[Podcast] Pushing Send Episode 16 – Val Geisler

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Val Geisler

How a well-known copywriter and email geek, who is on a mission to help marketers honor the human experience through email messaging. This is Val Geisler’s story about Pushing Send.

Val Geisler is an email marketing conversion copywriter and strategist for B2C startups who know that to convert, you have to connect. She is a self proclaimed email geek obsessed with customer retention and is the founder of Fix My Churn, a company that specializes in customer messaging for SaaS and subscription based eCommerce businesses.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • B2B emails are similar to B2C emails because a human being will be the one reading these emails. 
  • These email lists also have a need to be segmented depending upon the role of who is reading the email.
  • Email is the nucleus of the customer experience and is needed to maintain the relationship between the customer and the brand.
  • Val’s own email list is comprised of different segments and she implements lots of different ways to teach for free to her email list and engage with them so that they can continue to learn. 
  • People learn in different ways, so it is important to present emails in a variety of formats. Creating balance with types of emails and when you send them can play an integral part in your email marketing strategy.
  • While building a larger list is important, developing a relationship for those that have chosen to be on your list is vital.
  • Val Geisler’s message is an important one regarding the responsibility we all have in sending human-centric, email messages. 

Tweetables:

“Who said that you don’t get to talk to people like they’re people, because as a business, when you send an email, you’re not sending that email to another business, the person who signed up on behalf of the business is receiving the email and they’re human.” @LoveValGeisler

“We as brands can’t exist without our customers. We have to go to them, we have to say hi, we see you, we want to talk to you. Email to me has always been a way to have a conversation.” @LoveValGeisler 

“I think there’s a real missed opportunity in saying let’s put all of our eggs in the acquisition basket, & none of them in what we do to retain those customers once they’re either on our list or even better, once they’ve purchased from us…we need to keep them in our ecosystem.” @LoveValGeisler 

“I like to think that there is a world where we as email marketers are honoring what a consumer goes through on a daily basis with email, & that we’re able to send emails that they want when they want them & that we’re delivering value beyond those asks.” @LoveValGeisler

 

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Episode Transcript

Val Geisler:
Most of us have worked in either retail or food service. And we can take a lot of those things that we experienced and apply them to what we do in communication by email. Because again, we’ve all been that person at a restaurant who the server is like right there by your table. And like watching, as soon as you have the first bite and ask you how the food is, if you’re like, I can’t, I’m chewing, or that every time you take a sip of water, they fill your cup again. So that’s what it’s like in email most of the time. And if we can all just remember back to being 18 to 22 and doing those retail and food service jobs and apply what we learned there on the good and the bad, it would make a huge difference

Bryan Kelly:
From rasa.io, the free tool for sending smarter and better email newsletters. This is Pushing Send a show featuring people who’ve sent emails their subscribers actually want to read. I’m Bryan Kelly and on today’s show, I look at how one copywriter is working to help marketers honor the human experience through email messaging. Here’s Val Geisler explaining why there’s zero difference between B2B and B2C emails. You work both with B2B and B2C companies. Is there a difference between writing emails for the two?

Val Geisler:
Yeah, I mean, here’s the thing is like email is human to human or business to human. If you want to put a B on it, ultimately it’s a person that is receiving your email, whether it’s a person representing a business or the end consumer. Is there somebody opening your email and reading it? So I don’t really see a difference between B2B and B2C. Obviously there are small little differences, but when people say like, oh, in B2B, you can’t have fun in your copy. You can’t talk to people like they’re human beings. Like why not? That’s kind of my big question back is like, why, who said that you don’t get to talk to people like they’re people, because as a business, when you send an email, you’re not sending that email to another business, the business is not receiving your email. The person who signed up on behalf of the business is receiving the email and they’re human. So we really take the stance of like, we’re just writing emails to humans and building emails that are for humans. And so, yeah, it’s B2B and B2C.

Bryan Kelly:
Now there might be someone listening to this saying, yeah, I agree Val, but I’m a marketer focused on supporting a complex B2B sale and I need to speak to multiple buyers. So knowing their sales collateral that either proceeds or follows a B2B email, how do you respond to that?

