Finally did it. 1,400 sales in 24 hours--and a deep dark secret [long]

by tomcam
35 replies
This is the story of 92,000 emails, too many mistakes to describe, 3,000 bounces, 1,400 sales inside of 24 hours--and a deep dark secret.

It's not meant to be a pitch of any kind. Have scrubbed any mention from my business (which at any rate is not IM-related) from my profile, sig, etc.

Have been the owner of a successful web-based business since 2000. It is not in the IM world. Until recently it fit squarely into the 4 Hour Work Week category. For reasons beyond my control, sales have declined significantly.

We have a mailing list of 500,000. Of those 92,000 have bought from us in the last few years. We have sales every so often, I think 3 in the company history. Previously the sales were announced in the most boring way possible, with zero hype and no sales effort at all. They did OK, but business, which depends on another popular website, was booming in those days. We are a third party service, and an unauthorized one at that. The site we rely on has changed its business model, and after 5 years on WF, I decided to act like a real marketer and... send out a sales letter.

The dark secret is this. We have never, ever sent out a marketing letter to our customers, and while I will gleefully talk you to death about cool businesses owned by my friends, my screwed-up psychology simply grinds to a dead halt whenever I consider doing any kind of self promotion. This time I decided to use the marketing skills I have supposedly honed over years of following WF and buying hundreds of WSOs.

Key to this was discussing some of it with Glen Hopkins through his absurdly inexpensive All-Access Coaching. I am not an affiliate & sure don't get paid to mention this, but his advice was dead on the money.

I told my wife we were going to have a sale, then did nothing because I'm a "perfectionist". I had to write the sales letter. I had to write a news story explaining it. Do a press release. Then a pricing table. Then a better entry in the online help. Then format it right. Then get my ops guy to send out an HTML-formatted letter, which we've never done. Then maybe a blog entry, except I haven't put the blog on the site. Plus, what if the users got pissed off? They've never got an email like this before. Maybe they'd all report me as a spammer. My wife finally bugged me again after nearly a week spent trying to format the damn table. I irritably agreed to get it done.

Which meant, at a minimum, writing a sales letter and sending it out. Lately I'm tired & low on energy. We got rear-ended & suffered some medical problems, not to mention a buttload of paperwork. I'm in the midst of getting a loan to buy an office, so, more paperwork.

And what I didn't tell my wife is that I'm afraid, deathly afraid of emailing my customers. Who, by the way, like us just fine. We're reliable, don't charge much (though you can go elsewhere to get the same service for free, albeit less reliably), and have real human customer support.

I write the letter, which takes a few hours. For those of you who don't freelance, that means a day. I get it done in time to miss our peak usage period, of course. I send it out to the staff, who find way too many mistakes in a letter of just a few hundred words.

They don't catch some of the important ones. Nor do I. They miss that the main sales link doesn't work too well. If you're not logged on, you get a weird error message.

They also don't mention something I know already: the site has absolutely no mention of the sale. The only way you can find out if the sale exists is by logging in, clicking Buy, then noticing in the dropdown that discounts have been added in some cases, and increased in others.

That pricing table I punted on? Really would have helped, but I was tired, my wife was a tad annoyed (not too annoyed--even with business down I earn a good living), and the most important thing was to take some kind of action.

A day after I sent it around to staff, the corrected letter went out. As an experiment, instead of some kind of noreply@mycompany.com I instead used my personal company email address and decided to answer every response. I had no idea what to expect. What happened was pretty damn good. In the next 24 hours:
  • 3,000 email addresses had gone stale.
  • We got 140 spam reports, which it turns out is not at all bad when you're sending 92,000 emails--in fact, SendGrid said that anything under 20% is good.
  • 5 people reported serious errors in the email. For example, I said the discount couldn't possibly go down when I meant up. I was genuinely using scarcity--this truly was our best sale ever, and it truly won't be repeated with these discounts--yet I made it look just like the opposite. More to the point, because there was no mention anywhere of the sale, people decided it didn't exist.
  • A few folks reported the Purchase link didn't work. It did, but sometimes produced an obscure error message.
  • 2 people said they thought my marketing sucked.
  • 5 people (not counting friends) said they liked my marketing sense.
  • 200 or so of the 265 replies were automated out-of-office emails
Plus, we got 1,400 sales, better than our previous sales by a factor of 3 or so, but in a much shorter time. This despite the fact that I didn't get up any of the supporting material, and that many of our customers couldn't find the sale itself and just gave up.

