My guest this episode is master copywriter and email marketer André Chaperon. André will teach us his system to send emails that people are actually interested in, gain their trust, and raise email open rates. He has tips to improve your email marketing by segmenting people the right way, removing the wrong people from your list, and using autoresponders to send the right email at the right time. André owns Tinylittlebusinesses.com, and also has a course called AutoResponder Madness. Listen in to this value filled episode with practical ideas and tools you can use to become a better email marketer immediately.
Listen to this Episode:
Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- What’s wrong with broadcast emails
- Telling a story with email sequences to earn trust
- Step-by-step instructions to build a successful email sequence
- Segmenting your audience
- André’s recommended email marketing software tools
- Removing inactive users from your list
- Storytelling and getting inspiration
- André’s recommended resources and advice
- AutoResponder Madness
- ConvertKit, Drip
- Medium, Flipboard
- Persuader by Lee Child, Storytelling Made Easy by Michael Hauge, Pines by Blake Crouch
Louis: Andre, what a pleasure to have you on the show. To explain to listeners who you are and why we’re in touch right now, what happened was you sent me an email a few months ago at this stage, about the podcast. I just thought you were somebody who wanted to learn about marketing, somebody who just started out because there are a few people who contact me using this angle. Then I looked at what you were doing, I was like, “Oh, wow.”
Listeners would know that I’m not a fan of bullshit and I don’t really try to lie to impress people or to compliment them, but you are the best copywriter I’ve ever come across, and I mean it. Your work is sensational. I read your courses from start to finish. That’s something that I don’t do. I don’t read stuff from start to finish. First of all, let me to tell you well done, really, on all the work and thank you for doing what you’re doing.
Andre: You’re welcome. It’s interesting that you referred to me as a copywriter because I’m not a copywriter. I’ve never been through a copywriting course before in my life. I do own a few but I’ve never been through them. I just write, actually. I think if you really understand the needs of an audience, it just kind of works itself out. I’m definitely not a copywriter.
Louis: Well I’m not a marketer either. I didn’t study marketing. I studied one year of business and marketing but I’m not a marketer in your definition either. I think you are a copywriter. You’re a damn good copywriter. You’re a damn good marketer at it because I believe that marketers have very good empathy for people and are able to understand them very well. I agree with that. It’s probably the part of it.
People are really interested in today’s episode because we’re going to talk about something that is pretty vastly done in the marketing world which is email marketing and email autoresponders, email series or whatever you might call it. You have a pretty interesting view on the problem that, traditional per se, email autoresponders have. What’s wrong with email autoresponders today?
Andre: I think there’s probably a lot wrong with them in all sorts of reasons and ways. I love storytelling and so I kind of use storytelling in the emails. Very, very early on, I was trying to figure out how I can implement this and the best way to solve that problem was using autoresponders. Another element of that is I’m somewhat lazy and I just didn’t see the need to send out, to broadcast emails, day after day after day, manually.
There’s all sorts of things wrong with that and breaking with that, and things that I personally don’t like about that which is worse. I just never did it and I’m trying to figure out a different way of doing it. From early on I was just using autoresponders and then I got better at telling stories that span across a whole bunch of emails.
You basically serialize your communication with people, much like when you’re watching TV, your latest soap opera or whatever. It does the same thing. It just basically takes the narrative of what you want to say and it just places out to multiple emails, that’s probably the easiest way to set.
But I guess to answer your question, I think it’s just easier for people to write an email and click send and it goes out to the list. That’s what people do. It’s a bit more complex and takes more time and energy and mental thought to do it the other way which is write a whole bunch of emails and stack them all together and make sure that they’re all falling on some sort of narrative. Does it make sense?
Louis: It does. What’s wrong with broadcast emails in particular? You said there’s a few things that are wrong with them?
Andre: For one thing, you send them in isolation. You write something, there’ll be a certain message that you want to put out and you click send and typically, not always, but for the most part, email marketers will just send it to the entire list. If they have a prospect list and they’re trying to sell something, they’ll just target the entire list and click send. That email is going to go out to everybody.
The few things that are wrong with that is that email is not going to be relevant to every single person at that point in time. It’s also somebody that just subscribed to that very day and suddenly, their very first contact with you is this email. That email might be selling something, the very first connection that they have with you is trying to sell them something. Or you could have sent this amazing email that’s just totally awesome and somebody subscribes the next day, so they’re never ever going to see the email.
