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Framework for Cold Emails That Convert with Laura Robison, GainKite: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Jul 09, 2024

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we’re talking the framework for cold emails that convert with Laura Robison. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

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  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
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Marketing Smarts: Framework for Cold Emails That Convert with Laura Robison, GainKite

Cold emailing is one of the toughest things to do well. So many companies and marketers get lazy and resort to automation WITHOUT personalization – totally losing the human touch a well-crafted email deserves. So, how do you send cold emails that actually convert? You need to consider all the touchpoints, including the sender name, subject line, preview text, email copy, and even email signature. We wanted you to learn from a true pro in the email marketing world, so we welcomed on Laura Robison. She’s the Founder of GainKite, an email marketing consultancy. Make sure to use the code: SMARTS50 for 50% off when you grab her eBook, How to write emails that convert. This episode covers everything from email marketing to subject lines. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • What is the role of email marketing?
  • Who should you send marketing emails to?
  • How do you make cold emails work?
  • Why is the sender name important?
  • What does email marketing success look like?
  • How do you send personalized emails?
  • What is the role of AI in email marketing?
  • Does Laura send a Christmas email or a Christmas card?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Anne Candido 0:00
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. Each episode, we’ll dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. Now, let’s get to it. Welcome to Marketing Smarts! I am Anne Candido. And I am April Martini. And today we’re gonna go super tactical and talk about cold emailing. So now I’m going to be honest, because I’ve rarely seen this done well. And in fact, I’m a little cynical because many businesses use this or they check the box marketing tactic they do. Yep. Because it’s perceived as being easy and efficient, especially now that can be automated, which in reality is just, in my opinion, general laziness, and backed by has set it and forget it mentality, but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise. And since it is a marketing tactic that is used by many, if people are going to use it, I at least want them to be better at it.

April Martini 1:00
Yeah. So, tell us how you really feel right.

Anne Candido 1:02
And on that note,

April Martini 1:05
but in all reality, and in the spirit of using all of the marketing platforms at our disposal for their intended use? And then like you said, and yes, for the success, that’s always our goal with our clients, and also, with this podcast is to bring education and usage to the table so people can go and do immediately after listening to us. So that’s the reason for including this episode today.

Anne Candido 1:27
Yep. And to help us with this topic, because I obviously need a different perspective is Laura Robison of GainKite. So Laura, would you like to say hi, and introduce yourself?

Laura Robison 1:39
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me. I am Laura. And, yeah, I’ve been in marketing for over 16 years, mostly in the corporate worlds. And the through line for all of my marketing roles is really email marketing, and even in roles where email marketing wasn’t the actual, you know, job function. Email has been the main channel that I’ve utilized to, you know, communicate with my audiences and market the things that I’m marketing. So, you know, really seen it work across industries and company sizes, and really serve as a growth engine for companies and a really sustainable way. So, yeah, I stepped out of the corporate world earlier this year, and I offer through my company GainKite, you know, resources and services to help other businesses with email marketing.

Anne Candido 2:25
Well, awesome. I’m looking forward to being proven wrong today. So

April Martini 2:30
just and Laura has agreed to be a good sport on this one. Yeah. So

Anne Candido 2:33
we’re gonna have a real conversation. With that, let’s get into the framework for cold emails that convert so let’s start with the strategy behind email marketing. So what is its role in the marketing stack? How has it changed, it’s gonna give us the context of it all.

Laura Robison 2:47
Email marketing is a really sustainable way to grow your business over the long term, if you’re being intentional about it. If you’re doing business online at all, you really need to have email marketing in place. Because really, I mean, you’re doing a lot of things out there, email isn’t the only thing. No one’s knocking on your website door saying, Excuse me, could you email me, you know, you’re doing games to, you know, grab attention of your ideal customers on you know, organic, social, and paid social and YouTube, and maybe even tick tock and you’re doing Google ads, and you’ve optimized your website for SEO, and you might be sponsoring things. So you’re doing all these different things, to create awareness for, you know, your, of your brand, and your offering with those ideal potential customers. And so, you know, marketers are probably you’re probably both familiar with the rule of seven, it’s been around a long time where it says, you know, you kind of need seven touchpoints, for someone to feel comfortable making a buying decision. And a lot of marketers now even think it’s higher than that, like over 10, because we are seeing so much noise in our devices. And so if you think about how can you achieve seven to 10 touch points with a brand new person, if you’re relying exclusively on organic social, you really need to play that platform game and know the algorithms and what’s trending, you need to turn out a lot of content. And that’s not overly sustainable. I mean, it’s a piece of the pie, you know, and then you think about, you know, paid exposure ads, like you have to have a really healthy and consistent ad budget to achieve those seven to 10 touch points. So the idea is that email marketing comes in, to kind of take over once you’ve created the awareness, hopefully, you can kind of bring them into your orbit, capture their email address by you know, exchanging something of value in return for the email address, and then you can you can achieve a lot of those touch points in the inbox, you know, in a in an environment where you can kind of control the narrative and the timing and, you know, even if you have a really robust, organic following on a social platform, you know, the algorithms not going to serve up 100% of your content. And so, you know, email is a really important piece to move some And from awareness, down to consideration and hopefully conversion. And then of course, there’s the whole other piece of supporting your existing customers with email marketing as well.

