot of info guys, men and women, also a lot of different courses, couple of software companies– couple of like BOB services, video production, just a wide range of stuff. Anyone who’s really trying to increase their conversion rate, because that’s what all emails do, it’s just about increasing your conversions.

Steve: Yeah, so what I like about email is kind of like the automation aspect which is key for me especially since I don’t have much time and I don’t have an army of employees. So what I have something to do today is kind of dig a little deeper into some of your successful clients in the past and pretty much what you did to increase their sales. So let’s just start with one of your biggest wins and why don’t you frame the, give us an intro to what this guy does and his company and then we’ll talk a little bit more about what you did for his email campaign.

John: Sure. So this was Alvin. Alvin came to me about three or four months ago. I was in Canada at the time. He was doing, basically doing a protocol. They have a business where they help you with reinstating personal development self help and improving this at the mindset and attitude towards mind, a whole range of different things. And they had an upcoming protocol. So what they– I mean, they’ve done this plenty of times. They do a few of these launches every year.

The person who had written the sales page, he wasn’t an email director, email and sales page, you know require quite a different approach. He’s previous [inaudible] [00:07:28] wasn’t available, even that– maybe he wasn’t as good as he hoped. So he had heard about me from [inaudible 0:07:35] and some of the other guys in the industry and wanted to do something. We were on the phone. We got on the phone and chatted out, I gave him a plan. And a few weeks later, I read the emails, they went out. They did the launch, they made 52– last I checked it was $52,575.

Steve: Hey John, just real quick before you go on, what are the primary differences between writing a sales page versus a sales sequence in email?

John: I think it’s– usually with an email, like, it’s a basically warm traffic. So people who join the listing they are in a relationship with you. So they understand you. They understand a bit more about you, who you are, what you do. Often a sales page, the reason it’s so long is that the sales page is trying to do what a sales person might do face to face. It’s going to build a relationship, build a rapport with that.

Now what emails are good for, it’s generally not a good idea to sell directly from within the email. You are better off using the email to get people curious and excited enough to go and check out a sales page to something. And so on a sales page you can be very direct. You can be very– like sell. It basically means really sell. It’s you make a pitch– you really, really pitching out an email. If you pitch every time you send an email, you are just going to wear people out.

Steve: Okay, interesting. Okay and so that is why the skill set for someone who is running a sales page, versus an email it sounds like the email has to be more kind of content based so to speak.

John: Correct. It’s more– like it’s just be quite sort of a different approach. I mean I can do both. It’s not like there’s no sort of exclusive thing with only one or the other but it’s just that like email requires you to– it’s more of a story telling aspect and more of a relationship building and more sort of an entertainment factor where the goal is not so much to sell and pile on the pressure, it’s much more sort of being engaging, build a relationship and build a rapport and then lead them very naturally and very easily to the next step which is going to be the sales page.

Steve: Okay, cool. So let’s continue on with Alvin story. So he’s selling these products and then he’s coming to you to do the email sequence?

John: Correct, yeah. So they had a product launch coming out where they are basically going to get a whole bunch of affiliates from around the internet to send a whole bunch of [inaudible 0:09:41] to send them a truck load of traffic. And what they needed was a basic prospects campaign to start like to convert these people. So the traditional approach is that you give them land on your page, you say sign up for this eBook, and then you know, have a series of emails that pushes people to the sales page after that. What we actually did though is– the idea that I had at the time was like, well let’s do a standard thing which is obviously to have a sequence solve. I don’t know exactly. I blew up the campaign now and say how many emails are these.

Steve: So you stopped giving out the eBook?

John: No, we keep giving out the eBook. What we did because usually people will do this and they’d give a campaign word– usually people will just do, they’ll give an eBook and then they’ll get five or ten emails and that’s it. Like, there’s not much strategy to it. They just kind of send it out. Maybe they tell a story or two and that’s the end of it. What I say we did is first we gave them the eBook, but email, I don’t have much detail of me going there–

Steve: Just a high level of what the purpose of each email was would be great. And I’m also curious before you go on, like do you advice giving out an eBook as opposed to breaking out that eBook into separate emails?

John: I think, it’s funny you asked that because a lot of people don’t know about that. I would generally opt for skipping the eBook and spreading that content over several emails. Or you could just do both. Give them the eBook at a start like you said you are going to and then also just keep emailing them. Because what’s going to happen is most people aren’t going to read that eBook. For example it’s only you.

Steve: Yeah, that’s what I found.

John: For example it’s only you; it’s an honor I read them–

Steve: Yeah, what I found is– because I have affiliate links in my– I used to give out an eBook but then once I broke that down into emails I found that just a click engagement was a lot magnitude higher. So that’s why I was just curious. I thought I would ask.

