Before You Email Your List — Read This First.

Keith Perhac
Founder @ SegMetrics


…You created a new product.

…You gave it a sexy name.

…You went all-out in search of publicity.

…You offered cool opt-ins and attracted fantastic new subscribers.

…You waited two weeks for the excitement to die down and to get yourself in order, and now you’re ready to email your list for the first time.

This is a common scenario…usually followed by a BIG mistake.

What do most people do in your situation? They jump right into an email funnel with their brand-new opt-ins. Makes sense, right? After all, they gave you their email address. They want to hear from you.

Not so fast, though. These people gave you their email address one week, two weeks, maybe even three or four weeks ago. Do they even remember signing up? Probably not. If you start sending subscribers sales emails after a few weeks of radio silence, they won’t even remember who you are.

You won’t get sales — all you’ll get is a pile of unsubscribes.

There’s nothing more annoying that getting an email and having NO clue who sent it, why you’re getting it and why they’re bugging you. It’s the same thing as being cold-called by a telemarketer. You’re a thousand times more likely to get a hang-up than close a sale.

There’s only one way to communicate with your cold list. You have to warm it up.

Just like you need to thaw a frozen turkey before you can really start cooking, you need to warm your list before you can really start selling.

Warming your list means reconnecting with your list. If you’ve had a period of no communication, whether it’s two weeks or six months, you have to go through a warming process before you can get back into the swing of normal communication.

After all, you wouldn’t jump into the middle of a conversation at a cocktail party and say “Hey, buy my product!” You’d get nothing but blank stares, and people would stop inviting you to parties altogether.

5 Foolproof Steps to Warming Your List

Start thinking tropical islands, sunny summer days, and hot coffee…because it’s time to get warm.

Step 1 – Reintroduction Email

First, you’re going to send an email to your list to introduce yourself.

You might think your subscribers know who you are — after all, didn’t they recently opt in to hear from you? — but you can’t make that assumption. Chances are, they don’t remember you.

Have you ever met up with a group of people, only to realize there’s someone in the group you’ve only met once? For the life of you, you can’t remember their name. Everyone assumes you know each other, and you feel too awkward to introduce yourself and risk looking silly. So you carry on like you remember them, all the while feeling self-conscious.

What a sense of relief you’d feel if that person walked up to you right when you arrived and said, “Hi, I’m Jordan. I think we met once before, but I wanted to re-introduce myself.”

Problem solved!

That’s exactly what you’ll do in your first email. Be personable, be welcoming, and be informative. Remind subscribers exactly who you are, why they signed up for your emails in the first place, and your mission or goal.

It might sound something like this:

“Hi, I’m Keith, the founder of Perfect Goatee. You’re receiving this email because you recently signed up to find out more about growing the Perfect Goatee of your own. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sending you some helpful information about goatees: how to grow them, how to groom them, and some fun facts about famous facial hair throughout history. I look forward to getting to know you — and your goatee!”

Don’t worry about apologizing for neglecting your list. Just jump in and act like everything’s fine.

Step 2 – Provide Value

Did you notice that the paragraph above didn’t involve any selling? That’s because you need to re-establish your relationship before you start asking your list to buy things.

Would you buy a gallon of milk from a guy on the street who walked up to you and said “Hey, buy this milk!”?

Or would you rather buy milk from your neighborhood grocery store, where the employees greet you by name, you have a store loyalty card, and you’ve happily shopped without incident for the last few years?

No one feels comfortable buying something from a total stranger. Who knows what you might get?

So instead of selling, it’s time to give back to your list. Win them over by giving them something valuable for free.

What should you give away for free? Think PDFs, helpful tips, insightful advice — whatever you have to offer that your subscribers will find relevant and interesting. As long as you’re not asking your list to DO anything in return, pretty much any applicable content is okay.

But don’t sell. At this stage, you shouldn’t even ask them to visit your blog. That’s asking your list to do something for you, and you haven’t built a strong enough relationship to make that request that yet.

Instead of sending readers to your blog, copy the content of a blog post right into the body of your email. Make it as easy as possible for your readers to receive your value.

In your quest to provide value, be careful of giving your subscribers too much to read at one time. 2,000 words of content in an email isn’t helpful, it’s annoying. And, just like telling your subscribers to buy your product or visit your blog, plopping a gigantic email in their inbox is like asking them a favor.

Instead, keep things brief. Your content should fill up a single computer screen, or a screen and a half. Don’t ask your readers to scroll down forever and ever, only to find your email never ends.

Step 3 – Get Excited

It’s important for your list to feel your passion throughout your warming emails. They’ll get excited if you’re excited!

A few ways to do this:

Explain why you started this project. What problems were you seeing around you, or experiencing yourself, that made you come up with the idea for your product? Why is this your personal mission?

