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Hi Growth Hackers! I’m Val Geisler, Email Marketing Strategist and Conversion Copywriter, and I'm ridiculously obsessed with email and the customer experience. You probably dream in conversion and churn numbers and I do too… and that's exactly why we're going to get along.

But let me tell you something: I'm not your traditional Growth Hacker.

I was born the oldest of four kids in a busy household with two working parents. In my Girl Scout troop, I was the organizer of the cookie sales, the planner for all outings, and the leader of the team. I am, after all, a Leo.

In college I majored in theatre production became a professional stage manager in the opera world. It was a fast-paced, high drama environment that required deep levels of organization. I mastered the Excel spreadsheet. Fonts and color-coding were my tools and knowledge and communication were my game. I managed paperwork, props, moving parts, and personalities galore.

Never one to shy away from a huge task, I then brought a big Canadian brand to a small Virginia town and built a community around yoga and love. It was an incredible honor. I’ve coordinated volunteers and participants at the Happiest 5k on Earth and planned travel logistics for the team making it all happen.

To say that over the years I learned a thing or two about speaking to a customer's needs and wants is an understatement.

I've spent the last six years deep in the world of customer experience and research. I built the content and email marketing for a fast-growing startup, wrote around the Internet about what makes for good email, and I am an introvert who loves figuring out how people think.

I also spent over a decade behind the scenes of everything from non-profits to multi-six-figure businesses, and I have the innate ability to think big picture and minute details at the exact same time. While this drives my husband a bit crazy, it works out really well for growing software companies.

So, yeah. I guess I am a Growth Hacker after all.

Some email marketing things that might interest you:

Email Onboarding Tear Down: Calendly

Email Onboarding Tear Down: Shopify

Email Marketing for eCommerce

The Most Valuable SaaS Customer Everyone Forgets

Feel free to ask me anything you want to know about email marketing, customer experience, or women in tech. I'm passionate about those three topics in ways I can't quite describe. 

Oh, and come say hi on Twitter! I'd love to continue to get to know you.

  • YP

    Yulia Peleneva

    5 months ago #

    Hi Val! Thanks for doing an AMA on Growth Hackers! I have 2 questions ->

    1) What's the best way to utilize subscribers who don't open emails for a long time? From your professional perspective in non-profits?

    2) How to show a value of being part of a community to subscribers for non-profits?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Yulia! Ohhh inactive subscribers are fun to re-engage. I highly recommend cleaning your list on a regular basis. Inactive subscribers actually impact your deliverability and open rates - if they aren't opening your emails then inboxes start thinking your emails might be spam. Yikes.

      Sending a re-engagement campaign to your inactive subscribers is as simple as 2-3 emails over a period of a few weeks asking them to take an action or risk being removed from the list. You want to do this with care and empathy - sometimes people are inactive for a period of time because they've been sick or taking care of a family member so you want to be sure you consider what they could be going through. Remind them why they signed up in the first place and then encourage them to take an action (typically clicking a link that removes or adds a tag on the back end). Setup a sequence that keeps reminding those who don't take action and offers a last chance to those holdouts. Then actually delete anyone who didn't respond. It's scary to delete hundreds or thousands of subscribers but it's so worth it in the long run. Your (email) reputation is at stake!

      4 Share
    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Showing value in a community is all about the actual community. Grab screenshots, copy threads, show them what they're missing out on by not engaging. Some things I love seeing are "Top threads in our community" or a section like that in a regular email newsletter. Many of us have the same questions as other people and seeing the community in action before we join it helps increase that elusive FOMO 😉

  • NK

    Nadya Khoja

    5 months ago #

    Hi Val!!!!

    1. What is your best advice for delivering bad news to users (let's say if you're planning on increasing prices of your product?)
    2. Really loved the Shopify teardown article- can you share any best practices for better segmenting drips/onboarding campaigns for different users, or how to organize those segments?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hey Nadya! Great questions. I'll answer your first one first 😉

      I sent a very successful price increase sequence for a client recently. We planned ahead (always plan ahead on these things) and sent several emails about the changes. We talked about the why behind the big news, what it would mean for them, and how long they would be grandfathered into their current status (this particular client wanted to keep current customers on their plan as is for the next 6 months before changes applied to them).

