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What We Talk About

Are you struggling to figure out how to ACTUALLY use your email marketing to generate revenue? Maybe you find that you’re spending hours and hours on emails that just don’t convert. Or even worse – perhaps you don’t send any at all.

It’s time to simplify your emails and start using simple emails that sell! Keith Monaghan will help us understand the essential 3-things to work on in your emails, we’ll talk about experimentation and testing, and some best practices across industries when it comes to your email marketing.


Visit Keith’s Website to download (for free) Keith’s ebook – Easy Email Marketing: 10 Simple Steps to Creating Your Own Email

Connect with Keith on LinkedIn
Follow Keith on Twitter

Check out the entire library of list nurturing episodes here.

Our transcript hasn't been proofed, so there will probably be some errors. Sorry about that!

Alyson Lex 0:03
If you're like me, you get approximately 18 bajillion emails a minute. And you may have multiple email addresses and you barely check them unless they're from someone you know, because there's never really that much value in them anyway. If you're like me, that's a thing. And if you're like me, you don't want to be in that category of people who don't get their emails read, you want emails that work, and that don't take forever to come up with. And that is why Jenny and I are so excited to have Keith Monahan with us today. He is a marketer, a market researcher, a writer, an email marketing expert. He's worked with some really big brands, and he is going to talk to us about, you know, simple emails that sell and maybe we'll get some of those big brands secrets out of them, too. So Keith, thanks for being with us today.

Keith Monaghan 0:52
Happy to be here. Thank you for having me.

Jennie Wright 0:54
Absolutely. I'm really excited to have this conversation. Because I know Alex and I have been talking about emails ad nauseam lately. And what is working, because we're seeing some trends start to evolve and change. But at the same time, some of the things that we've done in the past also kind of work. So talk to us about simple emails, like how do we actually get people to open our emails? What is your strategy?

Keith Monaghan 1:21
Well, so I've been doing email for, gosh, over 20 years now, if you had told me 20 years ago, I'd still be dealing with it, I would have said no, something better will come along with me. But here we are, even with social media email is proving to be highly effective, maybe even more personal and more social than than social media itself. So basically, what I'm seeing is that emails that adhere to the basics of good marketing, and good writing, do better. And first and foremost, that's having significant value to your recipient, right? It goes without saying that, that no one's really excited about your new website or your new systems, what they're really excited about is how you can help them. So the first thing to keep in mind is that your email, it needs to be short, punchy, and all about how you can alleviate some pain in someone else's life, right, or a problem or something that's nagging at them. And to that end, I find that the subject line is where everything matters, right? It's all about the subject line, because that is what we see. We don't we don't open emails, if we're most of us, if we're unsure in the subject line, I don't if I if the subject line doesn't catch me, delete, I'm gone, right? I immediately get rid of it. So just to lean back into the research stuff a little bit, you may have heard of MailChimp, the email provider, I've used them a little bit, not my thing, but so not our thing. Yeah, not my thing. I don't really get it. But a lot of people, it's it's for big organizations. But what they do provide is deep research that's free. So if you sign up for free, you don't have to use the system, you can get into their library of research and articles and ebooks, and they they anonymize and collate all of the emails that have ever been sent by MailChimp to figure out what what's working currently right now and what's not. So it's a it's a, it's a trove of great useful data, and I dive into it constantly. One of the things that that they found with subject lines is that an emoji with the right audience can spur a little more opening, increase opening rates a little bit, you know, by five or 10%. Now, having said that, it's important to know your audience, you need to know if your audience is going to respond to a winky emoji or whatever emoji you stick in the subject line, versus maybe a more formal business audience that's not not going to respond to that well. So first and foremost, I would say look at the data and MailChimp has a huge treasure trove of data that's typically current, their blog is always up to date about the current trends. But more More importantly, I break your email down into three parts, there's only really three parts of an email that email that matter. And those are the subject, the message, and the action you want people to take right subject, message and action. Often we try to get too creative and too clever when it comes to these things. But the subject line is like the headline of an article. If you're back when they were magazines, when you flip through magazines, it would be the headline that would catch you right? When you read the newspaper, when you read things articles online, it's generally the headline that catches you the subject line of your email is the headline of your your message. You're you're writing a short article write. The message itself needs to be short and punchy. You know, I mean, unless you're, you're a writer, or you're a news organization or you're providing some kind of deep education, education. content in your email, which is perfectly valid and good. If this is a transactional email, a commerce email, I want you to buy something or sign up for something. Keep it short. Write that focus on the one thing you want people to do download, sign up for the webinar, buy this thing, click here, whatever, it's three to four sentences Max, right? And you want every word account in those sentences. So subject line message. And below the message, you want action, clear call to action, it's gonna be a button, it can be a link, make it make it blindingly obvious what you want people to do. Click here is not a call to action, right?

