[WAMA] Chris Hexton - Co-Founder and CEO of Vero (getvero.com) - Thursday 29 May 2pm PST/PDT

14 replies
Howdy Warriors! Looking forward to answering your questions.

Three key things I can answer questions about / help you with:

1. Email marketing. I get to see lots of emails from lots of businesses (B2C, B2C, etc.) and work hard to test our own emails at Vero. Tons of ideas and learnings to share.

2. Content marketing. Our blog is our largest source of customers. We've grown our blog 4x in the last 3 months alone and it's on fire to grow even faster in 2014. Having guest-posted and worked with a range of other great blogs, I'm a big believer in content.

3. Founding a company. Vero is a SaaS business we founded 22 months ago. I've got real experience bootstrapping and growing a company with hard work - and I love it.

More links:

Vero - getvero.com - emails based on what your customers do on your website

Vero's Blog - blog.getvero.com - email marketing educational hub

I will be holding a Warrior Ask Me Anything - WAMA live on Warrior Forum on Thursday 29th May at 2pm PST/PDT.

Catch ya there.
#2pm #chris #cofounder #getverocom #hexton #pst #thursday #vero #wama
  • Profile picture of the author Alaister
    We're really excited to have Chris Hexton live with us here at Warrior Forum. He has generously offered his time to answer questions that you may have. He is an expert when it comes to email marketing and content marketing.

    Thanks for the great event Chris!

    Transcript of the Chris Hexton WAMA Event:

    Alright, good afternoon, good morning everyone depending where you are. Cool so we have got a question ready to rock on the forum so I will start with that one.

    So the question is from Dear Dave and it says, “I want to announce the reopening of my website, what is the most effective way to get opens, for people to click and create buzz? And you have got segmentation data according to profession. “

    So I guess it is a pretty tricky question and similar to anyone who has got a list a little bit old, or they have got a list from some previous thing and then want I guess to get people reinvigorated. So I would say the best way to do this which I have seen time and again, particularly if you want to create a buzz because it is hard to force people to click of course so you have got to build some momentum and I would usually recommend using a series of emails. And this works whether you are re-launching something or you have got a list that is a bit cold or even if you are launching a product for the first time, definitely sending emails over a period of a couple of weeks to really warm people up. So I would even start sending obviously before you are ready to launch, getting people excited about the idea. And the idea with each of those emails is to reveal a bit more, educate a bit more with each email about what you are doing.

    So I don’t know what you site is Dave so I can’t get too specific but I would say that sending out segmented emails by profession is probably not the most important thing it is more about sending a number of emails in the lead up to reopen your site and making sure those emails actually have benefits for the people who are reading them. So the trick to doing that is to focus on the benefits for the reader. So depending on what your product or service or website is delivering, what problem is that solving, how does it benefit the customer and then writing emails that are really, really focused on that side of things, on actually solving their problem. So that would be at a broad level.

    And then in terms of getting an open or forcing a click, I am sure we will come back to this because there are probably lots more questions around it, but an open subject line you have probably heard people say before, people respond to fear, curiosity or greed. I would say that using curiosity is probably one of my favorite and for something like this where you are re-launching a site it is an interesting thing, people perhaps don’t know much about it yet so you could really play on that curiosity, use questions in your subject lines that sort of thing. That is probably a good way to get opens in this instance or definitely a way to test.

    And then the click, it all comes down to keeping the email very, very focused. So a few clicks, have a single call to action, repeat the call to action, repeat it in the post script so have a p.s. at the end, but don’t get sidetracked and have tons and tons of links. Just have one single call to action.

    Cool so that is probably hopefully a good answer. So if you are launching something, build momentum, use curiosity to get better opens in your subject lines and then have a really focused call to action in each of those emails so you are sending people back to the website you are re-launching and that should get you a long way.

    So in terms of frequency a well going back to how many emails should you send, I would say as many as you can. Not like every day but start weeks or even months before you are launching something because that way you have got a lot of lead time, you can try a bunch of different things. When we launched our product I always wished that I had started sending out emails or content for probably nine months before we launched the product would have been awesome. But instead we sort of did things a couple of weeks before we were launching and it probably takes people by surprise a bit. I think if you have got some time you can really build momentum, you can send out good content, you can get people’s feedback and build that into an awesome launch. So hopefully that is helpful there.


    Cool so there is another question here saying, “Tell me more about your service.”

    I guess that is probably good so a bit of background, I am one of the founders of Vero. Vero is nearly two years old now, we are a behavioral email marketing company so an email marketing platform. We make it easy for you to manage your templates, manage your subscriber lists, all that good stuff but our differentiator is actually tracking behavior. So rather than having just a static list of people that you upload via CSV you can install some code on your website and then Vera will actually track what your customers are doing, so like what products they are looking at, if they have completed checkout, how many times they have completed checkout, all that sort of stuff.

    So the idea is that you can have all that data pouring through in real time and then you can create much better segments retrospectively and much faster because you have got all this data on what people have been doing on your websites. So Vera is basically a platform that makes that possible. We store all the data for you, we give you visual tools so you can click around and all that stuff. So hopefully that gives you a good idea of what we do.

    And the sorts of email marketing that I get into is really the stuff that excites me at the moment is really that behavioral stuff, so automating emails to people, so if they have viewed the product five times but never bought it, can you automate an email a couple of days later that will get them to buy it? All that sort of stuff.

    So I would definitely encourage you to think about those sorts of emails as well as the more traditional emails.

    I’m just going to go aside, I think it is Dear Dave saying, “The site is not officially open so are you going to give out a freebie?” Yeah I think that is a good idea as well and definitely giving stuff away will get people to take any action online pretty much. So my only thought there always make sure that what you are offering as a freebie is aligned with what you are trying to achieve. So what I mean is if you are trying to sell to serious business enterprise users and you are giving away free iPads, you are going to get a slew of people that are going to sign up or take whatever action you recommend because people want free iPads but maybe that is because the person in the department wants a free iPad rather than the company wants your software.

    So I think freebies are awesome just make sure it is really aligned or at least 90% aligned with what you are trying to achieve and you will definitely see much higher click through rates. I think that is a good idea.