John: Okay, yeah. So it was– I’m just looking at the campaign now, there’s 19 emails long. One of the key– so we gave them the eBook in the start. The email one the way I do email one, it’s always asking them for questions, asking them the questions. So in this case– the goal is if you can get someone to reply to email one and two, you are going to get a green light in to the inbox. Let’s just skip the spam tab; you also skip the promotions tab and the social tab.

That’s a really sort of a unique tact that a lot of people don’t know about. The way you do that is in email one, I always ask them three questions which is what is your single most important question about solving one of your problem is and you mention the specific problem. Number two, is what would make a difference in your life to get a good answer for this problem. And number three, how difficult has it been for you to find an answer to this question? It’s amazing how many people will actually respond to that and answer to those questions.

Steve: Just curios what do you do with those replies? Do you reply to every person that replies?

John: I do. I mean, right now I’m not doing it myself.

Steve: Yeah.

John: But basically yeah. If you can reply, position yourself as person who’s there, who’s listening, who’s paying attention to them, it sets you apart from a lot of other people who don’t respond to their emails.

Steve: Okay.

John: So that’s where I start over with. In this case, email two is always did you get our email. It’s like, it’s “John here from bla, bla, bla company. I sent you an email. I have some information. If you answer here, I just want to make sure you got it. Kindly reply, let me know, I’ll send it to the right place.” And that email looks like harmless enough but what is doing because people will reply to that else well, it’s triggering this engagement scores with Gmail.

Every time someone engages with me through email whether it’s opening, clicking it or replying to it, and the reply is the best thing you can get, because it’s probably one of the hardest thing to get, you are going to get positive– basically branding points. Think of it that way, with Gmail, Yahoo and all that. It increases your sender score, and so you are more likely you hit the inbox than go to the promotions tab for example.

Steve: Let me ask you this question. So let’s say I have a list where the open rate is really low, is that going to affect the deliverability overall of my entire list?

John: It will. I think– so those issues will often– they just don’t provide– to worry about them. It’s not worth– it’s really worth worrying about them until you get to the higher end of [inaudible 0:13:37] database because at this low level it’s not going to make it– I don’t think it’s going to make that big of an impact. You would be better off just working on the open rate as opposed to working on the deliverability which sort of two separated. The open rate will affect it because then you obviously get less engagement scores, less deliverability to email. It becomes a little bit of a feedback loop.

Steve: So I just was wondering if you should be constantly pruning your list and then segmenting them down really narrow like actively or is that something that you shouldn’t worry about until much later?

John: I think you wouldn’t really– I wouldn’t worry about it in the beginning if you are just getting started. But once you get to say five or ten thousand leads, it’s going to make a lot of sense to start doing that.

Steve: Okay, all right. Sorry we left out at email three, right?

John: Well, email two, that’s where we did.

Steve: Email two. Okay, yeah.

John: What I started is– the way I break up this sort of campaign and the way the whole structure works as well as [inaudible 0:14:27], the important part was so much we had done some emails, we had a bunch of stories in it, what was important was looking at the different leverage points in this. So that welcome email strategy, the reply to this email, that’s a big thing. What I also did, at the end of this sequence, the last two emails was actually a promotion. So basically we sell to people for the first 15 emails, and then if they still haven’t bought, we then give them a hot by promotion for 50% off to get sort of the last little struggles left on that list.

Steve: Wait, so hold on. I think you skipped ahead a little bit. So the first two emails are just asking questions and getting them to respond and then you are saying emails three through fifteen are all sales emails or?

John: Yeah, what I thought is instead of just going through all those email by email, give you the broad structure of how control campaign works, otherwise. So what we had is like at the end there was a sale to get the last people who, let’s say you– I’m going to go through the details in a minute, but how to get those people who are sort of always on the verge, the pattern I mean it was a bit expense too expensive or something.

And then the other key feature that this whole campaign works we had three up-sales. And so every time someone bought a product, we had another five email campaign that sell them on the next product. Well first of all reaffirm their purchase. So we sold them to get minimized [inaudible 0:15:38] but then to also resell them on the next product, there’s an actual fee for the product they just bought. So that was one way. I think the sale and then the up-sale, so the way the up-sale sort of works, that was really what pushed the revenue up like that. They had really leverage points in there.

Steve: Can you give me an example of what you were selling and hit one of the up-sales.

John: So the first product, the lead product was sort of like the flagship course. The whole idea was that the story with this product was that people that we know, some of them are in China, Egypt and Israel and gathered some secrets to that wealth, some secrets to that [inaudible 0:16:20], and seeking a whole bunch of secrets about how to succeed in life. And so the first product was basically doing the big box of secrets. The main collection of everything you wanted. Product number two was–

Steve: You aren’t telling me exactly what it is. I was just curios in what relationship it was to the main product and what it was priced at in relation to the main product.