Jennie Wright 5:41
Download the call to action. If it's not click here.

Keith Monaghan 5:44
download the PDF, sign up for the webinar. Get your 20% off, right. Be specific. Tell me what I need to know. Immediately. Don't make me think. Right. That's that's the key. It may seem like you're over explaining things when you're writing marketing materials, especially email, but everyone's in a hurry. You know, we're all overwhelmed. We're all like you were saying earlier, Allison, you get millions of emails, I don't want to spend five minutes trying to figure out what you're telling me, I want you to tell me why I should click that button. And why I should spend my money or my time on whatever it is you're you're offering me. So be specific, be very, very specific subject message and action. And I'm a little scattered here. It's more early morning. But I'll get back up to the subject line.

Alyson Lex 6:32
Well, I actually have a question about the message, if you don't mind. Um, you said make this short and punchy unless you're providing deep educational content. Right. One of the things that I like to do and I find audiences of my clients and myself respond to is a value add, and then a call to action. So a little bit of a teach, as well as, Hey, do this. What is your take on that? Should I know in your experience, is it

Keith Monaghan 7:01
absolutely right, you know, your audience best? So I'm speaking in generalities here. So what I'm talking about is pretty much a commerce email, a commercial email, to try to sell something or get you to do something, I think what you guys do false, you know, leans more into the there's an educational aspect to it, right? You're, you're educating people, and I get plenty of emails, newsletters that are very long and very deep, that I love. But that's what they do. And that's, that seems to be kind of what you do, right is you're, you're putting a little value add in there. So I think I think for what you guys do, and correct me if I'm wrong here, a little paragraph or two of a story to illustrate a point. And then the then the call to action after that, it's definitely more powerful, because you know, your brand is the two of you, and the two of you, your personalities, or whatever we're gonna come through, and we're gonna sell, right to cut to the chase. So, you know, I'm speaking in the extremes here. Now, that totally makes sense. There's yeah, there's a huge gray area in between. You know, if you find that your audience loves, there are certain emails I get from writers that I love, because they, they're full of anecdotes, and insights into their lives and those kinds of things. And it makes me feel much more connected to them. And I'm all about that personality, branding. If you're a company, or a small business, trying to sell whatever widget you're selling. You need to be careful in that area. In my opinion, personality is great for a company for a brand. It's fantastic. You need to have a point of view. We're going on and on about the funny stories of what happened in the office is worth maybe a couple sentences, but it's not. It's not six paragraphs, it gets tired quick, it gets tired quick. And I think that's because we as consumers and human beings tend to lump email and marketing material into different categories. Right when I'm getting a an email from Apple, they're a company, I don't want to hear stories. I want to know what you're offering me should I even care? Do I just delete it this is something I need right on me. Or any other company when I get an email from you guys. I'm thinking of you too as human beings and I think I want a little more personality and a little more storytelling a little more insight into who you are right because I'm connecting to you to not only because you can help me with something but because I'm connecting to you to His people. And so maybe on the spectrum there maybe a better way to put it is you know, determine whether your email your message is coming from your brand, your your big corporate, or your your business or from two people or one person or one personality and and make the call there right and experiment. You know, don't don't take anything I say today is as hard and fast rules. The great thing about email In digital marketing, is that you're going to find that the guidelines that I give you will be helpful. But there's going to be exceptions in your audience and everything you do, you're going to find your own way you're going to find results that will surprise you go after those right? It may be that you're, your audience appreciates long stories about a specific topic versus short stories or a paragraph or two about another topic, right, you may find certain topics resonate deeply with your your audience, and that they want want you to go do deep dives on certain things, whereas other topics, they tend to respond more to four or five sentences. So thank you, but it's a sliding spectrum. And maybe going in decide whether you want to be whether who what the purpose of this email is? Is it to tell a story and connect with people? Is it to sell a product? Right? Those are the two opposite ends of the spectrum? In my opinion,

