Four Ways to Get Customers to Open Your Emails

If you want to be a successful email marketer, it’s essential that subscribers open your messages. After all, if your audience isn’t opening your emails, it’s impossible for them to take action, such as clicking through to your website or making a purchase.
But how do you keep them opening your emails on a regular basis?
There are four primary ways:
  • Solve a problem,
  • Save them money,
  • Make them smarter, or
  • Entertain them
Here are some tips for crafting these types of successful marketing emails.

 1. Solve a problem.

If you knew that an email marketing newsletter would help solve a problem you were having, would you subscribe to it? If the sender set expectations upfront and promised that every email would lead you closer to solving that problem, you’d open those messages, wouldn’t you?
One example of a company that does this right is Quibb, a professional news site that allows people to share what they’re reading for work. It helps its subscribers solve their problems by digesting news and allowing readers to quickly catch up on what’s relevant in their industry.
Quibb’s problem-solving approach translates into an average open rate on its daily digest email that ranges between 50% and 70%. That’s significantly higher than the average marketing email open rate (in the US) of 25,6%, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

2. Save them money.

Groupon and other daily deal emails have proliferated by offering subscribers the opportunity to save money. Sure, you have to spend money to save, but it can be enticing to get 50% off a dinner at a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try or 40% off the oil change you’ve been putting off for months.
Similarly, business-to-consumer marketers often put words such as ‘free’, ‘save’, ‘sale’ or ‘free shipping’ in their subject lines. Many people — my wife included — save such emails in their inbox for the next time they’re shopping in a store or online. Then, they search their inbox for the promotional offer.
For your own marketing emails, test different types of offers. Sometimes free shipping can be more effective than a percentage discount. Other times, rand amount savings may work best. Try a subject line split test to see what resonates most with your audience.

3. Make them smarter.

Some of us embrace the ‘always be learning’ motto. To hone our skills, we read business or trade publications, or we take courses. Many marketers exploit this desire to become smarter by sending emails that promise just that.
An example is social media expert Chris Brogan’s weekly Sunday email. Brogan shares what’s on his mind with the goal of making his subscribers smarter. In a recent email with the subject line ‘The Sidewalk, The Storefront and the Back Room,’ Brogan talked about ‘touch points of opportunity’ — essentially, how your potential customers can find you. His open rates are often higher than 40%, and many of his weekly words of wisdom are shared on social networking sites, helping him attract more potential customers to his email list.
If your emails tend to be focused on selling, try mixing it up next time. Don’t sell, just inform.

4. Entertain them.

Some emails include an entertainment component to try to increase readership and sales. For example, MarketingProfs included a fun video in a blog post and email  to promote its annual B2B Forum. While it’s uncertain exactly how effective the video was in terms of open rates, MarketingProfs did sell more forum passes after the email went out.
I’ve been doing this with my weekly email for several months. The video is consistently the most clicked — and shared — link in the entire email, often resulting in more email sign ups.
It’s possible to craft an email that both entertains and saves subscribers money, or one that can both make people smarter and save them time. But most emails focus on only one of the four themes.
Take a look at your recent email marketing messages. Can you identify which of the four reasons your subscribers are reading your emails? If your answer is ‘none of the above’, you might want to reconsider your approach.
first published in entrepreneurmag

PS: Welcome to also connect with me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WillemTait or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/willemtait

3 Golden Rules of Negotiating

‘Negotiate’ comes from the Latin negotiatus, which is the past participle of negotiari, and means to carry on business. This original meaning is critical to understand because the goal of negotiating is to continue doing business by conferring with another to arrive at an agreement.

Find the sweet spot

So, scrap the notion that negotiating means lowering the price to reach an agreement. A lower price does not make for a better deal; it only makes for less margin for you and your company. Your goal is to come to an agreement about a proposal, and the way to do this is to build value in your offer.
The solution your product or service offers is the focal point of negotiations, not the price.
Here are three of my 12 golden rules, which I won’t allow myself to violate in any negotiation:

1. Always start the negotiations

You must initiate the process because whoever controls the start of the negotiations tends to control where they end. If you let the other party start negotiations, you will be constantly giving up control, often without even realising it.
For instance, when you ask someone what his project budget is, you are allowing him to start the negotiations. You will then spend your time chasing his number rather than finding the best solution. When I sit down to work out an agreement on the numbers involved in the decision, I will even interrupt to prevent the other side from controlling the starting point.

2. Always negotiate in writing

Many professional sales people make the mistake of discussing and working on the terms of an agreement without ever committing their ideas to a written agreement. But the purpose of negotiations is to arrive at a formal written agreement.
From the moment I make a proposal, I refer to a document that is being created in front of the client. It includes all the points of agreement and becomes real. Negotiating first and then having to create a document adds unnecessary time to a transaction. But if you build your written agreement as you negotiate, you are prepared to ask for a signature as the decision to buy is made.