    Cool so a ton more questions coming through on the forum and a bunch of preregistered questions as well.


    Matt Barrie asks, “What is the best way to send an email campaign to ensure maximum deliverability?”

    So deliverability in a nutshell and you can do a ton of reading on this stuff but basically there are a few things that influence deliverability, so the ip addresses you are sending from, the domain you are sending from, from a technical level, then your history. So in terms of your volume history so how often do you email, how many emails do you send per day, is it going up and down, have you ever sent any emails before? And then of course, the number of people marking you as spam, and then a few other things like are you caught in spam traps, are you on particular blacklists etcetera?

    So it really begins like right from the beginning when you start. If you start and you get some fresh ip's and you are on a domain that you haven’t really used before, the way to start is start sending small, so sort of 5000 emails a day per ip address and ten you want to ramp up from there about 25% per day. And you keep doing that until you hit your threshold, the maximum number of emails you need to send. And then you want to try and ensure that you are sending relatively consistently, so if you are sending once a week, try and send once a week instead of having these huge drops in volume.

    So that is sort of the main thing from a technical side of things. And then of course you want to try and send emails that people aren’t going to mark as spam as that can lead to you ending up on blacklists, obviously damages your reputation and your sender score will essentially go down. But if you are consistent, if you send content that has a small percentage of spam clicks because there will always be some, then you will be in a pretty good position over the long haul. So those are probably the main things.

    I think also something that can definitely affect it is the content and the emails as well, so that is probably a bit easier to test. So you have got tools like mail-tester.com, litmus, email in acid does it as well, a bunch of other things where you can sort of see what the spam assassin score is for your email. And that is one of the things that determines whether or not you get into the inbox.

    So you can really quite easily test that.

    And a lot of these tools will tell you what your problems are, like you have got too many images in your email. That will give you quite a low score. Or you have got broken links. You don’t have a plain text version. There are lots of little things that will reduce your score and the lower the score, the less likely you are to end up in the inbox.

    So if you are designing a template or launching a series of new campaigns, it is always worthwhile running it through one of those tools because that a can knock out a lot of the simply silly mistakes. And then it all comes down to what is your sending history, have you been doing good stuff in the past? So, that is probably it at a high level and there is a ton of detail you can get into there.

    And yeah if anyone ever needs a hand with that, definitely shoot me an email because some of the other guys on our team are deliverability pros, live and breathe the stuff.


    So a question here on the live stream chat, “Are emails getting opened or are they losing ground to people connecting via social media?”

    So I guess the question is, is email still a good channel for marketing or is social taking over?

    I don’t necessarily think one is winning, I think it is cool they are both going to work hand in hand more and more. So we are definitely seeing emails getting opened. I think if anything is a threat (if you want to use that word) to email or the stuff that is changing the email landscape more is the stuff Google is pushing where you have got the tabs where they are doing advertizing inside the email inbox. Things like that are probably more interesting in terms of changing the way email marketing will be done however I don’t think social media is a threat or something email is losing ground to. I think they go hand in hand.

    So from my perspective we do a lot of content marketing, that is how we get all of our customers through there, and it all sort of works hand in hand.

    So you write a post, try and write a post that people like to read and really give them some useful information on how they can send better emails and people share that and sharing for us is one of the biggest ways that posts get out there. And then obviously people come back and we try really hard to get people to subscribe to our email list. And then email is obviously a really important thing for us in terms of distributing new blog posts, to offering promotions, to getting people to come check out the product. And then the cycle sort of continues because we will email out a new blog post, people will share it, we will ask people to share it in the email, more people will come and around we go.

    So obviously it worked really, really well hand in hand, particularly from a content marketing perspective where social is a huge driver of email subscribers and then email can be quite a personal channel. One of the things I like about email is you are in the person’s inbox, obviously depending on the person they can have a volume of email but if you do get them to open, once they open your email is the only thing in front of them and I think that is a really powerful thing to remember, where it is just you and the customer if you will, once you have got that open. And that is very different from a Twitter or something like that where you have just got like reams and reams of Tweets coming through and people are only going to be focused on your Tweet for a second.

    So I think that is something that is interesting that is not really going to change about email. Yeah I definitely think they go hand in hand and asking people to share in emails is more and more popular. Most email providers will let you insert share widgets and things like that. So I think that makes sense. I think it is for a reason.


    Cool so I have got another question here, from Nikki J. Parker, “People respond to different styles of selling. What is the best style of email to suit the masses?”

    Yeah I think it is a good question and it is a hard question because everyone’s audience is different which is probably the answer you were expecting. But if you are selling to consumers….okay the sorts of emails that will work well for you probably depend on two main things, what you are selling and who you are selling it to.

    So if you are selling very visual products, like if you are selling women’s dresses, men’s shoes, that is the sort of thing where people respond when they see what it is. If you wrote black leather shoes that could be anything. Having a picture of the shoe obviously makes it very clear what you are selling. So if you are selling like that, you are probably selling to consumers, you have got a very visual product. In that instance having an email that is quite html heavy, has images, is probably quite direct in that it is showing you product, trying to sell by “here are the products we have got,” that can work really, really well.

    And it comes down to design, it comes down to how often you send, it comes down to the offer in the email how it is laid out etcetera. Whereas if you are selling to business customers or other marketers, a really fancy html is probably, not usually in my experience, the way to go. Plain text often works a lot better or very simple html text works a lot better and I think it is because it seems a lot more genuine and you are keeping it simple. You are focusing on the words, you are focusing on the benefits and the delivery rather than some fancy images. And in that instance images aren’t really going to be helpful because what are you going to have an image of?

    So the sorts of email the way it is delivered is definitely totally influenced by who you are selling to and what you are selling. And I guess in terms of the way you are selling, it comes back to what sort of business do you run and what other channels do you use?

    So for us, I guess I am just thinking of us at Vero, with the content marketing our style of selling is probably quite soft. We really focus on education so focus a ton on benefits for the user. We are always thinking if someone, presumably someone is already doing email marketing, that is what we know about our audience, so we think, how can they today read something on the blog that will give them something new to do, something they can go back, implement, run a test and get some results, that is what makes people excited. So that is all about education, it is all about benefits.