April Martini 5:10
So totally appreciate where it falls in the funnel and completely agree with you on the pieces about organic versus paid and how you know the game. Gamification, I don’t even know if that’s really true. But you know, the, the game that you see with that, and and just trying to keep up. I mean, we had someone on recently that talked about how you really need expertise in each digital channel as a different person with where we are today. I get the you know, okay, we’ve converted them. And now they’re warm, because I like to say, are open to our information. But once you get to that point, or before you get to that point, like how do you kind of know? And then on the heels of that, what do you start sending them and I’m we’re getting very tactical, right? But what I’m leaning into here is what and profits at the beginning, because we agree that the touch points have gone up, right, the seven has been for a long time now it’s over 10. You’re exactly right. But so there’s lots of people at that same point where you been touched so many times by so many things. How do you know? Okay, it’s time to turn on the email marketing? And then what are you sharing to break through that noise? Because inbox alone is crazy.

Laura Robison 6:19
Yeah, the inbox is crazy, right? Because you’re competing here. Like, it’s not about your direct competitors in the inbox, it’s about you know, like, your, like the whoever you’re emailing, they’re getting emails from their doctor and their kids, teachers and their bank in their favorite retailer that’s having a sale. So there’s a ton of competition, but to backup in terms of like, how do you know, I really, I like to think of bringing people in on some sort of thematic content, like craft a journey for them. I mean, obviously, you’re gonna have people who are just going to, you know, sign into, you know, sign up to subscribe to your email address, whether that’s through, you know, your website, or another place where you have a, an opt in form. And they’re, it’s more of a traditional welcome and kind of sharing your story in the context of how you’re supporting them. And whatever issue it is that you’re solving for them. But, you know, when you’re doing outreach, I really liked those thematic campaigns, where you’re talking about one single thing, and perhaps even just to a subset of your ideal customer base of like, this is what we do really well, in this scenario, are you trying to attract more this or grow this, if you can get specific, then following along with really relevant email communications, that continue that narrative, it’s easier, it’s easier to create that story. And, also, I mean, if if it’s something where someone is saying, Oh, I do have that problem, or I do want that, you know, if you’re posting on social or presenting ads on a theme, and someone’s converting on that, they’re likely going to want to hear more. So I really like thematic campaigns or a specific pain point campaign, specifically, so that you have something to talk about, rather than here’s what we do. And here’s who we serve. And we’ve been around for 20 years, you know, so thematic and pain point type content is connecting someone to the end state that they’re trying to achieve. And so it’s easier to create a story around that. If you want to talk about like more capturing attention in the inbox. I mean, there’s there’s a few different levers that you have to pull, because, you know, really, yeah, like you said, there’s a there’s a lot of noise. And so, I mean, you have your sender reputation, that is a big piece of the puzzle, and not just I mean, obviously, there’s the technical aspect of your sender reputation. Is your domain authenticated? And are you sending like legit emails to subscribers? But there’s also, you know, how are you perceived by your audience in the inbox when you show up in the inbox? Are people learning to extract value and interest? Or are they learning to ignore your content? When they see your sender name? Is it just kind of an automatic, like, Ignore button? Or are they expecting to see value in that email. So there’s a sender reputation, obviously, the subject line, that’s the main one to get the email open, and then there’s a preview text. So you have a few different things to work with in order to grab attention in the inbox once someone has given you their email address.

Anne Candido 9:24
That’s really helpful. I’m going to get to asking you for some examples here in a minute, but I wanted to back up because I want to talk about timing for when you execute email campaigns because I think what I have the most adverse reaction to is the cold emails that just kind of pop into my inbox uninvited, like, I didn’t opt in to any of this I can remember i and then they just kind of show up and they are trying to pitch me something right. And then there’s what you said like the thematic email campaigns that continue to provide value. So my question is are they wanting the same? Is there a timing aspect? I mean, how do you strategically think through these cold emails? Which a lot of people are using? Or do you even think that they’re a value? And maybe that’s the wrong time to do them? Or is it is a different once you’ve already established a relationship? And you’re trying to then it seems like kind of cultivate that. So can you speak little bit more to that?

Laura Robison 10:21
I mean, cold email is never going to be the stats for the success, the response? Or it’s never going to be a number that sounds great. You know, you’re never going to have a cold email campaign and 50% that people are like, yes, I would like to talk to you. So it is, if you’re using cold outreach, just know that, that it’s a you have to send a lot of outreach, and the better you can do it, the better use of time it is for you. But I think the key to getting cold email, right is really digging into what do you hear when you do have those sales conversations? Like what are the questions that people ask the most? What do people visibly lean into? If you’re doing zooms? Where do people actually like perk up or lean in? I was on a call a couple months ago, and I had an audible like a sigh of relief. Basically, we got to the point where I was talking about pricing. And and she said, Oh, thank God, I thought this was going to be $10K. And I really can’t afford 10k I can do this. And so that’s information I can use in cold outreach. So what I did, and yeah, I mean, I mean, it’s unsolicited. But I did reach out to other people who had very similar types of businesses, you know, similar size business. And I used that in my cold outreach to say, hey, you know, I am building a program for, you know, specifying who this person is, so that they can kind of self identify as, like, oh, that’s me, building this program, we, you know, came in, you know, just under $4,000. And this is exactly what we’re doing together, let me know if that’s something that you’d like to explore for your business. And yeah, it’s ignored most of the time, but then I, you know, got a call for a reply from it, and you know, got a call with a prospect. So, I think if you can take the time to really notice, what are people really leaning into? Or what are they surprised about? Or what kind of questions they’re asking, use that to your advantage in cold outreach, because if they are your ideal customer, if they are similar to the people already working with you, they will be able to, to identify as Oh, yes, that’s me, I have that problem. Or I was worried about that, too. And she just answered that question. So I think if you can be strategic about it, and you can’t just have one cold email, that’s kind of just blanket work for everybody. But you know, try some things out and optimize, and it’s a person who’s receiving your email. It’s not just a business, even if you are b2b, it’s a person. So I think if you can reflect on the conversations you’ve already had that, that can give you so much Intel into how can you grab people’s attention? What can you surprise them with, or, or get ahead of some objections with love