      Having a small group of beta testers at hand is helpful too. You can put them through the sequence first and get their feedback before rolling it out to your entire client base.

      Remember that your customers are humans who understand that things change. Lead with empathy, tell them what to expect, say it again, say it one more time, and then be willing to hear their concerns.

      More than anything, be ready to give tons of support when you make big changes. Put all hands on support and answer questions quickly. The best way to avoid churn during changes is to be proactive and connect with your customers quickly with heaps of empathy and understanding. You have a business to run and they do too, always remember that.

      6 Share
    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Regarding segmenting, you have to start with understanding your various customers and their journey. I love a big sheet of paper or a whiteboard (digital tools like Lucidchart are great for this too). At every email interval ask "and then what?" What happens if they don't respond to your CTA? What if they do? Do you need two different paths at that point? How many branches of your onboarding path are needed?

      Here's the thing: this is when people start to throw their hands up and say they're not going to do anything. Don't let the potential complexity stop you. Start somewhere (with a single user path) and build on that over time. It takes iterations and testing over time. You might build an entire pathway to realize no one is headed down that journey. So take that data and make changes. You don't know what you don't know but there's plenty you already know about your customers you can use to get started.

      5 Share
  • CS

    Claire Suellentrop

    4 months ago #

    Hi, Val!

    1. How did you get so cool and awesome?

    2. I'm smack dab in the middle of overhauling my company's email automation machine. The campaigns we send out have developed organically over time: one-by-one, as needed. That means our system is...a huge mess.

    * A million different tags, all with differently-formatted names.
    * Campaigns, both active & littering the Drafts folder, with details in their titles like "v1" / "REAL v1" / "website update 2018" / "OLD: DO NOT USE."
    * Random rules & workflows that we needed at one particular time, but don't anymore...yet they're still in Active mode.

    If you were tasked with an overhaul project like this, what organizational foundations would you put in place first (e.g., naming conventions...)? I want to make sure that moving forward, every new campaign we add to the machine fits in logically, and follows some kind of standard - so our current team / any future team members can actually be effective, and not get lost in a messy email web.

    Thank you!

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      😊Flattery will get you everywhere with me, Claire!

      So this is another "it depends" question because it depends on what platform you're using. But starting with a naming/organization convention is #1. Some platforms allow you to archive emails or campaigns or workflows. Can you do that? What's truly no longer needed on a day-to-day basis?

      What about naming? Is everything organized alphabetically? If so, I like to use numbers to pop things to the top of a list and "Z." to drop them to the bottom.

      Ultimately it's about creating a convention that works for your team and sticking to it. I start with an audit of everything that's there and then organize around that big list. Then someone has to own the longevity of the structure and hold the rest of the team accountable. New team members are easy, just train them on what to do! It's your existing team that has to re-learn a new way of functioning so they tend to need more oversight long term.

  • AH

    Anna Hetzel

    4 months ago #

    Hey Val-
    Excited to hear all the answers to these great questions!
    Here's mine:
    - What's the best way to re-engage your email list after basically ghosting them for 6+ months? Have had a couple clients with this issue and it seems like a delicate moment. You don't want to just jump right back in, do you? How do you ease subscribers back into interacting with you?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Anna! So many people have this concern. Here's the thing: your subscribers aren't thinking about you nearly as often as you think about them. So while you've spent 6+ months worrying about not writing to your subscribers, they've been doing millions of other things, not caring about you much at all. (#sorrynotsorry) So you actually don't need to warm them back up at all. Just start. Email them. Tell them what you've been up to for the time you've been away, give them a good reason to stick around moving forward, and then dive into your content for that email. Don't let the past dictate what you do in the future. Start.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val, thanks for doing this AMA. How much should copywriting approach change between blogging, emails, website copy and UX copy on a product? Are experts generally able to be effective in all of these scenarios or is it better to specialize?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hiya, Sean. Great question. I think many copywriting principles apply across channels. For instance, I use PAS (problem, agitation, solution) in emails all the time. Sometimes each of those is one email though unlike a sales page where that would all be on one page. And blogging is often storytelling which is also a big part of email marketing.

