A Detailed Look at My (Non-Aggressive) Email List Strategy

Email List StrategyA lot of the strategies that I implement here on SPI are a direct result of seeing what other people are doing – and then doing the exact opposite.

For example, most people don’t share their income publicly online, while I have my Monthly Income Reports.

A lot of people say to stick to one platform or medium and own it. Master it. I have adopted a Be Everywhere business model instead.

Many hide the parts of their businesses that might make them look bad, while I do my best to show the entire story.

A lot of these strategies, big and small, help me stand out of the crowd, and the way I utilize my email list is no exception.

Before I can show you what makes my approach with email different than most, let’s first examine what a lot of other internet marketers have done in the past.

Emails That Didn’t Resonate With Me

When I first started getting serious about online business, I was taught to follow what other successful online entrepreneurs were doing. Not to copy them, but instead be inspired by them – follow their strategies and put my own voice to it.

When I began to construct my email list and autoresponder series I subscribed to over 25 different newsletters so I could learn from the best – so I could decode and decipher any patterns in their techniques and apply them to my own brand.

After a short period of time (and a ton of emails later) I did begin to notice some patterns. Unfortunately, they didn’t resonate with me.

I’m not going to mention any of the specific newsletters I subscribed to, but I’m sure if you’re at all familiar with this industry you’d recognize some of these:

  • Constant emails that included offers from other people with a “must-have” solution that is only available for a short period of time.
  • Emails with text that sounded way too incredible, both in the subject line and in the body of the email.
  • Emails that came from a “no-reply@” email address.
  • Emails that shared only parts of the whole, only to include the rest of the story behind another opt-in form on another site, or behind a payment gateway.
  • Emails that just lacked any real content & personality.

They sort of reminded me of those “Congratulations! You’re the 1,000,000th visitor! Click here to claim your prize” advertisements that used to infest the web.

In the same way, they used to work, but people online are getting smarter and are tired of being fooled.

This is why I’ve adopted a more passive approach to my own email list, one that focuses on content, personality and even interaction – not selling and gateways. This is what I’m comfortable with and even though I may be leaving money on the table upfront, in the long run I know it’s a better strategy for my particular brand.

Here’s a more detailed look, from the start…

The Lead Magnet

Not everyone includes something free as a gift for subscribing (aka. a “lead magnet”), but I do.

There are two modes of thinking here:

  1. Include a lead magnet because it’s incentive to subscribe to your newsletter or email list.
  2. Don’t include a lead magnet because you’re potentially getting subscribers who are dead leads – people who only subscribe to get the free thing who won’t respond or even care about your future emails.

Both points are totally valid, but here’s my 2 part-strategy when it comes to the lead-in to my email list:

Part 1: I include a lead magnet (in this case, eBooks the Smart Way) and make sure it’s extremely impressive – something totally unexpected that could potentially convert a person who subscribes just to pickup something for free, into a long time subscriber. Every once and a while I’ll get an email from a new subscriber who insists on paying me for my eBook – that’s the kind of value you want to give away.

Part 2: I make sure that the first followup email a new subscriber receives (a pre-written email in my autoresponder series) is one of my best pieces of content I have. For my newsletter, it actually includes something that’s actionable – something people can test immediately and see instant results from, which is important to make a quick but long lasting first impression. Plus, this strategy will help your open rate in the future as well.

Once a person receives their free eBook, they then go through my autoresponder series.

The Auto Responder Series

I’ve written about 4 types of autoresponder sequences before, one of them being the “Pat Flynn model”, which is what I’m going to describe for you in more detail below.

The core behind the Pat Flynn model is content and engagement.

It adapts the autoresponder series as more of an extension of the brand – another way to connect with people – as opposed to a direct marketing tool.

It roughly follows the pattern below:

Pat Flynn Autoresponder SeriesWhy This Works

Quite simply, it’s not aggressive and the emails are actually helpful and more personal.

They’re real.

Also, it’s a different strategy – and in a world full of junk email that gets deleted, I want to send something that actually gets saved.

The autoresponder series helps to keep me in constant contact with my subscribers, which is important because it gets people used to opening my emails. Then, when an important broadcast is sent in the future, it’s more likely to be read.

As a result, my open rates are anywhere between 50% and 70%, depending on the subject-line of the email, which is apparently pretty high in this industry, especially for one with over 25,000 people on it.

Some of the content emails have links back to relevant posts on my blog, but not all of them. This results in a constant stream of returning traffic to various posts on the blog every day, which is nice.

The Autoresponder Schedule

I schedule the autoresponder series to send an email in 7 or 14 day intervals. Currently I have 30 emails in the series (I add a new one every few weeks) which equates to over a year of passive but constant contact with my subscribers.

They are sent out on any day except for Mondays, which I reserve for any potential broadcast emails. The idea here is to never send more than 1 email to a single person on any given day.

The Broadcast Emails

A broadcast, or a one time email to your subscribers, is typically used for more timely information – information that’s important to be read at that specific moment in time. The real-time nature of broadcast emails usually create a small sense of urgency or anticipation, which is good if the subject line and the body of the email are well written. If not – the only sense of urgency subscribers may have is the urgency to unsubscribe.

For me, sometimes it’s an announcement of a new post (or video or podcast) that just came out that I want to make sure gets the most eyes on it, and Mondays are typically when I publish my more epic and noteworthy content.

Other times, my broadcasts include a link to another person’s site – something noteworthy and valuable that I want to share with my subscribers.

Sometimes the email includes a link back to the blog (or a video or podcast session) that will eventually lead a subscriber to an affiliate link or an offer – but it’s never a direct link to a product. In this case, the content that I link to usually includes a recommendation in the context of a successful case study or recent experiment that I’ve done.

The “offer-related” broadcast emails, although few and far between, always work extremely well. The open rates and click throughs are usually higher than normal (it varies, again, depending on the subject line and how well I craft the call to action in the body of the email), but bottom line – I find this indirect method to be far more subscriber-friendly than the kinds of emails I get from more aggressive internet marketers.

Actually just last week I received this message from Jeremy who has been subscribed to my email list since March of 2011:

“Pat, thank you so much for what you do. I literally just unsubscribed to maybe 10 or so email lists I was on, and you and one other one were the only ones that made the cut. You don’t send me crap and it doesn’t seem like your motive is to just drain my wallet. Thank you and please keep the emails coming!”

