How to Sell to Your E-Mail List with a Proven Marketing Sequence

So you’ve built an e-mail list of prospects and you have a product that can help them solve a problem or achieve a desired outcome. The next step is to sell to your list. However, if you simply start bombarding members of your list with daily emails that are little more than adverts, you’ll likely be met with a high number of unsubscribes, zero sales and a damaged reputation. Email marketing (the process of selling through email) requires careful design and execution. Don’t see it as a series of standalone emails but rather as an intelligent sequence that slowly funnels the prospect towards placing an order.

How to create an email marketing sequence to sell your product

To get started, sign up to an email marketing service

If you want to market and monetize your know-how, there’s no avoiding it. You need an email marketing service. This is an essential tool used by all experts to build their customer base. It helps you:

  • build an email list in the first place;
  • automatically manages multiple lists and multiple members on those lists (e.g. it tracks where your subscribers came from, i.e. you can assign a name to each list such as “Website Public Speaking Course” list so you know how the subscriber find you and what they’re interested in); handles subscriptions and unsubscribe requests; keeps track of performance statistics etc;
  • write as many emails as you wish in advance and send them out as standalone emails or part of a series of emails at pre-determined times or intervals. (this mechanism is called an autoresponder). The great thing is, you only need to write these emails once and the autoresponder takes care of the rest, i.e. it will send out the correct emails to the correct people at the correct time. You only need to configure the settings of each email campaign once and the software does the rest.

The bottom line is, if you want to market and monetize your know-how, you need to subscribe to an email marketing service to use its autoresponder facility.

Once you have your email marketing service in place, you need to build your email marketing sequence.

Setup an email sequence

Don’t expect to close a sale with a single email. It does happen but not that often and generally only for lower-priced products. If you’re selling higher-value products (which you should be), the most effective email marketing method is to create a sequence of emails that guide the prospect subconsciously through the sales process.

This is best shown with an example. For our purposes, let’s assume you are a restaurant startup consultant who helps clients launch successful establishments. You have created an online course teaching students how to go from restaurant concept to detailed action plan. The course costs $500. You have a list of targeted prospects (built through your landing page and lead magnet) who you want to sell to.

A one-off email asking for $500 is unlikely to succeed. A more effective method to sell your course is to use an email marketing sequence like the one below. (You can adapt the following email sequence to suit any product or service you’re selling – the principles remain the same):

  1. Email #1 – Address the problem. This is an introduction email that identifies an important problem faced by your target audience (in our example, people considering starting a restaurant).  You might write something like:

         It has been estimated that 95% of restaurants fail within the first three years. Sadly, behind each failure is a human casualty: broken dreams, damaged relationships and real financial hardship.
    The good news is that almost all the reasons for restaurant failure can be avoided beforehand if you (1) know what to look out for; (2) know what is important and what isn’t; and, (3) know what you should and shouldn’t do.
    In the next few days, I want to share with you some incredibly practical advice to help you start a successful restaurant and avoid the mistakes that lead to failure. Look out for my email tomorrow!”
  2. Email #2 – Establish credibility. This email is designed to pique the interest of the recipient and to establish your authority, i.e. why you’re the right person to deliver the solution. Include just a a couple of lines about who you are; who you help and how you help them. Then plant the seed of a solution to the problem identified in #1. You’re not providing the solution itself at this stage, only raising the reader’s consciousness that there is a solution.
         You might write:
         Hi, I’m Johan Truffleton and I’ve been a restaurant consultant for the past 15 years in one of the most competitive food-capitals of the world – London, UK. I have started and sold several successful restaurants and have helped my clients do the same. In addition, I have advised some of the largest hospitality corporations in the country. Now I’d like to help you!
         Did you know that the recipe for starting a successful restaurant consists of just five steps? Just five! Get these steps right and your chances of success will skyrocket. Get any of them wrong however and you will have an uphill battle on your hands. The five steps are: Location, Staff, Service, Quality and Finances. Before you think about the food you want to serve or a name for your restaurant; before you think about menu layouts or interior design, you need to get these steps right. Tomorrow, I’ll start showing you how. I think you’ll find it an eye-opener!
  3. Email #3 – Give high-value content. The next email you send out contains high-value content to solve part of the problem you introduce in #2. We recommend that you include the first paragraph of the solution in your email and link back to the remainder of the article on your website. (You always want to direct recipients to your website wherever possible: they will be exposed to more of your content, can learn more about your expertise, and this builds their trust and your credibility).
         The content you write here has to be extremely high-value. It’s a taster for your paid product so it has to be enticing. Don’t give away the farm – hold back part of the solution – but what you do provide should be a self-contained solution. In our example, we talk about the five steps of starting a successful restaurant; in your high-value email you will go into great detail on how to solve one of those steps. You want to show the recipient you are an authority in your subject. You want them to think, after reading your content, “This person really knows their stuff”.
         Close this email by introducing your product. This is the first introduction so there’s no need to go into detail at this stage: “If this content has helped you, it’s just one lesson from my course, The Successful Restaurant Playbook, which is a step-by-step blueprint for taking your restaurant from concept to a profitable business you’ll love. You can check it out here [then link to your sales page]
  4. Email #4 – Give a case study or testimonial. Include an example of someone who used your product and enjoyed great results. If you have a case study, great. But if you’re just starting out, ask a friend to review your product.
  5. Email #5 – Handle the most common objections. Your next email is designed to address all the common objections and any sales resistance, e.g. it’s too expensive; will this work? Why do I need this? Why are you qualified to teach this?  and so on. Handle them head-on, Q&A-style, e.g:
    – “It’s too expensive” – emphasise the value you’re providing; the time the person is saving; all the year’s experience working in the industry; the cost of not buying. You are offering them a shortcut to success, to avoid all the painful trial and error. How long and how much will it cost for someone to learn everything you know?
    – “Why do I need this?” Talk about the importance of avoiding expensive mistakes. Prevention is better than cure and you’re helping them avoid problems down-the-line which they may not be able to recover from. You’re helping them to do it right, first time.
    – “Why are you qualified to teach this?” Talk about your experience. Talk about results you’ve got yourself or for your clients. Talk about the success people who took your course have experienced. Links to any social proof is extremely valuable and effective.
  6. Email #6 – Tell storiesPeople want to be certain that you’re authentic. Therefore, you need to confirm your credibility at every opportunity in your marketing sequence. This can be done by case studies, testimonials by the people satisfied with your product, press appearances, etc.
         Talk about your story: what do you do + who do you do it for + what main outcome do you help them achieve?
    – How did you discover this solution?
    – How did you get to where you are today? Talk about your journey from struggle to success.
    – Give a little personal background story. Don’t go overboard. Just write a paragraph or so. This is just to establish human rapport. The goal is to get the reader to relate to, trust and like you.
    – Talk about the results you have got either for yourself or your clients.
  7. Email #7 – Include testimonials. You want to include as many testimonials as you can get. Get others to talk about how your expertise has helped them. What results did you help them achieve? You may feel uncomfortable asking for testimonials so here’s a request email you can send out to past customers.
  8. Email #8 – Make an offer. Break down the offer:
    – Who is the product designed to help? Be specific.
    – List the main benefits;
    – What outcome/results are you promising?
    – Offer an incentive (exclusive to your email list) to sign up, e.g. a discount/coupon; a live Q&A webinar; bonus resources etc.
  9. Email #9 – Follow up. After three days, send out a follow-up email. You want to overcome any final resistance to buy. Some techniques include:
    – “Do you have any questions I can help answer? Contact me at… and I will be happy to reply directly”
    – Ask the recipient to imagine what their situation will be like a year from now if they keep doing what they’ve done compared to taking a new course of action.
    – “Now is the time…” This is a phrase favoured by internet marketer Brendon Burchard. Now is the time to make a change in your life; now is the time to finally do and not just talk; now is the time to finally build the physique you’ve always wanted etc.
    – Remind them of your no-risk guarantee
    – Don’t be tempted to give any further discounts. It smacks of desperation and cheapens your product.
         This email will conclude this round of promotions. You may then split your original list into buyers and non-buyers. Add non-buyers to a new list where you continue to send them high-value tips and advice with links to your sales page. Buyers will go into a new list where you can promote future products to them using this same sequence.

Takeaway points:

  1. Hoping to close any sale by sending a one-off email is a tall ask. On the other, the email sequence described above is built on sound sales psychology and leads the recipient subconsciously, smoothly and naturally towards placing an order.
  2. Email #3 provides huge value to the recipient. Don’t hold back here – it’s a critical part of the email sequence. You want the prospect to think “The quality of this information is incredible. If they’re giving this away free, imagine what I’m missing out on in their paid product/course/service…” If you cut corners, you lose the chance to impress.
  3. Creating this type of autoresponder sequence is a significant amount of work but it will reward you with a higher conversion rate. These sequences could run for years and over that time any conversion percentage increase on a high-value product adds up in a big way. The good news is you only have to write the emails once, load them into your autoresponder and you’re done.

Action steps:

  1. If you have not done so, sign up to an email marketing service. We use Aweber.
  2. Start writing each of the emails in this sequence for your own product.
  3. Work on getting testimonials/case studies. If you don’t have past customers to ask, ask friends, family, colleagues. You may consider approaching prominent bloggers and offer a free copy of your product in return for a testimonial. (You can also use any testimonials you may have from past, non-related products – just be sure to say, “What people have said about my work…” at the beginning.)

Photo credit: Jeremy Levine via / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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