April Martini 13:11
and appreciate the idea that you’re being cognizant of who you’re targeting, and how you’re targeting them, and really trying to provide meaningful information for what they might be looking for. So it’s more about them than you and you know, the comment you made about I’ve been in business for 20 years, and I have blah, blah, blah, blah, like, it’s not about me. But I think one of the things that and I and you said you’re gonna be the contrarian, but here I go, that we really have a problem with and I especially have a problem with, because brand tone of voice is something that is really, really important in my mind, and that a lot of people get wrong. So what is your perspective? Or how do you manage your, as the client sending the email, personal brand, or company brand, depending on what you’re selling, and the Brand Character tone of voice and how that comes across? Because what I really have a major pet peeve for is like an when an email comes in, unsolicited? And I don’t answer and I’m clearly on a drip, right? And so, but I have had a lot of them recently that very quickly go to like a negative place where it’s like, Could you please just respond to me and I’m like, I don’t know you. And so now not only am I like, delete, delete, delete, I’m mad about it. And again, as the person who does a lot of the tone of voice work for our clients, where it’s like, you know, we position them but then we very quickly get into and then this is how that comes to life. How does that work in your mind and email? I

Laura Robison 14:41
have strong feelings about that too. Because you almost want to respond in that situation. Like excuse me, you know? Yeah, but of course I know what they’re doing.

Unknown Speaker 14:52
Yeah, right. And

Laura Robison 14:53
so it’s so frustrating and that’s what they’re, that’s what they’re doing and they know that at least it’s a foot in the door. For some, some people who do take the bait, but I feel like I agree at every touchpoint you have or your salespeople or external facing teams have that reflects on your company. And I think that if you are going about your outreach without integrity, that reflects on both you and your brand, and I just I completely agree. Because if you’re willing to get the email open at any cost, and then the sale at any cost, that doesn’t say great things about your brand, and your company, and you’re going to attract people who I don’t know, like, maybe that’s not important to them. But I know for the type of business I’m building and for businesses, I’ve been a part of, we want people who are here for the right reasons, you know, and so, I think that, you know, when it comes to crafting your subject line, yeah, you can get an open and a lot of different ways. But you are building that brand, I mean, maybe without the permission of the corporate brand people, but you are creating a brand presence that is is not really operating with integrity. So, I mean, I think that, especially with cold outreach, you have to accept that, it’s not always going to be a success, you’re not going to get to have a conversation with every person that you email, and you don’t have a right to, but you should craft your messaging in a way that you can be clever and even cheeky, if that makes sense. You can be personable, I mean, heck, you can use emojis, why not, you know, in your subject lines, if it makes sense for the brand, but you can grab attention and creative ways without damaging your, your brand recognition and showing that you don’t operate with integrity. So I think you just have to have those standards in place. And accept that, you know, not all emails are going to get responded to. But if you’re if you’re crafting, outreach, truly trying to put yourself in the place of the person receiving it and truly trying to provide value, you can send that email knowing that, you know, with integrity, you know that the if this email reaches someone who has that pain point, you’re solving for the problem that you’re solving for, and it’s the right time, you’ll probably get that conversation, you’ll at least get attention. And so you have to accept not everyone’s ready to buy right now. So why would everyone reply, you know, right now, so craft messaging that speaks to someone that if today is the day that they need to this problem solved, or it’s top of mind, you’re presenting yourself as an option, and hopefully in a very compelling way.

Anne Candido 17:37
So let’s get into some of the actual art of crafting these emails if we could. So you mentioned several times the importance of the subject line and in the preview text. And I’m sure there’s other elements of best practices for the rest, can you kind of walk us through what some of the best practices are, especially for talking about cold emails to get attention, or just even getting through that clutter in the inbox, like we talked about. So