My approach may not be for everybody but it’s another option I’m sharing with you because you don’t have to be aggressive with your email list to still get results and you can use it as a tool to build trust instead of destroy it.

Of course, you should always test things out and at the very least make sure your audience knows what to expect from your emails beforehand. Maybe you do sell something in every email that you send out – and that’s okay – as long as you share that upfront and build a list of subscribers who are ready for it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insider look at my email list strategy. :)

Cheers!

p.s. If you have yet to start your own email list, here’s a link to my Beginner’s Guide to help you get started!

  • http://www.englischtestonline.de Englischtest Online

    Following your blog (and the mails) for quite some time now, just a quick thanks from my side for not spamming my inbox with offer after offer, but sending mails in your usual, conversational voice, that get stored (pdf) or the articles they refer to get bookmarked.
    I like the strategy of always linking back to content on the blog, so that you don’t lose a visitor. have to change that as in one of my newsletter-series I used to link out directly and then the visitor was gone.

    • Pat

      Thanks, my pleasure. Also, do you have a name?

      • http://www.mathfour.com Bon Crowder

        $5 says he does have a name. If he doesn’t, his parents are total jerks or he never got his birth certificate filed. ;-)

        Got to this post, Pat, from Tom over at Leaving Work Behind. Good one – I’ve heard of many different ways to do AR series and your method is kinda what I’ve settled into.

        I’m not clear the difference between content and engagement, though. Content seems to be new stuff that isn’t anywhere else, but engagement…? Is it old content with a call to action (comment)?

        Also – do you hole up somewhere to write a bunch of AR emails or literally just fit them in where you can? I used to hole up and do 2 months at a time (mine goes out every Thursday) but lately I’m unable to find a “hole up” time so I’m frantically racing to beat the clock every week.

        Thanks!
        Bon the Math Mom

        • Pat

          Hi Bon, thanks for the email.

          Engagement, simply put, can also be described as interaction – getting your email subscribers (in this context) to interact with you, or email you back. This way, you’re doing more than just providing information (content), but you’re actually inviting a response. (A comment could be engagement too, but I like the more direct response approach via email – it’s different and quicker for people.

          When I have ideas for AR articles, I add them to the queue. WHen I first started my AR series, I had a batch of about 15, but since I’ve been writing 1 after another just whenever I can or have an idea.

          Hope this helps, cheers!

  • http://www.internetmiljonair.nl Mitch

    I use your method (fine-tuned with my own ideas) for some months now. Just giving, giving and tell people which programs I use for my online succes.

    Last December I put in 700 dollar from Market Samurai alone. (A program which I discovered because of you Pat) So thanks!

    But another reason I have succes, is also because of my story and succes is not whitin the internet-marketing niche. I have pretty much succes outside of internet-marketing also.

    Just be real. Care about the people you are writing for, don’t fake it and you are ready to rock!

    Also, put the opt-in of your lead magnet on a seperate page with the story behind the lead magnet, and not in the sidebar. Yes, you might have a little less opt-ins. But the opt-ins you get are super qualified. You have to let people go through burning hula-hoops to get on your list. But that’s just my opinion. ;-)

    • Pat

      Hey Mitch – well said, although I may have to disagree with you, partly with what you said about not putting an opt-in form in the sidebar. I think it’s okay to have that there – most of my subscribers come from there actually, but it’s important to have it elsewhere too – at the end of your posts, and like you said, on it’s own dedicated page too. I have this setup at http://www.ebooksthesmartway.com (which is just a fancy url for a redirect to a page here on SPI). Congrats on the success, and all the best to you!

      • http://EscapeThatCube.com Jason Cohen

        Hi Pat,

        Thanks for the amazing content! I have been coming to your site and learning from you for years and not once received a email. That really shows how non aggressive your style is and its so refreshing.

        I don’t exactly understand the way you have ebooksthesmartway and why you set up like this?

        Time for me to sign up to be on your mailing list!!!

        Thanks for all your amazing work!!!!!

        Jason

  • http://www.cloudklein.com Ben Klein

    This is something I’m working on at the moment so really useful to me and my blog.
    Thanks Pat!

  • http://www.virtualbusinesslifestyle.com Chris C. Ducker

    Great post, bud.

    I remember our chat on this last year, where we discovered, as we chatted (literally!) that I was having issues with ONE particular email. 80% of the people who were unsubscribing from my list were doing so after receiving THAT email.

    It didn’t take long to figure out why! The reason was because the email included a brief paragraph from a post already live on my blog (lazy, I know!) and a link to the rest of it. The problem was that people were receiving this email 5-6 weeks after subscribing, and because the email linked to one of my ‘most popular’ posts, the large majority of which people read in the first couple of weeks after subscribing, it was seen as ‘spam’ or perhaps ‘duplicated content’ by them.

    Changed the email – tweaked the rest, and I now have a waaaaay better ‘stick rate’ (as I call it) with my subscribers.

    There is ALWAYS a ‘method to the madness’, as I always say – and this post today shows that you are still lightyears ahead of most of us (and thats coming from somebody with 20-years in sales and marketing!).

    Keep on, keepin’ on, buddy.

    C

    • http://www.chasingpace.com Wesley Banks

      Wow, I never really thought about how that type of email could actually have a negative impact.

      Thanks for the insight Chris.

      • http://www.virtualbusinesslifestyle.com Chris C. Ducker

        It can make all the difference, Wesley.

        Spend a few minutes going over what you’ve got going already and see if some tweaking is needed. I’m also going to be doing it again, as I turn it up a notch this year on the VBL Blog.

        Thanks for the comment… er… to my comment!

        Chris

    • Pat

      Yep – I remember that conversation. I was glad we found the culprit of your unsubscribes, and it just shows that we’ll all in favor of having unique content in the emails, especially the autoresponder.

      Thanks for the kind words bro :)

      • http://www.virtualbusinesslifestyle.com Chris C. Ducker

        You’re more than welcome, buddy.

        Looking forward to chillin’ out again soon. Whenever that may be.

