Episode #9 – Justin Premick (AWeber) on Why Email Marketing Kicks The Crap Out Of Social Media Marketing

by John McIntyre

Are you sick of the social media fanboys (and fangirls) who won’t freakin’ shut their snatch about the benefits of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest?

Or are you (gasp!) a social media fanboy or fangirl yourself?

Then you need to listen to this episode of the Email Marketing Podcast.

You’ll find out why you need to spend less time frittering away on Facebook and more time inside your email marketing account. If there ever was an 80/20 in your online biz, it’s email.

Justin Premick is an award winning email and content marketer.

He currently heads up the Education Marketing team at AWeber (one of, if not THE, largest email autoresponder companies in the world).


In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • The irony of the phrase “email marketing is dead” (and why email marketing kicks the crap out of social media)
  • Social media’s fleeting response rates, as found by small business owners everywhere
  • Whether you should be using autoresponders or broadcast messages (or both)
  • How to write a welcome message (based on extensive data from the biggest email autoresponder company in the world)
  • Reports from the frontline of business on whether email marketing is as good as I like to say it is
  • A great starting-point and resource for people who want to get good at email marketing

Email Marketing Podcast Episode 1


Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO

Raw transcript:

Speaker 1: Email was consistently rated as the medium that provided the highest return.
Hey, podcast listener, you’re about to discover insider tips, tricks, and secrets to making more sales and converting more prospects into customers with email marketing. For more information about the email marketing podcast or autoresponder guy go to themcmethod.com/podcast.
Hey, everybody, it’s John McIntyre here, the autoresponder guy, and it’s time for episode 9 of the email marketing podcast, where we talk about the top tips, tricks, and secrets to making more sales and growing your revenue with email marketing.
Today, I’ll be talking to Justin Premick from AWeber. Today’s one is the for the social media fan boys and fan girls out there. If you’re into social media, you probably won’t enjoy today’s episode, but then again, how would you like to double or triple your revenue? Because if social media is your thing, that’s what might happen if you switch to email, so pay attention.
Now, you’re going to find out why email marketing kicks the crap out of social medial marketing. More on that in a minute. To get the show notes for this episode of the email marketing podcast go to themcmethod.com/ep9.
Before we get to Justin’s interview, I have something that I think is kind of funny I want to share. The email marketing podcast has its first one-star review. No five stars, one star. I just think it’s kind of funny because maybe it’s a troll, maybe it’s not. It might be funny and it might not be, but I thought it was fun to bring it up.
I can’t actually find the actual review. All I know is it’s there somewhere, and with any luck, hopefully I’ll know by next week what the review says. If I do and it happens to be funny, I’ll share it with you guys.
Anyhow, instead of that, how about a five-star reviews? Everybody likes good news, right? This one’s from Taylor Pierce and he goes, “Warning, listening to this podcast may actually make you money. Unlike 99% of the online marketing content out there, John actually delivers the real strategies and tactics that successful marketers are using. Since I’ve started listening to the podcast, I’ve rewritten our autoresponder sequence twice. The results …”
This is what I love.
“Two consecutive months of record breaking revenues. Keep rocking, John.”
That is a great review. Thanks for that, Taylor.
Now, enough of that. Let’s go get this party started. Over to Justin.
It’s John McIntyre here, the autoresponder guy, with the email marketing podcast. I’m here with Justin Premick, the director of education marketing at AWeber. How you doing today, Justin?
Speaker 2: Doing great, John. How are you?
Speaker 1: Fantastic always. Now, I spoke to a Tom last time, Tom calls it the CEO over at AWeber. We talked about email marketing and I thought we would get someone else on today to once again talk about email marketing and AWeber’s kind of take on things.
So, let’s begin, Justin. I think everyone’s going to know a bit about AWeber but let’s start there. Tell us a bit about who are you and what sort of stuff do you do at AWeber.
Speaker 2: OK, sure, a quick overview for the couple of people who may not be familiar with AWeber. We provide email marketing and newsletter services to small businesses, bloggers, and nonprofits all over the world. What I do at AWeber, I run our education marketing team. What we do is we focus on teaching people how to create effective, profitable email campaigns that will build lifelong customer relationships.
So, we’re teaching you how to build your list, how to craft a series of email campaigns, how to tie AWeber and email into other processes that you might have in your business. We’re sharing examples of what other companies are going with email that’s effective. So what we’re really trying to do is teach businesses how to do email better.
Speaker 1: Fantastic. So, you’re directly involved in the area where you’re teaching people how to do this stuff. Would you say that AWeber is one of the biggest autoresponder companies, at least in the internet marketing space?