John: Correct yeah. The first product from my email was $47, the second product was $97, the third product was I mean $47 again and then $47 again for product three.

Steve: Interesting. So the up-sale can be more expensive than the main–

John: A hundred percent.

Steve: Okay.

John: I mean I’ve done this before, you can go from like $17 to $97, or you can $17, $47 and $97, to $500 if you want. There’s so many different ways to do it.

Steve: Is that like a logical progression like you get them to spend a little bit of money and then gradually work your way up to the most expensive?

John: Correct.

Steve: Or do you like to start out with the most expensive and then sell them so called like accessories?

John: Actually I was going to say correct but yeah, it actually depends on the market. I remember speaking to a guy a while back. He was in the financial sort of training space, had an education [inaudible 0:17:38]. He was saying that he’s tried this basically the [inaudible 0:17:40]. You sell a cheap product and then you sell an expensive product. He found that for him, probably because he was selling a higher ticket approach in the first place, he actually made more money when he lead with or when he started with a $1500 product and skipped the small products all together.

Steve: I see.

John: So I think the big probable you really have to test it. It’s going to vary by market and by demographics that you are going after.

Steve: Okay, so go on.

John: Just try to fit in like a key thing with up-sales a lot of people don’t do is that you got to– you need to make the up-sale fit the product before. This is going to be a much easier sale. So it’s a bit like how– let’s say I’m selling, and this is a really easy example. But let’s say I’m selling like apples and the main product was apples and the apples sell to all sorts of people.

And then as the up-sale you say, look, now you go to a bunch of apples what you need, here’s a special knife designed specifically for cutting apples. When it comes to cutting out apples and peeling them and making them into delicious pieces of apple, this is the knife you have to have. And so what you’ve got is you’ve got this maybe– this may not be a good example. But you’ve got apples and then you’ve got something that fits sort of perfectly.

Steve: I see. So you kind of frame the up-sale before you actually give the offer for the up-sale.

John: Correct. So what you want– the way you want to think of that is how can you pre-frame the up-sale with the product that you sell before.

Steve: Interesting, okay. So sorry, I was hoping we could dive…

John: Don’t worry about the originals. I just wanted to explain that. That’s the broad style of how the sequence of the whole– how the system works. And now we get back to email three.

Steve: Three through fifteen. Yeah, so you don’t have to go under that much detail but I was curious like how you weave in the story telling and when the actual selling starts.

John: Right. A happy gang, I started with– it was starting with just stories like challenging– I mean email three, here’s an example of how I did it. A lot of people in this sort of area and this demographic, they want to go for all their passion. They want to go do what they love. They want to have that life. And so the subject line of email three was why [inaudible 0:19:52] you’re passing is bad advice and “bad” was capitalized because– I think you get a lot of attention when you start to challenge some of their core beliefs.

So this might– not everyone believes, but in this market, that was pretty much like a follow your passion, “I just want to do” that kind of thing. So I can come out there, you can come out there and bust one of these myths to them, they are going to pay a lot more attention to you because you are offering to them something that other people aren’t necessarily offering them. So that’s an example. So that email just about that. And it was sort of a story crossed with let’s get through it.

Steve: I’m just curios, is any part of the sequence like hard core teaching of anything or is it more like just getting to know– letting the customer getting to know you so to speak.

John: There’s no hard core teaching where– like a very actionable long blog post. Think about it, there’s none of that. There’s much more of that telling a story and being engaged and being entertained. So giving some people– for example, like this email here, it’s about why follow your passion is bad advice. This is not particularly actionable. You are not going to go out there and go, all right no I’ve got this is amazing action plan that I can kind of go and execute on. But they are going to read that and they are going to understand it and they are going to go wow, sort of like, they are going to learn something from that email.

Steve: Interesting. Okay, yeah, what’s really interesting here is, the way I have mine structured is like completely opposite I guess. Like I just slam them right away with actionable stuff and then I save kind of more the story telling– I do a little bit before and then I do a lot of it afterwards, after the hardcore teachings. So I was just curious, do you always structure your campaigns as well or is it just kind of on a case by case basis?

John: Case by case basis. But generally speaking, this is how most campaigns that I put together run.

Steve: Okay, so just curious what are some of the open rates like for the emails and the sequence and do they tend to trail off towards the end after 15 emails?

John: They do, yeah. You are going to get diminishing returns every time usually. Yeah, I mean again and this is list dependent and traffic dependent.

Steve: Of course, of course, yeah.

John: But yeah, you are going to be looking at– like usually mine start at 40-50% on the first two emails and then it’s going to gradually trickle down from there depending on how much– you know if you are going really aggressive with selling from the [inaudible 0:22:08], if you do the same thing every time, you are not being engaging. You are not giving people something that they are getting value from whether it’s actionable tips like what you have been doing or whether it’s stories. And we call it infotainment where it’s not necessarily actionable but it’s still giving them value to enjoy reading it.