Jennie Wright 11:01
I agree with you.

Keith Monaghan 11:02
I'm not rambling too much.

Jennie Wright 11:03
No, you're fine. I mean, also, usually we would cut in but we're sitting here intently, just taking some notes and writing to each other going this is there's there's decent things to be learned from this. What I want to ask you about is basically, there was a difference that you were talking about, between personal and business brands. And you were talking about the experimentation. I've found that or I believe, and I see this with my clients that there is a level of experimentation. And if you are starting to write emails, or if you've been writing them for a while, there's a couple things that I think are really important to take into consideration. One if you've had an audience change, so if you've done any pivoting in the thing that you're doing, or if you've had any sort of different change in your messaging, your emails will have to adjust to that as well. Alison and I saw this happening to clients around when the pandemic began, people were making some pivots in their business, they were changing things, you know, where they were doing in person coaching, or they were doing more online stuff. And their messaging had to change as a result. Because the online world is different than the in person world. It's very different. The emails, I mean, transactional emails are definitely a thing. Hey, thanks for buying the course. Here's your login details, let's that's your transactional, that's what they need. But with the online space, and when you're onboarding somebody into your email list, because they've downloaded your recent freebie, or things like that, I truly believe that there has to be experimentation on how you connect with those people I have found through trial and error. When my list opens, when my list doesn't what subject lines they like, they like pithy stuff for me occasionally, and that they like emojis. I've learned these things through time and you know, in travel and things like that through through 10 years of doing this business. But I have made some doozies of some blunders where you know, and this is nothing against Allison or her copy that Allison wrote some copy for me a couple times from my emails. And it was crickets.

Alyson Lex 13:01
It was not good. It was not good. Yeah,

Jennie Wright 13:05
it was really bad.

Alyson Lex 13:06
I tried a different message. I was like, Let's wake these people up. Let's, I experimented. And I woke them up and they walked away.

Jennie Wright 13:14
Which was fine. We know. Now we know. Right? Yeah, we know.

Keith Monaghan 13:18
Yeah. Well, don't don't beat yourself up. I mean, it's it's super impressive that you've been experimenting with your email subject lines for 10 years. That's, that's really impressive. So you know, you probably know any more than I can teach you at this point, because you've got your hands or not, you're in the gutter, you're dealing with it, you know, and you're experimenting, which is something most people don't do, right? A lot of people don't experiment and iterate. And that's where the learning is, as far as crickets and writing copy that people don't respond to that happens to me every day. I've been at this for 25 years. You can know your audience intimately. You can do market research, you can have content dialed in that they love. And you can try something just a little bit different. And they reject it. It happens that's part of the experimental game, right? That's, that's, you know, in science. Scientists don't say something's a success or a failure. They say, Well, that's a result.