        C

  • http://wasimismail.com Wasim Ismail

    Hey Thanks for the insight, I’ve been building my list for a while, but haven’t started setting auto responders, This is one my goals for this year to get my email list and newsletters unto scratch. Nice one

  • http://www.betterbloggingways.com Shamelle

    Hi Pat,
    One of the main factors that make me want to subscribe from an email list is the frequent emails offering various kinds of “super duper deals”.

    At the same time, communicating too infrequently can be just as bad as communicating too often. If you wait too long to reach out to your audience, then your list and the permission you obtained can become stale.

    regards
    Shamelle

  • http://stealthbody.com/ Scott Iardella

    Hey Pat,
    This is great and really helpful. The email communication strategy is something I know I can do a better job with and this is really a great model to follow and implement. Been so caught up with other things and your article makes it a clear and systematic way to communicate and engage with your audience.
    Printing this one off!!!
    A big thanks!
    ~Scott

    • Pat

      All good Scott – I know there are a ton of components to this online business thing and we can’t always get into each one right away. Better late than never! Good luck, and let me know if you have any specific questions. Cheers!

  • http://www.GuitarMakersOnline.com Ori

    Hi Pat,

    What Email Autoreasponder system do you use?
    Is there a good way of tracking what’s going on after the user opened the mail?

    Another question,
    I see that you don’t offer users a way to register to your site?
    Why is that?

    Thanks!
    Ori

    • Pat

      Hi Ori – I use Aweber (affiliate link) – and yes you can setup goals with Aweber if you really want to get ninja and see what’s going on. Click tracking is also included too, as is with most email systems.

      As far as registering for the site – not sure what you mean – there’s no extra content or anything like that beyond what you see here on the blog and what you could get subscribing to my newsletter. Do you mean getting a picture along with your comment? You can go to http://www.gravatar.com to get that done. Hope this helps. Cheers!

  • Ron

    Hey Pat,

    Just thought I’d drop in and say THANKS AGAIN! I’ve been impressed by your email marketing strategy since day one, and this article in particular really hits home for me since I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of autoresponder marketing techniques to implement with a list on an authority site I’m building.

    I think it should be noted that not only is this a non-agressive way to promote your brand and create value, but this is also perhaps one of the SIMPLEST and most headache free ways to “promote” to your list.

    I’d encourage any online entrepreneurs to give this strategy a serious attempt, because as Pat stated, subscribers are getting smart and quite ruthless with what gets read and what doesn’t.

    I know I do.

    • Pat

      Thanks Ron, and good luck with your future email marketing campaigns!

  • http://myhowtogetsixpackabs.com Daniel Harrison

    Thanks for this excellent info regarding your email list strategy.

    I hope to implement one of these very soon on a few sites I’m working on.

  • http://www.3StepColdSoreRemedy.com David DuBose

    Pat, awesome strategy! I do a similar campaign. I refer to it as the “drip” strategy. Content is king. People buy from/through those that they know, like and trust!

    Great post my friend,

    Dave

  • http://www.extramoneyblog.com Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    I totally agree. What you are doing is “pre selling”, a popular concept in sales psychology, by providing quality content and engaging your readers to build trust. I have felt that while reading your emails.

    That said, email lists that do nothing else but sell also work, providing the purpose is widely known and well communicated in advance. For example, one of my niche sites is about a particular electronic equipment review. I only ask subscribers to sign up if they are looking for the best deals on this type of product.

    Each time I find / hear about a killer deal, I send a broadcast and the sales come flowing. My unsubscribe rate is almost non existent because the purpose of the list is thoroughly communicated well in advance, as well as in the intro email.

    • Pat

      Well said Sunil – totally agree on all points. Thanks for confirming my thoughts on emails that perhaps sell something with every email, as long as subscribers know what to expect.

    • http://gireviews.net Brendan

      This is a great idea Sunil. Definitely going to implement this in one place.

  • http://makingsenseofcents.com Michelle @ Making Sense of Cents

    This is great for me! Thanks so much.

  • http://www.endingthegrind.com Steve Roy

    Pat,
    My email newsletter has been a very weak part of my business since I started blogging. Your newsletter is one of the few that I will actually read through and I’m subscribed to a ton of them!

    I’m taking notes here and will be making changes going forward…thanks

    • Pat

      Thanks Steve, I appreciate that, and good luck to you with your future email campaigns. If you have any questions please let me know!

    • Jim

      Steve, you don’t have a business. Blogging isn’t a business and you make $0.00.

  • http://www.mydailycuppa.com/ Victoria @ My Daily Cuppa

    I have to actually work on my email responder series. I am stuck on what type of content to actually share. I didn’t want to write any old thing just for the sake of having something to send.

    • Pat

      Yeah that can be the tricky part for some using this content strategy – you still want the content to be great and useful, but at the same time how do you determine what shows up in the email vs. what you publish in a post? There are definitely some emails I could use for posts but I just make a conscious decision to keep those things exclusive to the newsletter.

  • John Gizowski

    What drives me crazy is when I subscribe to emails and they turn out to be the same as the blog post. I’ve gone through recently and deleted more than ten subscriptions because of this.

    I look forward to seeing yours hit my inbox. Thanks.

  • http://www.sybersquad.com Christopher Knopick

    Pat,
    Don’t you find some issues with emails in your autoresponder series not being current anymore? Or the subject just being stale or not applicable anymore (like due to Google’s Panda updates)? How do you combat that?

    • Pat

      Hey Christopher – great question, and the answer is Yes – that does happen from time to time, and luckily you can go into your series at any time and update the emails with anything new.

      I do recommend though, that if all of the information in a specific email in your series becomes out of date, to not delete the email but simply replace the text with new content. The reason is because if you delete the email the number associated with each email as far as placement in the chain shifts, which can make things screwy at times and some people may miss an email they were supposed to get. Not a big deal, but just in case.

  • Paul

    So people are supposed to publish great, useful, and amazing content on their blogs…and in their emails…and on social media…and on YouTube. If the person writing all this content is a genuine expert with a real passion for the subject matter (and if the subject is broad enough) then this advice is sound. Otherwise, I think is has limited utility.