      What's usually missing for copywriters who write emails is the strategy know-how behind the emails. If you don't understand segmenting, standard email frameworks, how ESPs perform, automations, tagging, etc, it can be really hard to write effective emails. You can write emails all day long but if you can't relate them back to data and develop a strategy over the long-term, it can be a pointless exercise.

      4 Share
  • VK

    Veni Kunche

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val, thank you for doing this!
    - What are some simple things that people overlook in email marketing?
    - What do you do with subscribers don't seem to open emails anymore?

  • MV

    Maja Voje

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val, great that you are doing this!

    Email is so very important! I'd love to see more good literature out there. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I am eager to learn more about it from you.

    Here are 3 questions I would like to ask you:
    1. A similar question to what Nadya asked. What are your best practices in the behavioral segmentation of an email database?
    2. I addition to the standard email campaign metrics, do you do some additional research to evaluate how the campaigns resonate with the audience?
    3. Do you have some onboarding recommendations for email marketing automation (integrated with CRM) for B2B companies?

    Thanks a million, wishing you lots of career success and happiness.

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      For onboarding with B2B you have two people to think about: the buyer and the end user. You're onboarding two different people with two very different experiences of the product. The buyer wants to know that the product is being used and they're getting what they paid for. The end user wants everything to be easy. Typically they aren't the decision maker so they're being asked to integrate this solution into their existing workflow. This is where empathy comes in again. Show them how your product is going to make their lives easier. How other people are using it. What they will get from it. Less features and more benefits.

      You want to onboard both the buyer and the user but be careful to not send them through the same onboarding emails/in-app messages/etc. They have different priorities and you should see them as separate people.

      2 Share
    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Maja! So great to have questions from this community.

      Take a look at my reply to Nadya and let me know if you have followups there for your first question.

      For #2 YES! The best way to know if campaigns resonate is to look at conversions. Every email is going to have a goal (or it _should_) and you want to take a look at the conversions on those goals to see if the email resonated. You may not get replies or hear about it on social but the conversions tell you something is working.

      1 Share
  • BK

    Bill Kapner

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val

    What was your best performing subject line of all time?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Oh, gosh, I don't think I know that one, Bill! I've written so many subject lines for so many different clients. I can tell you my personal best performing subject line though. It was: "lunch today?" - I was doing a lunchtime webinar and inviting people on my list to attend. I'll say that the shorter and more personal the subject lines, the better they tend to perform _for my list_. That doesn't hold true across industries but it's what I've got for ya!

      3 Share
  • CV

    Chris Vasquez

    4 months ago #

    What's the first thing you ask when evaluating an email onboarding campaign?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hey Chris! Nice seeing you here. My #1 question is "what does your customer actually want?" followed by "why?" over and over again. For instance, if you have an email marketing software, it's not likely that your customer *wants* to email their customers. They email their customers so that they can make money. They want to make money so that they can keep their business running. Why do they want to do that? Why did they start their business in the first place? What does running a successful business mean to them? Address *that* in the onboarding and you win your customer's attention and loyalty.

      7 Share
  • LM

    Len Markidan

    4 months ago #

    VAL! 👋

    "Set it and forget" rarely (never?) works with hired copywriters and consultants. IMO, it really takes work and commitment from both sides to move the needle.

    What can a company that's looking to work with an email expert do both *before* and *during* the engagement to stack the odds in favor of a successful outcome?

    What questions should they be prepared to answer, and what commitments they should be prepared to make?

    Thanks 👍

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Ohhhh fun question, Len! Yes, first you have to be prepared to do some work on your side when you hire a consultant.