Laura Robison 18:04
to start with the sender name, I would say keep that quite consistent. That’s another field that people like to play around with in order to grab attention. And so they’ll send some emails from like the CEO, and then some emails from a salesperson, they want to change up the name because they think that’s going to grab attention. And sure my but there is value in consistently sending from the same sender name, because people are not reading, they’re not taking notes, they’re scanning, just use the same sender name. Or if you have perhaps an automated drip, drip from from an individual salesperson going and then you have maybe some marketing emails going, it’s okay, if those are different, you know, you’re sending the sales emails from the sales person, and then the brand emails from that that brand, but keep it really, really consistent. And then when it comes to the subject line, I mean, just to get really specific, okay, 35 to 55 characters, including spaces any more than that, and you will get cut off by a lot of devices, people are really looking at their email on their phone a lot of times, so keep it short. And if you can’t, then spend more time to keep it short. And you can do a lot of things. They don’t need to be full sentences. I’m sure everyone knows that, like, use emojis where it makes sense where it adds value. Yes, it’ll grab visual attention. But sometimes emojis can replace a word or can give a sense of what you’re trying to get them to do. use punctuation as a tool and not a rule. Again, you know, use dashes if it helps to visually break up maybe two phrases in the subject line. I mean, don’t go crazy with exclamation points again, like every touchpoint reflects on you and your brand and so, but you can have fun with it and so subject line, and as far as content itself, I recommend using either curiosity, urgency or referencing the desired outcome or the You know, the solving the problem referenced that desired outcome in order to grab attention. And so you know, with those three, sometimes you’ll be using more than one, you can kind of like, if you can keep it short, and you can, you know, communicate either urgency or curiosity or the desired outcome, there’s a good chance that you might grab attention. And then the preview text, you know, the thing to know there is that not everyone’s going to see it, I see preview text in my email on my desktop, I don’t see preview text on my phone, because I purposely have a more condensed view. So it’s extra inbox, real estate that you can use, just know that it’s not going to show for everyone. And so, yeah, your sender reputation what you’ve sent in the past, and what people expect to see from you, that does matter. You can turn it around, but it’s kind of you know, like turning a ship around takes time. Like, if you’ve been a little bit, you know, gimmicky, or have proven to be sending emails that are not really valuable in the past, you can start doing things more effectively now, but it’ll take time to kind of really stick. But yeah, sender reputation, subject line, and preview text, that will help you get your email opened. And then once once they open the email, I mean, there should be a connective, you know, there should be connection between the subject line and the email content, and you should really guide them to an experience, you’re not just sending an email to send an email, you want them to take an action. So, you know, be very clear about that. Keep the email short, like under 200 words, I mean, sometimes they can be longer, it’s not a rule. But, you know, kind of keep that as a guideline. And just really present the next step. Again, if you have contacted a person who needs what you’re offering at the right time, what should they do next. And, you know, a lot of times these outreach emails, you know, they want you to get on a call, or book a demo, and, and that’s fine. Some people might be ready for that. But there’s gonna be a lot of people who I mean, that’s a big ask for someone to book a call with the sales salesperson. So have that secondary call to action, where someone can explore in a kind of safer environment. So direct them to a video, an FAQ, a case study, allow them to explore more, if they’re not ready for that main call to action. And again, just like using punctuation as a tool, not a rule on the subject line, you use formatting in that email, like bullet points, and you know, bold something. So go crazy with a lot of different fonts and font colors that’ll get you flagged, but you know, use line spacing, and, you know, bullets, and you just allow someone to visually scan the email, because they are not going to read it. No one is ever reading all of your emails, even if your mom has opted into your email she

April Martini 23:00
Well, I think those are good tactical things for people.

Anne Candido 23:04
Well, I was gonna say one more to I would say, just from personally reading them have a credible signature to, um, people can search you in Oh, yeah, search you and like, I think the one thing where they drop off immediately for me, one is if they don’t use good grammar and good English 100%. But then the other is, if they just have a signature, that’s just their name. And there’s no contact information, there’s no way for me to vet them, there’s no way for me to like check on a website about what they do, it automatically gets deleted for me because I can vet them as a credible source.

Unknown Speaker 23:38
Yeah, that’s a great point.

April Martini 23:40
I was actually going to ask, because the sender reputation piece, I think, is really interesting. So I would love if you would say a little more, because again, this goes to like the brand piece for me, right? And like the credibility piece, like and just said, how do you one define it, but also like, what all does that entail? Okay,

Laura Robison 24:02
so I mean, to back up a little bit like, because, again, you’re emailing humans, people, all of us, like our brains are built to be very efficient, right? So we don’t have to think about taking a breath and walking and turning a doorknob there are well traveled like neural neural pathways that allow us just to do the thing. And so our brains are always looking for efficiencies, what do they have to not, you know, what do we not have to think about next? What can we learn and then put it on autopilot? And so, you know, there are senders in my inbox where I hardly recognize that they’re there. If I take the time, I can scan through and see, but I’ve had the first few interactions were not worth my time. And so, you know, behind the scenes, my brain is creating a little pathway to be like, ignore that that person and and then there are other senders, which you know, the there’s one woman that she sends out a weekly It was literally actually make time I don’t like flag it or anything, but I, I actually make time, most weeks to read it because she’s, I like it, I like reading it and I like the things she’s, you know, she’ll link to different resources and stuff anyways, you know, she’s more of a personal brand, but I like it. So I make time to read it and, and I’m noticing when it comes in my inbox, so be conscious of the type of content that your sender name and the inbox is associated with, because it’s not going to take too many times of someone you don’t like, okay, so if, if I opt into receiving, you know, say a an ebook from a company, they’re going to email me right away with here’s your ebook, and I’m going to read it, I’m gonna get the ebook. And then they’re gonna email me maybe a day later, or two days later, same topic, another little piece, like hear from so and so little case study or something. And so when I first opt in to receiving emails from someone, I’m likely going to open definitely the first email, probably the first few. And so those first few touch points are really important, because you’re, you’re showing them if you’re worth paying attention to. So that’s what you have to keep in mind is that the people who are seeing your emails in the inbox, they do not have time for all of the email. So do you make the cut? Have you proven yourself to be worth their time, if your email is not worth their time, that I would argue it’s not even worth your time to send it and write it? And so do yourself a favor and really try. I mean, none of us are perfect. We’re all learning and marketing changes all the time. But given all this effort to think through if I received this email, would it be worth my time? Like, if I were, you know, in the position in the shoes of my customer, or potential customer? Does this help them? Does it help them connect to the solution that I’m offering? So that like, be really thoughtful and intentional about how you message and then yeah, if you’ve kind of like gone off to left field, and you’re just sending random messages, because someone told you, you should email every week, you can change it around? Yeah, it’ll take time. But I would say like, spend as much time on your subject lines as you are on the email and really perform differently, write differently, put different content out there. Yeah, I mean, you know, there are some people who who may just be gone. And that’s okay. You’ve got more subscribers coming in. If you’re creating quality content, and you have a great offer, there will be more. So you know, I would say wherever you’re at, try to build forward and try to put really good practices into place. So that people may have that little flag of like, oh, yeah, that was like a cool thing they shared last time. And, you know, I’m still interested, if your emails aren’t going to be for everyone. But the more the more relevant to your audience, the better it is long term.