Val Geisler:
Yeah, a lot of copy just kind of ends up, pulled off the website or pulled from sales materials and thrown into an email. And it’s just a, it’s such a different medium, right? You can’t, you just can’t do that. Like you said, it, an email to an end-user is very different than email to the decision maker. And even to about that process of the decision maker has been getting emails from you as a software company for potentially several weeks now, as they’re going through trialing and testing things out, and maybe they’re in that sales process. So they have a deeper level of awareness around the brand and they came as a decision maker in the first place because they had already visited your site, had been potentially had a sales call or to several in some cases. And then they invite a team member and that’s the first time that team member potentially has even ever heard about the software that they might’ve gotten a message from their boss saying, Hey, we’re going to use this new software and I’m sending you an invite or maybe they didn’t even get that message and they just a sudden get an invite. So there’s a different level of awareness and then there’s also a different use case because this is now the person who is working in the software on a daily basis, or is leading a team who’s working in that depending on how you function. But there’s an entirely different way that we talk to somebody who has never experienced it before than somebody it’s like what happens right now is like, it’s almost like walking into the middle of a conversation when you’re at the end user on an enterprise software, you just kind of get dumped into this existing conversation or the exact same onboarding that the purchaser had when it’s just really like, it needs to be, like you said, segmented and made clear what people’s roles are and there are so many ways to do that. And I think that the biggest hangup for a lot of marketers is, well, I need development time to make that happen. Like we need, we need the drop down in there, sign up and we need all these things that they click on inside the software and engineering doesn’t have time to give us for that. And so we’re not going to do it, but I think that that’s, that’s kind of the wrong way to approach it. And it’s a defeatist way of thinking about marketing. You have to think about, well, how can I accomplish this? Even if it’s like a short term solution, let’s get it on products roadmap and make a case for why it matters and then figure out a solution for it, whether it’s like, okay, so we’re asking them to click within an email and then maybe there’s a portion of people who don’t ever click and so we need to create a track for them, but you have to create these multiple scenarios and work with segmenting as best you can with what you have instead of just saying, I’m not going to do it because they don’t have the engineering time given to me.

Bryan Kelly:
Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s so true. Well, your title on LinkedIn is chief email optimizer, which I love, and I know people have called you an email geek. So why are you so passionate about email?

Val Geisler:
It’s a good question. I get asked this a lot, like why email? So, my background is varied and the kind of tie that binds everything that I’ve done in my career is customer experience. And the idea that as brands, part of our job is to help guide that customer experience or the customer has their own experience that we have no influence over. And so I think it’s our job to say, Hey, we want you to have the best experience possible. And the best way that we can do that is to meet you where you are. And for a lot of consumers, that’s in their inbox. Email is also kind of the center of that communication point for our customers. So email is the nucleus. And then what comes out of there is like in-app messaging or help desk notifications or knowledge-based documentation, SMS. All of those things exist to support customer experience. But if you have all those things and you don’t have email, it still feels very disjointed. I think a lot about, well, what happens if the customer doesn’t ever think to interact with the brand, whether you’re a service provider or you’re a SaaS or your e-commerce, if the customer never comes to you, it’s up to you to keep that relationship going. We as brands can’t exist without our customers. And so we have to go to them, we have to say hi, we see you. We want to talk to you. An email to me has always been a way to have a conversation. And whether that’s through a super formatted stylized, HTML email with lots of images and different calls to action, or whether that’s through a text-based letter style email. And I think that both have their place. It’s ultimately about creating a really great customer experience and a high level of communication from the brand to their customers.

Bryan Kelly:
When we come back, Val talks about concepts she applies to both client email and her own business email. Plus she shares some of the best email examples she keeps in her personal swipe file for inspiration. I’m Bryan Kelly, and you’re listening to Pushing Send from rasa.io.

rasa.io:
Creating email newsletters takes a lot of time. You might curate articles, write content, tweak your template, and look up metrics and not to mention you’re probably doing all of this once a week. Well at rasa.io, we said enough and built a free tool to simplify the process, which saves you time. It also uses AI to personalize emails for each subscriber based on their interests. That means they get stuff they like to read. Want to see how it works? Visit www.rasa.io and click how it works.

Bryan Kelly:
Welcome back to Pushing Send. I’m Bryan Kelly. Val Geisler is a high end copywriter focused on turning boring emails into relationship building tools. And she doesn’t just do this for her clients. She also takes the same approach with her own email list. Here’s Val breaking down tactics she uses to leverage the audience she’s built.

