Today’s episode was inspired by an Instagram DM conversation with some email friends. it all started when an online educator posted on Instagram saying, you’re sending too many emails and it’s hurting your conversions.
Then she went on to talk about how it’s making them unsubscribe, how you should think about how you like to receive emails, what cadence gets you the most opens, and some other BS advice that we didn’t agree with.
Of course, we went down quite the ranty rabbit hole and the friend who originally saw the post may or may not have even tried to engage the person in a conversation about it…
That attempt wasn’t very successful as they just talked more about feelings vs. data… but we told her she shouldn’t waste her energy on that conversation anyway.
But the thing that really had us frustrated was that here is this person, someone who business owners look up to for information on growing their business, and she’s making a blanket statement (without explaining the nuances) that could ultimately hurt them more than help them
And it got me thinking about other bad advice I’ve heard floating around the interwebs and thought, I should probably share this on the podcast.
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How Many Emails Are Too Many Emails?
Is there such a thing as too much email? Yes, there can be.
But in my experience 99% of the time more emails equals more revenue. That’s just what the data says… especially in eCommerce.
So, are you sending too many emails? Unlikely. The majority of the clients and students I talk to aren’t sending enough. But the perfect cadence is different for every business, product, subscriber list, etc.
And there are a few things I want you to keep in mind.
- The more products you sell and the bigger your list, the more emails you can send
- Your email list is going to churn, you are going to lose subscribers. That’s completely normal. Emailing them less isn’t necessarily going to keep them around longer. In fact, it might have the opposite effect where they forget who you are or that they subscribed in the first place and unsubscribe or mark you as spam when you do finally send an email.
- Don’t project your own feelings about a marketing activity on your customers. I hate SMS and don’t subscribe to any brands… but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t use SMS if I were running an eCommerce business – that shit makes money.
- Let the data drive your decision-making. If all your metrics are strong… you’re not sending too many emails.
- If you’re sending valuable emails that add something to their life, and they still unsubscribe… it’s likely they weren’t your customer anyway.
- Don't make decisions solely on open rates as they are not reliable
If you're not sure how your email marketing is performing check out this post for email benchmarks to gauge your success. You can also learn how to create an email marketing calendar, how to figure out how many emails to send per week in your eCommerce business, and get inspiration for product-focused email ideas, and non-salesy, value-added email ideas.
Can eCommerce Business Use Educational PDF downloads to Grow Their Email List
Another piece of bad advice I’ve heard on the Internet; product-based businesses can’t use educational PDFs to grow their email list.
This is definitely untrue and some brands that I’ve talked to actually see higher conversion on their educational downloads than their straight discounts.
Here’s the thing about giving a discount… that works great when the customer is already sure they want your product. And I’m not afraid of giving discount for an email sign-up. Some people are afraid it’s going to train your customers to wait for a sale… but really it just lowers the risk for that first purchase. Having sales every weekend is what will train them to wait for a sale.
But think of it like this… if you were on the hunt for a new mattress… would a discount in exchange for an email be enough for you to decide to buy from that mattress company?
Not likely. If you actually want a good night’s sleep you consider a lot more than just price when buying a mattress.
Should You Use a PDF Download to Grow Your Email List?
As with most things I talk to you about whether or not an educational PDF would work for you is going to depend on your business, your product, and where that traffic is coming from, but in a general sense… the more expensive your product is, the more education someone needs in your industry, or the longer the typical decision-making process is… the more likely this could work well for you.
Examples of PDF Download Freebies for eCommerce Businesses
Here are a few examples of when would consider using an educational PDF download as a list growth strategy
If you write a lot of educational blog posts to attract organic traffic, PDF downloads are a great way to grow your list. I talk more about this in the sales funnel series, where you can learn how to get more visibility for your eCommerce store, how to grow your email list, how to get your customers to buy from you instead of your competition, and how to get repeat purchases for your eCommerce store.
I worked with a client a few years ago who sells slow fashion. Their pieces are in the contemporary market pricing, so it can be a bit of a stretch for some people. Because the brand is very focused on sustainability and minimalism, they talk a lot about capsule wardrobes and used a wardrobe workbook as an email signup incentive.
Even if you sell at a more accessible price point that is more of an impulse buy, anyone who sells clothing or accessories has an opportunity to use PDF downloads as email list builders. You can even swap them out seasonally so you can feature your latest product collection.
- If you sell yarn, give away a knitting pattern.
- If you sell kids’ bedroom decor give away some sort of printable kids’ activity or wall art.
- If you sell products for new Moms, you can give a PDF download full of tips and tricks for navigating life as a new Mom.
- If you sell wall art, giveaway a gallery wall planner.
There are so many ways you can work these into your list-building strategy.
Where & When to Promote Your Educational PDF Download
You can also be really intentional about where you promote them. Maybe it’s only on your blog posts. Or only for traffic you send to a specific page on your website. If your discount converts well, cool… keep that on your main pop-up and use this strategy somewhere else. You can even A/B test it on your pop-up and see which one performs better.
As long as there is a clear through-line between what's in that download and what you sell, and you have a solid email flow to nudge that customer toward a purchase, there’s no reason why you can’t try them out.
Why Do Marketplaces Take So Many Fees?
Another thing I hear a lot is people complaining about all the fees platforms like Amazon and Etsy take from sellers and they use that as a reason not to sell on the platform.
And yes, I’m sure that the powers that be are lining their pockets with the fees they collect from sellers and we know some of them even end up competing with their sellers. At the end of the day, those platforms are bringing you as the seller a lot of benefits too. If you weren’t sending those fees to the platform, you’d be spending it on marketing and operations for your own business anyway.
When it comes to selling on marketplaces, I think they should be treated as one channel of your overall business and that you should still build and grow your own website so you’re not at the mercy of these platforms.
Think of it like renting a brick-and-mortar storefront. If you want a space in a mall or a shopping center, you’re going to pay more for a space that’s off the beaten path. The number one consideration in retail is location, location, location.
Those fees are going toward the traffic and visibility on that platform, the logistics, the tech maintenance, etc.
Wholesale is Also Lower Margin but Still Worth it
It’s the same with wholesale. You don’t make as much on a wholesale order as you do selling direct to consumers. But, wholesale orders are larger volume one-time transactions. They take less energy and effort to fulfill than a bunch of individual orders. It gets you in front of people who wouldn’t otherwise know you exist, and you have someone else selling the product for you.
So look, this is not me telling you to sell on these platforms. There are a lot of things to consider. This is just me telling you not to let fees be the deciding factor.
In the words of Mark Cuban… would you rather own 100% of nothing or 10% of something. The visibility and volume you can get on these platforms should make up for the fees any day.
So… what is the moral of today’s story? There is no one size fits all advice on the Internet… or anywhere for that matter. There is so much nuance to business strategy. If there was one solid blueprint that worked for everyone – we’d all be doing it.
The only way to know what is going to work best for you is to test & tweak along the way. It starts with understanding your customer and your business and making adjustments from there. Take all the advice you hear on the Internet with a grain of salt… even mine. What you hear isn't specific to your business. Learn more about how to deal with conflicting advice from experts.