The cannier marketers among you will have figured out that this poses an opportunity, and I have already taken advantage of it. We fixed the link, added the pricing table, wrote a news story, brought the discount down a little further due to my stoopid stoopid mistake, and sent out a mea culpa to those who didn't buy. It was all grinding work of the sort I hate doing, but it was far, far easier than it would have been two weeks ago because of the fabulous sales achieved through one ill-conceived letter. Today has been another banner day with 5 figures in sales.

Most important thing? It won't surprise you. Take action, please! Put up that squeeze page. Find that high-quality affiliate offer and send it to your list. Don't have a list? Spend $25 on a solo mailing or on an original freebie by an outsourced author. Think it's too late to take action? Well, I did it, 12 years after starting my list. How long's it been for you?
#400 #dark #deep #email marketing #finally #glen hopkins #hoursand #long #minimum effort #sales #secret #taking action
  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    Congrats on the 1,400 sales. That's astronomical. And trust me, i'm taking action. I think that 12 years finally paid off... would you say the same?
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    • Profile picture of the author tomcam
      Originally Posted by Randall Magwood View Post

      Congrats on the 1,400 sales. That's astronomical. And trust me, i'm taking action. I think that 12 years finally paid off... would you say the same?
      Most definitely. I now feel much better about bringing some other projects back to life. Turns out that success.. helps!
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  • Profile picture of the author Freddy Rodriguez
    That's great. I just goes to show that you don't have to wait for everything to be perfect to take action. You took ACTION...and you got RESULTS!
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  • Profile picture of the author TMercT
    wow that is dedication man, 12 years of hardwork you deserve 1400 sales, nicely done.
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    • Profile picture of the author Cali16
      What a great story, Tom, and a powerful lesson! It reminds me of a great quote I heard just a couple days ago and have on a post-it on my computer:

      "Sloppy success is better than perfect mediocrity."

      Despite all the mishaps and mistakes, you still had a huge success! Way to go!
      Signature
      If you don't face your fears, the only thing you'll ever see is what's in your comfort zone. ~Anne McClain, astronaut
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      • Profile picture of the author tomcam
        Originally Posted by Cali16 View Post

        "Sloppy success is better than perfect mediocrity."
        Cali, that is so true. Am hoping I won't slip back into paralysis.
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  • Profile picture of the author onegoodman
    WoW, Congratulation. If I hit 14000 sale a day, I will retire looool
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce NewMedia
    Congratulations Tom. What a great result! ..I did the math and it works out to 1.5% conversion / 'names mailed' to 'sales.'...so having a 92,000 name list was key to making 1,400 sales, of course. Considering that was a house list, I'd mail them again, you might get another 1% or so and add a lot to your already healthy profit. :-)
    _____
    Bruce
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    • Profile picture of the author tomcam
      Originally Posted by Bruce NewMedia View Post

      Congratulations Tom. What a great result! ..I did the math and it works out to 1.5% conversion / 'names mailed' to 'sales.'...so having a 92,000 name list was key to making 1,400 sales, of course. Considering that was a house list, I'd mail them again, you might get another 1% or so and add a lot to your already healthy profit. :-)
      _____
      Bruce
      That encouragement means a lot, Bruce, thank you. I did re-mail them but now I'm going to weekly mails that are real content 3/4 of the time, then the last mail will include a high-quality offer of some sort.
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  • Profile picture of the author aizaku
    thanks for sharing this story, im so curious what niche u r in.
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    • Profile picture of the author tomcam
      Originally Posted by aizaku View Post

      thanks for sharing this story, im so curious what niche u r in.
      Services used by E*ay customers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Ten
    Nice job, OP. That is inspiring and makes me want to start building a list!
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  • Profile picture of the author SteveSRS
    thank you for mentioning sendgrid, never heard of it just checked it out and exactly what I've been looking for.. I'm going to follow your example after our big site update
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    • Profile picture of the author tomcam
      Originally Posted by SteveSRS View Post

      thank you for mentioning sendgrid, never heard of it just checked it out and exactly what I've been looking for.. I'm going to follow your example after our big site update
      Very smart plan. It does just fill the bill. We did smaller pilot projects and they worked out better. There were no surprises in production.
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  • Profile picture of the author tomcam
    Originally Posted by MrSure View Post

    wow...love inspiring stories like this one.
    Thank you sir. I wasn't sure where the many moments of face-palming foolishness would drag the rest of it too far down :-O
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  • Profile picture of the author altruismme
    Awesome Story.. Really I Bless you with more of it. Awesome!!
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  • Wow , I need to get Busy . Congrats on your success
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin McNally
    Nice share Tom

    Now that you have contacted your list they will probably expect regular emails from you.