    If someone is running a niche site (maybe following a strategy similar to the one spelled out in the Niche Site Duel) on a topic they are not an expert in (and something that is not their life’s passion) then I think the opportunity to create all this mind-blowingly amazing content will soon run out.

    • Pat

      Hey Paul – good observation, and for a blog where one is trying establish themselves as an expert, I would hope that all of that is the case. FOr a niche site – agreed, it’s probably not going to work out, although Google’s calling for unique and useful content on a website, so I think that if it’s possible, it should be added to an autoresponder series as well.

      I don’t think the mind blowing information will run out – it’ll just be harder to come by over time and more creative thinking will need to take place.

  • http://slymarketing.com/free-kindle-books Jens P. Berget

    Hi Pat,

    The Pat Flynn model looks great. What I’ve been having problems with is having an autoresponder sequence and using broadcasts at the same time. I usually don’t have control of where people are in the sequence, this way I’ll be sending broadcast messages to people who have just started to read the first or second email in the series, and some have finished reading the series a long time ago. And I believe that I should be sending different emails to people depending on where they are in the autoresponder series?

    • Pat

      Hey Jens, you could segment parts of your email list. For example, when people get to a certain part of the autoresponder series, they could be moved into a new list where you’d have control of broadcasts just for that specific list.

      Come to think of it, in Aweber, you can create segments of your existing list based on days since subscribing, so you’d be able to send emails to those specific groups of people already if you wanted to.

  • http://eclerstudios.net Pawe? Bia?ecki

    Very good post! I must implement this on my blog; currently I have only Feedburner email notifications, which probably isn’t good :P Thanks for inspiration.

  • http://gireviews.net Brendan

    That’s so funny Pat. I was just thinking about how I never delete your old e-mails and then you mention that it’s content that you want to see get saved. I’ve found that most of my saved and starred emails in Gmail are from your and Derek Halpen at Social Triggers / DIY Themes.

    • http://gireviews.net Brendan

      *Halpern

  • http://lifesearlyadapter.com Ryan C McKay

    Nicely laid out- and…AND…you used an infographic to make the point. Have I mentioned how much I dig the infographics for their unmatched level of quick digestibility ?

    Back to your regularly scheduled post, already in progress ;-)

    Cheers bud!
    -Ryan

    • Pat

      Thanks for the tidbit Ryan – I’ll try to make sure I can include more infographics when I can down the road. Cheers!

  • http://www.idontknowwhattoblogabout.com Patrick Irish

    I can see the logic behind your method. Its a brilliant strategy .

  • http://www.lavdinapp.dk Philip

    Great content again.
    I just sent out an almost hopeless e-mail today to my list.
    Should have put this out sooner Pat ;)

  • http://www.advancedmassagetechniques.com Aaron

    Thanks once again for being so transparent. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your willingness to put everything out there.

    I’m constantly reading about the importance of “the list,” but thanks for showing us how to actually take advantage of it!

  • http://www.smartbrandidentity.com Andrew Richardson

    Wow great timing on this Pat! I just set up my work’s email lists and I’m getting ready to dive in to creating an email campaign. I have one question, you may have answered it in your post but I’m at work so I’ll have to read it later, but do you feel that some classy HTML (done with restraint, obviously as to not overwhelm the user) can add to your emails or will it detract? I’ve noticed you almost never use HTML in your emails, I wonder if this is an intentional thing or you have just never tested it? Thanks for everything Pat!

    • Pat

      Actually, I do use html, but I don’t use graphics – it’s just html text which looks more personal (that’s the feel I’m going for), and plus I can mess around with the links as well.

      I think it depends on the brand and the audience, but for me I’m trying to connect my audience to me, not any special graphics or other things that could potentially distract (plus I know a lot of email programs hold back displaying the graphics).

      Hope that makes sense!

  • http://www.paulcaparas.com Paul Caparas

    Hi Pat, I loved the way you started this blog. Anyways, I always tell people not to trust anyone until they have earned it. With you basically providing free content, you build trust with your subscribers which you will reap the benefits in the future. Keep up the good work!

  • http://businessandblogs.com/category/podcast Matt Wolfe

    Very cool Pat. I’m actually still stuck in the old-school marketer way of doing things. Lots of promos with little bits of content sprinkled in here and there…

    Guess what… 3 days I ago I deleted 11,000 subscribers from my Aweber list that haven’t opened an email in over a year.

    Maybe about time to rethink my email marketing…

    • Pat

      Well done Matt – that can be tough to do sometimes, but you got to do it – they are just dead leads you’re paying money for.

      Keep it up!

    • http://incomepress.com Joey

      yo Matt wassup brotha. I did the same thing last year. Towards the end of the year I cleaned out my list.

      Turns out that over 90K+ did not open my email in the entire year. For that reason alone I switched to the double optin model.

      Anyway, let’s talk sometime. peace…

    • http://www.hirstmusic.com/ Mike Hirst

      My question then, is how exactly do you know the 11,000 subscribers didn’t open the email? Don’t these companies still use 1px (basically invisible) images to track opens?

      If so, anyone who doesn’t load the images isn’t tracked as an “open”, even if they did open and read the email. Right?

      So isn’t it possible that you deleted a bunch of people who actually WERE opening your emails but just had images disabled or never loaded them?

      Or is there some newfangled method of tracking opens that I’m ignorant of? (totally possible, but I’d love to know one way or the other)

  • http://www.fretfanaticsaustralia.com Josh Liston

    Thanks Pat, as someone who is about to launch my webpage in the next week and start using Aweber to produce (what I’m hoping will be a great autoresponder information email) this post is very enlightening!

    Also, thanks for the diagrams! The simplicity of a visual aid really gives weight to the strength of your words!

    joshffa

  • http://www.venturetothetop.com/what-is-goal-setting-and-why-smart-goals-do-not-work/ Dee Kumar

    Not sending messages on a certain day and using that for broadcast day – Fantastic idea.

    I’ve also been fortunate enough to have very high open rates, perhaps because like yourself I rarely sell to my list, but I really love the simplicity of having one day free from all other mail just in case I do. If you hadn’t mentioned it, don’t think I would have ever even considered it.