If you are not doing that and you are more focused on sale, sale, sale, or on the other hand I’ve seen people get bad results when they overload people with too much information because then people get overwhelmed and they just like, “Look, I don’t have enough time to execute all this.” I guess, that’s the risk of going too far down the content road is that people end up shooting out. Just like, oh some more tips. Some more tips and that’s some more tips.

Steve: I see, I see, got it. Okay. So email three, there’s no mention of any offer at this point, right?

John: There’s no mention of any offer. The way– my approach with this sequence was to– it’s actually homework. So in email one, I actually present it as the way we are going to teach how to do this in his emails and there’s going to be homework. And there was a homework like in every email, but there were questions and things to think about. The idea was to get their mind thinking.

And now, the approach too because I do get to selling later when I’m mentioning the offer, what I always do first because this is more of a launch style approach, we used to pre-frame the offer– we used to pre-frame the– give them information about this way. So basically give them information that’s going to overcome their objections before they have the objections. So if I need them to believe in say this idea that maybe Israel and China and Egypt had secrets, and I need to tell– first before I could– if I just came out and said this is amazing secrets to hear and you should by this product, I mean, really that’s – I don’t really know if I can believe that.

But if I first start off and tell them an engaging story about China for example and something happened back in the day, it creates some sort of mystery around it and sort of be theatrical about it. It’s going to start to prime their brain in a way that when I finally do mention the product and do mention these apparent secrets that they are going to help them, they are going to be more likely to believe in them and they are going to have less objections.

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Steve: Okay now that makes sense, so how many emails of this do you typically do before you even mention the offer?

John: We set it like this, let’s go have a little, there’s no cookie kind of way to do it, I’m just going it through to see when, where did I mention it, let’s see. Okay so it was an email here we go yeah, email nine where the offer got mentioned, yeah.

Steve: Wow okay.

Steve: Can you just give us a high level of what happened from emails four through nine?

John: Sure, talking about email three, email four was really you know, okay, email– there’s really a lot in one big document so I’m scrolling through and I keep missing.

Steve: Yeah, that’s cool.

John: Email, so the way I did it, it was China, Egypt and Israel and I spent two emails per location building up some sort of emotional case for why I, you know this place that was special and why there were potentially secrets there. I was really trying to build this year really just building an emotional and a logical case for the idea that these locations had some sort of knowledge that we had lost or that we could benefit from.

Steve: I see okay.

John: Giving them some history I mean it’s very much about being entertaining and I mean this is a part where the sales page is useful too, is what you, gives you a chance to really build a, build you know build a relationship with them. When they start to buy in, emotionally buy in to you know what you’re talking about and part of this too is like I was breaking down part of like the sales page instead of having like a sales page you know just one page and one sales letter, it was more of like splitting up the sales page into separate emails. If you look at a good sales page the first thing especially if it’s for cold traffic, the first thing you’re not going to sell you’re going to start to talk, you know tell a story about someone who may have had the problem that they have…

Steve: Right.

John: Which is going to captivate their attention and then they’re you know getting them interested in reading but there is very little selling at the start. The way it’s written though is very different because on a sales page you’re going to have all these crazy headlines and everything it’s going to look like a sales page.

Steve: Right.

John: Language is going to be slightly different as well where as in an email it’s written much more to be casual and relaxed like one friend to another.

Steve: Just curious do you incorporate video in any of these email sequences?

John: Not these ones I’ve done in my own I mean I’ve done in my own before but I don’t have any– I don’t do it on a regular basis, most often text with these sort of clients.

Steve: How do you decide whether you need to incorporate or want to incorporate video versus just straight text?

John: I think it depends on what you’re doing like if you’re– it depends on what you’re selling instead of what you’re trying to achieve and sort of what the context is. Like I’ve, I give you this video [inaudible 00:27:36] when I’m just being playing around and like basically you can jump, you’re going to wake people up because you do the same thing every time. People can tend to get a bit comfortable with and like so they will sometimes tune out. I done have a thing of how to you know how to use a video and email with the clients link because a lot of times I don’t have video and so that is a different skill you know it’s a different area and a different skills set too so…

Steve: Sure, now I’m just curious like if you’re selling some sort of info product a lot of the times its very important that people get to know who you are and so sometimes a video might help with that, I don’t know, yeah.

John: Sure, I mean again it depends on– some people are really good on video at [inaudible 00:28:10] other people are totally weird and awkward, and they’d really shoot themselves in the foot if they start putting videos out.

Steve: That’s true that a good point. Okay so email nine you introduced a sale, like if they don’t buy, obviously you don’t try to send them the up sell right? It seems like some of these sequences branch off depending on what a person does, is that kind of accurate?

