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The Nitty Gritty of Email Marketing

The Nitty Gritty of Email Marketing

Many people have asked me:

Which email marketing service should I use to get start?

Trick question.

Just pick one and go.

I’ve tried aWeber, Constant Contact, and MailChimp.  They are all good.

[shareable cite=”Jason R. Owens”]I’ve tried aWeber, Constant Contact, and MailChimp. They’re all good.[/shareable]

Right now I’m on MailChimp and that’s only because it was free for the first 2,000 contacts in my system.

Most services have a modest monthly fee associated with them, but those fess generally won’t break the bank.

The trick is to start using any one of them.

Just get started.

Don’t get lost for the next 3 weeks analyzing the pros and cons of each service.

Have a bias for action, and not analysis.

You can always steer a moving ship later.  The point is to get the ship moving in the first place.

Should I use an email template, or should I go with plain text?

Each have their merits.

Templates look good, and often re-size to fit mobile devices.

Text makes it look like you wrote the message just for the receiver of it, so it may have a more personal feel.

If you choose to use a template, I would stay away from a multi-column versions for starters.


Here’s why…
Formatting, looks like it requires several images, etc.  Short answer: they take too much work.

Please stay away from newsletters at all costs.

If you have a heavy retail presence, a newsletter could work for you.  But, for authors, experts, and public speakers, it feels like the newsletter format asks you to share 3 or 4 articles at once.

[shareable]Stay away from multi-column email marketing templates if you’re an author, expert, or public speaker to keep the attention on one key idea.[/shareable]

For many readers, this is complete overkill.

If you want to share multiple ideas at once, I feel you are better off with an RSS-style email which shows excerpts of articles you’ve already published on your blog.

It is hard enough for people to focus on a one-topic email let alone a newsletter template that has 4 articles all screaming for attention.

Instead, choose a simple single-column template.

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The template calls for a header image, but I don’t have one. What do I do?

Forget the header image.  If you can’t fill this block in 30 seconds, it’s best to forget it.  Most email templates are just suggestions.  You can delete any block you don’t need.

[shareable]You don’t have to have a header image to capture your readers’ attention in email marketing.[/shareable]

In this case, if you don’t already have a ready-to-use image, then you don’t need this block.

Key Take Aways:

For authors, experts, and public speakers, here is my list of take-aways:

• Choose a clean, crisp template and include a small company logo if you have one.

• Boost your font to 16pt – 18pt font for the text in the body of your letter.

• Include one large image near the top of your article to make it stand out to the reader.

• Don’t choose a newsletter template if you are just getting started.  Newsletters require a lot of work, so most small teams do not end following through with it.

[reminder]Now that you have a basic idea of how to get started, what will be the first message you share with your audience?[/reminder]

1 Question You Need to Ask

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Showing up for yourself, for your business, and for your family are key ingredients to being a fulfilled entrepreneur.

Today’s video contains one question you need to ask to guarantee your happiness.

[reminder]How can you start showing up for yourself this week?[/reminder]

The End of the Jeff Walker & Brendon Burchard Era?

The End of the Jeff Walker & Brendon Burchard Era?

Recently, I received what is quite possibly the most shocking email I’ve received in a long time.

It was from Jeff Walker and he was promising another bonus from a book he launched over a year ago.

Being a huge fan of Jeff Walker, I clicked on the link to find out what new bonus I was about to receive.

In Jeff Walker style I was taken to a landing page which included one of his sales videos explaining that he was offering a bonus he had never done before and that this bonus was only available to people who had purchased his best-selling book, Launch.

The Big Bonus

He was offering tickets to his large event session, PLF Live.

Now, what makes this so remarkable is that these tickets were usually only available to people who have purchased his Product Launch Formula program at nearly $2000.

This follows the same formula Brendon Burchard uses for his Experts Academy and Total Product Blueprint. Buy a high-ticket item program, and get a low-cost live event, usually for registration fee of around a hundred dollars.

Is it really getting that hard for Jeff Walker to fill a room, that he would open up registration to people who bought his book?

It really feels like he’s struggling to fill the room.

The Big Kicker

Now here’s the kicker: he’s not alone!

Earlier this year Brendon Burchard did something I’ve never seen him do before.

He offered an alumni discount to one of his other programs.