Anne Candido 27:54
So help us understand learn a little bit about what success does look like. So knowing that it can, it feels like it’s a volume play to some extent, unless you’re doing really highly customized. So maybe you can give us some nuances there about how to be more successful in your outreach. And if it makes sense. One of the other questions we had, and this might fit into this one, and you can decide how you want to address it, is the automation versus not automation, right. So when do I automate? What do I not automate? If that plays into this question about success? Feel free to go there as well. So because I was gonna be a later question we had, I

Laura Robison 28:32
mean, as far as success, I feel strongly that you should benchmark against your own performance. You can find like industry benchmarks in lots of places, you know, there’s a lot like, every email service provider comes out with a yearly like benchmark of, you know, email marketing, and, you know, the financial industry as a average 24% open rate for 2024. And what does that mean, you know, because an independent financial adviser is in the financial industry, and Wells Fargo is in the financial industry. So, you know, I would say benchmark against your own performance and optimize from there. Also, I mean, that goes for click rates as well. But, you know, also with what Apple Mail is doing, they’re doing a lot of like, behind the scenes, kind of technically opening up emails, and they’re doing this in service of their users to, like, protect them from bad emails and, and what have you, and obviously privacy as well. So your open rate is not going to be completely accurate. If it says you have a 30% open rate, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all 30% Physically opened your email, but they’re going to be using similar devices, you know, each time and so if you generally have between, you know, 28 and 35%, open rate, you notice that, know that that’s your average, and then look out for outliers, either spikes or dips, and that’s your indication that okay, something really resonated or What happened there? Let me look into it. So I would say you have to benchmark against your own performance. And then, you know, be realistic as well, again, like don’t take it personally, if people aren’t opening your emails, it’s just how it works. And then as far as like automation, versus truly custom emails, I mean, I think there’s, you could go about it both ways. Again, I really love those thematic like campaigns, because then the follow up content feels really relevant. If you’re a salesperson, and you’re actually physically doing outreach, I would say that like, absolutely rely on templates, you know, templated messages. But depending on your business model, I would take the time to customize it for the person you’re sending it to. And again, you can do personalization with automation, as well. But you know, some examples of really powerful cold outreach emails, or you know, like a video of a screengrab of like, Hey, I checked your website, and I see we could do XY and Z, you know, the more personal it is like, oh, this person was actually on my website, and they have personal suggestions for what we could do differently. That’s powerful. And maybe you can’t do that maybe we don’t have the time and you don’t have the sales, you know, headcount to really do that. You can do other things. Like I like I said, like, draw on what you already know about how your existing sales conversations go, what do your most loyal customers love most about you? How do you differentiate in the market, you can create compelling messages that are automated, and tell your story as it relates to solving that person’s problem. But you know, I would say like, there’s not like a always automate, I would say, always automate when it makes sense when you can, but you may be tasked with personal outreach, may, you may be really good at personal outreach, that might be something that that is working for you. There’s no way to say that there’s a scenario where you shouldn’t do your own, you know, cold outreach.

April Martini 32:05
With that piece and the personalization, I find super interesting. I would love your perspective on well, I’ll give you mine. I feel like as human beings, we are snuffing out fake personalization, more and more and more all the time. And I will use our podcast is an example of this. Okay, so we reached a point in our metrics or longevity, something where people started reaching out cold to us to promote guests for our show. And when it first started happening, it would be like, Hey, I just caught episode XY and Z. And I think this person would be a great fit. And in the beginning, that was like, Oh, cool. And now fast forward three and a half years later. And for us, it’s kind of become a game for me. But it’s like, we’re only responding if the person can prove to us that they listened to the episode and actually processed and then position the person back to us. So I use that as an example. Because I think it’s come a long way. So I would love your perspective on like, because it’s time versus channel verses, were my catching people. So just some perspective on like, the trends, there are things inside to know about that. I just see it with us all the time.