      *Before*
      -They'll have prep work (like questionnaires, code to insert onto your site, or customer research gathering, for example).
      -For an email expert the best thing you can do is give them as much access to your existing emails and your ESP. So if you're using Intercom, for example, create a login for them. Let them see what's already working and what needs help.

      *During*
      -Block off time on your calendar during the engagement for regular checkins. Your consultant should lead the communication but they need you to be available. Ultimately you know the product and customers more than anyone else and you have insights your consultant needs. They can't get those if you aren't around.
      -Be open. If you're the founder you are so closely tied to the product and have blood, sweat, and tears invested in what you've built. But you're hiring a consultant to give you experience and perspective you wouldn't otherwise have. So be open to hearing what they have to say. If something matters deeply to you and they want to cut it, ask why. If you're offended always keep that WHY question in your back pocket. Be willing to try something new and know that you hired a pro for a reason.

      And let's talk about the after too!

      *After*
      -Your consultant cares about the same thing you do: results. They want to know that their work was successful and they have a good case study to feature on their website. So keep the conversation going. Share big wins. Forward feedback from customers. Help them see what they can't by simply looking at the data and numbers in the system.
      -Re-engage. Especially in the world of email nothing is ever "done". You have to test things over time. I love when campaigns fail because now we have something to measure against. Be willing to go back into a project every few months and see how it can improve incrementally over time.

      Hope that's helpful! 👋

      4 Share
  • KM

    Kaleigh Moore

    4 months ago #

    Val,

    What's the #1 mistake you see being made by companies using email marketing (and how can it be fixed)?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hiya Kaleigh! Check out my answer to Veni above. Simply not having an onboarding campaign is a huge miss and it's so easy to solve!

  • PA

    prasanth ammina

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val, I like your expertise so much and learnt many things from you.

    I've many questions to ask but I'll limit myself to ask 3 questions

    1. How do you manage the expectations of your clients who demand the improvement of vain metrics more than the engagement of real customers. (Especially when your open rates plummet and unsubscribes increased)

    2. Previously you used to share all kinds of productivity tips on your blog. But now you're keeping it so professional and stopped sharing the things which worked for you. So, what are the best things you've discovered these days?

    3. How do you whet your skills each day? Any daily practices or habits you suggest for someone who wants to become a better copywriter or email marketer?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hey Prasanth! I'll answer your Qs in order.

      To be honest, I don't work with clients who are focused on those vain metrics. One of the best things I did was start asking in prospecting calls about their KPIs for the project. If they're telling me that a KPI would be to increase email subscribers by 100,000 people (or something like that) then it's a red flag they're not a good client for me.

      5 Share
      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        4 months ago #

        I love this response! If you don't have alignment with a client on the desired outcome success is nearly impossible and you'll end up hurting your reputation.

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Lastly, the best thing I can recommend to people who want to get better at writing is to write. If you want to write emails then write them. If you want to write more blog content then blog. Practice by doing.

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      As for productivity, the focus of my business has shifted over the years from project management (when I talked more about productivity) to email marketing (what you see now). The best thing I've discovered for productivity is exactly what you're pointing to: focus. When you get laser-focused on your purpose you can tune everything else out and get wildly productive. It's pure magic 😉

      2 Share
  • LN

    Loc Nguyen

    4 months ago #

    How many pictures (if any) should be included in emails? I can show my audience pictures of their pain and they'll "get it" about my product (I think). The email copy would help make the case for solving the pain and provide more details about the solution. After all that, hopefully they are convinced to try the software. Is a picture worth a thousand words when it comes to email marketing?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      It depends. Test it. Seriously, if I were to sum up email marketing in 4 words it would be those 4 words: It depends, test it.

      From a deliverability standpoint you want your emails to be text-first (meaning the first thing the inbox reads in your email code is some text, not a header image) and you want your emails to be at least 60% text. Yes, plenty of emails get through that are entirely images but for truly powerful deliverability you want to stick to that 40% max images. But I'm an email copywriter, not an email developer. My dev friends might have a difference of opinion there but there's no denying that inboxes love text more than images.