That’s what I basically try to fix using autoresponders, so that I can, at least for their first few weeks, control that entire narrative whereas I will get an opportunity to connect with a certain person and they get no other emails from me other than those emails that are being pre-programmed and take them down a certain journey. Then, I can earn their trust and attention.
Louis: It will be a little bit like selling a book to someone but instead of starting at chapter one, you start at chapter 49 but they can’t go back to the chapters before, right?
Andre: Yes, right. It’s kind of random. You can subscribe to someone’s list and you just might join when they’re in the middle of some promotion and then you suddenly get these promotional emails. There’s a disconnect.
Louis: What we described here is basically what I do which is really shitty. I’m not trying to set anything apart from as you said, grabbing people’s attention so that they listen to the podcast and hopefully change their mindsets and help them along the way. But that’s exactly what I do. For every episode, I would write an email. It would get very little attention even though I start to have a lot of people on the email list. It gets very little attention compared to what I think it could be getting.
The only thing I do send at the start is a small autoresponder sequence of three emails automatically sent two days after the other. If you actually went through this sequence, you’ll probably be like, “Oh my god, this is very poor.” I know you did, I know you do. You don’t have to say it.
This is the problem we’re going to try to solve in this episode. It’s that most of us suck at sending emails, most of us suck at trying to convince people to do what we want them to do using emails. We have with us right now somebody who nailed the process of really understanding what people would care about, really understanding how to tell a story to hook people in so that they keep reading and so that as you said, you can earn their trust.
Trust is probably the number one currency of marketing. If people trust you, you can have a proper relationship with them, you don’t even have to sell to them. It happens. People trust you and therefore, they buy your stuff, they listen to you and they consider you as an expert, somebody who knows their stuff.
Today, what I like to do with you is really go through a step by step process for people to build an email autoresponder, an email sequence that actually works, that will really hook people and interest them.
Andre: Sounds good to me.
Louis: Let’s say we have a business that will send an email once a week or once every month with updates around what they’ve been doing, and they want to switch their focus to try to make those emails a little bit more effective. What would be the first step towards this outcome?
Andre: I’m all about context and understanding that context. Basically, what I mean by that is when somebody comes to your website and joins your email list, there’s going to be something that they’ve seen, some promise that’s been made. As a result of that, they didn’t subscribe. When I talk about context, it’s that.
If you go to someone’s coding store and they have a newsletter, there’s going to be some sort of promise to get me on the list whether it’s just get updates on whatever or it’s typically going to be more specific than that. Understanding the reason why someone’s joined the email list is very important because it gives you some sort of signal or clue as to what they’re interested in. I think that’s where everything has to start even before that very first email.
You need to be very specific about what their promise is because if it’s very general, it doesn’t give you a sense of what that person really wants and what they really care about, it’s just like, “Get my updates.” That doesn’t really tell you much so that person is unlikely—you don’t have a sense of what they really want so it’s difficult for you to match what you write and how you write it specifically to their needs.
I guess that’s the first thing. It’s having a very clear copy before they get on to the email list. Then basically, the email list becomes a journey. What I like to do is I like to frame that initial piece so they’re expecting a certain outcome. Whether it’s an email or course, that’s an easy thing to do because then people are expecting to get a whole bunch of emails about a certain topic. That’s how, I guess, I would start it. Then it’s just taking it down a certain journey. I don’t know if you want to give an example or if we should use an example that’s more specific because [00:14:49]. I’m just being very general here.
Louis: We’re going to pick a proper business. For the sake of it, I just want to say you are very specific into something that we talked about in the podcast many times, about positioning, about understanding the jobs that your product or your service is being hired for like the jobs that we don’t approach.
You’re really into profiling and understanding your audience using empathy maps, avatars, getting insights from different sources. In this episode, what I like to do is actually go beyond that and talk about the meaty stuff about the hook and the storytelling about it because we talked about this a few times before. What I feel is probably one of the most interesting thing I’ve ever read in marketing is what we’re going to talk about in the next few minutes.
You see what I did there? I’m not saying what it is. Let’s pick a business and let’s assume that we do have a certain understanding of the audience. Perhaps, for the sake of the example, perhaps you want to pick a business that you’re familiar with so that you don’t make up stuff.