Laura Robison 33:27
I mean, always don’t lie in your marketing, if your whole line is I listened to, you know, Episode 31 and whatever, like, and you didn’t, then that’s not going to work. I mean, maybe it will once in a while. Yeah, for the first time you’re seeing the email. So yeah, just don’t lie. And if you can’t, if you don’t have the time to get that personalized, it’s okay. You know, they could come at it with like, they know the general content of your podcast, and they have, you know, three, you know, marketing leaders and a few different industries to propose they could say, you know, again, like with, you can automate this a little bit, you know, you could, you know, merge in the industry perhaps, and to the line about ice, you have a podcast about whatever. And yeah, no one like, it’s not like, you’re gonna think, oh, you know, Linda really hand crafted that email for me, but that’s okay. Like, if she is proposing some really compelling podcast guests, then it’s okay, that it’s not a, you know, a handwritten note. So I would say like, if you are automating, it’s okay. Just like okay, the inbox, you know, everyone always wants to get out of the promotions tab, and they want to get into the primary tab. So well, if you are sending a promotional email, it’s okay that you’re there. Yes, once in a while, you know, like your email is going to be put in the primary tab, and that’s great. And you might get more exposure on that email. But, I mean, Google’s pretty smart. So you belong in the promotions tab. So that’s where you’re gonna go, you know, if you’re sending an automated get an email. It’s okay that people know that it’s automated, you know, because it’s coming from a brand and you would be able to tell, okay, this person is quite busy, and they’re representing a few different people. And they’re doing a lot of, you know, outreach. So I’d say like, it’s okay, if it’s automated, it can still be compelling. But don’t pretend. And don’t lie. Don’t pretend that you’ve listened to an episode or whatever, you know, like, don’t pretend that you’ve gone to someone’s website, if you haven’t. So I mean, I don’t know, maybe that’s a little simplistic, but that’s how I feel marketing is not going to work. If it’s not true. Well, I

Anne Candido 35:35
think you bring up some really, really fantastic points, I’m going to hit on a couple because I’m gonna go back to success criteria. Second, because I think you know, the elements of metrics is really, really important for any sort of marketing channel. But we can heavily rely on quantitative metrics without really understanding the value behind the actual channel. So where I do see a ton of value is in exactly what you said, is when you’re trying to reach out to somebody trying to forge a relationship, you’re trying to get some sort of like, customized connection going. And you are personalizing. And you’re, like I said, trying to kind of create that relationship and all those sorts of things, your success could be getting one back, right, if you’re sending out like, you know, 15 or 20 emails, it could be getting one back. And really, a lot of times at the beginning of a lot of the what we’re doing, especially for small businesses, medium sized businesses who don’t have the budgets to, we’re gonna put on automated drip, and we’re going to do all that sometimes you start with a few emails. And it’s hard to say, like, what’s a sufficient number, but if you kind of like, really hedge your success criteria on what looks like success, which might not be an open rate, but instead, it’s like, we got two people to respond, and we get two leads, you know, and that might be worthwhile that might be that’s time spent. And that’s effort put in and that for a lot of people want to tangibly dollar wise could be free, right. So there’s a there’s an element of that ticket into consider as well as like the effort versus the actual dollar sign versus what your actual expectation is, for the campaign mean, I just did it a little while ago, for nonprofits, I reached out to like 20, nonprofits and just had a very customized email. And some of it is just like getting in front of them. So now they’ve heard of us. So it adds to that one touchpoint, even if they don’t respond. So I think that’s one element, I just wanted to really reinforce because I think it was a really super important thing they had to really consider from a success criteria standpoint. And I also wanted to hit on the point about adding value, because I think that’s super important. I probably only responded to maybe three or four cool emails in I don’t know, the last couple of years, but the ones that I have had been the ones who have edit direct value personalized to me. So one example was somebody who reached out to us is actually called Social through LinkedIn. But that’s how you can get the person is how you get the person. They said, I did that I looked through your website, and I see that you have a worksheet for all the other podcasts, but I didn’t see a worksheet for this one. So I was like, Oh, well, that’s kind of interesting. Where is that worksheet? They added value to me and that day. So I said, Alright, I will add value to you by taking your call, right. So I will have that value exchange. Now the one thing I will say is be prepared for the follow up because what happened was they massively fell down in the follow up, they didn’t know where to go from there. And so then it became I thought more of a general pitch, versus like, Okay, you just created this relationship with me. And now you’re trying to generalize the offering that you’re going to give me in order to support my business and like, so that was inconsistent. So I say all that to say, when you’re going to set up the expectation in your email, for the kind of value or the kind of brand or the kind of tone that you’re gonna have needs to carry through everything. Right. So think about that with intention. So I don’t know if you have any more to build on that or add to that, but those are just kind of two points. I just wanted to make sure that I really focused in on honed in on,