Val Geisler:
I used to have a email training program for, uh, it was designed for copywriters initially, copywriters, who found themselves doing email projects and loved them, but didn’t really understand, like how do I build strategy and how do I know I have clients saying, I need five onboarding emails written and well, I’m a copywriter and I can write those emails, but do they actually need five? Or do they need 15? Or do they need different segments? How do I know all of that? So I built a training program that was basically everything that I knew about email and built into this 12 week mastermind of sorts incubator. And so I ran that a couple of times for copywriters. And then I ran a version of it that was half copywriters and half marketers who were in-house at a brand and in charge of email in either case it’s people who are finding themselves, doing email and want to better understand it. Actually my email list is the reason I built that program in the first place, because I, I realized through the way I operate my own email list. My initial email, when you join, my email list is asking what keeps you up at night about email? And so people reply and they give me these long form answers, which I love. And a lot of the responses I was getting was around copywriters who wanted to better understand it. And so I thought, wow, there’s this whole segment of my email lists that are, they’re not my ideal target market as it were for services that we provide, but they’re following me for a reason they’re on this email list to learn. And they’re not really going to learn from what I’m producing in this email list, but I can build something where they can learn. So I used the email list to not only inform that product, but then to test it and to build it and then to sell it. And so I sold this incubator a few times through the email list. And then right now my goal is to make that content more so that people can buy it as they need to. And in the meantime, I definitely, there’s the other kind of three segments of my email. There’s the copywriters. And then the second segment would be SaaS business owners. And then the third is e-commerce business owners. So I serve all of those in different ways and what I’m not selling the incubator I’m teaching to SaaS and e-commerce business owners, whether that’s through linking them to a podcast I recently recorded or talking about a book that I am featured in, or doing email onboarding tear down or sharing one of my YouTube videos. There’s lots of different ways that I teach for free to my email list, but I continue to engage with them so that, so that they continue to learn. There’s a reason they showed up in the first place. And I think that’s one of the biggest misses for brands is we miss that education piece in email. And all we ever do is show up to our email lists with our hands open, with an ask, whether that’s e-commerce showing up, hey, here’s a sale, here’s our new product, come buy it. Um, without doing education in between.

Bryan Kelly:
Now, what are some of your favorite emails in your personal swipe file? I know you’ve got one.

Val Geisler:
Well, I’m a copywriter. So typically they’re pretty text-based or text forward. Some of the emails that I have referenced at least most recently are one I love that Everlane does. So they’re a clothing brand. So they’ll release a new product line on, let’s say a Wednesday and I’ll get an email that’s very image, heavy, shows off their new product, invites you to come learn more on the website, has that call to action to click through. And then I have gotten a follow up email. I mean, I’ve gotten in both cases, whether I click on that first email or I don’t. And so maybe there’s like a case for some deeper segmenting here, but it’s always on a Sunday afternoon, I get a text-based email. That’s like one paragraph and it’s inline links to the exact same products that they linked on their stylized HTML email on Wednesday it’s Hey, we have this new shirt or they obviously have more specific copy than that, but it’s very letter form. And it’s sent from a person. There are no images in it. And I just love that balance between the two. I referenced that a lot in the case of e-commerce because I think in e-commerce we lean so heavily on images to sell our products. I know we all, as e-commerce brands invest a lot in photo shoots and uh, on our products themselves and so we want to show off those beautiful labels or the models that we had our clothing on. And there’s that idea that people learn different ways. I mean, kinesthetic and I forget which ones are auditory and visual learners. And so people learn in different ways through email too, and they experience your brand in different ways. So creating that balance that Everlane has done of both images and text to sell the same products is really incredible. And personally, I respond a lot better to that Sunday email. It could also be like the timing. I mean, during the middle of the week there is a lot, going on on a Sunday afternoon, it’s a little more relaxed and there’s less to respond to. So it could also be a timing thing. Like I don’t see a lot of brands sending a Sunday afternoon email.

Bryan Kelly:
So I’ve previously heard you talk about building your email list versus working your list. We’re all told to focus on building our lists to the point where it’s become an obsession, but yet there’s this whole other aspect we’re neglecting. Can you talk about this difference?