  • http://www.photographie-sportive.com/ Frederic

    Pat,
    Thank you for this post.
    It comes at a perfect time for me as I was just thinking about my newsletter and thinking about an autoresponder strategy, wondering what content to use, how often, …
    Your opening rate is impressive, but I guess it’s because your readers trust you thanks to your strategy and the fact that your content is unique and not trying to sell something.

  • http://irockpaidtraffic.com Rick Mulready

    This post is gold, Pat, and couldn’t have come at a better time. As always, awesome value in the content that you put out. I’m digging into aWeber now to learn the ins and outs. Thanks for this!

  • http://www.sharonsnowdon.com Sharon

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time Pat! I started planning & writing emails for my autoresponder today so this post will be printed out and kept for future reference!

  • http://www.popcornmakersreviews.com Tom Gilley

    I really like your philosophy and reasoning behind everything you do. I have enjoyed learning so much from your site, blog posts, podcasts and everything else you have put forward. It boggles my mind how you are able to juggle everything so well. You inspire me to continue trying each day to improve my own work on and off the internet. I have just begun an internet business and will definitely model what I do after your ideas.
    Thanks for everything!

  • http://www.trafficgenerationcafe.com/ Ana | Traffic Generation Cafe

    What I love about your emails, Pat, is the fact that they don’t sound canned – I would’ve never guessed they were pre-scheduled.

    And yes, we all have gotten those emails before…

    • Pat

      Thanks Ana, that means a lot to me, especially coming from you :)

      Thanks for the mention in your post today by the way!

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    Pat, that’s some great information, but when you started out did you ever look at a model like this and feel overwhelmed? I want to use as much good material as I can but I wonder can I really do this? I know it’s possible because you’ve done it. Thanks Pat!

    • Pat

      Hey Kimanzi,

      Great question, and to tell you the truth, this model didn’t exist, and really I didn’t see any diagrams that “laid it all out” for me when I was starting – I kind of just dove right into it, saw what others were doing, and made decisions here and there as far as what direction I wanted to go. This is what I ended up with, and I’m happy to share it.

      I understand for many it could be a little overwhelming or intimidating, but I do my best to break it down and show you it’s not really that hard to do once you just dive right in. Please ask questions if you need any help along the way!

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        Thanks Pat I really appreciate how “real” you are and how accessible you’ve been to your readers. I’ve used your book, “ebooks the smart way” and have now crossed 8,000 copies of my book sold, THANKS YOU SO MUCH! I used alot of what you’re talking about in that book. I’m aiming to get my internet business going to support my family full time so that next year we as a family can move to Hawaii. If you’re interested I talk about it in more detail here: http://talesofwork.com/blog/2012/01/the-difference-between-existing-and-living/ if you have time, let me know if you think this is a real possibility.

  • http://www.socialmediasalescoach.com Dawn Beauvais

    This is incredible information! I have paid for courses that didn’t give this much information. The specifics you give are so helpful. Thanks for what you do. You rock!

    Cheers,
    Dawn

    • Pat

      My pleasure Dawn, cheers!

  • http://internetbusinesselevation.com Kev Kaye

    Hey Pat,

    This reminds me of a Vaynerchuk sound bit on how people “getting it wrong” are people who approach the web like a one night stand. Some people aren’t thinking long term and they try to close the deal too early. You might have heard it.

    What I hope starts to trend more is the understanding that the more time you spend providing value the more your subscribers will come to love you. The quality of your community and the connection you have is evidence of the concept’s validity. Cheers man!

    Kev

  • http://elevationlife.com Bryan Thompson

    Pat, you have a brilliant email strategy. In fact, I’ve read your blog (and even subscribed) for more than a year and I finally downloaded your podcasts (on your welcome post). I got so inspired, I’ve been looking at potential niche markets I think I could do well at. I had never even considered affiliate marketing on my own.

    More than that, it’s obvious you care about your audience and want to connect with people, first and foremost. Thanks for the inspiration! I know this got off topic, but I like the email content & engagement model! Or “the Pat Flynn model.” :)

  • http://another-mile.com Jeff

    Okay, now it’s just dawning on me now the difference between an auto-responder series and a newsletter. Is there a distinct advantage of using the auto-responder series over a newsletter format?

  • http://www.younghousecreative.com Jillian

    Hi, Pat!

    I’m just starting our offline (and semi-online) business. My husband and I are feverishly trying to turn word-of-mouth freelance work into a full-time income. It’s crazy but we’re slammed! And we don’t do any marketing! Our website isn’t even up yet.

    Sounds great, but we work for $$ per hour… not exactly passive. We have a toddler and we’d love to be able to spend more time with her and not so many late nights working!

    All of that back-story is to say that I’ve been searching like a madwoman for months on how to implement all of these different passive income strategies. I’ve ended up purchasing courses, signing up for unnecessary email lists, and so on.

    When I came across your site I literally sat at my computer at 1AM and cried.

    “He’s seriously telling me this for free?” “There’s no long sales letter to get this information?”

    What I read in this post about email lists and automation was enough to incite these (woman-like) tears. I had just done 10+ hours of research on the best way to go about this. I had the same reaction to receiving your eBook download. Amazing content!

    I cried like a pathetic over-worked mom. They were tears of relief! Thank you for adding so much value, convenience, inspiration, excitement, and self-confidence into our little family. We are new followers, but we’re die-hard already. I’m not searching aimlessly online for answers anymore. I’m coming straight here and if you haven’t covered it then I don’t need to know it. Period. Keep it simple, right?

    Just wanted to encourage you that what you’re doing is awesome. Keep on keepin’ on.

    - Jillian

    • Pat

      Thanks for your comment Jillian – I don’t know of anyone who has cried over the information I’ve published here on SPI, but I’m glad they were tears of relief!

      One thing though, just because I haven’t published about something yet or haven’t covered a particular topic doesn’t mean it’s not important – by all means, I may have just not gotten to it yet, or I’m not experienced enough with that particular topic (whatever it may be) to write a post or shoot videos about it. All this to just say that if you have any questions, just ask – either here on the blog or better yet, on the Facebook Page, where I and several others are there willing to help – for free :)

      Cheers, and all the best to you!