    The emails we send are always very similar, whether it is our welcome emails, whether it is you know just blog post update emails, whether it is some of the courses that we have done, the email courses, all that content is about educating people to say, “Here is something you can do, here is something you didn’t know.”

    And that is a form of selling that works for us in the B to B space, the emails are generally very simple, no fancy pictures, just great information and that works really well. So that is a cool style of selling. And obviously have your calls to action in there at the appropriate places. But that style of selling wouldn’t work if we were in the B t C space because the audience is not necessarily going to have the patience for it or respond to it; so it depends.

    I don’t know if you want you can type in what kind of business you have got Nikki J Parker and maybe I can add to that answer in a sec.

    So just checking the forum to see what else we have got.


    A ton of preregistered questions here.

    “What marketing and business blogs do I read?”

    So definitely a bunch and we recently did a post on the top 50 that have influenced us. So Jimmy and I, Jimmy is our content master here at Vero so he put together a list of all his favorites and I put my favorites on there. I think the big three for me are probably Kissmetrics I always find very practical, and then I think quite varied content these days, so I think that is a very interesting place. For me I really like the conversion xl blog. I think they are really pushing hard at the moment, they are growing very quickly, the guys there Tommy and Peep and the rest of the crew are really practical, so conversionxl.com is probably a go to. They are probably the two I actually get to read and try and read fairly regularly but then there is a ton of other great blogs like the unbounce blog, copyhackers, copyblogger, a million and one other things that interest me, so I guess the common theme with most of those is they are focused on content marketing and obviously a little dabble of email marketing in there as well.

    So yeah I suppose the thing with blogs is there is so much great stuff out there, I always just try and stick to two or three that I can actually read with regularity.


    Cool. Someone asks, “I love the content on your blog, the Vero blog, how do you start a blog with no visitors?”

    I think that is a cool question. We started our blog in 2013 really, so actually we did our first blog post way back in 2012 and we did a couple so there was no regularity or anything like that. And the way we started the way we got first eyeballs, the first 100 subscribers was leveraging other audiences. So how can you use, a bit of Reddit, were the two main things we did where we posted something that resonated with those audiences, we got it on the front page and people sort of took it from there.

    And the trick with that is those places are pretty good at filtering good content so the trick is to write something really good. And then I remember the first post we wrote, we had done a couple we weren’t seeing many results, we weren’t seeing many visitors, so we thought let’s mix it up. The first post I wrote was about why email needs to change, it was like the mix panel, why Vero is building the mix panel of email or something like that. So it was the sort of post, I guess it was a little bit controversial for the audiences we were putting it in like to say you were going to build a company that was mix panel is probably a little bit arrogant. And then the actual post itself we spent ages and had a ton of people read it and get rid of all the crap. In particular some of the guys I was living with at the time had some content marketing experience.

    So that post was really solid, was a little bit controversial where people can have an opinion whether it was good or bullshit and by doing that once people saw the votes on the post going up and actually clicked through, the results were really good. So yeah leverage other people’s audiences.

    And then I think the second step for us was guest blogging. So if you are starting from scratch guest blogging is awesome. And the trick with guest blogging is to write some of your own posts and get some distribution, get some shares so you can then reach out to people you want to guest blog for. You can say, “Hey I think your audience is a good fit for the sort of stuff I write. Here are some posts I have written earlier.” And then you reference to your own blog.

    And if they can see that you have written posts that have organically gotten shares, like you have gotten 50 or 60 or 80 Tweets on a post, on a relatively new blog, that is pretty impressive and I think most people then will give you a really good chance in terms of guest blogging. They will certainly consider what you have got to say. And I usually would pitch right away in those guest blogging emails, like hey here is an idea for a post, here is a post I have written before, and I think that is what worked really well.

    And then once I got my first guest posts, I leveraged those to get the other ones, because you can sort of say to someone, “Well I’ve guest posted for unbounced before” you know that is really cool, and then it goes on from there. So they are probably the two main things we did from scratch.

    And then once we got started in Feb 2013, so just over a year ago, it was all about consistency like consistency is being King, saying you are going to write one thing every week is probably what I recommend and then sticking to it. So consistency is good for SEO but more importantly it is good for your own discipline so if you write something this week and it really bombs, no one shares it no one cares, it doesn’t matter you have got to write next week anyway so next week is going to be better. And I found that consistency gave me the mindset of well see what happens, we will write something this week, test it, we will write something different next week if it doesn’t work. And then you start to find that some do work and away you go.

    So yeah guest posting, leverage other audiences if you can and it is definitely hard, you have got to find the audience that is right for you. In our case we were lucky because how can you use, or Reddit have online marketers on there but it could be anything for you business.

    And then the third thing is consistency.


    Two questions on the live you stream chat here, so from Pat Flynn he is saying, “What are the features that Vero offers that are different or better than other providers?”

    Cool. So the three things that I would say people often mention to us, or maybe the four things that we do different or better than other providers. So the first one is this event based automation. So in Vero you can build emails that are like, when a user does x send an email five days later if they are not yet in this segment or if they haven’t yet met these conditions. So you have to play with Vero to get this but it is really powerful because you might say well when a user views a product, send an email if product is in the category jeans, and send it to them if they have looked at jeans five times in the last month and send it to them if they haven’t purchased in the last month. So you can do some really complex stuff with that automation.

    And then you can even have different campaigns where you might have an email, the first time someone checks out and then a totally different email the third time someone purchases from you and Vero’s, the way event based automation works, gives you lots of flexibility. So that is the first thing being able to automate it based on what actions people are taking.

    The second thing is AB testing so you know a lot of tools they AB test the subject or something, they might let you test the subject, they might let you test the content, we let you test combinations if you want and we also let you test across a series which is pretty cool so if you have a series of automated emails like one, three [22:43 _] emails you can run a test across that. So if someone gets variation c for the first email, they can get variation c for the second automatically and so on. And that means you can really consistently test a different template, a different theme, a different from address, something like that. So AB testing is really important and we are trying to break new ground on that in terms of what you can do with email and testing.

