When Email Newsletter Message “Success” Leads to Failure

communicationTaking old school direct marketing tactics and applying them without alteration to email is a popular practice that is doomed to fail.  Applying the old school tactics without considering the change in media will lead to a never ending cycle of “successful” email-marketing newsletters that fail to convert as effectively as they should.

I wrote recently about the many “new media marketing” mistakes a former “sales training guru” I once admired is making as he tries to transition from “old school” to “new school” selling strategies. I shared how signing up for his newsletter has resulted in a never-ending onslaught of product pitches. Since his marketing techniques are sound, I haven’t unsubscribed. Instead, I have chosen to “learn” from him these days based upon what he does – or doesn’t do –  instead of purchasing the products he’s selling.

Recently, one of his emails caught my eye and I opened it.  This action immediately makes that particular message a success.  This message continued to rack up “wins” as I read the message and then clicked on the link to learn more.


While this message chalked up several wins – making it a technical success – it didn’t win on the most important point which was making the sale.

How can an email-marketing newsletter be a success but not result in a sale?

There are many reasons that a successful email-marketing newsletter message might not “connect” and make a sale. In this case, it was the lack of understanding about how the “prospect” is connecting with the message.

If this particular marketing message had been delivered “old school style” – via direct mail marketing – I probably would have purchased the product.  However, this message wasn’t delivered “snail mail” – it was delivered via email and that changes everything.


There are two serious disconnects which have taken this campaign which I’m sure was a “winner” in the direct mail game and turned it into a “loser” in the email marketing game.

DISCONNECT #1: Lack of Responsive Design

I opened this message on my “smart” phone and I’m not alone. According to eMailMonday,

Mobile email will account for 15 to 65% of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type. eMailmonday – “Party safe mobile email stats” (2013)

When someone clicks on an email message on their smart phone, it’s critical that the landing page is created with mobile in mind.

In this marketer’s case, my successful email newsletter “click”  landed me on a page which was a mobile nightmare design wise.

GOOD NEWS: Many, many WordPress themes are now mobile responsive – so if you’ve been creating content in WordPress, redressing your content in a mobile friendly design is as easy as installing and applying a new theme.

Consumers expect your pages to display properly in their smart phones.  You can’t expect to sell anything to someone who is playing “let’s try to read the content” on their mobile phone.

Mobile responsive design is now a “must have” not a “nice to have” feature if you expect your website to “sell”.  You can’t expect consumers to run home and sit down at their desk top computer in order to purchase your product or services.


DISCONNECT #2: Price Insensitivity

Like other consumers, I have been “conditioned” to find the best value using the tools at my fingertips – the web.  When I saw the $197 price point on the product offered, rather than click to purchase – my first instinct was to check to see if I could find the product at a lower price.  I quickly discovered the “info-product” offered is actually an audio book – offered for as little as $30 on eBay – and for $44 on Amazon.  I also learned that  the audio-book doesn’t live up to the hype – thanks to the many reviews left by others who have previously purchased this product.

The web has brought price comparison shopping to a whole new level.  On the web:

Price Comparisons Are the Rule Instead of the Exception

Don’t insult your valuable email newsletter subscribers by inflating the price of products you offer them.  Instead, you should offer them discounts that can’t be found ANYWHERE else on the web.

Even though this message only had two New Media Disconnects, finding the product at a fraction of the price – with poor reviews to boot – put an end to my pursuit of the knowledge contained within.

Essential Takeaway: Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools available to your business.  However, it’s only powerful if used correctly.  Share your thoughts below.

Question #56: Should I blog?

money making business

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.  Og Mandino”

James Altucher is an investor, programmer, author, and serial entrepreneur who recently shared his  “Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Starting and Running Your Own Business.”  It’s presented like an FAQ for people who want to start their own business.

Probably the most powerful tip was the final one:

RULE #infinity:
You create your luck by being healthy and not regretting the past or being anxious about the future.

Inspired.  There are 101 other great questions and answers in the blog post.   One that caught my eye was this one:

56) Should I blog?
Yes. You must. Blog about everything going wrong in your industry. Blog personal stories that you think will scare away customers. They won’t. Customers will be attracted to honesty.

I won’t dispute the truth of the statement, however I’ve worked with enough business bloggers to want to raise my hand and offer a bit of advice on the subject.