    • http://www.findyourcashcow.com Taline

      Hi Jillian,

      I was very touched by your response to this post. Being a mother to an almost 14 months old baby boy/toddler (yes I must say it in months because it makes me happy) I can understand you and your husband’s need to be with you toddler and your willingness to exhaust yourself to get there.

      I can tell you that I have followed Pat’s site for few months now and I really do feel he’s not only genuine, but provides value! In fact, I liked him so much that I made certain when I signed up for my webhosting (bluehost) wordpress theme (thesis) and article spinner (the best spinner) I did it through Pat’s affiliate links because it was my way of saying thank you! He definitely deserves it.

      Being that I work in law enforcement I’m skeptical of many, and Pat has managed to win me over.

      Jillian, good luck with your business and I truly hope and believe you will be successful. Nothing in life comes easy, but hard work and persistance pays off! I have a personal finance site that focuses on how I’ve managed to build a passive income strea, through my real estate rentals. I like Pat, try to be as transparent as possible so that others can learn from what has worked and is still working for me. My biggest drive has been my son and he is the reason I will continue purchasing more rentals until my monthly passive income is such so that I no longer need to work and can truly enjoy raising my son EVERYDAY!! :)

      All the best to you!

  • http://incomepress.com Joey

    Love the topic of email. I can talk about it all day, lol. It’s one of my specialties. Last year alone I went from a list of less than 20k to just over 300k. And let me tell ya, from my experience, having a gigantic list doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more money.

    Which is why I always tell people to focus on the Quality instead of the Quantity. Provide massive value, and you will be well compensated in the long run.

    Awesome brotha ;-)

  • http://smartblogging.net Cesar

    Just what I’ve been neglecting and needed help with…Excellent! Thanks for the valuable tips Pat!

  • http://www.vast9.com Garish Wasil

    Hi Pat, When It comes to Email Marketing, no one on the internet can beat you. I am always looking for your next newsletter in my email inbox. The way you write, the personal touch you add (using the [fname] within the newsletter) and the killer tips you provide through your emails is just in one word ‘Superb’. I am always subscribing to many blog’s newsletters but till now, I have found no match for your Newsletter :)

    And the best part with your newsletter (just as you mentioned i this post) is that you never directly promote any affiliate offer within your emails (contrary to what most others do).

    Just Keep up the good work !

  • http://bibledifferences.com Herman Grobler

    Pat, I just love your humanity, humility and down right honesty!
    Though I don’t expect to ever make real money from my blog explaining the reasons for the differences between the KJV and NIV, I started to employ many of your strategies in my e-mails, all with good results. I just love your e-mails and blog posts! Keep up the bood work!
    God bless,
    Herman.

  • http://bibledifferences.com Herman Grobler

    Pat, I just love your humanity, humility and down right honesty!
    Though I don’t expect to ever make real money from my blog explaining the reasons for the differences between the KJV and NIV, I started to employ many of your strategies in my e-mails, all with good results. I just love your e-mails and blog posts! Keep up the good work!
    God bless,
    Herman.

  • http://www.etennisdrills.com/ Randy Reynolds

    Hey Pat! I wanted to highlight a couple of things in your post that I find inspirational and that I believe all of us can take home. First, you are observing what others are doing and doing the exact opposite. You are differentiating yourself from the competition and gaining a competitive advantage. Second, you are doing what you love and making money! It doesn’t get much better than that. Thank you. -Randy

  • http://www.webdesign.org/ Lisa Walker

    Nice recommendations. I liked that they can be easily used in practice and that there are also clear explanations of this or that advice. It is useful to know why you are doing so in order to do it properly.

  • http://www.FBsmallbusinessmarketing.com Akil

    Hi Pat,
    Your correct on your approach as I receive tons of email of people repeating the same offer whenever a new product is launch. I think engaging with your readers is key and giving them value is worth alot more then a quick promotion just to get them to buy an offer.

    I usually see what the top guys are doing an how they present the offer to learn good call to action and what system they use to track.

    I like your tips and will put them into action going forward.

    Thanks

  • http://freetoliveyourdreams.com Emily

    Pat, I have to say that I love your e-mails. I have subscribed to and unsubscribed from numerous lists, mainly because they wanted to sell me something at least half the time.

    I appreciate you being different. I always get something out of your messages.

    Anyone who hasn’t subscribed to Pat’s list b/c they’re afraid of being sold something every other day, don’t worry. He delivers great content and never pushes anything.

  • willie robertson

    Hello Pat,

    Great advice.

    Just this morning I got a friendly message on FB from an up and coming blogger. He is a very young guy, whom I can relate to very much with my entrepreneurial journey.

    Anyway, I had visited his blog a while back and signed up to his list, just to observe his progression.

    I have now been on his list about a month and a half and he has always sent decent content and to this point he has never tried to sell me anything through his email.

    I was so impressed with this young man, I sent him a chat message on FB asking him if he ever did sell anything, cause as you said, the norm with most marketer’s is to pitch something for sell in every email they send out.

    Anymore, I hit delete when I see many marketers emails coming into my inbox, if I even stay on their list.

    An occasional promotion is one thing, but not in every freaking email.

    Thanks again, I knew there was a good reason I first came to your site, LOL!

  • http://www.masonworld.com Mark Mason

    This is really helpful. As you know, I am redoing my AR series completely at the moment. This made me think of at least 2 more things that I had not considered. Thanks for another great post.

  • http://davidplusworld.com David

    These days I read and hear everywhere that e-mail lists are the thing to do, but I don’t know, they bore me to death.
    I’ve subscribed to a few, but I always ended unsubscribing, as they clutter my mailbox and don’t bring anything interesting in the end.

  • http://www.ivblogger.com Sheyi Shobayo

    Pat, you always come up with great contents. Like Glen Allssop wrote, he doesnt send mails everynow and then nor write blog post always but once in a while and he makes them long and educative which you have done here as well.

    One thing is this, those we call gurus online are no where near you when it comes to been creative. You’ve captured my heart and the heart of many others too.

    Just release a course or something and price $1k you’ll see people rushing it cause you know this game. I wish i will be able to follow your steps to success.

    PS: Thanks for the podcast about been everywhere. It rocks and i’m beginning to know more about building a lively audience blog.