Share personal anecdotes that are relevant to your readers and show that you feel their pain. This shows that you’re not just a robot sending them emails. It humanizes you and fosters a deeper connection. Your subscribers will think: “Hey, this guy gets me.”

Tell your readers what you’ve been up to. If you’re speaking at a conference, or you just had a phone call with a customer who told you a really cool story about their experience using your product, go ahead and share it.

Express genuine emotion. If you’re thrilled to share some great advice, or if you’re enthusiastic about a news story that relates to your product topic, let your readers know. Adding your own emotional reaction on top of the content you send will make it have a stronger impact.

Be careful about letting your emotion sweep you away into promising things you can’t deliver. It’s easy to get charged up and say “stay tuned tomorrow for 1,000 great tips about growing your goatee!” But if you can’t deliver, don’t make the promise.

Step 4 – Heat Things Up

Continue the warming process with a few more emails that follow the first three steps:

  1. Reintroduce Yourself
  2. Provide Value
  3. Get Excited

You might feel the need to overcompensate — to bombard your list with communication to make up for your period of silence. Don’t do it! Over-emailing can lead to a whole separate issue called Subscriber Burnout, or List Fatigue.

Instead, you’ll send approximately 2 emails a week over the course of two weeks. By the time your list is fully heated, you’ll have sent a grand total of 4-5 emails.

During these two weeks, you may notice some unsubscribes. Do not be alarmed! This is perfectly normal. The percentage of unsubscribes that you’ll get during a warming process is FAR lower than the percentage of unsubscribes you’ll get if you start selling to your list while they’re still cold.

It’s like a freezing cold pool on a hot day. Most people will want to ease into the water slowly instead of being thrown right into the deep end.

Step 5 – Business as usual

Congrats. Now your list is back to normal, at the same place it was when your subscribers first signed up a few weeks (or months) ago.

Once you reach Step 5 and your list is warm, you can begin your educational or marketing campaign.

And don’t let your list go cold again!

3 other times you’ll need to warm your list

We’ve been focusing on a neglected list that’s gone cold before you’ve ever started emailing, but there are other times you’ll need to warm up your readers.

Are you launching a new product?

Let’s say your business sells shoes, and now you’re going to start selling purses, too.

Your list is full of shoe-lovers, not necessarily purse-lovers, and you need to warm them up to the idea that you now sell another product.

By following a two-week warming regiment, you can introduce the idea of purses. You’ll talk about how passionate you are about them, share some helpful information about them, and generally get your list excited about the idea.

After that, you can start actively selling your new product.

Are you an affiliate campaign junkie?

Do you frequently let your list go cold, then warm it up halfway with a couple of emails? Then, do you launch right into an affiliate program?

If you’ve done this more than once, you might be an affiliate campaign junkie.

When you bombard your list with affiliate messaging without taking the time to cultivate a real connection, you’ll lose your list’s trust. They’ll get annoyed quickly. And once you’ve done this once or twice, they’ll stop responding to you.

Instead of letting your list go cold and warming it up just for affiliate promotions, try keeping your list warm all the time. Then, when it’s time to talk affiliates, you can seamlessly add that content to your regular emails without annoying your subscribers.

The key is to establish a relationship, maintain that relationship, and only then try to sell.

Do you have a Chronic Cold List?

If you get too busy to send emails, have trouble coming up with email content, or can’t remember the last time you sent an email, you might have a Chronic Cold List.

Don’t feel bad. This is a common problem, and it usually stems from you trying to do too much and putting your email communication on the back burner.

The best thing you can do to cure Chronic Cold List is to establish an editorial calendar, sometimes called a content calendar. It’s a chart where you can plan and track all of the emails, blog posts, and other content that you are going to release in the next three months.

Editorial calendars are easy to make and are total life-savers. You can use an Excel spreadsheet, a Google calendar, or even some WordPress plugins to help you stay organized and plot your content.

When you’re organized, you’ll be able to get a better view of the big picture. With a better view of the big picture, you’ll be able to see where there are holes in your email strategy. Then, you can plan ahead, creating terrific content well in advance.

You won’t have to scramble to get an email out the door, or wake up one day and realize that you haven’t emailed your list in six months.

Looking at the big picture is the key to preventing your list from going cold.

Success in email marketing isn’t about the size of your list. It’s about the ENGAGEMENT of your list. What’s the use of having 1 million subscribers if they’ve all gone cold? Better to have 500 subscribers who are on fire with passion for your product.

Let’s put this into perspective. Do you plan to launch a product in 2015?

If the answer’s yes, you should start planning to warm your list right now. Reinvigorate their enthusiasm and get them ready — now — for your latest and greatest product offering.

It takes time and patience to rebuild a trusting relationship with your subscribers, and if you want a successful launch, you’ll need them on your side well before it’s time to sell.

How are you planning to warm your list?

Keith Perhac

Founder @ SegMetrics

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

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