Usually the people who buy the Experts Academy program get to go to a large event, Experts Academy Live. On top of that, Brendan also has a different program which has to do with performance.

This program also has its own live event at its own ticket price. You buy the program for around $1000, and you get a discount ticket to go to the live event.

[shareable]Big savings on public speaking events are becoming easier and easier to come by.[/shareable]

In the past it didn’t matter if you had already purchased a ticket to Experts Academy — if you wanted to go to the High Performance Academy, you had to pay the full price — the market rate.

This year was the first time I’ve ever seen Brendon Burchard offer an alumni ticket price.

So, for those of you who were members of his Experts Academy or Total Product Blueprint courses, you could get an alumni tickets for only $297 to go to the High Performance Academy event.

Run the math on that for a minute – $997 last year but only $297 this year.

That’s a $700 savings, folks!

But Why?

All of this begs the question: why in the world would Brendon Burchard discount prices so heavily? He is supposed to be the king of high-end tickets. The king of high-end programs.

Why all the sudden is the pressure here moving across the largest names in the industry so much so that they would discount tickets?

[shareable]Big name speakers are offering their programs at lower prices than ever. Click here to check out why![/shareable]

My guess is that this industry is counter-cyclical, meaning that several years ago when the economy was in the dumps there were thousands of people out looking to start their own business and there were thousands of people out there who wanted to be an instant expert or author and make millions of dollars.

Nowadays with the economy doing so well, there are more people who’ve taken jobs with employers. There are less and less people who are wanting to strike out their own route.

Even if your tickets were being sold before, if you have built a reputation on “selling out every event” you have to start to get pretty creative in an economy this robust. This means to discount the daylights out of these tickets, give them away, just get butts in seats.

[reminder]For those of you who work in the expert industry, what is your impression on why ticket prices are plummeting recently among some of the big-name experts?[/reminder]


How to Recharge and Rejuvenate

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Starting a new business or launching a new product can really wear you down. In this video you’ll learn why it’s important to take a break.

This one is a short one, so click the image above to check it out.

How to Use the Smart Podcast Player Like Michael Hyatt

I am a huge fan of Michael Hyatt, his GetNoticed! theme, and Platform University.  I really like how he is using the Smart Podcast Player, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work when using RSS with MailChimp.

I really enjoy watching how Michael and his team accomplish what seems to be the impossible each week.

Recently I have considered reviving my podcast, so I turned my attention to how Michael does it.

The User Experience I Want to Emulate

Smart Podcast Player in GetNoticed Theme Michael HyattIn particular I want to be able to use RSS to feed my blog posts and my podcasts to my reading list.

I really like the look of the audio player that Michael uses.  I don’t get around much so I had never seen this player before, and I just assumed that this was one of the custom coded things that Michael does for his site.

Not so.

Turns out the player is the Smart Podcast Player available (for a small fee) by Pat Flynn.

I subscribed to this WordPress plugin to test out the player on my site.  I was very surprised to learn that the player does NOT survive the transition through RSS to my MailChimp emails!

Trouble in River City

After installing the plugin and putting the player in a test post on my bl0g, I sent the post to MailChimp.

No Smart Podcast Player appeared in the ensuing email.

At all.

Not even a hint that a player ever existed in the original post.

At first I found this really hard to believe.  I thought for certain that the plugin was some HTML5 player that does well in email.

I had tested HTML5 players before, and I did not experience this problem. They survived the same RSS-to-MailChimp test with ease as evidenced in the following screen capture.

Get Noticed Theme Michael Hyatt Missing Smart Podcast Player HTML5 Player Present Annotated

What to Do?

I took a second look at Michael’s email that I was using as a baseline.  Turns out the “player” that shows in this email is not a player at all.

It is just an image with a built-in link.

This was confirmed after hearing back from the tech support person (Ray) at the Smart Podcast Player Support Team.

So now I have a dilemma.

Why do emails sent through MailChimp via RSS from the website show an image that does not exist in the blog post?

I can’t tell you exactly how long I beat my brains out over this.

I’m not a coder, but I eventually figured out how to do it.  At least this method works for me.

Here’s the Answer

There are two parts – 1) the code that you’ll need, and 2) a clickable image that looks like the player

It turns out that you need to use something called a “fallback” image.  Again, I’m not a coder, so I had never heard of this.