    Sheyi

  • Ryan

    Pat, I tell everyone I know about your website when it comes to making money online. You are one of the few who actually provides TRUE VALUABLE content on your newsletters and I have actually started making a folder of your printed newsletters so I can reference them in the future. There is THAT MUCH value.

    Your methods for not pushing a hard sell to your subscribers has actually kept me around compared to others trying to teach making money online, I end up getting sick of the worthless emails and end up unsubscribing. But that’s why your killing it because you actually care about your customers.

    Thanks again Pat, your an inspiration to us all.
    Ryan

  • http://expatdoctormom.com Rajka @ExpatDoctorMom

    Great post. I had taken a 3 Day seminar about online business as I was gearing up to launch. The buy teaching the course (to the 4 of us!) said a similar thing about autoresponders: not killing them with the sell.

    I agree with you on all those points that you don’t like: the emails that have a limited time offer etc. Doesn’t represent who I am so I don’t use those tactics! Like attracts like so that is why I am here reading you Pat!

    Thanks for the beginners guide to starting a list. Off to read that next!
    Best,
    Rajka

  • http://experimentincome.com Ramy Khuffash

    I’ve tried to be even more passive with my attitude to email lists by not building one! Sounds crazy I know but like you I am sick to death of the emails I get from lists I have joined, even from people who run amazing sites.

    Instead of the email opt in, I’ve created a sort of social opt in where people can engage and follow my progress from the social sites. I know “conversions” and stuff would be better with emails but I thought I would try out this social thing and see where it goes. Hopefully taking a different approach will work for me too :-)

    PS- I noticed how your emails are different Pat, I appreciate it!

  • http://cashinghub.com/ Jeet

    Hello pat, I am new to blogging though, You are the master here as i can see all of your content are well structured, looks great. This post certainly a great post as well.

    If Email is the way to bring some traffic, i don’t think it is working anymore, since people are getting tons of email and As always they do not read all just ignore it.

  • http://www.makemoneyinlife.com JamesW

    interesting strategy, thanks for sharing

  • http://myonlinesuccessdiary.com/ Phil Jensen

    Awesome information. I have yet to start my mailing list yet, however this is getting me stoked to get started.

    Cheers

    Phil

  • http://www.howimakealivingonline.net/ Norm

    Hi Pat,

    Thanks for the guide on your email strategy. I been investigating on email strategy to implement on one of sites and definitely will utilize and test your strategy and see what works.

    I definitely see the benefits of your strategy and it is very much different way of just blasting sell sell on every email

    Thanks again
    Norm

  • http://www.planetnaveen.com Naveen Kulkarni

    Great stuff Pat, as usual :-)

    I am currently using mailchimp and yet to leverage the advantages of newsletters though I have included my eBook in the welcome email.

    Let me start doing newsletter as well.
    Thanks for inspiring.

  • http://njmart.in Martin

    Hey Pat, that might be the difference that is getting on top of the earning chart. I really like people who are ready to walk on the path where there are no footsteps. That really sets you out and if you know what you are doing, that makes it exceptional. I was initially shocked when I realized you are making your earnings public but from what you wrote in the post, it seems it is the best decision that you took.

    Great job

  • http://lowcostmarketingstrategies.com/low-cost-marketing-strategies/the-top-six-low-cost-marketing-strategies-to-use-on-a-budget/ Scott Dudley

    Hi Pat,

    Yes I have to say that your emails are always appreciated as I know they are always filled with useful information and not hype like 99% of the others. Your methods work and they don’t annoy people. I have bought products from your affiliate links for this very reason.

    Keep up the great work,

    Scott

  • http://www.cloudproductivity.net Jeremy Roberts

    Hi Pat,
    I’m curious if you send out plaintext type emails rather than HTML, more, visual emails as part of your engagement strategy, or if there is some other reason?
    Thanks. I alway look forward to getting your newsletters.
    Jeremy

    • Pat

      Hey Jeremy, great question.

      I actually send out both html and plain text emails. But – the html emails do not include graphics – only text.

      The reason for sending both is because a small percentage of people have email readers that don’t read html, so the plain text will be read instead, instead of not being read at all.

      The reason I don’t include images in my html is because it’s more personal, and it fits with the style of emails that I’m going for (part of my engagement strategy I guess you could say), like it’s from a friend to a friend. Plus, sometimes some email readers do not display the images automatically.

      Lastly, the reason I do html at all is because, instead of plain text, they look more personal for those who do accept html, and I can engage the links and test out having hyperlinks or just a regular looking link, as opposed to being forced to write out http://….

      Hope this makes sense. Cheers!

      • http://www.cloudproductivity.net Jeremy Roberts

        Thanks Pat, thats kind of what I thought. It’s very effective.

  • http://www.profitworks.ca Chris R. Keller From Profitworks.ca

    Pat,

    I agree, there are a lot of pesty things out there that try to get peoples emails
    – over promising
    – needed to fill in an email to get to a next page
    – emails that don’t really provide any value

    I agree, offering a lead magnet that people would be willing to pay money for is a great idea. I have been working on one for about 6 months now. I want this one to really rock.

    In terms of email, another big thing is mastering what optimizes opens, reads, clicks. Things like from line, subject line, from address, content, time of send, day of send etc. If you can double your opens and clicks, that is worth more than doubling the size of your list. I think sometimes too much focus is put on growing lists, in most instances more focus should be on mastering your current list.

    Here is a good resource if you are looking for tips on how to optimize the results from your email list.
    http://www.profitworks.ca/blog/email-marketing-campaign-tips

  • http://www.thesecretgoddess.com/ Kate a.k.a. The Secret Goddess

    This whole email autoresponder stuff makes my head hurt :(

    But learning how to make a wordpress blog used to make my head hurt and facebook sure as heck made my head hurt in the beginning.

    I figure that when it’s time for to understand I will – until I Trust things are going according to schedule <3

  • http://moneyforcollegeproject.com STRONGside

    I have long appreciated the non-aggressive nature of your emails. Always linking back to your site, and always funneling people through the sales funnel if they want to be. It has never been subvertive tactics to generate your revenues, and I imagine that is why they have been so sustainable.