Andre: Why don’t I pick your business, your podcast? I found it a few weeks ago and I’ve been through maybe seven or eight of your podcasts but guess what, I’ve not been through them all and the reason why I haven’t been through them all is because they’re not all relevant to me. I’ve chosen and I’ve handpicked those eight podcasts so far that are the most relevant for me so I’ve consumed them.
I love everything you’re doing but that doesn’t mean every single piece of content that you have is going to be relevant to me and therefore I’m not going to care about all of it. I think that’s the first distinction. Most people are going to sell one thing, that one specific thing because then it’s easier, right? Then, you know that they want to know about certain things.
For example, our email course, there’s the prospect side of it and there’s customer’s side of it. I know that people have come to that because it’s so specific. They want to know more about email. Whereas your podcast show, that’s more general in a sense that it’s all about marketing, all the different elements of marketing which is great but then because it’s so much broader, because it’s hitting all these different topics, obviously, you’re not going to be relevant to every single person that loves marketing, especially not bullshit marketing.
From that point, me opting into a list like I did, I obviously want to hear more of your stuff. At that point, you could’ve started to do something a bit more clever in the sense that trying to understand which one of, I don’t know how many podcasts you’ve got but out of that pool of stuff, which ones are the most relevant for me. That’s the problem that you’re trying to solve using automation.
Louis: Let me cut you right here because we need to just lay down a few foundations before moving onto the meaty stuff. I am glad you picked the podcast because I do know my audience a bit and you are a marketer as well so you would understand that.
Just to give you an idea, the main three audiences that are listening to the podcast are number one, people who are looking to get into the marketing space either because they want to get carried into marketing or because they want to start a marketing project, that’s number one, beginners. Number two would be tech people like developers who are looking to use marketing in order to launch their stuff. They are more technical people. The reason why they give a shit about this podcast is because usually, technical people tend to really hate marketing.
The third one would be people like you, experts or people who have experience in marketing who want to have different perspectives on things because they’ve been in the industry for so long, they’re sick of it. Those are the three audiences. Let’s pick one of them and go through a typical hook that we can offer.
Andre: I think it kind of starts before that because you can have all three of those, those categories that you just mentioned. You can have all of them joining your email list. There’s probably people that fall into different categories that you just haven’t spoken about yet. You want to, as quickly as possible, identify what those buckets are. Then time to make those emails.
Those emails that those people receive, the emails that I receive won’t just be that stock standard, three emails that you have programmed for everybody, they will be slightly different. Again, there’s so many different ways to solve this problem using email automation. I think the easiest one to understand could be this.
The very first email that goes out is introducing yourself and giving some context of why people should pay attention to you obviously, they’ve probably seen some of it on your website but again you can get deeper with that. You can maybe tell a little story. Then basically, that email could end off with, “It would mean the world to me, and it would help me send you more emails if you could just tell me or identify to me which of these categories you are interested in.”
You can then list out, because I noticed when you go to your podcast or show, you’ve got topics. Say you’ve really identified topics, marketing startups, saw on Medium a few things, you can have those topics there or you can be more specific and say I am into positioning or copywriting or whatever. You can ask questions based on links that people click on or the little checkboxes that they select.
Your email automation software can then tag me, “I’m interested in positioning and jobs to be done and things like that and I’m not interested in learning how to do a podcast show because I’m a shy introvert so I’m never going to do one although I enjoy consuming them.” And then, your system can then say, “If this tag exists, then launch this email sequence.”
That email sequence can then take me down a journey that’s more relevant to my needs. It can start to talk about stories about say your podcast that I listened to the other day was on positioning of, I forgot the gentleman’s name, but in that email, you could tell a little story about positioning and how you can use it and then use that as a segway into, “And by the way, here’s this really cool podcast that I did with, here’s his name.”
Louis: Philip Morgan. Let’s talk here because you’re delivering a lot of insights, a lot of value and it’s important for listeners to understand the steps required. You would actually think about, in advance, of the buckets that people would fall in that they would be potentially interested in. Once again, this comes with research.
We are skipping this part right now because there’s a lot of interesting things regarding storytelling that I wanted to nail and there are a few episodes before talking about customer research that you can listen to. The thing here that is extremely important is to think about your audience first and to deliver them what they care about.