    Third thing is it is pretty modern software, so it is being updated all the time and that is particularly relevant for people who are looking at larger providers, perhaps providers that have been around for a decade, we get a lot of people saying, “Your software is just so easy to use my team can actually send the emails now whereas before it took us like a week to design and send an email” which is a bit ridiculous.

    And then the fourth is really good support. So we try and respond really quickly, we have a live chat and that is really close to our hearts so hopefully we continue to do a really good job at that. But people have said in the past that has been something that has definitely made them look closely at Vero.

    So those are probably the four things, event based email, AB testing, modern software, good support.


    Somebody says they have been playing with Vero. Awesome, thank you. And they say, “Is liquid challenging for non-developers to learn?”

    So all email providers have their own templating language right, so if you want to insert people’s first names or if you want to insert other data in the email, you are probably all used to seeing the merge tags as they are usually called. At Vero we use something called liquid which is a well known templating language and it is written by the guys at Shopify. So for those of you that know Shopify they invented it to make it easy to do stuff there.

    Yeah I think the reason we chose liquid for those of you that have played with it before is that it can be quite powerful, you can do loops and stuff and insert really detailed information in your outgoing emails. I think there is probably a learning curve for the more advanced stuff, but the simple stuff like inserting names, first name, last name, age or whatever it is probably not too bad. Fortunately though there are some good docs out there on liquid. So if you Google “liquid for designers” I don’t know if you have seen that doc before, but it is a really good doc written by github, and it has got a ton of information. And then if you ever get stuck with that feel free to email support at getVero.com and someone will help you out. But yeah it is definitely more challenging than the mail merges that say MailChimp use, but then to do more complex stuff it is probably easier to do it with liquid than to do it with other tools like MailChimp and what not, so it is a good blend – we hope and that is why we chose it.

    Just checking the forum to see if anyone has updated there.


    “Would a company like List Marketer work better than Amazon SES to send three million, the emails that we clean for spam traps, etcetera etcetera?”

    Yeah so I think sending to three million people it really depends where the email is from. I don’t necessarily think that List Marketer will work better than Amazon SES or one way or the other, they are probably both very, very capable. It comes down to where did you get your three million emails from, how long has it been since you last emailed them, what is their expectation going to be in terms of what you are emailing them, are they expecting you to email them or is it going to come out of the blue?

    And I think that whatever method you use if they are not expecting you to get an email, you haven’t emailed them for ages or the email content doesn’t make any sense then you are going to end up in a position where people start hitting “spam” and that will ruin the delivery for the rest of the three million emails. You obviously want to also ramp up your delivery for three million emails over time you know like I said before where you want to warm up the ip's and stuff. You can’t just send three million emails today. I mean you could but it is not going to be the best for your deliverability. So there is definitely a considered approach needed there.

    But I think that the provider if it is a well known stable provider, both providers should do pretty well. I haven’t used List Marketer myself but I know that Amazon SES is designed for massive scales so it would definitely be fine at that scale if you take things slowly and make sure you are doing good stuff. But List Marketer looks like they can handle that sort of stuff as well.

    Yeah, sending three million emails, if you want to do it properly, there is definitely some expense involved but again that is a lot of emails so it will hopefully be relatively easy for you to make your money back. Even a small conversion on that should hopefully definitely make your money multiple times over so it is definitely worth doing it right so you do get people opening, you do get people clicking, and you do in fact get people purchasing which is the value in doing it properly. So I don’t know if that helps a little bit, but it’s probably more about how you go about it than the actual technical email provider that you use.


    Nikki asks, “If you’ve burnt your mailing list by sending bad emails, how can you win them back?”

    That is a good question. So there is two aspects, there is a technical aspect and then there is winning your audience back, I suppose. So winning you audience back it all comes down to have they unsubscribed in the past or have they marked it as spam, or have they just become unengaged? And they are all things you can obviously…if they unsubscribed you can’t email them anyway. If they are unengaged that is something you can get a read on based on previous open rates versus current open rates, click rates, all that sort of jazz. So you probably have a pretty good idea of where you are at in terms of have they just lost interest sort of thing and you are still sending?

    I think it is something that definitely takes time, so psychologically, to win people back if they have had prior exposure to your emails that haven’t engaged them so much but I guess it is really like launching a new landing page or whatever right. If you have a landing page that is not working, it is just a process of iterating to try different stuff, so trying different formats, trying a different tone of voice, trying longer emails, trying shorter emails, trying totally wacky and crazy subject lines, and just seeing what works.

    But I think the exciting thing about the point if you have burnt your mailing list by sending bad emails you are the bottom of the curve so you can only really go up. So at that point it is exciting because at that point you can test anything right and it will be really interesting, you might get some results you never thought of before. Because you know when things are going really well it can be tempting to keep the status quo because you think, well I’m getting 30% opens this is obviously working. It is sometimes harder to jump out of the box there because you are worried about burning your mailing list or annoying your mailing list. So I think that is one thing that is good about being at the bottom.

    And then yeah from a technical perspective there are usually ways you can get off a blacklist by asking. If you recycle your ip’s that can work. Potentially sending from a different domain. Otherwise it is just a process of time and consistency to get yourself back. Bu the process I would be taking is looking at some of the tools I mentioned before. Another tool that would be good to mention here is Mail Monitor ap and also another tool would be the Sender Score. So Return Path had this product where you can put in your domain or your ip addresses for that matter, and they will give you like a score out of 100 of how they think you are, and you want to be up around 98, 99 that sort of thing.

    But mail monitor ap, mail tester and the sender score, they can give you a good idea of are you on a black list, what is your historical reputation and what you really want to do is identify what is hurting your engagement the most. Is it a matter of, you are one particular black list that is really damaging because you no longer get into any Gmail inboxes. And if you are you can then have a plan of attack to address that specific need.


    Someone asks, “Is it possible to set up RSS through Vero?”

    The answer is no not at this time but you can do some other stuff. We have got this remote fetch feature which is similar. So if you want more detail on that shoot me an email, I can follow up with the details but it is basically when you send an email before the email goes out, we will call your server and pull some data through which is sort of like the reverse of RSS but it means you can do some really powerful stuff because you could call your server and have it return product recommendations in [31:22 Jayson] format or html and then you could play with those and put them in your email. So you can get very, very detailed.