A fallback is your plan B in the event that something doesn’t load properly.  In this case, if the player doesn’t load properly, then resort to plan B — our image that looks like the player.

Michael Hyatt Smart Podcast Player - Pseudo version

The Code

I had to comb through the plugin code to learn how to call the plugin without using the shortcode.  This is important because I could not figure out how to make the fallback image work while using the shortcode.

In the code snippet below you will notice that I do, however, start with the shortcode.  Notice how the url field is empty and no other parameters are listed.

I had to do this to “wake up” the player to let it know I would be passing it some parameters.  There must be some javascript here that calls the player to attention.

This is a critical step, so do not leave out this initial shortcode.  I could not get the rest of this to work otherwise.

<object class="smart-track-player" width="300" height="150" data-url="" data-download="true" data-speedcontrol="true" data-title="Your show title here" data-paid="true" data-social="true" data-social_twitter="true" data-social_facebook="true" data-social_gplus="true"> <a href=""><img src="" alt="Click to hear Jason's Podcast" border="0" /></a> <a href="">Subscribe in iTunes</a></object>

In the event that you want to look for more parameters to pass in this html, try this:

  1. Go to WordPress -> Plugins -> Editor
  2. Select Smart Podcast Player from the dropdown
  3. Find and double-click on smart-podcast-player/classes/core.php in the right-hand menu

I found all of the parameters I needed by going through this core.php file.  Do a search on “<div” (yes, leave out the last “>”) and this should take you to about the middle of the file where the parameters live.

The Image

I created the image by creating an instance of the player and then simply taking a screen capture (on Macs, use command+shift+4).

You might be wondering how to get the player to look like the one that Michael uses.  Notice how his player has only the arrow and the circle.  The download icon, the speed icon, and the share icon are all missing.

If you want to create a version of this all you need to do is use the code above but strip out the parameters defining social and downloads, etc. Try pasting this code to your site.

<object class="smart-track-player" width="300" height="150" data-url="" data-paid="true">

Just preview the post and then take a screen capture of the image.

Smart Track Player Green Play Bar

Trim out the left half of the bar with a photo/image editor.  Otherwise, you will get a long thin bar (above) instead of a shorter one (below) which looks better on mobile.

Smart Track Player Green Play Bar Truncated

Upload this to your WordPress media library and then put the image url in the first code snippet I provided.

The Results

Now I have a podcast post that functions much the way Michael’s does in that I can pass the “player” in an email that is generated through RSS!

Jasons Smart Podcast Player Completed Project

[reminder]If I can answer any questions for you, just drop them into the Disqus box below.[/reminder]



You Can Change the World

You Can Change the World

I knew the documentary Blackfish was a powerful story when I first wrote about it two years ago.

What happened yesterday is yet one more reminder that people with a message can change the world.

I believe this world-changing ability is available to each and every one of us!

Blackfish director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, not only created an award winning documentary on the treatment of orcas at SeaWorld.  It turns out she added fire to a movement.

While SeaWorld had been under pressure from environmentalists in the past, Blackfish was the spark that ignited the powder keg.

Blackfish caused a public backlash against SeaWorld (causing the company’s stock price to suffer), and the movie even inspired action by PETA.

[shareable cite=”Jason R Owens”]Each of us has the ability to change the world![/shareable]

Due to the relentless public pressure and mounting financial losses, the company had to take decisive action.

Yesterday SeaWorld announced the company is ending its orca breeding program which has drawn great criticism after the film.

SeaWorld has been listening and we’re changing…Society is changing and we’re changing with it. SeaWorld is finding new ways to continue to deliver on our purpose to inspire all our guests to take action to protect wild animals and wild places.

Cowperthwaite praised the announcement and added that she will continue to lobby for changes in the aquatic theme park industry.

Imagine what you can do.

Imagine the impact that your life can have.

[shareable cite=”Jason R Owens”]Who is going to change the world? YOU are![/shareable]

Keep dreaming.

Keep pressing.

Keep chasing.

Your efforts are going to lead somewhere.

Your work is going to change lives.  In fact, your work is probably changing lives already!

We need you!

Keep fighting!

[reminder]How do you want to change the world? What cause do you want to champion, or what injustice do you want to see righted?[/reminder]


The Power of Consistency

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When you find the activities that grow your business, you can become an unstoppable force when you do those activities consistently.

Click now to discover how.