If you’re meeting someone for the first time in a marketing conference and you introduce yourself and talk about what you believe in, what you fight against, etc., it’s very likely that the first question you get asked is, “And you, what do you do?” Or, “What do you believe in?” Or, “Why are you here?” You will naturally ask questions, right?
Louis: While in my kind of shitty product, shitty email updates that I send, I don’t do that at all. I don’t ask them any questions. I just send them information that they might care about, they might not care about as you said. What you actually, basically, advise is to follow the process you would use face to face and translate it into an email or an email sequence, right?
Louis: There’s an interesting thing that you’re mentioning here. It’s the fact that you can tag links and tag them in the specific tag in your email software and they automatically send the next thing. I want to make a pause here because in this podcast, I tend not to talk about technology and product too much because those change quite a lot but email has been around for so long that I think it’s safe to talk about them.
I personally use ConvertKit to do this. You might mention a few others in the next few seconds, but ConvertKit allows you to select and tag people who click on specific links. The welcome email or the email on the second day could very well be, “Click on the link that describes you the best, that is the closest to who you are.” I am a marketing expert. I have no clue what marketing is. Then you can tag those people appropriately.
Andre: Exactly. In fact, I’m not sure if I still have it, presuming I do, if you go to fool.com, Fool is The Motley Fool, it’s a finance investment newsletter. That very, very first email, because they’ve identified that there’s a new investor, there’s the retired person that just wants to put their money somewhere and—I forgot what the third category is. But they basically just ask you.
It’s a very short email and they ask us three things. Are you this person? This person? Or this person? They got a little picture for each one. Ever since, they’ve taken the customer avatar and they’ve associated it with a certain link. Those people can self-select right at the gate and then everything else is going to be based on that selection. Yes, that’s a similar thing to what we’ve just said now.
Louis: Apart from ConvertKit which is quite good for people who are just bloggers, professional bloggers, what other tools would you recommend to get started in tagging people in the right buckets?
Andre: I love ConvertKit. I think it’s a great solution. I use Drip, drip.co I think is the site to get Drip. I was using ActiveCampaign before that but there’s some elements with some things that I just personally don’t like about ActiveCampaign so I migrated to Drip. I think any of those systems, and there’s many of them, are fine so long as it can do what you need it to do, it can do all the automations.
Once you get a bit more granular, there might be certain quicker things like the Email Editor which is where I spend all my time. With ActiveCampaign, it’s just terrible to the point where I just couldn’t use it anymore. Whereas the Drip one and the ConvertKit one are great. They’re amazing.
I would probably hurl away from using some systems like AWeber or MailChimp because they’re just too basic and they’re very list-based. That’s not what we want to do. Whereas ConvertKit, Drip, and ActiveCampaign are tagging systems. Everything’s flat and you basically tag people based on interest or based on anything really. Then you can send emails based on those tags. It’s very flat whereas all the old stuff is list-based which is just a terrible way of doing it.
Louis: We would send this welcome email, basically, we talk about the why the podcast is here, what I’m fighting against and the second email would be, “Okay, can you tell me a little bit more about yourself.” You will click on the first link if we tag you and therefore, we launch a sequence after that or you would click on the other link, it will tag you with a different tag and that’s going to be the start of another sequence.
What I like very much about this approach is not only are you able to segment people but you’re also able to segment inactive people. You are able to segment people who don’t do anything on your email whatsoever.
Andre: Yes. That triggers something else and then we get to delete them or send out a certain email that says, “Hey, you’re about to be deleted because you’re not clicking on these things and therefore, obviously, what I’m sending to you doesn’t seem to be relevant anymore and I’m more about relevancy. If you don’t do anything in the next 24 hours, you’ll be automatically deleted.”
It works great. They’re going to be deleted, or they suddenly fire into [inaudible 00:28:12] and say, “No, no. Please don’t leave me.” Then they click the links and they’re back in the system again.
Louis: This is a thought that would give marketers goosebumps because, “What do you mean we’re going to delete half of our email subscribers? We worked so hard in getting this list to 5000 people. Why should we delete all of these people?” I can already hear those asking this. It’s fair, it’s a fair question. I guess as you said, it’s all about relevance, why would you send emails to people who don’t care about you, who never read them, who have flagged them as spam a while ago. There’s absolutely no point of sending them emails.