Laura Robison 39:08
those are good points in that second one that you were just talking about, you know, I worked for a company where you know, on, on the website, you know, there’s the talk to sales or book a call or whatever CTA and you know, it’s like, okay, this is what you’re gonna get the three bullet points. And then we had a, we were creating a really specific campaign, and you know, about a very specific topic, and we were kind of positioning that call differently. And I can’t remember exactly what it was, but it wasn’t exactly what was offered on the website. And you know, the thought is like, well just send them to that landing page. And you know, it goes the same plays, it sends that lead off to sales, it’ll get them the follow up call. But, you know, there was a disconnect, because we were really telling a story over here about one specific type of customer and this is what the sales team can provide for you if you’re interested in that. And they’re like, well just send them to the generic sales landing page, that’ll be fine. And functionally, of course, it does do the right thing, it sends the lead to the salesperson, but how does the salesperson know that that person converted on that content? And when they get to that landing page, they might be taken aback by like, we, I thought I was gonna get, you know, a demo. And this sounds like a sales call, or, you know, whatever it might be. So, yeah, I mean, taking the time to do it. Right. And, and create a, a journey. I mean, it does take time, but it’s, it’s worth it. You know, as far as those Yeah. And like you said, like, it doesn’t matter if necessarily, if, you know, your conversion rate goes up or down, you know, half a percent, but, you know, three new leads a week and one new customer a month, like, that’s a big deal. And you know, those are, those are real things. And so if someone gets to have an experience, where from start to finish, there’s a through line, there’s a journey that they know they’re on, and they understand what to expect next. That’s really powerful.

April Martini 41:03
So what is the role of AI in all of this? You know, that’s coming when I loaded up my example, which really took me aback significantly recently. So someone reached out and I probably answer more often than and does, but also with like, a lot of skepticism. And so this person came through, and it was a loose referral. And so generally speaking, I’ll take most of those, right. And but I was going into the call skeptical as the reason I bring it up, and get on the call, I had a great conversation with this woman for 45 minutes, we went over our 30 minutes by 15 minutes, like, you know, so it was like a genuine, and it wasn’t necessarily like a Oh, now we’re gonna go and do this, or tomorrow, we’re gonna work together, nothing like that. But I’m always open to meeting interesting people. And we’re kind of like, you know, back logging them in my brain. And it usually comes into something later. And she had actually even told me that she wasn’t happy with some of the email marketing that someone was doing on our behalf because it was generic. So I get a letter or an email back. And I was like, I checked the name to make sure that I was right. Because I’m terrible with names. I was like, Maybe I’m thinking of the wrong person. And it was so formulaic, so I immediately sent it to her and was like, Hey, I’m assuming this must be like, maybe they sent it knowing you had the call on your behalf. Like this is really bad form, because we had this whole conversation and whatever. And then she admitted that she had done it using ChatGPT. Oh, no. And I was like, hey, so I bring that up, because we were having a lot of AI conversations, as I’m sure you are, and what’s the role and our perspective is that it’s always a tool. And in that case, even the tool was not used appropriately. But I mean, just give some insight and context the same way you’ve been doing about, like, I love all the really tactical examples and specific things about how to use it. And this is one that in some cases, I feel like telling people, you just shouldn’t but anyway, I would love your, your perspective,

Laura Robison 43:10
I would say, if it’s interesting to you use it, have fun with it, it is always when you’re writing something, crafting something creating material, it’s always easier to and maybe not always, for me, it’s easier to edit, rather than to start with a blank screen. And so if it helps you to have a jumping off point, absolutely. But I haven’t seen an output where I would be comfortable just copying and pasting into an email and sending that out. Right, just like the LinkedIn comments, you can see, you know, you know, which ones are the AI generated comments, and then which ones were written by a person that we all we have that filter, you know, and AI will probably get better, and maybe we won’t be able to notice in 10 years, but have fun with it and use it as a jumping off point, like you’re saying, and especially when you’re creating flows, or you’re not sure what to write about, or, you know, you can get in there and describe like, your ideal customer, and what you’re known for and how you differentiate. And you know, ask it to create an email nurture series, a welcome series for new leads or something. And, and again, like use that as a starting point, and then customize, say, like, kind of similar to templates, like with cold outreach, of course, you’re going to have a template to use, why not? It’s so much easier to start, you know, so you’re not the sometimes you know, you have those days where you’re like and what is the normal greeting again, do I say Good day, you know, like, why not use templates? Why not use AI, but that’s a starting point. And so, if you need ideas, if you’re not sure how like a an email nurture flow should should go like what should the content be? Even if you are sending auto responders or you know, automated responders, make sure you have a couple options like there should be an option a response for Someone who’s like, great, this is exactly what I was looking for versus someone who said, I don’t know, it might not be for me, can we check back in a month? You know, they shouldn’t get the same follow up email. So whatever you’re doing to be more efficient in your business like, yeah, you deserve that we all need. Yeah, we don’t have a lot of time none of us do. So if AI can help you work more efficiently do some of the planning the plotting the great use it, you know, but yeah, at this point, I would never send out an email that was just an output from Ai.

Anne Candido 45:36
Well, I think that’s extremely good guidance. Because it does then erode a lot of the things we talked about with regards to your brand, your sender reputation, all those sorts of things. So, I mean, I know you were just like, almost like, kind of check her off. And said, like, well, that’s not probably somebody that we’re going to continue to have relationship with. So it does have a really big impact, especially when we go through all of that effort. So I think this has been like a really, really fantastic conversation. I know, I learned a lot. So I will say, Yeah, based on my cynicism from the very beginning, that Laurie, you’ve done a really fantastic job of providing some really, really good gardenvale Some really good processes and ways of really being able to structure emails in a way that I do feel, can be highly, highly compelling. And then And then really a productive part of your marketing stack. And the way that you, you can then stylize them and use them at different stages of that too. I think that was really, really helpful nuance from going right in cold to providing those ongoing value based campaigns, like you talked about, so I could definitely see how it can add a tremendous amount of value to any marketing campaign. But only if you do it like Laura says, yeah.