Jennie Wright 14:18
Right? Yeah. And they keep they keep testing it to try and get the same result. Exactly. It's not a result until it's been duplicated. Right. Right. Yeah. It's just a finding until you've duplicated it. And

Keith Monaghan 14:30
unfortunately, you know, we as marketers, or even as businesses, we can't send dozens of emails that no one responds to, to make sure that's what they're not responding to. We don't want to do that. However, that's a data point, right? It's lack of interest is a data point and there's a lot that goes into it. You know, here we are in summer. You know, I'm in my own company where I'm doing work we have a thriving content system working you know, that works with Facebook and drives people to the website. We've seen a dip in, in readership, people just you know, they're out and about, if summer, there was my assumption, they're not hunker down in the cold weather online. You know, from for many hours in the evening, they tend to be out. So we're seeing roughly seasonally that you there's behavior aspect to all this, right? You can't really, really predict. You can make assumptions. But don't. I'm trying to say in a long, roundabout way, don't always blame your copy. Right. Don't always take the responsibility on yourself. There are so many factors louder. Yeah, there are so many factors going on in people's lives, right? We're dealing with, you know, an ongoing pandemic political upheaval, an economy that's, you know, struggling. And on top of that families and relationships and jobs and pets, and everything else. So don't take one failed message, or one better copy as an indicator that you're not doing well. You know, it's not always you, right?

Alyson Lex 16:10
Heed the fire listeners take one thing from this episode. Like seriously, hit the the back one minute button on your podcast player and listen to that again. Because one thing, one is not a full experiment. And two, it's not always one factor that goes into the success or failure of your your thing. And this is true for your emails, your social your offers your launches, any, it's not just one factor. So my question for you is if somebody listening doesn't currently do any experimenting, and now they might be a little scared by my own journey story and what you're talking about? How can they easily get started with that experimenting to figure out what works best for them?

Keith Monaghan 17:02
Yeah, so I'll have two answers for that. We'll go back to your your failed copy, and I don't like the word failed, it's just, it's probably great copy, it just didn't know in response,

Jennie Wright 17:14
it was great copy just not from my list.

Keith Monaghan 17:16
So in the case of that, you know, if you if you're already up and running, and you've got some field, copy, save that copy, put it in a file to try again later. Try it two or three times over the course of months or years. Right? Don't Don't try once and throw it away and assume it doesn't work. Marketing is like anything else. Right? There's trial and error. And if you give up the first time,

Jennie Wright 17:38
might as well get another job based on right.

Keith Monaghan 17:41
Yeah, exactly. Right. You know, I mean, my gosh, when all of us were kids, and we were playing sports, or you know, doing school programs, or whatever our parents were saying, don't give up try again. Right. And it's, it's simple and basic, and, and very true and everything and especially in marketing, you never know. You know, you can go in knowing your audience and thinking you know exactly what they want. And usually you do, but sometimes they'll surprise you. Maybe they just weren't ready for it. Maybe somewhere along the buying cycle, or the customer experience cycle. They just weren't at the right point to hear what you were saying. Who knows, but but give it a shot, put it in a file, your greatest hits that have you had to hit and come back to it a couple, you know, a few more times. If you're just starting out, I would say adhere to the basics, right? Think of your subject your message and your action. And you know, think about what you're trying to tell people and cut away the rest of the chaff. Right. I mean, as a saying that I like to remember that I've said many times over the years is clear is better than clever, right? Clear is better than clever. We often think of marketing as being you know, super clever and interesting and eye catching. And certainly that there's an art to that. And there's some brilliant, clever marketing out there. But we're talking about email, like we've touched on people are busy people are going through their inboxes Allison doesn't really care about your creativity. She wants to know why you're in her inbox. So clear. Are you giving me 20% off? Do you want me to sign up now for something? Is it an exclusive offer? Are you rewarding me for being a customer? Can I help you with a specific specific? Excuse me? No coffee specific problem. You know, especially in what you guys are doing, I really think subject lines that are very niche II and relate to specific problems. How do I here's how you this is the way to do this. Right? get very specific and whatever your topic is, niche down and break down. All the problems you hear clients say into a list and each each one of those bullet points is going to be a subject line and an email. right you've got You've got a huge amount of content right there. So for example, you know, if I'm doing a course on how to write good copy, you know, maybe my first lesson, or my first email that goes out is, how do I get people to read email, and that's the subject line of the email, right? And then the, the contents of the email is either take this course, click here to learn how or an informational email that that kind of leads people through the points and educates them. So once you start doing that, once you break down your content into super specific answers to questions, create yourself a content calendar or an email calendar and decide if you're going to send one a week, one every month, whatever you think is going to work for you. And you basically have an unofficial series of emails here, you're basically giving away little bits of content every week or every month, right that show you know what you're talking about, that that answer a problem, solve a problem answer a question. Then that lets people know what you're talking about. It gives you credibility, right? Here it is, in this email, the subject line, You've piqued my interest, I've opened it. And I've read that oh, my gosh, you guys know what you're talking about. You've helped me with a small problem, whatever it is, right? I can't wait for the next one. These guys are good. They know what they're doing. So providing value, but you know, we talk a lot about providing value. And it's kind of a vague term, but you need to be really specific. And what that value is, you need to know what your value is, and how you're making people's lives better how you're answering a specific problem, a specific solving specific pain and getting very, very specific with your subject line, your message and your call to action. You may see emails, or marketing in general, this is, you know, Hey, check this out. Or you know, subject line is very vague, like, offer inside. Who cares? No one's gonna open that, right. The subject line needs to be here's how to win more clients. Here's here's how to make more money. Here's how to write better copy. Here's how to sell more X.