Speaker 2: Certainly, I mean we’re one of the larger email marketing software providers out there. As a result of having been around since 1998, have certainly picked up a lot of internet marketers as well as businesses and other industries as customers.
Speaker 1: OK, fantastic. Justin, before we got on this call we talked about a few topics. One of the things that’s coming up a lot lately is some people tend to say stuff like, “Email is dead” or “Email is not working any more” or “Social media’s all the rage with social media companies and you want likes and tweets.” I know I believe, and I’m pretty sure Justin and everyone at AWeber probably agrees that email marketing is so much more effective than social media. Let’s talk about that, Justin.
Speaker 2: It’s really funny. There’s always the new, shiny thing that comes along and I think marketers in particular were very susceptible to this. We spend a lot time in front of our computers. We spend a lot of time researching different technology, and we always like to find the next big thing.
If you look at your average group of friends or business associates, chances are it’s the marketing person who’s the first one to have the new toy or the new gadget or whatever it is, and social media is certainly an example of that.
This goes beyond just Twitter and Facebook, for example. I mean, you’ve got Path. You’ve got Pinterest. You’ve got Instagram. You’ve got all these other different things and marketers are all over them, you know, just like you wouldn’t believe. There’s a big push to capitalize on this.
There’s obviously an appeal to it. There’s a lot of people on Facebook, a lot of people on Twitter. These things are growing quickly; Pinterest, Google Plus, all of these things. It’s natural to say, “Well, if that’s where the people are then that’s where the marketing return must be and it’s practically free.”
All it costs you is your time, really, in most cases to market through these things. It’s very tempting to start pushing resources and time there instead of to other older channels, channels where you kind of know what you’re getting or you don’t feel like it’s as exciting or as fun. An email occasionally gets put in the crosshairs that way.
I would add to those sentiments very much that what I found, not just through working at AWeber but talking with customers and asking them what’s working for their business and what’s not, they’re all very excited about their social presence but when you really push—and we’ve surveyed customers on this beginning in 2013—and asked them, “OK, well, what are you spending your time on and what’s working and what’s not working.”
Email was consistently rated as the medium that provided the highest return. Instead of putting money in, you’re putting time into email and you’re getting out a lot more than you’re putting in.
Speaker 1: Absolutely. I mean, I spoke to Jim Schramko today about this and his argument is that in his business like email is the highest leverage point. Like if you’re trying to get—talking about like investment return—like the people that I speak to is that email is consistently delivering the highest returns, more than Facebook and Twitter and all those things.
Speaker 2: It’s really not, I think, when you think about it’s, you think about the way Facebook works and the way Twitter works, there’s this constant stream of information. Sometimes you hear a call for fire hose and it’s great. You can follow a bunch of people on Twitter. You can follow a bunch of people on Facebook. They’re all posting updates, but when those updates go away, when they’ve been posted and they’ve been kind of pushed down the stream by other stuff, well, how are you going to get back to them? I mean, you look at the response rates for Facebook and they’re just, they’re embarrassingly low in some cases. I mean, 0.5%, 0.25% and that’s true for a lot of businesses. I can say for ourselves, you know, we do some pretty good stuff on Facebook but the response rates are nowhere near email.
Speaker 1: Right. What can people do if they’re putting too much time into social medial and they want to keep staying in that area, what’s AWeber’s advice for that? Should they get off that entirely or should they start using social media to build their email list?
Speaker 2: I think you hit the nail on the head there. It’s OK to spend time on social. There’s a lot of good value in it. I don’t want to say that there’s not value in it because there absolutely is, but you have to use it strategically. You have to think about what it is that you’re going to get out of it. For us and for a lot of the business that I’ve talked to, value is moving people sort of down a chain or down a funnel if you will where they’ve kind of discovered you.
Social’s a great way to get discovered by potential customers and certainly to connect with existing customers but you want to move people in that audience towards something that I think you said, it’s a little more intimate or it’s a little bit more one-to-one.
Email is an example of something where I can talk to you more like I’m talking to you now. I can communicate directly with you. I can send you. You send me a response. It’s in your inbox. There’s a thread created around it. You know, social, it’s very fleeting. It’s very, it’s here today, gone tomorrow with any particular post that you’re putting up there. The response rates reflect that, and so what I tell people to do is OK, yeah, use social. You know, get attention there. Let’s do all this stuff to get people’s attention and gets them to like your page, gets them to start following you, but as soon as you can, as soon as your identifying who those people are that are paying attention to you, start moving them into a medium where you can communicate with them in reliable fashion to where they’re more likely to see it, they’re more likely to read it. You can use a little bit longer form. Twitter’s notorious for being a very short communication medium but sometimes you could just need more than 140 characters to say something. Turn it into a medium where you can do that. Yeah, social is absolutely a good way to build your email list but that is what you should be doing with it. You should be pushing people to a channel where you can communicate with them more regularly, more effectively.
