Beyond The Broadcast – The Email Marketing Series
This is the third episode of our 6 part series on Email Marketing. Chris Vasquez from AWeber and I had a great conversation and I’m thrilled to bring this conversation to you!
Chris loves to have fun with email ~ yup… he thinks there is a noticeable effect on your engagement rates when you are true and authentic to yourself and have a little fun doing it. Chris is the Director of Products at AWeber. He started on the design team and migrated to products at the beginning of last year. Chris’ role is to work with other product managers to make sure they are listening to their customers and the market, identifying the problems they have, and then building solutions to those problems.
AWeber, started as an email service provider 20 years ago, and they do the same thing today… help their clients deliver emails. It was one of the first EMS (Email Marketing Systems) to build in auto responders. This functionality came out of customer service. The customers asked for it, so the team found a way to make it happen.
It’s really important to AWeber that their tools are easy to use, and when a customer has a problem that there is someone there who can answer a chat or email right away. One the reasons I really wanted to include AWeber in this series is their longevity in the market. AWeber is doing some really cool things with autoresponders, adding new functionality, and listening to the requests of their audience.
Types of things customer base asks for
Chris was so quick to answer this question — some users are always asking for automations to be simpler and others are asking for them to be more powerful. The duality of this request moved Aweber to add tags/tagging to the platform. At the outset, AWeber was solely a list based platform. With customer service at the core of the business model, evolution was necessary and the dev team created and implemented a solution to their request!
AWeber, along with other platforms are seeing the need to understand subscribers’ behavior. This leads to tagging on click, tagging on open, clicks and opens triggering automations and so on.
Another frequent customer request has been for more content creation tools. There is a segment of their client base who build from curated content. They curate a list of articles and then add editorial content at the beginning and the end. And voila – a new mobile app called Curate was built to aid these clients to more easily get their curated articles into the newsletter — remove interim processes (store in Evernote, Google Sheets, Email, etc.). Curate becomes one of the “shareable” locations on your phone. Curate does some formatting and is definitely a unique advantage for AWeber. A way to be on the go and still be productive.
AWeber is a fun platform for users because…
As with any online service, the benefit to your business is only there when you actually use the product. With this in mind, a pillar of the platform is ease of use. Curate is an example of this. Blog Broadcasts is another automation that is extremely powerful and easy to use.
There is a divide in the marketplace – are subscriber counts vanity metrics or are they milestones? With AWeber, they let their clients decide — you can easily be notified of new subscribers. As a company with a 20 year history, they have found that when they notify their customers of [new subscribers and milestones] it is an opportunity to celebrate. And sometimes the simple acts can make they different between continuing on or giving up. AWeber definitely feels it’s important to celebrate these things.
AWeber knows that you know your audience better than they do. But they want you to be able to create real, authentic content that is representative of you. And then they want to help you celebrate your milestones as you grow your list.
I love these notifications. But I don’t want them front and center all the time… so what I’ve done in my inbox is created a rule so that all of those can go into a separate folder. They skip the inbox but are available for me to review and see progress. We are so accustomed to being in our inboxes. Notifications is something that I want to make sure is customizable in the platform I’m using.
I asked Chris “Why should a listener take a look at AWeber?”
He came up with three reasons….
- Customer support: Both in terms of our customer solutions team who are in the same building as the people who actually built the product. They are amazing at helping with technical support, but they are also there to help you with strategy. They are always available to brainstorm with you if you have ideas. They are also really deeply connected with our product teams. They bring information from customer solutions to our product team to help AWeber address issues that might help their customer base. They are also available 24/7.
- Second is deliverability. Aweber owns their email sending infrastructure and they maintain it. They maintain relationships directly with internet service providers. We have complete control on their sending infrastructure. This means they don’t have to go through a middle person to get issues resolved regarding sending issues.
- Ease of use. We want a platform that is easy and friendly for people to use. So they focus on making all the aspectings of email marketing easy to use for anyone. We have more complex technologies too. We approach new feature development as we want to make it as simple as possible. We have split testing feature and the feedback we have gotten is that it’s really easy to use.
One of the reasons why this series exists is because email marketing is more than just sending emails. Email marketing is creating engagement with the person on the receiving end of the email. It is having them have a vested interest in what your saying. You want them to engage with you. There is a lot of strategy that goes into email marketing.
What is working in AWeber
Automations within messages that progressively help you profile your audience. When it comes to educating your audience it’s helpful to know where someone is at in their journey with you. Being able to customize your emails based on information your audience gives in say a small survey you put in your welcome email, you allows you funnel them through different automations that you may have. This is called click automations. They are seeing an increasing amount of people using this tactic.
Depending on the size of your list, always be testing. You should always be testing. This is the difference between thinking something and knowing something. If you have a couple thousand subscribers you should always be testing. You can definitely test if you have a smaller list, but the smaller the list the higher the potential that the results might just be skewed.
Chris tests every time he sends out a newsletter. And through his testing, he has really honed in on a great send time. It’s not necessarily his best open rate, but it is his best click rate. And that’s important — he knew what he wanted the outcome of his test to be… testing is not just a matter of pitting this time or day against another, but why?
There are so many different things that you can test. One that I do frequently for my clients is the plain URL vs. CLICK HERE type of clickable links. Things I have found is there are some people who don’t trust a “CLICK HERE”. So they would rather copy and paste the whole link from the email into their browser.
Send time and opens
When testing Chris encourages you to always stick with your control like a regular date/time that your are sending and then start testing variations of this. Whenever possible always use a split testing feature when you do these tests. Doing testing like this will lead to more traction right out of your emails.
We have to go where our audience is and testing a great way to figure that out!
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