Andre: In fact it’s negative. It’s doing you a disservice because those emails that you’re sending out aren’t reaching those primary inboxes now because people like Google have figured out that you are mass sending to 100,000 people but only 5000 are actually paying attention and clicking the links. In their eyes, you aren’t trustworthy. I think it’s great to use List Hygiene to keep your list as hot and as relevant as possible. That’s what we do all the time. That’s why our open rates and click rates are so crazy hot.
Louis: Let’s make a close, and talk about your numbers a little bit. What’s your typical open rate?
Andre: Let me go into my Drip now. I’ll just read from the top down. Again, because when I send emails, it’s very rarely to everybody, it’s always to very segmented segments of people. Starting on the list, 79.5%, 83.3%, 75.6%, 70.7%, 77.1%, 83.7%, 63.7%, 54.1%. That’s just some of them.
Louis: It’s a dream for a lot of marketers, I can guarantee you because if you hit more than 30%, people are happy usually or even 20% at this stage. That’s pretty interesting. I want to go a little bit more in detail about the hook that you would choose in order to get people in and in order to make people sign up to your email. Why the fuck would we sign up to your email in the first place? After that, we can talk about the thing that I found to be the most powerful in your method.
How do you typically choose a hook? Let’s say for my technical people who are looking to use marketing in order to launch their product, what would you try to get them in?
Andre: What I do is I come up with a big idea. This doesn’t mean that you’re always going to hit a homerun at the gate which is why this is a process. For example, I will read every morning on my iPad or my iPhone, I’ve got the Apple News app, I’ve got another thing called FlipPad which basically is a news navigator. You can just tell it all the different categories that you’re interested in.
I just flip through news stories and just read little things. All the time, every single time, there’s always ideas. People don’t get ideas by staring at a computer screen trying to think of an idea. That’s not how ideas come. Ideas come when you’re reading something and it sparks an idea that you can connect to something else. That’s how you have an idea. The more that you broaden your domain knowledge, about just stuff in general, you will then get these ideas.
If I’m reading something, the other day I was reading something on bitcoin or this morning, I forgot when it was. The way that it was written, it gave me some ideas of how I could connect that to something else that I’m doing which has got nothing to do with bitcoin but you can use it as context. Then I’ll just, in the app, just say save and it’ll save that post.
Medium is great. I love reading Medium. Medium really makes it easy for you just to save articles. Then I’ll always come back to my save list on Medium or the Apple App or Flipboard, then use that to create my big idea. The big idea then is just connecting an idea that’s out there to what I’m wanting them to focus their attention on.
I don’t know if that answers the question but that’s certainly a way that I found that’s really good. It’s just that the more stuff that you consume and be willing to connect ideas. I think Stephen King said something that ideas are just these random things and you get it in the moment when you read something and you can connect that thing to something else. In that moment, you created that little idea that didn’t exist before.
Louis: That’s interesting. Obviously, that makes a lot of sense. You would connect a story with what you want them to get into. That’s basically what I think you’re talking about here. Let’s say talking about bitcoin, understanding what’s going on with bitcoin and your brain would almost naturally make kind of a connection with the job that you want them to do or the thing you want them to care about.
Andre: To give a real example then, I’ve got [00:33:52] I’ve written this thing ages ago, it must have been in 2010 maybe. I was reading through this magazine, ISLANDS magazine, it spoke about this, if you wanted to retire and go to this island, Vanuatu, I don’t know how to pronounce it. They were rated as the number one happiest place to live in the world by the Happy Planet Index.
I just thought this was an amazing story although it had nothing to do with what I’m doing per se. It created this amazing hook, this big idea that I could hook people into, and then through that tied into something else that I know that they would be interested in. You can see that blog if you go to affiliatebully.com.
There’s nothing for sale, it’s just nine pages of content. But at the very first page, you can see the front page of the magazine. The copy on the first page is all about that magazine and that story and then as it gets nearer the bottom of that first page, it segways into how I spun that around and connected it to something else that I know they’re interested in. If that makes sense.
Louis: The keyword here is really storytelling, isn’t it? It’s about hooking people with a good story, something they would pay attention to because that’s what humans really do like, stories, we do like that.