  • VB

    Vipul Bansal

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val!
    +1 for "I am an introvert who loves figuring out how people think." :)

    I just read your Calendly email teardown and immediately bookmarked your blog! Great insights there.

    While those are quite amazing suggestions, it takes a lot of effort to get them approved by the team. "That's a long email!', "who would open a video file from an email?", "we should have Calendly link of the sales rep in each email" etc. How do you suggest tackling such conversations?

    Also, what do you think is an ideal frequency for email communication especially for B2B and why?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Vipul! Nice to meet a fellow introvert here.

      I'm a huge believer in testing. How can you possibly know what works and what doesn't until you test it with your audience? That applies to everything from email length to frequency. Every audience is different and, typically, your preferences are not the same as your audience. So test it. If your emails are short now try longer copy. See what happens. Gather the data and let that inform your decisions down the line. Without data you're guessing as much as anyone else.

      2 Share
  • GD

    Gerard Dawson

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val -

    You've worked building the content and email plan for a fast-growing startup.

    What would you say is the "minimum viable marketing plan" for a startup in regards to email and content?

    In other words, what did you start with first? What were the priorities? What did you put off for later?

    Thanks,

    Gerard Dawson
    @CopyIsPower

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Gerard! Great question. Our first step was to establish a regular cadence of content and emails. We started with weekly emails and new content on the blog and grew from there. Our priority was on the people already subscribed to our list, providing them with as much value as possible. We let that value spread and help us grow our list and traffic over time. You have to remember that most of marketing is a long game. You can see quick wins, sure, but the long game is as important to consider as anything else. What's realistic for your team to commit to and deliver on again and again? That's your MVP. You can build on that over time as your systems tighten up and your budget and team grows.

      2 Share
  • EM

    Emir Musabasic

    4 months ago #

    Hey Val,
    thanks for doing this. Email marketing is so-so important.

    Any tips or resources you can share on how to segment when it comes to ecommerce email marketing?

    Also lots of talk about VIP ecommerce customers - any interesting resources you can share on how to best tailor email marketing to that segment specifically?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      VIP customers are so crucial for every industry, actually. I don't have resources to share other than to say that you have to treat your VIPs like actual VIPs. Use them as early product testers, get them on calls and interview them, find out what makes them tick. When you roll out something special, let them know about it first. When you give them that VIP experience (and give them opportunities to share their fancy VIP status with their community) they help build a powerful chain of future VIPs in the making!

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hey Emir. Love these ecommerce questions.

      Segmenting for ecommerce can be done in any number of ways: by product, by category, by page visited on the website. You want to lay out all of the possibilities in order to see what matters most to *you*.

  • AW

    Alaura Weaver

    4 months ago #

    Hey Val!

    Talk to us about onboarding chat bots. What mistakes are you seeing and what companies are crushing the chat-bot game (that aren't Intercom or Drift)?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Oh, gosh. Chat bots are everywhere right now, huh? I'm not a big expert on chat bots but what I *can* say is that they shouldn't exist in a silo. Chat bots should work in conjunction with email and in-app messaging for a holistic view of communication. Chat bots should be a point of contact but not the *only* point of contact. 😉

  • KH

    Kate Harvey

    4 months ago #

    Val! 👋 Thanks for doing this! I always love your email onboarding teardowns 😁

    1. When you are working with a client and discover that pretty much ALL the email campaigns need to be rewritten, how do you know where to start? Where should you initially focus your efforts?

    2. What are your suggestions for an email campaign to try to re-engage paying users who haven't logged in and aren't using your product?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hey there, Kate! Thanks for the love and support.

      I always start at the beginning: onboarding. When you can nail onboarding, retention, reactivation, etc. flow from that. But you have to start where your customers do and that's in your onboarding sequences.

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Re-engagement campaigns are fun for paying users. Some people think "hey, they're paying and not complaining so why reach out?" Well, because you don't want to end up with an unhappy customer demanding a refund for un-used time. It's a drain on your resources at the end of the day.