    Hopefully that helps with that a little bit. But no direct RSS to email at this time.

    Just hitting the forum up to see if anyone else has asked a question there.


    Cool okay so someone asks, “What are some of the greatest successes you have seen with your clients using triggered emails?”

    So it is a cool question I think or a question that I like. We have got lots of clients. So you have got most of our clients are either ecommerce, SAS software as a service, and then other B to C companies, so they might be travel, leisure, gaming, those sorts of B to C companies. And in all cases, I always try to think of the life cycle of the triggered emails as acquisition, activation and retention are probably your three biggest components you can have.

    So acquisition and activation are about if someone comes to your online store and they are browsing around and they come back and they are still browsing around but they are not buying, how do you get them to become a customer that first time? For a software company it is, if they sign up for a free trial how do you get them to actually use your software and get them engaged for that first time?

    So I think there, the sorts of emails for a software company, for both really, the sorts of emails that seem to work really well are series emails. So that is definitely, number one I would say people are afraid to email multiple times but I have seen that work time and again for all sorts of businesses. So if you have found a place where you want to email like people signing up for a free trial, and not engaging with your product, you want to send an email there, send multiple emails, like send three emails at least. And spread them out, make them different, try different formats, talk about different stuff but at the end of the day sending three emails gives you more opportunity to actually convert the reader.

    And I actually think there are a ton of reasons people don’t engage. So maybe people are at work and they are browsing shoes online and then their boss comes by and they have to close the window. So that doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t want your product, it just means that they were busy right. So that is where the first email might work. But perhaps it wasn’t that, perhaps they thought the product was too expensive, so in your second email perhaps you can give them 10% off or something like that. And in that instance you have got the second email which is covering those people, and then your third email you might try a different tack.

    And so you have got multiple opportunities where you are addressing different parts of the audience and that can work really, really well, so sending emails in series.

    I think something else that works well for this triggered email stuff is trying to be as specific as possible so the best success we have seen, if you are going to do cart abandonment let’s say because that is the one people are most familiar with, people who add stuff to the cart and then don’t purchase it most stores will just have a very standard, “Hey come back and look at the stuff that is in your cart.” It is not very exciting, it is not very personal.

    And the whole thing of this triggered email is that every email is for an individual, so that is not really that individual right? Whereas you could look at things like how many products do they have in their cart, what are the products? Are they high value, low value, even things like that? Are the products all male, male’s clothes for example or female’s? Just picking some basic things to segment on and then having three cart abandonment campaigns rather than one. I have seen that work really well. And that is because each email then is for an individual.

    And maybe it comes down to if the items are high value you might have a VIP offer and maybe instead of offering them 10% off, because VIP shoppers aren’t necessarily susceptible to that, you might be saying, “If you buy something from our store over the next two days you can get a chance to come and win a ticket to fashion week or come and see our collection early.” Something that a VIP customer might really care about. So if you do that sort of segmentation you can get much more granular with your triggered emails which is something I see lead to success.

    And then the third thing I would say, triggered emails because they are one to one, usually you want them to look like they are coming from an individual in your organization or at your company or for your product, so use personal tone, use personal from addresses, that usually works really, really well as well.

    So those would be three things I have seen usually lead to success for customers using trigger based email, sending in series, being more targeted so like picking the powerful or even basic to start with segmentation variables and then sending multiple different campaigns and then being personal. So like even if you are a massive organization you could have the email come from either a made up or varying support email address, but it doesn’t have to support@bcompany.com, it could be chris@bcompany.com and then you can redirect the response wherever you want. So you can still have it go to your help desk but it looks so much better to the customer.

    So those would be three things that I would say you can go with.


    A couple of questions here, so I will answer this one first because it is a bit shorter.

    “What are the stats of click action with a text email versus full image, versus text and image?”

    I do have this somewhere on the blog and I cannot remember off the top of my head but if you Google Vero blog, images versus text it will probably be there. I think the answer is that there was like a curve where if you have lots of images the click rate is really good, if you have one image the click rate is really good, if you have three or two they seem to drop.

    So the reasoning, the hypotheses we had behind that was that we got all these stats based on all the emails going through our system, if you have got an email with a lot of images it is probably for an ecommerce store, something like that, or a deal site or something where they have got a lot of product. And in those instances the click rate could be quite high because those emails suit the target audience, where if you have one image maybe it is a blog post email that you are sending out and you have got a single image in the header and it is a really obvious call to action, so that works as well, whereas if you have got two or three that is some sort of email that is in the middle that is no man’s land.

    So I think the sort of answer there is whatever email you are sending, be committed or so if you are going to send text and image, find the right place for it. Like if you are sending a blog post update that is the perfect place for it. A big image up top matches what is on your blog, make the image clickable, then you have got text, it all works really, really well. You don’t then need to have five images of pretty animals or something at the bottom because that would be crazy.

    Whereas if you are sending an offer out to your ecommerce customers then having a really image heavy email as I said before is probably going to be super effective, where having text is less effective in that instance.

    If you are going to do a text email, keep it all text, keep it simple, have really simple blue links that are really obvious to click, but they are not necessarily buttons. So decide, go back to what I was speaking about before, think about your audience, think about selling, decide what sort of tone and delivery is going to be best and then you pick that type of email, commit to it and don’t have just a couple of images or random images, make sure the images matter to what you are sending. And if they don’t leave them out; you can do just as well.

    So when you Google the blog post you can test my memory but text based emails were getting higher click throughs a little bit, like only just.


    So “How do you improve customer retention?” is a question here.

    I would say the basic answer to that is send emails. A lot of people don’t think about their customers too much once they become customers. It is super easy to spend so much time and marketing dollars saying, “How do we get a customer through the door? How do we get them to use our software? How do we get them to buy the first time?” And then thinking about how do we get them to stay for 24 months, how do we get them to buy a second time, that is retention. And I think it is easy to overlook that in a way. Yeah so because people often overlook it the safest way is to probably send emails.