John: Correct yeah I mean this case is pretty it’s very straight forward just you know four products in total and then we just have a campaign for each product. This is the main campaign and then there’s a five email campaign for each product that someone buys that pushes them to the next product.

Steve: Interesting.

John: You know I mean in a different situation and if you had different classic ones like let’s say your three main segments in the audience people sign up then you can use the first two to three emails, the segments like to basically tag them and put them off in a different auto-responder. There are ways to do that. It didn’t make sense here but it really depends, I mean we get really credited with this stuff.

Steve: Just curious do you tend to do the up-sells right away or do you give them some time to like kind of digest what you’ve just sold them?

John: Right away.

Steve: Right away?

John: Yeah in most cases with information like this yeah right away. With other things though sometimes it’s better to let them you know go for two weeks. It really depends on the products but in this case you just use your offer just straight away because I mean the worst thing that happens is they say no and then you get to hit them up two weeks later anyway.

Steve: Let’s say after email nine they don’t buy what does email 10 through 15 look like?

John: It’s more sales. So email nine isn’t really a hard bit, it’s just more [inaudible 0:29:41]. It’s sort of an extension of the emails before that, but at the end it leads naturally into this pitch. Like into basically a click here for all the juicy details. We’ve been building up this big case before that and it’s like now we’ve finally come to the punch line which is that you know you have taken all this knowledge all this stuff that I have been explaining over the last few emails and the journeys that I’ve been on and compiled it into this step back step program that’s going to help you do XYZ click here for all the juicy details that sort of thing.

Steve: I’m just curious with the sequence where you introduced that offer to email nine I would imagine that the open rated have kind of trailed off significantly for the initial 50% or so from the start. I’m just wondering if you’re losing a bunch of people by offering it so late?

John: That’s a good question. The what, so again this goes back to the types of sequence. If you go, I don’t have the operating data on this one I only have the revenue. If this is in with the information I mean I mentioned this before when people send up you know information after information people can often get sort of overwhelmed if not a little bored because they, most people don’t need more information they often need other things. What this is, this took more of a lead factor. Do you know Andre Chaperon?

Steve: I don’t.

John: Okay so his use all email strategies to create what he calls a “Soap opera sequence.” Basically I think like if you go– like if you go– if go watch like Wall Street, you don’t watch a TV show at the end of every episode there’s this you know five minute.

Steve: Cliff hanger.

John: Cliff hanger exactly good. A lot of people don’t really write emails like that and if they do its usually just by the way there’s something really cool coming up in a few days and that’s it.

Steve: I see okay.

John: There’s is not much going but when you start to take in more story telling approach, you can start to end things on a proper cliff hanger where you’re building it, like you’ve got a story ark from say email one to email nine, or you know once email like 16 in this case. And so people get so wrapped up in the story that sometimes often the open rate won’t drop any like as much as it will if you say doing content, just doing straight content it is.

Steve: Okay that’s a really good tip, so you just kind of like frame your emails so that you leave it open ended at the end so they are looking forward to the next email?

John: Correct yeah. Its I mean it’s tricky though because the simple way of doing it is going is I’ve got something really fun coming up for in the next email watch out for it, that’s the easiest way to do it but that’s not much of a cliff hanger. You’re better off telling them it’s sort of like in a really good book when you read a story and you get to the end of a chapter and you have to read the next chapter just because it was, you just emotionally you can’t resist reading the next chapter because you it’s not because you say by the way there is something really cool coming up the next chapter, it’s because there’s a story that you’re really interested in and you really want to know what happens and then it finishes before you get– you’ve got all this tension and you haven’t resolved the tension yet.

Steve: I see, and then the only way you can pretty much do that is with storytelling, right?

John: Correct yeah, exactly.

Steve: That is cool so hey, would you be willing to publish any of these story type emails just as examples or these cliff hangers for the listeners that I can just post in the show notes, or is that just proprietary based on your client?

John: Yeah I couldn’t do that for the client stuff no.

Steve: Okay all right, no that s cool. Okay so we’ve, so the remaining emails are just kind of more sales oriented emails until they buy in. What ends up happening if they…

John: It’s actually more story based emails, continues to be story based emails until, but it’s now I mentioned the offer in every email. So now it’s a little bit more aggressive with the stories. It’s not just stories to create it like to soft stories with nothing to sell, its every the stories are all leading into this action of click here to you get started click here to get the details sort of thing. Then the email,

Steve: Got it, okay so they end with the call to action to buy basically is what you’re saying?

John: They all end with a call to action yeah and so now because I’m always ending with the caller direction to buy I’m not doing it sort of I’m not trying to create a cliff hanger feeling because I want them to get, I want them to do the cliff hanging thing to get to the page not to read the next email anymore.