You must blog: Check.

Don’t be afraid to blog about what’s wrong in your industry.  Check.

Angela Hoy of  the self publishing company Booklocker shares her concerns about how many self publishing houses engage in less than ethical tactics in the weekly newsletter.  She  and her husband also maintain a forum – the “original” web 2.0 app – which includes a “whispers and warnings” section.

Blog personal stories that you think will scare away customers.  In the words of Ralphie’s mother in “A Christmas Story” when her husband set up the leg lamp in their front window – “Ahhh, ohhh, uhhh…”

I’ve worked with business bloggers since 2006, and I feel I need to add this disclaimer to this bit of advice.

If you’re in the business of solving problems, it’s not a good idea to blog about how you can’t solve your own current problems.  For example, if you’re a marriage counselor, it’s probably not a good idea to blog about your own personal issues with infidelity.

There is of course and exception to the exception and that’s creating a “here’s how I’ve overcome this obstacle, I can help you overcome it as well” style blog post.   Even better is to create a series of  “I overcame this obstacle,  I’ve helped others overcome it as well” style blog posts. These types of post are by far the most powerful “marketing tool” you can create for your business.

Customers will be attracted to honesty.  Double, triple, quadruple check!

Another word for honesty is authentic – and this is where business blogging can get ugly for some people.  If you think your customers are mindless sheep then it’s probably best if you don’t blog because for some reason, blogging tends to put your “shit on blast.”

Instead of being afraid of the “putting your shit on blast” properties of business blogging, get your attitude adjusted then put on your big boy (or girl) pants and start blogging.


Old School Sales Strategies Don’t Work Anymore!

Blogging Topics“Nothing happens until somebody sells something”

Like many newly minted college graduates, when I crossed the finish line and collected my BS degree (pun definitely intended) with dual majors in Marketing and Economics, I quickly discovered that my degree was not what I thought it was.  I thought it was the key to success and instead it was merely an indicator future employers that I was willing to follow a prescribed path to complete a process. The fact that I had completed my degree in 3 years instead of four while spending a trimester in Japan failed to impress any of the HR people with whom I interviewed.

With no job experience other than retail mall clerk during high school, I found myself applying for “marketing” jobs. I quickly learned that “marketing” is HR code for “commissioned sales positions.” Eventually I landed a position with a regional advertising agency only to discover that “account executive” is just another term for “commissioned sales person.”

SELLING is an essential part of doing business.

My mentor was a wise woman who quickly introduced me to the wonderful world of “self-growth” as well as “sales training.” She began feeding me a constant stream of products from top name motivational and sales gurus. In those days, their words of wisdom were carrying via cassette tapes instead of podcasts. More than one of those loaned tapes literally disintegrated in my cassette deck from my ravenous consumption of the material.

Not long ago, I ran across a blog maintained by one of those gurus. It didn’t take any kind of “bribe” to get me to sign up for his email newsletter – because this man already possessed “demi-god” status within my mind.

After I signed up, I was HORRIFIED to see that the “legal bribe” offered by my sales hero had a GLARING TYPO in the first paragraph. (Thanks Mike for pointing out my glaring typo in the first paragraph of this post.)

This person had a huge balance in his trust account with me – so I hoped that this was just an oversight on the part of his staff.  Ever sinceI shared my email address with him, my inbox has been inundated with a never-ending stream of “hard closing” sales messages. Once I made a mistake of actually trying to watch one of his videos – and it was like watching paint dry. Meanwhile his blog posts seemed to be devoted to chasing keywords instead of sharing information.

Unfortunately, this man’s lack of understanding of the “modern sales process” has resulted in his credibility dropping to less than zero with me.  This is a direct result of watching him function in the “new world” of social media.

The new world of social media can seem bewildering to someone who has decades of experience in one-way communication.  I can see where it would be especially frightening for someone who hasn’t been along for the ride – for those who ignored the web until the 2nd decade of this century.

However, in the words of one of my clients – sometimes you can get so far behind that you’re actually ahead and that is definitely the case when it comes to social media and sales.

The importance of targeting your audience

creaturesoflogicI’m constantly prattling on around here about the importance of targeting your audience and there is no way for me to overstate the importance of this principle.

Targeting your audience is part of the foundation for the success of your business.