    You could have special offers and promotions at Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fathers Day etc..... Have a story behind the promotion and I am sure your customers will love it.

    Interesting to hear you are a member of Glen's coaching, I recently bought one of his list building products and thought it was excellent as this is an area I have neglected badly over the years, need to start taking action on that myself !
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    • Profile picture of the author tomcam
      Originally Posted by Kevin McNally View Post

      Now that you have contacted your list they will probably expect regular emails from you.
      That's definitely the plan, Kevin. Will go to a schedule of 3-4 emails full of solid content, then another one that's content+offer. The wife is afraid we'll scare off our users, so am giving it a 1 month trial.
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  • Which goes to prove that Imperfect Action Trumps Perfect Analysis. Anyone who's successful will agree with this basic principle.

    Winning formula = Take Action -> Analyze Action -> Tweak Action. Yet some people for some reason still argue that it's best to Analyze Plan -> Tweak Plan -> Take Action (over this thread: http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ction-now.html)
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  • Profile picture of the author FelixUng
    1400 sales is definitely cool~~ Continue to send them emails every now and then and build relationship with them! They are your gold mine if you treat them well.
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  • Profile picture of the author foenyxly
    What service do you use to send out your offer? I can buy list or active subscribers but cannot send it out...
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  • Profile picture of the author J Bold
    So, first time you've sent a marketing email to your list in 10 years? Did I read that right?

    Anyway, great story.

    This is a great marketing message in itself and a great reminder. People love to hear stories.

    The mere fact that I've followed your story just in this post has already increased your reputation in my eyes, and I know it's something I can't control.

    Keep rocking...
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  • Profile picture of the author luane
    I keep reading and hearing "take imperfect action" and it is so true.

    Just do it. Just do it. Just do it. This should be our motto when
    we are prone to overthink and overanalyze and over "what if" a new
    project that never gets done.

    Congratulations to you for your many sales, and may there be many,
    many more!
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  • Profile picture of the author Henry White
    Thanks for the details, Tom. I'm confident it will help others much helpful than the usual mindless chorus to "just take action" and "build your list."
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  • Profile picture of the author whland
    Originally Posted by MrSure View Post

    wow...love inspiring stories like this one.
    That definitely is great news. I too love hearing of these great stories of achievement.

    Wish you many more of those many sales. Or even more.

    Chad
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  • Profile picture of the author brettb
    Nobody here ever seems to talk about mail address REPUTATION. But it's really important these days. I started a membership site and after 3 months realised (quite by chance) that almost NONE of my emails were being delivered! It turns out G0D@ddy's servers often have a poor reputation for spamming.

    So I switched to a dedicated mail provider, certified my domain and now I can actually count how many non-deliveries, spam reports and other things I get.
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    • Profile picture of the author tomcam
      Originally Posted by brettb View Post

      Nobody here ever seems to talk about mail address REPUTATION.
      Very true, Brett. That's one reason using SendGrid was a huge gamble for us. It worked out fine, but I would have preferred Aweber. Aweber doesn't allow you to import a list, so we had to use SendGrid. It worked out every bit as well as it could, but Aweber's send rate is unparalleled--that is, more mail gets through went sent via Aweber than any other service.

      Obviously, that's why they won't let you import a list. They don't know where you got it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bill_Z
    Great story! Just goes to show you...you're a marketer so don't be afraid to market! You will never please everyone, and they are on your list for a reason. They are interested in your stuff Congrats!
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    • Profile picture of the author PR Wizard
      Congratulations, 1,400 sales in 24 hours is really something to aspire to. It is often hard for me to take action too because I am a perfectionist but we just have to go for it sometimes!
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  • Profile picture of the author Dryberry
    This is a very inspiring post. The biggest take away for me are the numbers. Its great to see someone giving us some hard facts when it comes to conversions/sales. Thanks Tom!
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  • Profile picture of the author shakti2u
    Congratulations! Keep us posted on what happens next.
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  • Profile picture of the author successpaving
    Congrats! It is really very inspiring post to me too!
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  • Profile picture of the author celente
    awesome stuff, hard work and taking action can either make you a little money or a motsa. Nice work.
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  • Profile picture of the author jsonjylee
    This story is really motivating. Kudos to you for sticking with your business for 12 years
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    Please do not use affiliate links again.
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