How To Create A Sales Email Newsletter In Minutes

Last month I was fortunate enough to sell the internet phone company I co-founded to Vonage. As Vocalocity rebrands itself as Vonage Small Business, Vonage will increasingly come to realize how it has acquired a sales machine.

Funnily enough though I do not attribute our success to developing fancy online phone technology (which we did) but instead from a very early stage we built a killer lead nurturing process and coupled it with a highly efficient inside sales process that closed business hand over fist. Major props must go to Mr @funnelholic, Craig Rosenberg, who helped us pull together our sales funnel from day-one.

So, what does all this have to do with the sometimes non-sexy subject of email marketing?

Well, having built something in Vocalocity where a core mantra was to sell-sell-close this has somewhat changed with my latest venture Flashissue. Instead, I find myself preaching an unlikely message: stop selling. In turn, I could have easily titled this post

“How to stop selling and still win business in 5 easy steps”

I wanted to do something very simple with Flashissue, make it mind blowingly easy and fast to create a sales email newsletter. My goal was to build it for me, the individual – aka the sales person – and not the full-time marketing manager.

To do this I believed I needed to solve three core problems based on comments I was continually hearing:

“I can’t do email marketing: I don’t know what to write & I don’t have time for it”

“Please don’t make me learn how to use yet another online service”

“I don’t have a “mailing list” the people I want to target are in my address book”

From this we created Flashissue a set of email marketing and content tools for Gmail and Google Apps. Flashissue lets you design emails, build mailing lists from your Google contacts and track the emails you send WITHOUT EVER LEAVING GMAIL.

Before diving into the product I’d first like to share 5 important principles I use for my sales email newsletters.

  1. Stop “selling” and start engaging people with something I’d want to read myself.
  2. My “address book” is my most important mailing list.
  3. Stop writing content for emails and start curating it from others.
  4. Commit. Be consistent and frequent – at least once a month.
  5. Stop relying on my marketing department, I’m going to do this myself.

Here’s how you can get up and going with a regular sales email newsletter using Flashissue:

Step 1: Install Flashissue

You’ll need be using Gmail as your email software and you’re best off using Google’s Chrome web browser if you want to take advantage of all the bells and whistles available to you through Flashissue.

If you’re using another web browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari you’ll still be able to use Flashissue, you’ll just have a different set up flow and you’ll lose the tight Inbox integration that is awesome.

First step. Goto Flashissue.com and click the orange button that says “Add Flashissue To Gmail”. Then click the “Add” Button.

install Flashissue

After this you’ll be asked to grant “Permissions” to your contacts and email. This may seem a bit scary but it’s necessary for the product to function. Be assured we don’t have access to look in your email account or pry, it’s there so you can build your mailing lists and send out the emails when complete.

You’ll now be led to the application screen where you can start creating your email.

Step 2: Add content

Remember my goal here is to engage my audience and not try and “sell” to them. There will be a time and place to start closing business but that’s not my goal with this type of email marketing.

Here’s what you’ll be seeing:

c1 find content 1280 x 800
My checklist:

  • Decide on a theme for your ongoing newsletters e.g. cool office designs, top investment tips etc.
  • Don’t spend a bunch of time writing content. Learn to curate content.
  • Personalize the email with the recipients first name (see below).
  • Keep the introduction short and informal

A good example is Dave Armento, a commercial real estate agent from Atlanta. Dave maintains that nobody wants to hear about his office listings each month so he created a series of email newsletters called Cool Office Designs.

All he does is cherry-pick 5 blog articles (written by others) that he personally finds really interesting and he sends them out as a mini digest with a brief personal intro. He gets open rates of 25% and people love it. Take a look.

Another good example, is the Funnelholic email newsletter. The Funnelholic team use this same format and approach to send out their own content. Yes, they use Flashissue.

Here’s what I do next to generate the email content:

  1. Enter a blog site where I love the content e.g. inc.com. I also use my own blog site especially if I’ve just written some posts (optional for you).
  2. Enter some key words that match your focus e.g. “cool office designs”.
  3. Each of these is saved as a “source” for future use. I like to use 5 different sources.
  4. Drag and drop the articles I like into the editor.

search content and drag drop

Click here to watch a video

Step 3: Get personal

I like to use short and sweet introductions with something personal so the email has a one-to-one feel between me and the reader. Here’s an example from one of Dave’s emails:

Personal introduction flashissue

Notice the salutation. By inserting the name tag “%{first_name}%” Flashissue will automatically insert the name of the Google Contacts Dave is using as the recipient in the email.

name tag field flashissue

Don’t worry if the Google Contact is missing its name, the field will be left blank. I like small things like this because they create better engagement.