  • http://www.brockstarlife.com/ Brockstar

    Very helpful stuff for the newbie who wants to build a list. After reading Tim Ferris a couple of years ago, I consistently unsubscribe from any email I get that doesn’t offer immediate value. I probably take myself off one or two lists each day. So your strategy of not overdoing it and actually offering “something for nothing” seems to make sense.

  • http://www.hirstmusic.com/ Mike Hirst

    Amazingly, I’ve never considered putting an autoresponder system in place. As a musician, most of my posts ARE timely, but I’m sure there’s a way I could leverage autoresponders since I also blog a lot about life, faith, and love. I just need to make sure they are EPIC posts. Thanks for getting my gears turning Pat!

  • http://www.thebravemanblog.com/ Rodrigo @ The Brave Man Blog

    Amazing as always, something I have noticed on many emails as well is that they usually send you an email because they published a new post in their blogs, and are talking a little bit about it, but your emails always have some content that is not in the blog, so I find it truly useful and makes me want to keep following you because I know you will send me unique content, I have unsubscribed from many blogs because even if they did gave me a free ebook or something, I know that I can find that content in their blogs, so I don’t need any of that in my email.

    As always it was a great post Pat, you rock!

  • http://www.jigsaw.com/join/ItsFree Telemarketing Jeff

    When doing my telemarketing I have found that the best way to generate leads through cold calling is to start with a good list of the right people to call.

    If you click on my name here, you will go to a great online service where you can create that list for FREE.

  • http://Www.collegesuccesscentral.com Sarah Clark

    How do you (anyone who has an autoresponder) decide what makes a good autoresponder message vs. a good blog post? I know I want to share a lot of links to (mostly free) resources, and maybe work in some stories and anecdotes re: my topic, but I’m a bit lost for a strategy or theme for my newsletter content.

    • Pat

      Sometimes – you just have to choose. It can be a hard decision sometimes, but I know I have content in my newsletter that could very well be great blog posts, but I’ve kept that content strictly on the newsletter just because I want there to be a reason to stick on there.

      One thing, maybe, is length of content. If you have something to share under 400 words it may be better suited for an email as opposed to a blog post. Depends on the normal length of your posts, of course.

      • http://bibledifferences.com Herman Grobler

        Thanks for this answer. The same thing bothered me.

      • http://Www.collegesuccesscentral.com Sarah Clark

        Thanks! That matches my gut instinct and impressions from the autresponders I actually read. Eventually I may work some affiliate links in there, but I’m more interested in a rabid fan base than quick cash at this stage.

  • http://angelagiles.com/blog Angela Giles

    Thank you so much for sharing. I agree with you. A non-aggressive approach is always the most successful. Keep the great content coming. Check out my blog some time.

    Thanks,

    Angela Giles

  • http://artlessonsforkids.wordpress.me Alejandra

    Thanks Pat for being a fabulous teacher. I am continually learning from you. I have a couple of quick questions.
    How long is your sequence? Does it never end? Do you just keep adding great content ( which is my way by the way) forever to that mailing list? You mentioned you have over a year’s worth but what happens after that–just keep adding more content?

    Thanks,

    Alejandra

    • Pat

      Yep – I currently have 31 emails in my autoresponder – and just added a new one yesterday actually. I just keep adding on when I feel there’s content that’s right for it, so those at the end of my sequence will get the new emails, almost as if they were broadcasts, and then those who just subscribe now will eventually reach the new ones in the sequence, plus any other new ones I create in the future.

      Hope this helps. Cheers!

  • http://rippulleffect.com/ Ryan DiGregorio

    Thanks Pat this is awesome! I am currently in the process of composing an email and I really like the idea of a lead magnet. I had something along the lines built in to my email already and I am glad to hear that an expert like you agrees with offering something of value in an email.

  • http://lucadezmir.com Luca Dezmir

    Pat,

    just a short note of appreciation from a guy who is following your blog for some time.

    thanks a lot,
    Luca

  • https://www.facebook.com/vicky.lyashenko Vicky Lyashenko

    Pat, I recently discovered you through YouTube. What you do is AMAZING. The value you bring is out of this world. This website should be a paid membership site, it has THAT much value! I thank you so much for your dedication and your kind heart, to share your success with the world.

    I think I am finally ready to start an online business and I have read that an e-mail list is the best thing you can do for your business. My business, at least for now, is a service business. I have no idea what I will write to my subscribers!? Any tips and advice will be so greatly appreciated!!

    Blessings to you and your family :)

  • http://www.practicalpmo.com Simon

    Hi Pat,

    Great job. I discovered your podcast in the last part of 2011 and have gone back and listened to all of them. I now look forward to your podcasts more than IBM (sorry Sterling / Jay).

    Your content helps me where I am with my online ventures. The mechanics of launching a site has not been an issue, it is how to turn it into a business.

    I started practicalPMO last summer just with an aim to get me used to writing content that provides real value. However, listening to your podcast I now have an opt in form, promote a couple of affiliate products and have added discrete adsense.

    I was really excited when I made to affiliate sales in Jan this year and will soon implement your strategy of turning a number of posts into an ebook as a free give away for people who join my mailing list.

    Thanks so much and keep up the excellent work.

    Simon

  • http://www.travelingtolasvegas.com Jermaine Holmes

    This blog post is very important, and I’m glad I read it. I’ll have to keep referencing it as well. I just finished installing my own email list system (very broke at the moment) and trying to craft an email marketing system–this time, I want to implement it now instead of later. This will definitely help me with email content, and whether with how much emails I should send them.

    Just a question: I haven’t subscribed to your emails yet with my new email address, but how often do you send an email? Weekly or monthly; after you’ve posted a bunch of blog posts?

  • http://www.techtutshub.com/ Hammad Baig

    I can see the logic behind your method. Its a brilliant strategy .

  • http://www.6tht.com/ Sokun

    Thanks Pat for sharing useful practical tips and advice. I am continually benefiting from your idea. I’m following your footprints since success leaves tracks. I’m committed to offer value to the Web by sharing what I know to those who are in moment need of it.
    Thanks,

  • David

    Pat —

    Great blog! A question if I may. How can you ensure that people dont get 2 email from you in a day when you send a broadcast. Suppose one of your AR messages fall on a Monday for a particular subscriber or does Aweber have some sort of filter that can leave days of the week open