Very, very specific. Don't make people think tell them you know, I was an English major. And there's there's a saying that are you an English major too? Oh, yeah. Can you tell I'm rambling? Three of us on a podcast,

Jennie Wright 22:48
just just saying no. Also, and I've never been this quiet on a podcast

Alyson Lex 22:52
where I'm just listening. We're sitting here. We're, we take notes behind the scenes, and we're like, he has such a nice voice. And he's got such good information. And I could just sit and listen to Him teach all day.

Keith Monaghan 23:03
Wow. Yeah, be sure to tell my wife that when I start rambling about things, absolutely. Tell

Jennie Wright 23:08
your wife that this is recorded.

Alyson Lex 23:09
Just player this section. No. And Allison and I are

Jennie Wright 23:13
we're gonna call it we're gonna give you this moniker of that you have a great dad voice. Oh, thanks. Yeah, great dad voice we want you to say it's okay that we gotta be plus.

Keith Monaghan 23:26
It's okay. You gotta see you tried.

Alyson Lex 23:28
Oh, oh, for me talk about making my morning.

Keith Monaghan 23:34
Dad. Oh, man, this is the best show I've ever been on.

Alyson Lex 23:39
We're gonna take that clip. Yeah,

Keith Monaghan 23:41
let's do it. Absolutely. Absolutely. I have not taught this much love on a podcast ever.

Jennie Wright 23:45
I want to ask you a question. Yes, please. And it has to do with the emails that we were talking about a little bit earlier. And the topic within them? i My specific question is, if you're trying to drive people to go from your email to a sales page, or to a landing page to convert into a webinar, or you know, to buy something, are we still keeping that email? Super short and specific? Do we do we keep it tight and short? Or do we get into more of the story and things like that if we're trying to drive to get them to take an action like register or buy?

Keith Monaghan 24:24
That's a really good question. And again, you know, you know, maybe I came off a little too extreme at the beginning of this by saying you know, always needs to be short and punchy. You know, considering what you guys do, I think and what your clients do, I think there's a huge value in inserting your personality and a bit of storytelling into an email before you're selling something mean that's a huge part of your brand and your clients brands. Because if I'm right if I'm correct me if I'm wrong You know where we're buying you and your knowledge, we're not buying a widget a pen, right? If I get a, an email from, there's a website called jet pens where I like to get my books and pens. If jet pen sends me an email, I just want it to be about what's on sale, the notebooks. The notebooks are the pens that they've got on sale, I don't really want to hear a long a five paragraph story about how this pinching some guy's life. But what I do want to hear from you guys as two human beings that that I've identified with, I like that I want to hear from, I want to hear stories from you, as far as about how you help someone how you can help me and how I can go about getting that help. Does that clarify things? Does that help?