Speaker 1: Right. Someone mentioned that one problem with social media is that you’re building your business on top of someone else’s business. If you have a Facebook page with, you know, 10,000 likes, if you piss Facebook off, you post like a, I don’t know, you know, make a post that someone gets really mad at, they can say, “Well, you’re paging the leader like that,” and your audience is gone.
Speaker 2: Can you imagine running a business like that 50 years ago, where you said, “Hey, if somebody doesn’t like it …” Your business is just going to fold up and go away tomorrow.
Speaker 1: Oh, [laughs].
Speaker 2: We readily, willingly do it. People do it every day. You’re absolutely right. I mean, there’s a risk to that. Your email, that’s what’s beautiful about email, is nobody owns it as a medium. It’s just a channel.
Facebook is, it’s a channel but it’s somebody else’s toy. It’s kind of AOL was maybe 15 years ago. If you did something they could close your service. They could suspend your account. They could change, they could make …
It’s not even necessarily that you have to make somebody mad. There might be a change to the way that pages are displayed or the way that things are displayed in feeds.
You know, one thing I’ve noticed with my Facebook page lately, just as a consumer, is, you know, I’m seeing more and more ads in the screen so people are paying for placement.
You have to think about it in terms of your Facebook is accompanied with a multibillion dollar market capitalization. You know, they’re trying to monetize. They’re trying to grow, maybe get back toward the initial kind of market capitalization that they have when they launch their IPO and they were valued at what, a hundred billion dollars, something like that. They’ve got a lot of money that they need to make in there in order to continue to satisfy investors, to continue to grow as a business. Ask yourself OK, is sending, is posting updates just like anybody else would to Facebook, is that going to be something that continues to get attention over time?
I’m not saying it’s not but you can make a very good case for why it wouldn’t be. You really want to stick with something where you own the audience or you own that permission, because ultimately that’s what we’re really after. We’re after permission to talk to somebody. You don’t own that permission when you’re on Twitter or Facebook. That company owns that and they’re just sort of lending it out or hocking it to you.
Speaker 1: Right. I think the problem is that there’s so much noise around right now that one of the biggest problem on everyone’s plate who is actually online is that they don’t know how to filter through everything so the solution is to just ignore most of it. What happens is that instead of email becoming less responsive and dead, I really think it’s becoming more responsive, because people are retreating to their inboxes. They’re being more selective about what they let in which allows them to be more focused on what does get in there. If you could get someone’s permission and you can their email address, then you’re going to have a much more intimate connection with them these days than you did say five years ago, because email is, it’s just a more valuable medium, because it’s harder to pull it off.
Speaker 2: Isn’t that the funniest thing? We run away from things once everybody else starts spending time there. Email certainly has the ability to suffer from the same sort of thing where somebody gets overloaded with emails and they go through the unsubscribe from a bunch of stuff. They say, “I’m going on an email diet. I’m only going to check it once a day or a couple times a week.” They kind of go through that for a while and then they get onto social media and then they say, “OK, there’s nothing really going on here. I’m getting too many posts, too many tweets, and follow a bunch of people.
We all go through those periods but what’s nice about email is that it does still … Like nobody’s going to get involved on email entirely as the thing. They might check it more often, less often, unsubscribe from things, and mask now and then but email is always going to be there. It’s always going to be a way that people get information. That’s very valuable to you as a business. I think that there’s a lot to be said for distinguishing yourself via your email messages. That’s something you have a lot more opportunity to do, I think, than you do in other channels.
Speaker 1: Absolutely. Let’s get into some of the nitty-gritty because I think you mentioned in one of our emails going back and forth that one of the big mistakes that people make is that they don’t have a welcome message when someone signs up to their list or if they do, it’s a really shitty one, to be honest. What’s the deal there? How do you craft a welcome message that performs? What should people be trying to do with their welcome message? What’s the goal here?