Steve: Got it, do you ever try to do a cliff hanger then leave the answer on the sales page?

John: Absolutely, yeah because if you can, I mean you’re really just creating curiosity. It’s like how can you make people curious about the next episode the next email the next sales page because if you can create that…don’t have, no there’s probably sign up your name for it but it’s basically like tension where someone like you start telling things like, if you’re like saying you are never going to believe what happened the other day now. You say that to someone that someone is like well what happened the other day, and as in you’ve created this emotional tension inside them that they need to fulfill to feel satisfied.

Steve: Yeah that makes total scene so what if they go through this entire sequence and they don’t end up buying anything, what do you do with these subscribers at that point?

John: Well in this case that was the reason that we put this sale so it was a 50% off sale and email 15 for four to four days to five days. Well its four days but the last, this last day had two emails. I’ve done so many exporting as one of those last days yeah.

Steve: I always wonder like if you end with a 50% off coupon, I was just wondering do certain people feel slighted that they didn’t get the deal?

John: Well I guess no because they get taken off the list if they buy they don’t get the promotion.

Steve: Yeah, I know for me I’ve gone through where I have multiple emails under the same persons list just to kind of, and I, maybe most people don’t do this, but then I’ll see certain emails where there is a discount and you know I’m just interested in seeing like the different tracks depending on what I do, right? Because a lot of people segment that way. Is there ever any negative feelings towards that as far as you know, ever happened like do you know it that way?

John: It will happen, but I think like it like there is always going to be a couple people, thank you, I mean maybe you sign up with three email addresses like you need to figure out what the final looks like. But the vast majority of people won’t do that so for me I’d rather annoy a few people to increase the revenue than try and please everyone.

Steve: Okay now that makes sense.

John: Yeah.

Steve: Okay so, let’s switch gears a little bit, so how can this, so I talk about ecommerce a lot. How can we apply these same aspects of what you just taught us to ecommerce?

John: Okay so, I think it’s ultimately going to getting back to the point to certainly understanding why they buy, like sort of analyzing the mindset of the buyer. Are they cracking up, are they turning up in that website just to grab the cheapest thing and then get off there, or are they– you know is there an education– is there a reason to educate them. Because this sort of structure is very much suited to any time you need to educate people about a product or a process which is its going to be relevant in a lot of cases but not all cases. I think the last time we chatted, yeah?

Steve: Okay I’m sorry?

John: Yeah I thing the last, so the last time we chatted about this it was, you know you could do things like if you’re selling a piano there’s is plenty of opportunity for you to talk about what make your pianos the best why they sound the best why people love to play them. You could tell stories about most side of anything to do with that area when people sign up. Because you’ve probably got people, people are going to be buying because you’ve got you know a good price. A lot of people are going to be there because they’re going to, it’s much more of a romantic purchase, romantic selling.

I mean this could be always– I was in a [inaudible 0:36:34] this morning for tea, and I believe you could do this with like tea, it’s $77.50 a bag, but you could, instead of like, [inaudible 0:36:43] the tea instead of like, it feels a bit like wine I think for some people were they love their morning tea and they like different herbs and different flavors and how to fix them and how it taste and even the brewing process. There’s a lot of opportunity there to instead of just selling tea to sell a story to sell like an emotion around it.

Steve: Yeah you bring up a really great point because a lot of people send me emails and they want to sell kind of like these commodity products like tea. There’s like hundreds of people that sell tea right? And so I tell them to set them a pert you need to frame some sort of story and its sounds like email would be perfect for his right?

John: 100% email is like email is amazing for this sort of thing. I mean you’re going to have this through the whole website. If you’re going to do this you’re going to have to frame it up this way through the whole website. But this is how, like if you look at any big product this is really where they succeed when they– you know how they separate themselves from everyone else. Like you’ve got, like if you’ve got a look at like insanity or P90X which are exercise programs and it’s why you’re in three or 400 million, maybe they’re a billion dollar company now I don’t know.

But it’s just an exercise program, it’s just like do some pushups and sits ups and yeah its put together with a nice video and some, well I don’t actually done it, but like you know some cool music, a good trainer some good marketing. Really like they’re just selling an exercise program and if you eat right and go to the gym and get on a just a decent program which you can find plenty of them for free online you’d probably get similar results for the most part.

The story behind it like even the name insanity creates this sort of allure around the program. This is getting more into a higher level marketing stuff where you can like take a product that you’re selling like that or like wine is pretty easy product to deal with. You could do, [inaudible 0:38:22] just totally like tea. I mean tea is a good example like green tea.

Steve: Okay let’s take your tea example. How would I get someone to, let’s say I have a store, it’s just a store that sells products. How would I get someone like that to opt into my list? Would I entice them with like a coupon code, or would I entice them with some sort of info related thing, how would go about doing that?