At this stage I also add a banner to the email and a title but that’s up to you.

Step 4: Create a mailing list

Good sales email newsletters are all about creating an ongoing relationship with the people I know, so the next step involves creating a mailing list from my Google Contacts.

  1. Click the Create List button or the List tab
  2. Click the red New List button on the next screen
  3. Name the list and add people from the Google Address book.

create list tab flashissue

 

Step 5: Send it to the world

Now I’m done with the content and the list building I can send the sales newsletter out.

  1. Select all the lists you want to send to.
  2. Click Preview and then Send
  3. Note: You can send yourself a Test Email first (recommended).

select list and send flashissue

I’m often asked “when should I send my email?”. There’s two variables at play here; the day and the time. You could spend a year reading the debates on this subject but I find that sending it first thing Monday morning works for me. Try experimenting.

Just another note on sending. Because Google is very touchy about people sending out bulk email directly through their Gmail account when you send a sales email newsletter with Flashissue we actually route the delivery through our own servers.

Doing it this way ensures better deliverability and less chance of your Gmail account being suspended because you’ve upset Google.

Step 6: Tracking & Reporting

While I don’t believe in going overboard about analytics, I do like to know how many people have opened my sales email newsletter and what content is resonating best.

To see what’s been going on with your email click the Reports tab and then drill down into an individual mailing by clicking on the email name.

track emails

So that’s about it. Once I found myself sending out regular sales email newsletters I noticed tangible results in cultivating business.

I’ve also found that optimizing these emails for “engagement” rather than heavy handed “selling” works best for me. All in all though this type of marketing is only one part of the sales nurturing process.

Finally, here’s a video that ties everything together.

 

About the author:

Phil Hill is Founder & CEO of FlashIssue, a provider of email marketing and content tools for Gmail and Google Apps. Phil is a successful serial internet entrepreneur with a passion to fix problems faced by business people like himself. Contact Phil at Phil@Flashissue.com or on Twitter @philhill.

  • http://greghyer.com/ Greg Hyer

    This is a great little app. I heard about it on the Marketing Over Coffee podcast. John Wall actually sent a newsletter with it. I thought there was too much white space and Gmail clipped the bottom of the message, forcing you to open it in a whole new window. This can be avoided by limiting the number of clips you add.

    • philhill

      Thanks for the thumbs up for Flashissue Greg. I’ll check out the podcast as well – Phil (Founder, Flashissue)

      • http://greghyer.com/ Greg Hyer

        Absolutely! Christopher Penn and John Wall have quite the following with that podcast. Sounds like it was free PR! I’ll be sure to mention it on my podcast, Linking into Sales. Best of luck!!

  • http://www.thesocialmediahandyman.com Paul Chaney

    Though I probably overlooked it, but if I’m creating a list from my Gmail/Google contacts, how do I allow for opt-in status? It appears that I’m sending the newsletter without first gaining the permission of those on the list. Could you address that please? Thanks.

    • philhill

      hi paul – this is a valid question.

      Flashissue is primarily designed to be a personal email marketing platform. you build your lists from the people you have in your address book i.e. you know them personally. this is very different from using an external mailing list through something like mailchimp where you do not have that type of relationship.

      The external mail list scenario should involve opt in; the personal angle probably not. flashissue does have unsubscribe opt-out management, so if your uncle doesnt want to receive your weekly newsletter he will not.

      Our opt out rates for emails sent via flashissue are very low which backs up this way of thinking. The cases where we have seen higher opt rates its been pretty clear that the sender has uploaded a mass of emails to Google Contacts and created a list from them. When we find these instances we endeavor to block the user (to be honest it’s been rare and we have 20k businesses on the platform).

      We will also be introducing a web form soon so you can collect emails and this will follow the opt-in way of thinking.

      Let me know if you have further questions.

      Phil – CEO/Founder
      Flashissue

    • Doug Kinsey

      Hi Paul, I’m a FlashIssue user, and have installed the Constant Contact plug-in via Constant Contact. When I create a newsletter, I have Constant Contact email it to my list that is housed there. Therefore the recipient has an opt-out option (and an opt-in option).

      • philhill

        good point well made doug