Speaker 2: I think about it kind of like … I always try to relate it to something else that we’ve all experienced or if there’s something else that we all know. When you walk into a restaurant or a retailer, some other business, the well run ones will typically do a couple of things when you initially come in. They’re going to first of all acknowledge that you’re even there.
If they don’t, chances are you’re going to leave. You’re going to get frustrated, especially if you are an interested customer. If you’re walking through a mall and you’re just browsing and you pop into a store for two minutes and nobody really says hi to you, it’s probably not that big a deal to you. If you’re an actual customer and nobody acknowledges you then that’s going to offend you after a while. You’re going to be upset that they don’t want to serve you. They don’t want to help you. At the same time, if they haven’t asked you what it is they can help you with if you’re looking for something in particular.
If you’re going into a restaurant, OK, how many people are in your party? What kind of table did you want? Do you want to sit inside, outside? Do you like booths, tables? All these things, if they’re not bothering to learn anything about you, that’s going to be a bad first experience for you, and it’s going to leave you not recommending that business to other people or, even worse, recommending that other people stay away from it.
I think of a welcome message in very much the same sort of way. If somebody’s just joined your email list, they are so excited about what you have to say that they willingly gave up their actual correct email address that gets to them so that you could talk to them wherever you want. They must really want what you have to say. They must really care about what you’re saying in your business.
That first message is your opportunity to follow up on that. That’s when they most want to hear from you. Over time, people might open fewer of your emails or unsubscribe after they’ve been on the list for a while. I think we’ve all kind of been through that experience where the first few emails we get from somebody we’re opening and reading them from top to bottom, responding, clicking links, doing all this stuff. Then over time maybe we get a little bit less interested as that amount of time between when we actually subscribed and when we’re getting this email. As the time increases, maybe we’re a little bit less responsive.
Initially, that first welcome, that’s when you really want to talk to people. That’s when you want to say, “Hey, thanks. I’m excited that we have the chance to talk to each other. Here’s this information you asked for. Here’s some things that you may want to know about my business. Do you have any questions? Is there something I can help you with?”
These are all very simple, very human communications that a lot of businesses make the mistake of leaving out of their email, whether they’re a welcome email or some of the ones that follow because we don’t think about it in the same way that we would an in-person conversation. To me, that’s a mistake. You have to treat it like a one-to-one in-person conversation.
Speaker 1: I totally agree. Email marketing, the best way it’s done is just that literal conversation, the way you write, the way you engage, the subject, like everything. It’s just a conversation between you and one prospect. It’s really very intimate.
Speaker 2: That’s especially true for a small business. If I was getting emails from Amazon and they were signed from some marketing manager there, Steve. He says, “I really hope you like this bike pump that you’re going to buy.” Whatever; I know Amazon is a huge company.
I don’t think it’s that big a deal that they have a person behind the business, but for a small business, you are the business. A lot of AWeber customers, at least, are sole proprietors or owners of small businesses, maybe 10 or fewer team members. There’s very much a voice and a face to the business. It’s not just some logo, some brand that somebody made up. It’s very much a person, and I think people appreciate that. That’s why we do business with smaller businesses.
Speaker 1: Veronica. Speaking of businesses, what sort of businesses can use email marketing. Is it just online business type of people or is it anyone and everyone?
Speaker 2: Oh, my goodness, no. It’s absolutely everyone. Every type of business that you see walking down the street, anybody who has customers and wants to talk to them and wants those customers to refer other people or come back and do business again later. I think email marketing has a place in every business’s marketing plan.
Speaker 1: OK. OK. Let’s suppose that someone’s got their welcome message down. They’ve introduced themselves. They’ve asked for maybe a bit of feedback or they’ll offer their support if someone has any problems. What do they do after that? How often should they be sending emails? What should they be sending? How do they figure that out?
Speaker 2: That’s a great question. A lot of that depends on what people are coming to you for. If somebody’s signing up for a certain type of information, you made an offer to them in your signup form. They’re very excited about that. That’s what you want to be sending them. You need to create and then meet expectations.
If you’re not doing that and just to give an extreme example, you’re running a business. Maybe you have one business that’s about office supplies and you have another business that’s about gardening, you’re not going to send the wrong information to somebody who signed up for one of those businesses and not the other one because it’s not what they’re asking for.