    And I would say the best emails you can send are the emails that are triggered by something that customers do regularly, so for us customers regularly log in, they also regularly create campaigns or edit campaigns, and they also regularly view results. So even at a high level we will trigger emails if people aren’t logging in and haven’t logged in, in two weeks, or they haven’t logged in in less than that ten days.

    So that is a really no brainer and if you don’t want to send an email to the customer you could even just have automated emails firing people in your team who could follow up manually with the customers. So you know pick, what’s a key metric for your engagement for your business and then track that and if people stop doing that or that goes down that is when you can use automated email to increase customer retention. So that is the place to start I would say. Keep it simple, find that core metric, when it changes start sending people emails and you should see a nice uplift in customer retention.

    And at the very least those types of emails generally have good responses. So usually this sort of email you just ask people how they are going or do they need a hand doing anything or maybe you can point to what has happened recently in their account, but they usually get really good responses from customers and they are usually very revealing those responses. They are usually very practical, very helpful, so that way you can get feedback for your product or service. So even if those people end up leaving you, you have got some really valuable insights. But actually sending those emails in the first place is really powerful.

    So that is where I would start for customer retention.


    Question here from Adam, “Do you have any tips on subject line copy for achieving high open rates both one to one and one to many emails?”

    So I would say the first thing is curiosity, fear and greed. So these are like standard marketing concepts in that lots of people talk about them and we found them to work as well. So questions can work really well in subject lines because it is arousing curiosity like what is this all about? And it depends on the question or sorry the subject as to what the question you come up with is but you see this quite a lot.

    A good example I have been seeing recently is kiva.org they are a micro lending website where you can lend money to people all around the world generally in developing countries where they are trying to do something enterprising, like maybe they have got a business or they need to buy more stock or whatever and you can help them achieve their goal. So it is an awesome service and a ton of their emails recently have been using curiosity in their subject lines. So they will be, “Did you know you had $100 in your lending account?” Or, “Did you know what you could do with your money?” Things like that and I often open their emails, I think that is a really good way to go because I forget how much money is in my lending account and I forget what sorts of people you can give the money to.

    So that works well.

    And then fear and greed. Obviously fear is all about making people feel like they are missing out; trying to create a sense of urgency, a fear that if they don’t do this today they are going to miss out. Greed is obviously about getting people to recognize that they want more or they could do more.

    So that is one angle. And I think the other thing to think about with subject lines is…well two other things. One is congruency. So I was reading this case study recently from marketing [43:30 _] and let me know if you want me to dig it up for you, and it was saying really wacky subject lines like if you put something about Bigfoot in your subject line is probably going to get people’s attention and it might actually get a higher open rate than whatever else you are sending but it doesn’t actually mean it is going to get a better click rate because once people open the email they will think well that subject line had absolutely nothing to do with anything, and it certainly has nothing to do with the email here so I’m out.

    So you want to make sure that your subject line is short. It is important to get the opens but at the end of the day it is really important to follow all the way down. What subject line and email combination gets you the most clicks and the most conversions? That is really the most important thing. So having a congruent subject line.

    And the third thing is personalization. So people often think well it is really lame surely everyone knows if you say “Hey Chris” in the subject line that is automated. Most of the world is up on that fact now right? But it still works right.

    And I saw this study early last year or something like that where Awebber they did this test against their blog audience where they sent the same email and they basically just changed the person’s name in the subject line. The Awebber audience is made up of email marketers, it is made up of people doing email all the time, it is made up of people who use their product, so if anyone is going to know that Chris in the subject line is automated it is their audience. And yet the open rate was like 10 or 12 or 13% higher or something like that which is pretty amazing for just including a name when nothing else changed, and pretty amazing when you consider that their audience is actually pretty savvy.

    So I would say definitely think about including personalization, even at that basic level and don’t be afraid to do it.

    So congruency, personalization and then the third thing I was talking about at the start; curiosity, fear and greed are probably the ways to go.


    So Jimmy from Vero has just put a link to the 50 marketing blogs you should read every day on the warrior forum thread about the WAMA. So we were talking before about the blogs we read. Check that out, thanks for that Jimmy.

    And then someone has asked, “Do you segment email opens, link clicks in email and so on?”

    Definitely, I think it is smart to segment people who aren’t engaged with your emails in any way over time. And ultimately if you want to be really strict about it, if no one has opened let alone clicked an email of yours in three months it is probably a sign that they are not engaged any more. And you should in my opinion no longer email those people any more. Take them out of the loop. You have tried and they haven’t been engaged so take them out of the loop or put them in another loop where you try and get them re-engaged at a later day.

    But definitely segmenting. You are better off having a small list that clicks and buys every time than a larger list. You spend less money, it is better for your deliverability, it is better for your reputation just with your customers and your audience. So looking at clicks and opens is really important.

    And I think the other reason it is really important is if you are doing automation it can be handy to follow up with a different email for people who didn’t click or didn’t open versus those who did, particularly when we are talking about those issues around cart abandonment and stuff like that. So definitely keep an eye on opens and clicks and definitely segment around them if you can because it just makes sense. It is another good segmentation variable that you can use.


    Cool just checking out the forum. Someone asked, “What are the best list building strategies you have seen?” They run an ecommerce social referral tool which is a marketing tool probably not too dissimilar to Vero in that sense so probably a similar sort of audience.

    So the best list building strategies all take time I would say. So you can’t beat time, that is the first thing, but there are lots of ways you can get people to decide.

    So for me my favorite is content, it has worked for us, so I would say consider that. And you really in determining what strategy you use there are so many things to think about. It is not just what you want to do; I think it is often what you can do.

    So for us when we started we didn’t have any capital. We couldn’t spend $15 a click on the email marketing keyword on adwords, we had a small team but we had a driven team. We were really interested in email. We had a fancy email product that people didn’t necessarily understand. So you can see that all those things combined, content was the way that we figured we would build our audience, build our list. And it was not just because we thought it would be fun but also because it was really practical. So we started down that journey.

    But you could build lists as well with driving traffic to landing pages from adwords or retargeting people. So that is another option if you have got the capital to do that. It would then be interesting to test how that audience responds versus a more organic audience.