      If you decide that you want to reach out, you want to be sure you have the *right* data first. I see a lot of re-engagement emails that are focused on the login but sometimes customers can be using the product without ever logging into a dashboard. So know what data points you need to pull. Then before you do any emailing, see if you can interview those customers. Find out what's going on in their business. What was happening when they first decided to sign up for your product? What's happening now? What resources do they need that you might be able to provide to get them moving? Interviews will then tell you what you need to know to put into an outreach campaign.

      • KH

        Kate Harvey

        4 months ago #

        Great insights! Thank you for the thoughtful answers to my (and all of these!) questions.

  • FS

    Franz Sauerstein

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val!
    Thank you for doing an AMA. I love reading your content on twitter and your posts helped me a lot in the past.

    What is your favorite structure for planning onboarding emails for SaaS (Helping Trial Request set up their account and get results so that they turn into Customers without or minimal human involvement)?

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this. :-)

  • VG

    Val Geisler

    4 months ago #

    Hey everyone! Have to take a break but I promise to come back and answer the remaining Qs later on. This has been so much fun!

  • AB

    Alli Blum

    4 months ago #

    Hey Val! Very excited you're doing an AMA.

    Do you ever face reluctance to do research before you start writing?
    When this happens, what have you found works best to get buy-in on all the learning you need to do up front?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hey Alli! So many of my clients say "but I talk to my customers every day in support tickets and chat!" They think that's all the research that's needed but it's simply not enough. Once I explain the difference between how they talk to their customers and how I'll talk to their customers, the buy-in comes pretty easily. That and the fact that I simply won't do the campaigns without the research is a pretty powerful motivator!

  • ZT

    Zisis Tsiftzis

    4 months ago #

    Hey,

    It would be very interesting to provide a list of your top 10 email titles (With the best Open Rates) to get a feeling of the wordings you use and the "feelings" they are trying to invoke to your users/customers.

    Thanx,
    Zisis

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Ah, Zisis, I wish I had that data for every email I've ever written! I answered another question above about subject lines that might be interesting to you.

      The thing is that those subject lines are so specific to each audience. And it all tracks back to data and insights. Customer interviews and surveys give me words that will resonate with that audience. It's less about a list of words that has worked for someone else and more about what words will work for *your audience*.

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val,

    Super excited to have you here. Being a fellow email nerd, I'm curious to get your thoughts on...

    1. How do you approach the build of an email preference center? I find there's unlimited ways to create one, and am curious if you have any kind of process for addressing these.
    2. What are your favorite email systems to work in? Has that changed over time?
    3. I find that the person playing the email lead within an organization can often get bogged down with requests for emails that are really bandaids or reactions to product issues. This can distract from the creativity of creating new sustainable email programs. The "throw an email on it" approach, if you will. Do you have any recommendations for someone facing this challenge internally?

    I've already learned so much from you and look forward to learning more!

    Best,
    Dani

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Dani! So fun to be here.

      Preference centers are so varied, you're right. I always look at the factors of the business. Are there multiple lists or interests happening on your website? And what is the why behind a preference center? A lot of times you're giving your subscribers more chances to unsubscribe when they're directed to a place with a list of all the ways they're subscribed. So I don't know how effective they are, honestly. I'd love to see a study on preference centers and see what benefits they have. I need an entire branch of my business devoted to this kind of research!

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      My favorite email system depends on the client. I likely wouldn't use something like Klaviyo or Vero for a SaaS client. And ConvertKit or Drip aren't always the right choice for eCommerce. But then there's some that are cross-overs like ActiveCampaign. It's all about the key features the business needs and making a choice from there. I love a system that's easy to use for both me and my clients. And I never get my clients setup on a system that tethers them to an expert who can help them manage that piece of software. It works out for some people but it's not how I roll. 😉

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      For your last question I've been in that place for sure. I recommend some kind of request system, just like an engineering team uses. You don't get to throw your feature requests at engineers to act on immediately and they don't get to throw emails at you last minute. There are always instances where something takes priority but having a request system in place gets your team members to stop and think about alternative solutions before they "throw an email on the problem".