At the same time, if somebody’s asking for how … They’re trying to solve a problem. They’re looking for a series of how to articles or an e-course on something. Then that’s the information you need to be sending them.
If you’re sending expectations in your signup form, that’s what you need to be delivering on, and you need to minimize the amount of irrelevant information that’s going out to people in those emails.
Aside from that, if you’re not sure what to say—and this is definitely a common question that we get—I think what you do is you go back and you look at the questions you’ve gotten from customers.
If you’ve been running your business for any amount of time, you’ve probably had a contact form on your site, an email address on your site. People are getting in touch with you. They’re asking questions.
Maybe you’ve been doing some market research related to your product or your business. You know what those FAQs are. You can very easily create a useful series of emails based on FAQs.
You put the question as the subject line of a message; answer the question in the body of the message. If you absolutely don’t know what else to say, that’s where you start. Go from there.
Speaker 1: Yeah, that’s a great way to do it is questions that people ask, problems that they have. One thing that I’ve done before is you can send out an email with a survey with one question, or two or three questions, and just literally ask them what do they want know about. What’s their biggest, most painful problem that day? People will reply. It’s really interesting, and you get to find out the exact language they use. Then you can come back at them with emails that really do solve their problems.
Speaker 2: Yeah, absolutely true.
Speaker 1: Do you encourage people to just send out broadcasts, which is like one off emails or setting up an autoresponder?
Speaker 2: I think the best email marketing campaigns use a mix of the two. You certainly want some automatically delivered messages, a welcome message, maybe a couple of message to follow that up.
You mentioned a survey. That’s one thing that we do with some of our own email campaigns and that I typically recommend to people is some amount of time after someone’s been on your list, that person should get a survey. It can be something that you’re running through like a survey gizmo or a survey monkey but it can very easily just be a, “Hey, here’s a couple questions. Reply to me and tell and tell me what you think.”
We do something like that on our blog, for example. A few weeks after you’ve been subscribed you get an email that says, “Hey, what do you think so far? What articles did you like? What ones didn’t you like? What do you want to know more about? Hit reply and tell us what you want.”
That’s something that we use to 1) indicate that there are people paying attention over on this side of the communication and that we do care about the people that are on our email list and we do want to talk to them. It also helps us to get better. It teaches us, OK, this is good content. This is content that’s maybe not so helpful and these are the problems people are having. When we know those things, we’re able to create better email campaigns and better content all across our business down the road.
You do need those newsletters. You need those periodic messages because at some point someone is going to get to the end of your autoresponder series. Whether that’s five messages in, ten messages in, however many you have you don’t want to just stop talking to people at that point. Broadcasts or a newsletter, that’s a very effective way to continue that relationship over time.
Speaker 1: Right, absolutely. I totally agree. All right. We’re just coming up to the 20-minute mark right about now, so this is usually where I wrap it up. Before we go, give yourself or AWeber a plug. Tell us where we can find you, maybe the AWeber blog and then we’ll say good-bye.
Speaker 2: Yeah, I think if you’re looking for ways to build your list or for ways to create email messages that are going to make subscribers want to continue to reach you, want to refer you to other people, want to do business with you, our blog does a really good job of that.
We’ve been running it for about seven years now, just publishing email marketing tips, delivery tips, that sort of thing, so if you go to AWeber.com/blog or you just go to anywhere on AWeber and click the blog tab that’s up in the upper right hand corner of the page, it’s going to take you over there. There’s a subscribe form right on the sidebar there. You can join that list and we’ll send you one to two emails a week just with the latest email marketing advice that we’re publishing. That’s a great way to brush up on email, maybe get an introduction to it. We publish a variety of advanced and beginner/intermediate type articles.
I highly encourage you to check that out. If you’re not familiar with AWeber at all, definitely go check out the website, AWeber.com and try us out for your next email campaign.
Speaker 1: OK. I have those links down in the show notes of this episode. Thank you for your time, Justin.
Speaker 2: Hey, John, it’s been a pleasure. I appreciate it. Thank you.
Speaker 1: Hey, everybody, thanks for listening. If you want to discover more insider tips, tricks and secrets about deriving sales with email marketing sign up for daily email tips from the autoresponder guy.
Go to themcmethod.com/podcast. Sign up, confirm your email address, and I’ll send you daily emails on how to improve your email margin and make more sales via email. You’ll find out why open rates don’t matter and the seven letter word that underlies all affected marketing, and much more.

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