Jennie Wright 25:47
Absolutely. And it does. It does.

Alyson Lex 25:50
And I think too, you know, one of the things that we're talking about is, is company brand versus personal brand. But I think there's value in looking at what? Well I know there's value in looking at what people outside of your industry are doing. In order to create your own best practice. There is an every time I mentioned this name, everybody says the one from Seinfeld, the J Peterman company, yes, is an E commerce brand. It's a real company, it's an E commerce brand, go on their website and read their product descriptions. And their stories. They're amazing. They are phenomenal. I subscribe to their catalogue just to have them. And they give the clothes a personality, and they create a story about the clothing. And that helps itself. So they have looked outside the EECOM industry into although they've been doing it forever into other industries and taken something that works. We in the knowledge and transformation space, the experts base can do something similar outside of our industry. So really just

Keith Monaghan 26:58
absolutely. That's an that's a great exception to what I'm saying. And I love exceptions, right? Because nothing is nothing is.

Jennie Wright 27:06
Well, anybody with an English degree likes an exception

Keith Monaghan 27:12
to my parents that see. That's good.

Jennie Wright 27:16
Absolutely we can we can say we can say the same thing. Five different ways from like a $2 word to a $15

Alyson Lex 27:24
rule. So you supposed to get a 20 page paper? That's right. I mean, I've got to repeat myself 32 times because I made my point back in paragraph one.

Keith Monaghan 27:34
That is that is the dilemma if and everything

Jennie Wright 27:39
we love, we love what you're talking about. And, you know, I know that people are gonna want to hear more about where they can find out more about what you do, and email and all this kind of stuff, because you are definitely the experts. So how can people connect with you? And where can they find you? Sure,

Keith Monaghan 27:55
sure, it's easy. You can go to read easy That'll get you to my website. So you don't have to worry about spelling Monahan and bear, you can read and download for free without signing up a little ebook that I put together called Easy email marketing. And it's 10 Simple Steps to Creating your own email, it's all free. And I put it out there for free because I want people to understand the basics, and that by following the basics, you can get pretty darn far, you know? And so reading, check that out you into the about page, you'll find links to my LinkedIn and Twitter and all that. And if you do read it, and if you do find it useful, let me know I can. I'm happy to answer questions about anything. And I'd love to hear from people.

Alyson Lex 28:41
Awesome. And we will take all of those links to websites, Twitter, LinkedIn, all of that. And we'll put it on our show notes. Show Notes, excuse me at system to And Jenny, I believe we are episode 169. Is that correct? Yeah. Right. So it'll be system to 169. And you can go ahead and get all of the details on how to get in touch with Keith and grab that ebook. I have it. I have to read it. It's on the list.

Keith Monaghan 29:12
I'm not offended. I have maybe on my list.

Alyson Lex 29:14
What happened? My list is never ending. English majors unite.

Keith Monaghan 29:17
Yes. Well, Jenny and Alison, thank you so much for having me on the show. I really enjoyed it.

Jennie Wright 29:22
It's been a delight. We've loved it. And we really appreciate your time and sharing so much. And you know, just honestly just the ramble was great, because we were we were here for it.

Keith Monaghan 29:32
Good. I'm happy to ramble.

Jennie Wright 29:36
Thanks so much, everybody for listening to this episode. We hope that you enjoyed it. Make sure that you're following us on whatever platform that you're using to listen up and be part of this podcast. We also want to hear from you feel free to go to system to Leave us a comment and we'd love to hear what you think about the podcast and how we can support. Thanks so much, everybody. We appreciate this and we'll be back again soon. Take care It



Episode 172 – How FREE Makes You Money (the beauty of monetized newsletters) with Monica Snyder

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