Let’s move onto the next step. We have identified a hook, we have sent this first welcome email, this second email to understand who they are a little bit. Now, we’re going to build what you call a soap opera secrets like the soap opera sequence which is the basic rom com type TV shows that you watch.
This weird thing that basically I keep doing, I keep doing that for the last 25 minutes and I don’t know if you guys, listeners, have noticed is that I keep referring to something that will happen like the very meaty part of this episode, I don’t mention it, I just open the loop and I don’t close it.
Your brain will say, “Fucking hell, I want to know what you’re talking about. Tell me the end, close the loop for me.” This is what happens with TV shows like Lost, like Breaking Bad and all those amazing shows. They basically create what you call open and nested loops. Tell me more about this because this really blew my mind, I really love this concept in storytelling.
Andre: If you’re listening to any of those TV programs, every single time, without fail, at the end of every episode, there’s going to be a big cliffhanger. There’s going to be this big thing, “Oh, I want to watch what’s going to happen next,” and the damn thing ends. In your mind, it’s just trailing away and you have to tune in the next day. If you’re binge-watching, you binge-watch Netflix and it’s like, “Okay, one more episode,” one more turns into four more episodes and next thing you know you just lost five hours of your life. That’s all to do with those open loops at the end, those cliffhangers.
Basically, I just took that idea and I use them in emails. It works amazingly well. You can open up this loop, this idea or this thought but then you don’t close it in that same email. You might close it in the next email or the email after that. You can open and close these things as many times as you want. It just creates tension and anticipation for more.
That’s how I get people to stay tuned into these emails. Otherwise, when you’re just sending out random broadcast emails, you can’t use open loops because the next broadcast email is probably going to be completely different. The proper sequence is this narrative that they can play out over how many emails and within the context of those emails that are going out, you get the luxury of dropping these open loops to create more engagement and anticipation.
It’s funny, you can do all sorts of tricks. One of the things that I love to do in the email subject line is I’ll say part one. Then the second email would be Part Two or Step Two or something like that where they can see that there’s this sequential thing. Sometimes what I’ll do is I’ll miss out one. If they just consume part three, I’ll miss that part four, then it’ll be part five on purpose. It drives people nuts. They’ll email back and say, “I think I’ve just missed an email. I didn’t receive part four.” It’s great. It keeps them interested.
Louis: This is a phenomenal idea. It’s really simple and everybody will say that that makes complete sense. But you managed to turn this cliffhangers technique and this technique of open and nested loops within emails and you have a very sick process to do so. I love how you explained how you actually do it.
You basically take a blank sheets of paper, or more importantly, blank emails, blank piece of text, you put that on your screen, you put five or six columns, and you would start creating the story this way and you would start creating the loops starting in one email, ending in three emails after. The important thing that we need to talk about here is that you can, using this technique, open many loops before closing them.
A typical thing would be in a TV show, let’s say in Breaking Bad, the main character will enter a shop and start talking to the salesperson and the salesperson would say, “Back away or I’ll kill you,” and then boom, that moves onto another one, another scene where it’s maybe the girlfriend doing something else. This leaves you to a cliffhanger where you want to know what happened to both and you don’t know. Now you’re engaged in two smaller stories that you want to know the end of. This is how they get your attention. This is how TV show makers, movie makers get your attention.
Andre: Exactly. It works so well. Typically, in the main body of the email will be the main narrative that plays out. But what I’ll also do in the P.S. section is I’ll have this little subplot. It’ll be this little sideways discussion or narrative that plays out that has nothing to do with the main body. In the P.S. I could be more personal and talk about our cat and our [00:40:49].
There’s these two things moving at the same time. People loved it. In fact, so many of our people, they’ll scroll down to the bottom and they’ll read the P.S. first because they just want to see what I’ve written inside there. Again, it’s just different things to get people really interested in the emails and consuming them all.
Louis: I’m interested in how we can help listeners to set their first open, their first nest, their first hooks in the email. What would you typically advise them to do or not to do?
Andre: Let me think. A case study is an easy way. If you’re using a case study to tell somebody else a story, you’re demonstrating somebody else as a hero that’s achieved a certain result. You’ve done it in such a way that essentially, the avatar or the persona of that case study is matched to your reader. When they’re reading this, they’re thinking, “Ah, that’s not me.” They essentially inject themselves into that story.