April Martini 46:54
We’re just gonna refer people to the Laura episode.

Anne Candido 46:56
Yeah, this allows you to do a map campaign do you need to go to the Laura episode, and you do everything that she says, and you’re gonna have a good chance of actually meeting some of your success? Great to super short.

Laura Robison 47:07
Oh, thank you so much. That’s so nice to hear. This has been a great conversation, because oftentimes in talking to like, clients or prospective clients, so it’s fun to nerd out a little bit with marketers. Especially since leaving corporate you know, I don’t have a team anymore. So this has been so fun. Thank you for having me. And I I’m honored to be on your podcast. Yeah. Well,

Anne Candido 47:28
thank you. And we’re not gonna let you go quite yet. Because we have rapid fire questions for people to get to know you. Yeah. So she doesn’t know she didn’t prepare for these. So we’re going to see where we go on that. And she has to take a drink to get prepared.

Unknown Speaker 47:45
I haven’t been there. I’m nervous now. These

Anne Candido 47:47
won’t be dead. They’re not too hard. Um, so favorite business book? Oh, well, it

Laura Robison 47:55
actually relates to this conversation, Building a StoryBrand, I actually have been meaning to reread it because it has a lot of tactical information. But it also really helps you think through what is your story externally? Because again, it’s not about you. Your customer is the hero. And I loved thinking through that, because when I read it, which was I don’t know, several years ago now. Oh, of course. So if you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it Building a StoryBrand.

Anne Candido 48:22
That’s great. Favorite song you secretly love, but we would be embarrassed if someone found out. Oh, man, I

Laura Robison 48:28
can’t think of a song. I like a lot of music. Like I love like 80s country. That’s what I grew up on. Like, when I was a kid. It was only country music. And so it was all 80s country. So anyways, there’s a lot of old songs that I really enjoy, but I can’t think of one right now. I will. As soon as we stop recording. I will think of that song I’m sure but yeah, 80s country prep. I’m not embarrassed. I would say I’m not embarrassed. So I don’t know. Jack.

April Martini 48:55
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It’s like me with Jimmy Buffett. Like, I can recite, you know, 120 of his songs. And yeah, people are like, seriously, and I’m like,

Anne Candido 49:04
This is not your rapid-fire I know, but I feel or I will you know, right. But this is not your rapid-fire All right, last one favorite holiday and why?

Laura Robison 49:16
Probably Christmas as a kid that was definitely my favorite. And even now as a parent and you know, all the stuff that you have to do the months leading up to it, the ordering and the wrapping and the logistics and the various family parties. There’s something that’s you know, when you do get to kind of sit down with your family and have those special moments enjoying whatever it might be, whether it’s pre-Christmas or post-Christmas activities, you know, it’s it is quite magical, especially if there’s snow I live in Maine. So if it snows on Christmas, that is peak experience.

Anne Candido 49:49
So do you send a Christmas email or a Christmas card?

Laura Robison 49:53
Oh, personally, I used to send Christmas cards to family and I haven’t done that in several yours, so I, yeah, oh, become an email, Christmas email.

Anne Candido 50:07
I love that. Well, thank you so much for sharing a little of yourself and a lot of your perspective and expertise, it’s been very, very helpful. And so just bring us home or like, tell us anything else that we might have missed, you want to make sure everybody knows, and obviously tell everybody where to find you.

Laura Robison 50:21
With email marketing, you’re always emailing a human being, and most emails don’t get opened, that’s okay. It’s not worth really worrying about. But make sure when someone does open your email, it is worth their time. Because if it’s not worth their time, it’s not worth your time. And honestly, just conduct yourself with integrity in your marketing, because, you know, ties into brand ties into the you know, what kind of customers you’re attracting, marketing can be so powerful, but with power, you know, there’s a lot of consequences. So I would say just try to move forward with your marketing with the intention of solving the problem that your ideal customer has, you know, if that is what you are intending to do, you’re going to miss the mark, sometimes you’re going to send things out that don’t resonate. But if you are intending to really connect with those customers who need what you’re offering, you know, what a beautiful way to build a business, you’re gonna get referrals, you’re gonna get repeat customers, and you’re Yeah, you’re just going to build something that has lasting power. So yeah, and if you’ve gotten this far, in the episode of us nerding out on email marketing, I would love for you to stay in touch with me. My website is And, you know, whether you’re just looking for a few resources, or you do want to connect one on one, I would I would love to stay in touch. So please find me at And I actually have an ebook, How to write emails that convert, and it’s normally $27. But happy to offer a 50% discount for podcast listeners. So use the code: SMARTS50, I wrote it down because I really wanted to give you the right code and SMARTS50 and that ebook is really again, it kind of feels a lot like this conversation really tactical, why are you doing what you’re doing? And then how do you do it and you know, just simply to connect better with your ideal customers and grow your business.

Anne Candido 52:19
That’s wonderful. Thank you so much. And thank you for that bonus for our listeners. And with that, we’ll say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts!

April Martini 52:28
Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now, go show off your Marketing Smarts!