A-ha moment – hope and pray email is NOT a strategy!

Wow! I love it when things that make sense in theory also prove themselves in actuality. What I love even more is when the effort I put into learning something new proves to be an extremely great use of my time. Whew.

I’m talking technology again. I’m talking systems and processes. I’m talking stuff I didn’t know to talk about 6 months ago. And it’s stuff I loathed learning only 2 months ago. Technology. Oh how I love to hate you. But today it’s just love.

The theory I bought into was that using a communication management system like iContact, ConstantContact, AWeber or Mailchimp would make my relationship with customers richer and make me more professional appearing. Choosing one, then learning it, at first seemed like more work than it would be worth. In fact, some of you haven’t tried any of them long enough because you feel this way too! I decided on instinct and faith alone to pursue and let the products prove the worth to me.

And it has. I have been using Mailchimp for 4 months. At first awkwardly, clunkily and unintentionally spammy (ie. I had messed up how I grouped some people). I’m still far from as professional as I should be, but I’m getting there. And in getting there, I’ve discovered how cool it is along the way. And today, that “cool” factor became a crystal clear A-HA on why sending group email from our outbox into the universe should NEVER happen again.

Techno A-HA Moment

I’ve created a process that works for me. Simple and easy. I don’t create graphically dynamic newsletters right now. I’m practicing the art of my industry… clear, concise writing. This alone can compel, and it saves me time. I don’t have time to spare so I focus just on the writing for now. When I write a group email, I write it in a new Outlook email window. However, I don’t select my Outlook contact group anymore! I discover something fabulous instead!

All my contact names live in Mailchimp now. I have them grouped and one group is an old list that has been created in Outlook contacts for four years. A quick export to Excel, and then a copy and paste created it into a Mailchimp list. That Mailchimp list can be used to send emails from Mailchimp directly, or it can be sent back to my Outlook contacts as a uniquely coded group contact that links directly to Mailchimp. When I write an email for that group, in Outlook, I can select the Mailchimp coded distribution group and it automatically sends my email to Mailchimp rather than directly to the group.

Pssst. Need to pause? Yes, I know I may have lost you if this is new, so even if your eyes have glazed over, just remember “wah, wah, wah, she said this is SIMPLE”. Okay, file that simple notion for a minute and just believe it to be true.

So why did I send it to Mailchimp instead of straight to my contacts? Well, when I have the exact same, simply typed email in Mailchimp and send it out from there… it becomes a “campaign”. The alternative, sending an email straight to your group of Outlook is what I now will call “hope and pray someone somewhere is reading my email.” The Mailchimp group email blast becomes a campaign because it is RICH with information that allows you to create a sales funnel, tells a story about your customers, and gives you an idea of what your next steps should be. Direct from Outlook… well, what happens after you send it out is anybody’s guess! What a shame.

Example 1 – Group Email Sent Through Outlook Only*

  1. Write email in Outlook email window.
  2. Maybe select “read receipt/delivery receipt” options (which only work a third of the time at best I’m convinced)
  3. Send email to Outlook contact distribution list.
  4. Hope and pray your emails make it through spam filters and then are read.
  5. Stats: 1-5% of people will hopefully respond by replying to your email or calling you (or following up with whatever call to action you had in place)

Example 2 – (Real case study) Group Email Created in Outlook, Sent to Special Mailchimp Group List in Outlook for Mailchimp Delivery, Sent from Mailchimp

  1. Write email in Outlook email window.
  2. Send email to Mailchimp coded specially linked group distribution list (automatically appears in Mailchimp campaign window exactly as created in Outlook)
  3. Send email from Mailchimp to 165 recipients Monday night (to a four year old list that hasn’t been used in 8 months)
  4. Get immediate report that all 165 emails were sent.
  5. Access real-time reports. Here are current stats for Tuesday night:
    1. 25 bounced (various reasons cited – this is a HIGH number of bounces but is because the list is very old and never purged in four years)
    2. 35 opened. 17 opened twice in past 24 hours. 5 others opened 3 times in past 24 hours. It tells me who opened and who opened multiple times.
    3. 12 had links clicked through (it even tells me which links and who opened them)
    4. 95 as yet unopened. It’s only been 24 hours.

So what do I do with this information?

  1. I remember I never have to have a “hope and pray” email campaign again. And remind myself the Mailchimp version (after setting up the process) took EXACTLY the same amount of time as the second, other than having to open Mailchimp and hit send from there.
  2. I will be emailing the entire active list again with a group reminder (same process no matter which way the email is sent). I will be evaluating the statistics in Mailchimp to see if any new or increased interest is sparked by a second email.
  3. I’ll be sending personal emails (not through Mailchimp, through my Outlook account direct) to the 22 people who opened the emails multiple times. This is evidence of a strong likelihood of interest in my email invitation. I will shift from a “mass marketing” mode to a personal engagement in order to shift their statistical interest into genuine interest and maybe short or long-term revenue.

No hopin’ and prayin’. Just an information rich campaign! Information is power. Information from a system and a process is easy. Using it is so obviously wise. Don’t you think?

*I’m a PC girl. Imagine this on your operating system.

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