    So you have really got to think about all the standard marketing channels, you could build a lit by any of them, and then work out what works for you. But content is definitely great because it is sort of self perpetuating, and over time it just gets bigger and bigger because you have got more people you are sending emails to, they are telling more people about it, they are sharing more content and around you go. And on top of that it is a lot of fun to do and you can really share what you learn with your audience, which is sort of a big community, a big community feel to it.

    So that is my favorite.

    I guess some more practical things around list building might be well what are some different ways to get the actual people to subscribe? A couple of things that we have played with over the last year which worked really well, using little pop up surveys. So many people have probably heard of qualaroo.com. Most people are used to seeing their surveys around so they are not that intrusive. We were doing things like asking one or two simple questions on the survey, if people fill it out, ask them for their email. I have seen it work well if you just say, if someone is reading something on your blog or even on your marketing site, if you just pop up and say, “Hey do you want to subscribe? Do you want to get more content like this? Yes or No?” And if they hit yes, put their email in. So just asking people, like that is all you are doing there, works really well.

    Pop ups can work well as well. They are obviously a bit more aggressive and you should really think about, we have tried some good pop ups, we have tried some bad pop ups but you want to think about where to put them and when they come up. And the thing with pop ups is you probably only want them to come up once or twice ever for customers, because if they click no you have got to respect that. So if you are going to use pop ups respect them if they click no or click out of the pop up but pop ups can work really, really well.

    So again it is just a matter of you are getting in someone’s face in a way, you are asking them, offering them something, you are making them aware that they can subscribe, so that can be handy for building a list.

    And something that I tried last year and worked pretty well is retargeting, so you know if you have got a lot of people coming to your site, only a small percentage of them are going to buy or interact. So the rest of them you can cookie and retarget them on Facebook or retarget on Google. And Facebook in particular is pretty cheap at the moment and you can bring them back to wherever you want. So you can bring them back to get a free eBook or something like that. And the conversion rate on a dedicated landing page for something like a free eBook or some other offer is usually really, really high, it could be 60% or 70%.

    So the cost of getting those leads is virtually nothing, so that is a very powerful way to turn people who have already engaged with your business a bit into engaging with it a second time, getting them on your list so you can then engage them again and again which ultimately hopefully leads to a sale.

    So that would be my tip there.


    Someone has asked and it is probably related, “Have you tried using Facebook’s custom audiences to recover burnt subscribers?”

    I personally can’t say that I have but I do think that would work really well. I think that is a pretty crazy, ah cool idea. So Facebook’s custom audiences for those of you who don’t know, you can upload a list of emails and they can match them obviously against their own database and then let you target ads at those people which is pretty crazy if you think about it. I’m not sure if there is a minimum sized audience you need to do it. But then the idea is you create this custom audience of all the people who unsubscribed or have been “Burnt” from your past emails and then you give them an ad in Facebook that drives them back to re-subscribe. I think that is a really cool idea.

    I haven’t tried it. I imagine it would be quite cost effective and definitely something worth checking out. So it is a cool suggestion from Adam. That is something I will try and if you try it let me know, that would be a cool thing to write about on the blog.


    “Should you personalize who sends the email?” This is a new question. “For example the new product could be sent from a specific product manager or keep it simple?”

    Yeah it is a good question in that I definitely think you should personalize who sends the email and the question is then should you have it coming from five people or what not?

    I think you don’t want too many people, like two people is probably good or maybe three people. So at Vero we still send all the content from me even though I don’t necessarily write all the content. So Jimmy writes most of the content now and that is something that we should probably test soon. Like is it good to have emails come from both of us or is it good to just have them come from me? At the moment to date it has worked well because I think it gives people a familiarity. So they feel like, oh yeah there is another email from Chris this week, I liked his email last week.

    So in a situation like that maybe it is good to have just one person but that is something we will test and come back to you from.

    But then in the case of our welcome series at the moment we do actually have emails come from three different people. So a lot of the emails that are helping people saying, “How can we help?” Or “Have you considered this sort of campaign to use with Vero?” All those sort of automated campaigns come from me. But then the more technical ones like “Hey this is how you install Vero,” those types of emails come from James our CTO. And then we have got one or two that come from Damien who is our product manager and those are emails that are more about, “Have you checked out this feature or this part of the product?”

    And that is relatively recent that we have done all three, and people do seem to respond well to that. And I think in that case it works well because it is not necessarily consistency that we are trying to build we are just trying to get people to take the next action as efficiently as possible. And so if sending the email from Damien resonates the most because he is the one that built that feature or he is the product manager and they can identify with him, or whoever is doing that step in the organization can identify with him, then it seems to make a lot of sense.

    And that is perhaps a bit of a different scenario to the weekly newsletter where we want more and more people to open it so w do want to have some consistency.

    So I think in any case you don’t want to send from too many people, don’t send every email from a different person but you can definitely play with who it is from.

    The only exception to that might be, I have seen some customers do this where they will send their certain welcome emails. They will assign a person on their customer success or support team to each individual person who signs up and then they will always send from that email address for the user, no matter what the email is about. And I think that is quite an interesting idea as well because then that person, it is like they have a direct connection. And it depends on your company and the sorts of emails you are sending, but that can work really well as well.


    We are getting pretty close to the wrap up on the hour, so I don’t know if anyone has got a last question they want to ask, they can jump in while I refresh this forum and see if there are any more questions there. It helps if my forum doesn’t freeze.

    Cool so I will just pick one of these preregistered questions, no one has asked one on the live chat.

    Let’s see, the last question. I have probably covered most of these now. So people are talking about, “Loving the content on your blog. How do you get more raw clicks to your emails?” I think we sort of talked about that.

    But I guess some tips in terms of a call to action would be I have this acronym called CRAFT for crafting a good call to action and I will see if I can remember it.

    But the first one is COLORFUL. So make your calls to action colorful usually works well. So if you have got plain text email make sure the link is blue so it stands out against the black text. If you have got an email with lots of images make sure the button is a color that doesn’t match with the rest of the images, like if the images are all blue tones have a green button or an orange button, something that looks good but something that is totally different. So that is C.