You can have the best product – the best service – the best solution ever seen and your business can still fail simply because you failed to target a specific audience when creating your marketing messages.

I’m in the middle of doing some research on a new business I’m preparing to launch with a colleague.  The business idea is solid and it’s based upon solving a problem.  I personally prefer this as opposed to a problem prevention business idea because human beings in general are exceptionally BAD about engaging in proactive behavior.   In other words, marketing a problem solving business is much easier than marketing a problem prevention business.

Yeah!  I’m starting another business and I’m currently in the research phase of that process.

In the course of my research, I’ve come across a company making an exceptionally well crafted offer.  That in and of itself is reason enough to spend some time exploring the company’s site however, it’s possible that this company’s offerings may make sense for my new business.

I begin the process of gathering information from the company’s website with the enthusiasm of an archeologist entering a previously undiscovered tomb of an ancient pharaoh   The opening page of the site is utilizing every conversion technique known to man.  This is good – this is REALLY good.  However, as I navigate the site, I find myself in a frustrating “loop”.  Every link which promises “more information” takes me to a contact form to request a personalized demo.

Frustrated, I head to the company’s blog.  Perhaps I’ll find the answers I need there.   What I find there are a lot of “shameless self promotion” pieces – but still not a clue whether their solution is priced within our means or not.  Another thing absent from the blog posts are anecdotes illustrating how real companies have reaped the harvest of the “solutions” promised in the company’s website content.  It makes me wonder…

Are the so called “solutions” offered by this company simply platitudes?

For some reason, this morning I’ve had the Seals and Croft song, “We may never pass this way again” stuck in my head.  It was there before I began this search – but now it seems to be hammering home a point: Visitors to your site may never pass this way again.

When I publish this blog post, I’ll close the two tabs – one for this site, one for the site I’m referencing – and soon that site will  fade from my memory.   It took five clicks to reach the site in question but it will only take one click of the button to close it.  I’ve already spent more time on the site than I normally would simply because not only did this company’s site inspire this blog post – but it’s also serving as a warning to myself as I embark upon the exciting adventure of starting a small business.

Will your content be featured on a FlipBoard


The roles of internet users are becoming more clearly defined these days – a sure sign that the market is maturing.   Internet users today fall into one of three categories:

  • content creators,
  • content curators 
  • content consumers. 

In the early days of the internet – before the year 2000 – virtually everyone online moved seamlessly between all three roles.  However, in the past few years, those roles have been becoming more delineated – which is a good thing if you understand your place in the internet ecosystem.

The Internet Ecosystem is Evolving – what’s your place in it?

I recently shared that Google reader is scheduled for termination but how it doesn’t mean RSS is dead – it just means the web is evolving.  Flipboard is one of the ways the web is evolving.

In a nutshell, Flipboard allows iPhone and iPad users to curate their own digital magazine.  What’s your passion?  Whatever it is, the new Flipboard app allows you to pull together your own collections of digital content – photos, videos, articles and audio files – to create your own “magazine”.  Once you’ve created your own digital Flipboard magazine, then others can “follow” your flipboard.

If the process sounds like an “expanded” version of Pinterest or Tumblr – it is.   According to Fast Company

It’s a new twist on the tried and true blogging formula. Magazines on Flipboard are simply blogs in a neatly packaged form–a broadcast platform that takes advantage of Flipboard’s smart UI and curation tools.

So where does this turn of events leave you – Mr. or Ms. Business Owner?

Does this mean you should shutter your business blog and launch your own Flipboard?

Again, this is a place where you need to KNOW where your place is in the internet ecosystem.

If your original blogging goal was to curate other people’s content into your own digital magazine – then you may want to look at shuttering your blog.

However, for my clients – their blog is not a carefully curated collection of other people’s content.  My clients are blogging to establish themselves as experts in their field.  If that’s why you’re blogging – then Flipboard is yet another distribution channel for your content.  The videos, audio files, photos and articles you’re posting may find new life when they get picked up by a talented Flipboard digital magazine curator.

Which is why its more important than ever to target your content to a tightly defined target audience.  If your product or service can appeal to dozens of tightly targeted niche audiences – its more important than ever to create content targeted specifically to EACH of those audiences.   The more tightly you target your content creation – the better your chance at having your content “discovered” by a Flipboard curator and featured in their magazine.

The more things change – the more they stay the same.