Then within the context of that case study, you can say something, “I’ll talk about it later,” then you just continue. It’s very subtle but it’s like a bomb and then you just let go and it’s very drying, it’s like, “I want to hear about that.” Then you just break apart and you just continue in. That’s probably the easiest way. Then you can tie it up in the next email, “Hey, by the way, I forgot to end off on telling you about this thing about Lucy. Well, here it is.” Then you give it to them. You always have got to relieve the pressure. You can’t just open these loops and then never close them.
Louis: That’s why for example with kids, that works really well. You would tell them, “No, I can’t tell you. I can’t tell you.” And they would be, “Please tell me. Please tell me.” It’s really wired into your brain. We need to know things. We are not here trying to talk about manipulation because that’s another topic altogether.
It’s more about making sure that you deliver the information that you want to them, to do what you know will help them in the best way possible because people are lazy, people have no time, people have a lot of stuff to do and if you’re not able to deliver this important information to them, in the right way, you’re going to lose them forever and you’re never going to be able to help them have an impact. You need to see it this way. Storytelling is critical to marketing and it’s critical to everything we do as marketers.
That’s been really interesting kind of step by step. I think people can take away a lot of things from it. I will suggest people to try it out at a smaller scale and see how it compares to their normal open rates. I’m definitely going to start doing it. I can guarantee you. To talk about you, Andre, a little bit more. We were discussing that a little bit before we started recording but your name is very French. You’re the owner of Tiny Little Businesses. The course that we’re talking about right now is AutoResponder Madness which has been around for how many years?
Andre: Version one we released in 2009. We’re onto the third iteration and the third edition and the fourth one would be next year, early next year.
Louis: It’s truly amazing how evergreen this type of content can be. Truly, it’s fantastic storytelling. Just to be clear for listeners, Andre is not paying me to do this episode. I’m genuinely, really interested in what he did and his course is really fantastic so I would really advise you to at least go to his website, tinylittlebusinesses.com, because you will be hooked by just starting to read a few lines. Be careful, it’s quite addictive. Because we’re in the topic of storytelling Andre, I’d like to know, is there a story in particular that would summarize what made you who you are today?
Andre: No. I’m a shy introvert who happens to be dyslexic. I wasn’t supposed to be a writer. To me, that’s the thing that I shouldn’t have done. But I guess, because I’m a shy introvert, when I first try email, it was so amazing because it allowed me to from a piece of text, just top some stuff out send it, and then I could send it and I could communicate with an audience, with people, and still be a shy introvert. That was just magical for me. I just got better and better at it.
I think that’s one of the keys. It’s the more you do something, the better you’re going to get at it even if you’re terrible and you just shouldn’t be a writer, you can definitely get better with it. The other thing that you can do is read a lot. I read lots of fiction. I read a lot more fiction than I read business books though I’m in business because storytelling is so fundamental to everything that we do.
If you can tell a story, then you win and your customers win because you get to take something that’s relevant to them and translate it into something that matters to them. Everybody loves stories. I think that’s the big tip, it’s just read fiction.
The very first fiction book I read, like a proper fiction book was Persuader by Lee Child which is book number seven of his Jack Reacher series. I was 35 at the time, I’m 43 now so that was a few years ago. It just changed everything for me. It set the biggest impact on my writing style, it’s reading those Lee Child books, those Jack Reacher books. For me, that was the biggest shift. It’s like, “Oh wow. This writing is amazing.” Then I was just basically taking that and applying it to the business writing.
Louis: You were able to take away key things from those books, right?
Andre: Yes. His writing style, it’s very short punchy sentences. It’s just written so well. Although it’s just fiction, you can take those elements and just use them straight away. Just make your sentences shorter and more punchy. You don’t have to start sentences with “the,” you can start them with any word you want.
Essentially, you just write like you speak. If you speak and you start a sentence with “and,” then you start a sentence with and. It’s not different with email. I guess I just got better over time. I think anybody could do that. I guess people will hate me for saying this, but there’s no quick fix. You’re not gonna suddenly become the world’s best email writer in one week. It’s just something that you’ll get better at over time. The more you write, the more you read, the better you’re going to get. Simple as that.
Louis: It’s great because you answered a question I didn’t ask yet which is fucked up.