  • PH

    Pradyut Hande

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val,

    Brilliant to have you here! Reading up on your many articles has always been a great source of joy and relevant insights.

    I had a couple of questions for you, with regards to email marketing -

    1. Sending the right email with the right message to the right user at the right time is critical to email marketing success. Set in this background, how effective do you marketing automation is across industries?
    2. How can B2B companies facilitate greater cross-sell/upsell opportunities through email marketing?

    Would love to hear your thoughts on the same!

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hey Pradyut! I'm not sure I understand your first question. If you want to ask it in a different way I can come back and answer it.

      For #2 the opportunities for cross-selling are often underutilized. This is another place where you want to test and see what kind of results you get. Offer one cross-sell and measure the response. Was it well received? Build another one! Did you see a ton of unsubscribes? Look at the cadence and messaging and try something different on another segment. This is a place where specifics matter so it's tricky to comment on here but I hope it helps to hear that it's really all about testing.

  • BJ

    Brittany Joiner

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val!
    Thanks for doing this!

    Couple questions I have:
    1) What do you think is the biggest myth in email marketing?
    2) If I'm taking small steps in growing my email marketing skills, where's the best place to start?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hey there, Brittany! The biggest myth in email is that no one wants emails anymore (email is dead). It's not! Email is still the highest converting channel is customer communications and it should not be overlooked.

      If you want to grow your email marketing skills, write emails! Sure, read and learn best practices but the best way to get better at email is to put those best practices into action. 🤗

  • PH

    Patrick Hannigan

    4 months ago #

    What are the next big opportunities for email automation tools (like Klaviyo, Braze, Bronto, Hive.co, etc.) to build out? How do you see automated email series evolving over the next 18 mos?

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Patrick! Big question here. I'd love to see more personalization options in email tools. Conditional text/paragraphs would be huge for most users. Personalization is just beginning to take hold and there's so much possibility in email!

  • BM

    Becky Mak

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val! Excited to hear your insightful answers :) Thanks for running this AMA! 2 questions from me:

    1. How would you approach creating an onboarding campaign that has a wide variety of audience segments and use cases?
    2. How do you deal with writer's block?

    Thanks!

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Becky!

      1. Well, segment them! As much as possible (and I realize sometimes that can get out of hand fast) you want to put people into groups. Do any of the types or use cases have things in common? Can they be grouped together? Also, is there already any onboarding in place at all? I find many people who have a wide variety of segments feel like they "can't do onboarding" so they don't do any of it. That's no good! Get a framework in place for a typical customer and iterate on that for your top audience types once the first workflow is flowing.

      2. I don't try to fight writer's block. It's mean and fights dirty so I ignore it. I take a walk, listen to a podcast (or Hamilton), go to a pottery or yoga class, etc. And sometimes the best way to ignore it is to just start writing. About anything! If I start writing about my morning, for example, all of a sudden I'll realize I'm writing and I start working on what I need to get done. Sometimes just a single step forward is all it takes to get moving.

  • PV

    Philip Verghese

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val,
    Hey, the other day one of the top online writer, blogger, and marketer in his email said, Philip, hereafter you will not find any image in my emails. I am fed up with adding images in my regular emails. I took this as a bit surprising, as he is a wonderful image developer!

    I think that is not a wise decision he has taken.
    Instead, an email with appropriate images will give the reader a quick look and response, whereas usual texts may not get that attention.

    What is your take in this regard?

    Thanks for your valuable time. Have a wonderful interaction today with the readers here.

    As usual, I am a late comer here too, LOL

    Hope I am not so late! Thanks ~ Phil

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Philip! Better late than never 😉Check out my answer to Loc above. I think that images are useful but it depends on the brand and they aren't the only way to tell a story. Perhaps for a blogger (a writer, mind you) images aren't needed and he gets the same results if he takes the time to insert images or not. So he's going with text only based on data (I assume). But for an ecommerce brand it could hurt things to remove images entirely. So what works for one person doesn't work for another. And what doesn't work for him might work well for someone else.