John: What I would do if you know if it was me with that store, if I had the traffic for it I’d set up a few, like I’d set up I’d basically just split texting offers on the finance. I’d probably start with a discount coupon because that’s the easiest and easiest thing to set up and create there’s no effort, very little effort. Then I’d be split testing that with some sort of educational or story based offer. It might be like how to find the perfect tea or I know a better one would be like why most green teas are actually damaging the health and not helping it.

Steve: Interesting that’s intriguing. I would read that for sure.

John: So then you know well you can take an aspect as well like a, in mean tea is an interesting one. If you can talk about how the tea is growing like most tea if it is grown in ordinary– you know well not growing it in ordinary supermarkets but they’re sold in ordinary super markets. It’s been dry for so long that any of the non nutritional value in that tea has actually broken down; and I’ve actually done scientific study to prove this. I’m making this up by the way.

Steve: I know that’s cool, yeah. I know you got me hooked so…

John: When you start to build a case like this when then the person is going to go like wow I can’t buy it, I can’t just go and buy a five dollar packet of green tea in like a supermarket. I need to get proper green tea. You’ll be using yeah you’ll be doing this– like hey, you can talk about like this you know green tea and how it’s basically its chemical makeup means that its best grown at a very specific altitude of 1200 meters above sea level and the climate of Japan is actually the best climate anywhere in the world to grow a green tea, and that’s why we sourced that green tea from Japan at those very specific climates. And also we’ve got these Japanese tea masters who meet — I don’t know what that was, basically [inaudible 00:40:12] at some tea master myth.

So you are creating this whole story behind it. It is just tea and I don’t know if any of that’s true, you would want to back that up like I wouldn’t just say that you want to back it up, but you can take something that’s really basic and turn it into something that is a lot more enticing.

Steve: Interesting so in the case of ecommerce where people actually come on your site to shop, do you kind of introduce the offers much sooner? Like would you just do that in the first email or the second email?

John: Absolutely, yeah.

Steve: Okay.

John: I mean ecommerce is interesting because you’ve got your prospects, just sequence which is where someone first signs up to your database which is actually anyone. Ecommerce is interesting because there’s so many different points within a process that you can segment on, based on the behaviors that someone has done on the website. But generally speaking if someone is joining that main prospect list, I would mention the product immediately just because that’s like they signed up on a site that obviously sells green tea. So they are only signing up because they are interested in green tea. However that doesn’t mean you should go full ball with the pitching straight away. I would — you could start by mentioning green tea and then you — because it’s an ecommerce site, you can actually pitch and also tell the story all in the same breath without much trouble so.

Steve: Here is a question for you, like I get — I’m on email list for a lot of these large brands but they don’t really do any storytelling, they are just like blast you with images of products and stuff, why is that? Why don’t those guys kind of take more of the story telling approach and I’m just curious because you have these huge budgets, huge agencies selling these things, including these strategies work, so why are they doing it?

John: I think for some it doesn’t work as well and yeah, there’s an example of this, actually this is a really interesting example, [inaudible 00:41:58] was selling that first [inaudible 00:42:00] about three or four weeks yeah, they are doing $20 million dollars a year doing sort of sweepstake style product. So the theory was, people were just buying it just because it’s a sweepstake style thing, there’s not any opportunity for storytelling or that sort of thing. So what he was doing was just basically blasting his list every week, couple times a week with his emails. What you realize is that you have to reach out, if you want to win and bring a whole bunch of numbers and dots into the data.

And he came back and we started asking, you actually realize that he could take an email that would be sued to get say 20% on his main list and if he added that to his auto responder and basically thought like instead of just blasting it out to everyone at once, sending it out to the time and let’s say day 13 until someone signs up. That same email would go from 20% open rate to 45% open rate. So he didn’t go from — so the solution for him wasn’t telling more stories, because he tested that in the past, and had worked as well as his– actually the approach was fine with his blast. But what he found is he was able to improve his results by taking the emails that had worked well in the past and setting them up into an automated campaign. Now also for the bigger brands, I think a lot of it — well, I think part of it is a lot of them — when you are big brand you don’t really need to — yeah, you probably don’t need to try more, you don’t necessarily want to try one of that stuff.

Steve: Okay.

John: This comes from like a different — I’m not sure, I don’t know for sure that would work really well for big brands; it’s totally pro-independent when it comes to ecommerce.

Steve: Or even like smaller — like medium sized boutiques, they just seem to blast me products right?

John: I would say probably — well, some of them you have tested it, but most of them I don’t think they even take like thought to test anything different. They are just doing it because that’s the way it’s done. Because this guy I just mentioned that did the $20 million with the sweepstake style product, he is probably — he is a really sharp marketer. And his campaign is probably five times bigger than his nearest competitor. And that’s because he understands marketing, he understands pay traffic, they are doing a lot of very aggressive marketing. And even amongst them most of the other people in this industry, none of them do it the way he does it and that’s why there’s so much more.