Andre: I read minds.
Louis: That’s it. That’s what we do. I wanted to ask you more about resources that you would recommend people to use. But I guess this is it, and this is a very great tip for me particularly because I do read a lot but I read business books. I’m starting to get sick of it because I get the same insights over and over again.
As of today, right now, I pledge to you, I will buy those books and I will fucking read them, and I will apply them to my marketing because I’m sick of reading business books and I’m sick of listening to business podcasts. Let’s read fiction a little bit more. Let’s open our minds. As you said at the very start of this episode which I liked quite a lot, the more you open your mind to new things and stories and different angles, the more you will able to relate to what you’re trying to tell people.
Andre: Exactly. If I can recommend two books to get, the one would be Persuader by Lee Child, the Jack Reacher book which is just pure fiction but it’s written so amazingly well it will impact how you write in whichever market you’re in. Another book you can get which is another $7 or $8 is a book by my good friend, Michael Hauge, he’s a Hollywood story consultant, it’s called Storytelling Made Easy.
Just type in Michael Hauge into Amazon and find the book. It’s like $7 or $8. It takes you through an entire storytelling framework that you can apply then to anything you want. Not just for writing fiction but for writing business and back stories and origin stories and all sorts of stuff. That’s probably less than $20 worth of education that I think you can totally benefit from.
Louis: We talked about your courses which is AutoResponder Madness. You have a few other courses that I will let people discover if they go to your website. There’s a few interesting ones that you should check out, tinylittlebusinesses.com. You see what I did there? I just created an open nest. They’ll have to close it themselves.
Andre: It’s really good.
Louis: You see I’m trying to apply stuff right away. The third resource, apart from Lee Child and your good friend on storytelling, what would be the third resource you would recommend to guests and please get away from business stuff. Tell me more about those fiction things, fiction books.
Andre: Okay. It’s a three-book series. All three books are free if you’re on Kindle Unlimited. The first one is called Pines, they actually made a little TV series on it a few years ago. The author is called Blake Crouch. It’s probably one of the best fiction series that I’ve ever read. It’s only three books long. The first one is called Pines, the second one is called Wayward, and third one is called The Lost Town.
Seriously, it’ll hook you to death. There’s open loops afterwards. It’s insane. I fell in love with reading the book. I couldn’t put it down. I had to read the second book and I had to read the third book. In fact, I actually got the audio series as well, the Kindle one because the narrator does such an amazing job of narrating the story. I’ll basically listen to the audio version on my Kindle, on my iPhone and as he’s narrating it, I’m reading the book so I still need to see the words. It’s amazing. I think you’ll enjoy that.
Louis: The best proof that this is a good storytelling is that even the storyteller need his fix, right?
Andre: Yeah, exactly.
Louis: That’s interesting. You’ve been amazing. I think it’s opening up a lot of ideas for listeners and hopefully for me as well. I’m going to start to put my ass in gear in order to improve what I do, to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time.
Andre, you’ve been an absolute pleasure to deal with. I really appreciate the effort you’re making because as you mentioned, you are a shy introvert. It’s not necessarily the medium you’re the most familiar with or most comfortable with but you did an amazing job and I really appreciate it. Before we close this episode, where can people connect with you, learn more from you?
Andre: I’m not on the social medias on purpose, I avoid them. I think the only way is to just go on my website and click on the contact button. You can shoot me an email and we can chat. I read and answer all our emails. Although we have a support desk, I still get to see the emails. That’s the one way. tinylittlebusinesses.com, if you go to tinylittlebusiness.com/email, it’s an email series, it’s free. I think it plays out over a 30-day period. It goes deep into all these different elements that we’ve spoken about here. There’s nothing to buy if you don’t want to buy anything. That’s it.
Louis: I want to say something but I completely forgot. I guess we’re going to have to close it to this. But once again Andre, thank you very much.
Andre: You’re more than welcome.
How to stand out: 9 bullshit-free lessons from world-class tech marketers
Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.
I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).
I believe you can treat people the way you’d like to be treated and still generate results without using sleazy, aggressive, hack-y marketing. This is why I’ve started Everyone Hates Marketers – a no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast – as a side project in April 2017.
I’m also the Content Lead at Hotjar – a powerful way to analyse people’s behaviour on your website or app and understand how you can improve their experience.