    Have RELEVANT calls to action. So this comes back to what I was saying before about congruency like make sure the subject line matches the body of your email. And then make sure when people click wherever you are taking them on your website, it should make sense with what is in the email. So yeah don’t take people to a part of your site in other words that is not relevant. Like why are you sending them this email? Have a goal. Make sure the call to action takes them to the goal.

    Then A out of CRAFT for good calls to action is ACTIONABLE. So a good example of this is Amazon. Like rather than just having a single button in their review email like when they ask you for a book review, they will have the actual stars like 1,2,3,4,5 and you can click number four and number five. So that is really actionable right because it is removing a step for the customer. Rather than taking a customer to a page and then asking how many stars, they just like click a star.

    So how can you break up your calls to action? So a simple example for ecommerce might be you could have five images of jeans in your email and they could all just take you to the jeans category but take them to the actual product because that is probably where they want to go if they click that.

    F is FORCEFUL. So don’t be afraid to have a call to action and don’t be afraid to repeat the call to action. Ask people for what you want otherwise people won’t click.

    And the last one is TARGETED. So before when I was talking about cart abandonment example, how can you segment your list more so that the actual call to action is really, really targeted? This is really where the triggered emails come in. But a good example would be if you were doing an online learning course and they were sending you an email, if they sent you an email that has got a targeted link to the next chapter in the course that is going to be a very powerful call to action much more powerful than just saying “Click here to come back to the course.”

    Alright, so CRAFT. If you Google CRAFT Vero I think it will come up, the blog post on it and that is probably my approach to improving clicks and then use that to focus in on your calls to action.


    And then last question someone here asks, "What are your top tips for a generic newsletter?”

    I guess it depends what you mean by generic but I assume you mean updated newsletter, something you send semi regularly. My top tips would be try and turn it into something that people…like you know what is your key goal in sending it? And turn it into something that people expect and have consistency with it.

    So the blog updates that we send I guess are generic newsletters of a sort, they are just a newsletter they go out to thousands of people but we have tried to make it something that we send religiously every week, something that people expect in their inbox. And I think that has had a big impact on the opens.

    And then in terms of the content for generic newsletters I think keeping things singularly focused always seems to work better so what is the goal of this particular email. Is it to launch a new product or a new feature? If that is the case then really celebrate that feature and really explain it and have calls to action that relate to that. If you are sending out a blog update don’t have a summary of ten blog posts in the email, really draw attention to the one you have just written, the one you are trying to share and then really have a call to action for that.

    So I would say it is about no matter what generic newsletter you are sending to thousands of people, what is the goal of this particular email, why are you deciding to send this today? And then really focus on that goal; don’t get sidetracked with lots of other stuff. That would be my advice with that.

    Cool so I think that is it for the hour. So it has been awesome being here. Cool so I have really enjoyed talking to everyone. I think this has been recorded so I think the guys will put it up. If anyone has got any questions they can definitely get in touch with me, my personal email is at @getvero.com the web address getvero.com you can check out Vero as well there will be links in the thread.

    So thanks for your time everyone and have an awesome afternoon, evening, day. See you later.

    [End Recording 1:00:25]
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  • Profile picture of the author deardave
    i want to announce to my list of reopening of my site. Whats the most effective way to get the opens, force a click, and create a buzz- the list is segmented according to professions.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alaister
      Thanks to all of you who have pre-registered!

      Here are some questions from people who have pre-registered.

      Shellcraft asks:
      Is guest posting still relevant?

      Fran R asks:
      I really like your articles. Do you write all of your blog posts yourself? I imagine it is very time consuming. What about the graphics? Do you outsource that or have an in house designer?

      Brad G asks:
      What are your biggest obstacles in building and growing your startup?

      Alan asks:
      How do you go about hiring the right virtual assistants to get started?

      What are some of the best practices when it comes to a/b testing emails? What have you and your team seen work and fail?

      Jon R asks:
      I love the content on your blog. How do you start a blog with no visitors?

      David R asks:
      What are some tips to getting more raw clicks to your offers from your emails?

      Darmawan asks:
      Without using any backlinks and without being popular person (no social recognition over the internet) how can one promote a new blog?

      Not everyone who work full-time on Internet Marketing have their own company, when is the right time to found our company?

      Pablo asks:
      How to start from scratch and build an online empire? where to find all the tools needed on every step of the way?

      Miguel S asks
      What marketing and business blogs do you read?

      Dinesh asks:
      What are the top 3 do nots for startup landing pages?

      Rob G asks:
      What are some of the best list building strategies you've seen? I want to build a list in my niche - I run an ecommerce social referral tool.

      Matt L asks:
      I've been hearing that email marketing is dead. Open rates are dropping lower and lower. Emails are going into people's spam folders and gmail categories them into different tabs. I worry that you can spend all this time working on a great email campaign only to have no one receive it. What do you think about this?

      Jeffrey asks:
      What are some of the greatest successes you've seen with your clients using your trigger emails?

      Mark V asks:
      What does a day in the life of Chris Hexton look like?
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  • Profile picture of the author mattbarrie
    What is the best way to send an email campaign to ensure maximum deliverability?
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  • Profile picture of the author mattbarrie
    Test your email for spammyness before sending it (recommended by Chris):

    Newsletters spam test by mail-tester.com

    Email Testing and Rendering Previews - Litmus
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  • Profile picture of the author deardave
    Would a company like listmarketer.com work better than amazonSES to send 3 million. The emails will be cleaned for spam traps etc- OR do you have other suggestions for an affordable methods to do this ?
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  • Profile picture of the author mattbarrie
    How do I improve customer retention?
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    • Profile picture of the author Alaister
      Chris answer's Adam's questions:

      Do you have any tips on subject line copy for achieving high open rates? Both 1-1 and 1-many emails


      Curiosity - Ask questions to pique people's curiosity.

      Fear - Making people feel like they may miss out. Creating a sense of urgency.

      Greed - Getting people to recognize they want more

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  • Profile picture of the author deardave
    Do you segregate email opens, link clicked in the emails, from the rest of list
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  • Profile picture of the author Brandon Sheley
    Very nice indeed!
    I missed the first part, can't wait to see the recorded version.
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