So he would be the exception to the rule where he actually knows for sure that it doesn’t work from it, I would say a lot of companies they’ve got no idea they just do what the ecommerce, it’s like a lot of things people just do what they do just because it’s the way it’s done and most people don’t test it.

Steve: Okay, interesting yeah, because I was just thinking like with clothing especially right? There’s nothing really special about anyone’s shirts, and there’s like millions of places that sells shirts. And it just seems like everyone to stand out in this clothing industry you have to tell some sort of story or something if you are small especially right?

John: Well, and I think it’s interesting to what’s probably with clarifying that the story doesn’t necessarily have to be like a once upon a time, or 500 word emails story. I mean you can tell a big story with the picture, but its understanding how to — like so, are you just selling green tea like it’s a commodity. Or are you are building some sort of emotion behind that like why are they buying the green tea. Are they just buying it because they want green tea, they just want anything, they don’t care what it is. Or are they looking for something more from that green tea. And you can use — I mean you can use long sort of long form emails and have 300, 400, 500 word emails to tell that story.

But you could also tell a similar story with a lot less copy, And I would say that’s where a lot of — like clothing brands like it’s — I mean brands like that that’s a classic thing, like [inaudible 00:45:13] our own brand, because I want to tell, like clothing is interesting because I’m using the clothing that I buy to tell other people a story about myself. So that’s truly the story of clothing sales and why they don’t necessarily deal with copy, they do it through the whole way they present themselves.

Steve: So what’s your opinion on using like a nicely formatted email versus just like plain text, do you kind of understand what I’m talking about, like some people have like nice headers and boarders and all that stuff.

John: I would test it, I mean it’s — it depends, if you do it like my [inaudible 00:45:41] would say that with ecommerce you need to put the brands in HTML email, and then if you are selling info or consulting, or coaching, or something more like that you are going to be better off with plain text. However it’s something you have to test.

Steve: Okay, what about use of images and just in your experience I know you probably had to test this as well but do you try to include images in your emails?

John: I do, I like it because it’s a way to get people to click display images, these are [inaudible 00:46:08] yet. And it’s also a way to break up your emails and sort of surprise people. Because I think with marketing whether it’s with plain text emails or anything else, it’s very much about pattern interrupts. So if you are doing same thing all the time you are going to stop — you are not going to be getting people’s attention as much because they are just used to it. I mean it’s just a great way to get people’s attention.

Steve: What about your views on just kind of using bolds italics, different font sizes and that sort of thing within an email, do you do a lot of that as well?

John: Well, really no, with the plain text stuff, just because I think it — like my goals is one of the plain text emails that I do is for it to be — to feel like it’s coming from another person. Because often these — I mean this is probably this is — for these sort of businesses whether they are small or big they are often built on someone’s personal brand.

It’s usually going to work better if it feels like it’s coming from one person as opposed to the brand with a logo at the top and that sort of stuff. So that’s and you if start bolding and underlining email that stuff can make you feel like you are crafting it, you are really trying to make sure it looks right and sells right, whereas if I was emailing a friend of mine, I’m not going to do any bolding or underlining everything in it.

Steve: Right, now that totally makes sense, cool. Hey, John yeah, we’ve been chatting for quite a while now and excellent conversation. If anyone wants to find you and ask for your services what not, where can they find you?

John: The best place right now is to go www.themcmethod.com which is thmcmethod.com. Or they can actually just go to — I’m launching this email — I have sort of launched, in the process of launching this email marketing ecommerce agency which is at ReEngager.com.

Steve: Okay, yeah, I’ll just…

John: You can just go there, yeah, you can just go there and book a call with that yeah, straight way.

Steve: So yeah, I’ll put those in the show notes so people can find you. But thanks a lot for coming on the show John.

John: No worries Steve, it’s been good cheers.

Steve: All right man, take care. Hope you found that episode useful. Email marketing is such a huge part of my business. So whenever I come across any email guru I instantly want to talk with him to discover the latest email strategies. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode92, and if you enjoy this episode please go to iTunes and leave me a review. It is by far the best way to support the show and please tell your friends because the greatest compliment that you can give me is to write a referral to someone else either in person or to share it on the web.

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One thought on “092: How To Write Email Autoresponders That Generate Sales On Autopilot With John McIntyre”

  1. Mark E says:

    Hey Steve,
    I know and appreciate that you were trying to get him to explain emails 3-19 but I was totally lost there and still don’t get it.

    No offer to buy a product is made for the first 2? 4? 19 emails? What is in them? The page they sign up for the email responder also has no offer for them to buy immediately? Not sure if he didn’t want to give up the secret sauce but I was totally lost there.

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