      It's also interesting to consider that our responses to how others manage their email marketing is a direct reflection about how we feel about our own. You clearly have a strong stance on images in emails and this decision of the blogger might confirm your own feelings. Or maybe you feel like you don't add enough images so this has you questioning everything. It's hard to say from your question here but it's worth looking at your gut reaction and where it stems from.

  • NL

    Nicki Laycoax

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val!

    In your experience and professional opinion, what would you recommend to a SaaS startup for an email sequence after the user onboarding has already taken place?

    Will you include cadence recommendations too if possible?

    Thanks for doing the AMA!

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Nicki! So happy to be doing this. If you've read through my other answers you'll probably guess my answer to your second question: it depends. It depends on the depth of the emails, the product, the customer, etc. But a good place to start for cadence is the Fibonacci Sequence. If you're unfamiliar with that give it a Google. Start with that common pattern and test it on your audience so you can collect data and iterate from there.

      Once onboarding has taken place then you're moving onto retention. I'm actually in the thick of building a course for CXLi alllll about retention and will talk about sequencing in that content. More to come so stay tuned to my emails if you don't already get them!

  • FK

    Frankz Kastner

    4 months ago #

    Hi Val!

    I have a retail store that is doing quite well. Also, I have an ecommerce site that is only making 2-3 transactions per month.

    I don't have a email marketing, fb ads, google ads, etc; strategy that directs traffic to my website. But, we are managing well our Facebook and Instagram account.

    We don't have too much human resources. We are only 4 people (2 of the are the sellers of the store).

    My questions are:

    1) Where should I start in order to bring more people to my website and hopefully to the store?
    2) Is there any resource (any type, book, online course, etc) you can recommend to use it as a guide?

    Thank you for your time

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Frankz! Congrats on the success of your store. It sounds like you're looking at acquisition here. It's not my specialty (I can help you retain those customers once you've attracted them, however!). I highly recommend the book Traction by Justin Mares. Best of luck!

  • JM

    Jordan McAuley

    4 months ago #

    How do you feel about using re: in subject lines?

  • LO

    Luis Ortiz

    4 months ago #

    Hi, Val!
    Thanks for taking the time.

    I'd like to know what tools do you use for your e-mail automation and follow up. If you could also share any other tools you use, I'd like to know about them.

    Regards.

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hi Luis! Choosing an ESP is dependent on so many factors. Personally I use ConvertKit (now called Seva) and many of my clients use Drip, Intercom, Customer.io, and ActiveCampaign. There are many other options too!

  • AS

    Anthony Santiago

    4 months ago #

    Thanks for doing the AMA. I understand that the best way to start is just to start.

    Any "best times" to schedule emails out in general? We've been experimenting on our Social media channels and can see a pattern.

    Just wondering if you have any data that suggests certain times/day receive better email engagement.

    Thanks in advance.

    • VG

      Val Geisler

      4 months ago #

      Hey Anthony! Sounds like you already have your answer ;) The best time is the time that works for your audience. For an audience of busy moms a Sunday evening newsletter might be best. For a business journal maybe it's Monday at 9:30am. It really depends on your audience, your intention, and where you see the patterns in your own data. In this regard (and in most of email, really) go with what works for you and don't worry about what everyone else is doing!

  • AL

    Angie Li

    4 months ago #

    Hey Val, Thank so much for taking the time to do this AMA!

    Do you have any recommendations for learning about and/or staying up-to-date on lead nurturing tactics with email (i.e. drip, automated, etc) for a B2B SaaS company with a long sales cycle (6 months to 1 year)? Many of the resources I find online are mostly related to B2C or B2B with a shorter sales cycle so I would love your insight on this.

    Other than the usual metrics (open rate, click rate, click-to-open, unsubscribe, bounces, etc.), what are some metrics that are not as popular but very useful?

    Do you have opinions towards which CRM (HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, etc.) are strongest for email marketing and why?

    Thanks again!

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