3. Always stay cool

The negotiation table can be loaded with agendas, egos and emotions. Great negotiators know how to stay cool, providing leadership and solutions, while the rest of the room becomes insanely invested in personal agendas and useless emotions.
Crying, getting angry, name calling and blowing off steam may make you feel good, but such behaviour will not benefit you while negotiating. Use logic to negotiate and close.
first published in entrepreneurmag

7 Ways to Get the Press Coverage You Want

Over the last few years, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with people who have noticed that we are frequently in the press. They always want to know, “How do you do it?” I don’t have some special playbook, but I do have a few rules and tricks that I think are helpful.

1. Don’t pitch to the top of 

the masthead.

When pitching to journalists, too many start-ups that are new to PR try to reach out to the top writer or editor or the “face” of a publication. But you are likely wasting your time, these journalists are probably too busy to respond to or even read unsolicited pitches.
Instead, try building a relationship with the newer journalists; they are often hungry for stories and are receiving far less cold pitches. Always remember that the journalist, not the publication, is covering you – so finding the right people to share your story is critical.

2. Find out who covers your industry.

Another commonly overlooked fact is that writers are usually assigned specific “beats,” or have a focus and interest on certain topics. Take the extra time to do some research; find out which journalists cover start-ups or the industries you’re closely related with. These are the people you should be reaching out to.
Journalists receive plenty of spam from people who haven’t taken the time to find out anything about their background or coverage area – don’t be one of these people.
You can do a lot for your PR strategy simply by compiling a list of the writers who are focused on, and more importantly, genuinely interested in your space.

3. Build relationships and be authentic.

Just like any business relationship, building a solid network of people in the media is important. The closer the relationship, the more value they will provide for you in the future. Refer to your list of journalists and find new ways to engage with these people. Engage with them on Twitter, follow their work and send notes with comments showing you read their articles regularly.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a journalist write about you on their own, make sure you reach out and thank them. They are already intrigued by the work you’re doing – build on that interest and continue to share your story with them.

4. Create unique and exclusive 


By looking for unique ways to engage with journalists, you’ll naturally attract more (and better) press. One of my favorite techniques that we have used numerous times in the past is media dinners.
When we were launching UP Global earlier this year, we wanted to make sure that we got plenty of coverage from all the major media outlets. We organised an intimate and exclusive dinner for the media and unveiled UP Global to them first. We never asked them to write a story; we simply organised a great meal and shared some drinks with a group of people interested in what we were up to.
Unsurprisingly, every reporter wrote a story about us the next morning. Yes, 100% conversion rate. Try accomplishing that with some cold emails sent out to reporters.
Creating environments like the dinner we organised work well because they allow for more authentic storytelling to unfold and relationships built. With so many start-ups pushing to get exposure in the press, it’s inevitable that entrepreneurs must get creative and put in some extra leg work.

5. Think beyond the press release.

Journalists who cover start-ups are constantly bombarded with press releases, and those press releases get ignored most of the time.
Save yourself some time and money; forego the traditional press release and send out a personal email to one of your contacts with a short description of your update and a helpful list of contacts and resources for them in case they want to begin pursuing the story. Even better, just write a blog post about the story (you are going to anyways, right?) and give the journalist exclusive access to that before its published.
Google is a great example of a company that does not use press releases and instead focuses on blog posts and making sure the right journalists know they are releasing a “blog post” about big news.
To increase traction, I keep a curated mailing list of 100 influencers with a combined following of over 1 million people that we send our big news updates to with a simple “click to tweet” button. We see more engagement and traffic driven to our news updates (on our blog of course) just from these people than any national news coverage we have ever received.

6. Understand what’s newsworthy.

Make sure that you understand what is newsworthy and what isn’t. Founders are notorious for sending out updates and stories that no journalists care about. Too often, entrepreneurs blast journalists with emails about the addition of a new feature for an app or service.
This is not news, and unless you are the hot new startup, no one cares.

7. Getting press is just one 

way to get attention.

Remember that the media is just one distribution outlet for you to get your news out to the public. A lot has changed in the last five years with the popularity of blogs and social media.
You can gain much more traction and eyes on your story by optimising these channels for news distribution.
I’m always surprised that I don’t hear about more people empowering their early customers, advisors, investors, etc. to spread the word about news and updates from your start-up more easily.
The bottom line: Ask yourself regularly if you are wasting the time of already busy people. Don’t send out updates that aren’t news, don’t bombard journalists with press releases, and don’t send information to the wrong people.
Start applying your innovative, entrepreneurial practices to your PR strategy and you’ll save time, money, and see a lot more exposure for your start-up.
First printed in entrepreneurmag

PS: Welcome to also connect with me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WillemTait or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/willemtait