Val Geisler:
I don’t think that building your list is a bad thing. Obviously like the more people on your list, the more people you can communicate with. And I think that a lot of brands focus a hundred percent on list building and they leave sitting on the table what happens once those people are on our list? So you have to kind of balance this. Let’s go all in on acquisition with what happens when those people join us. If we’re building a main email list and we’re not even talking customers, are they joining our list and then not hearing from us for months because we’re so busy focused on list building. We have nothing happening on the post acquisition side. We want some kind of welcome sequence in place. You want to have a way for them to get to know the brand and become a part of the brand before you do this big ask, the plan is typically like let’s get a whole bunch of people on our email list. So that then when Black Friday comes or when we do our end of year deals or whatever it is, we have that list to sell to. But if you aren’t nurturing that list, when you do eventually sell to them, they’re at very best going to delete your emails and at worst gonna mark you as spam because they forgot that they were even on your list to begin with. I mean, I can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday let alone what email list I joined a month ago. If you don’t email me, I have no clue that I’m on your email list. And then, and also my inbox doesn’t know that I’m on your email list. You’re not only building a relationship with a person, but you’re also building a relationship with an inbox, Gmail, or outlook or whatever it is that the inbox has to know that that person wants your emails. So building that relationship is really important. I hear this a lot too. And I get on calls with potential clients and brands that want to work on email. What I sometimes hear back is well, we talked about it as a team and we really need to put our investment in acquisition and we need to build our email list before we can use it. And I, I totally get that, that point of view. And I know that budgets only extend so far and you absolutely should do what you think is right to do with your, your money. And I think there’s a real missed opportunity in saying let’s put all of our eggs in the acquisition basket, and none of them in what we do to retain those customers once they’re either on our list or even better, once they’ve purchased from us. We need to keep them around long-term whether we sell to them a product that is a one-time purchase or a first a monthly subscription, our job is still to keep them around, to keep them in our ecosystem. As brands that’s the best thing we can do is why spend all that money on acquisition, if they’re all just going to leave.

Bryan Kelly:
Yes. Why spend all that money on acquisition if they’re just going to leave? You nailed it. I’ve got an app for my Gmail account called SaneBox that uses AI to help me banish crummy emails to something called the black hole. So many marketers are wasting money to only end up in the black hole.

Val Geisler:
I like to imagine a world where tools like SaneBox don’t have to exist because on the email marketing side, we’re honoring the human experience and understand what it’s like to be on the other side of that inbox. I like to think that that world can exist. I also know plenty of email marketers who get pushback from higher ups and are told to send emails that they know are not emails that they should be sending from everything that they’ve learned. Their bosses, send them to conferences to learn about email, and then just tell them what kind of emails to send. So I know that there are a lot of email people in tough positions, but I, I do like to think that there is a world where we as email marketers are honoring what a consumer goes through on a daily basis with email, and that we’re able to send emails that they want when they want them and that we’re delivering value beyond those asks. And that eventually there won’t be a need for things like SaneBox, but right now those tools are definitely needed.

Bryan Kelly:
Yeah, they definitely are. I think it’s fair and accurate to say that lots of folks are being pressured to just send out a promotional email, even though they know it isn’t the best call.

Val Geisler:
The email community is small and we all talk and I’m in plenty of groups of email marketers who we on a daily basis, somebody is saying, okay, I’ve been forced to send this email I know we shouldn’t be sending, or I’ve been told not to do segmenting that we should be doing. I’m the expert, but I’m being told by somebody else who hired me for my expertise to do something different. So there’s a lot of frustrated, tied hands out there. And that’s one of the reasons that I don’t work for anybody else. And it’s also like, it just, it makes me fight more for what email can be and continue to have conversations like this. So maybe somebody listening, who isn’t an email marketer, but oversees, someone can say like, you know what, I’m going to trust my email team a bit more. And I’m going to ask more questions instead of making demands. If I impact one person in that way, then I’ve done my job.

Bryan Kelly:
Val Geisler’s message is an important one regarding the responsibility we all have in sending human-centric, email messages. How are you taking on this responsibility for yourself, your team, or your business when it comes to email? Coming up on our next episode, we’ll hear from David Newman, a consultant and coach who’s been using email for decades and then hit an inflection point, taking his business from six figures to well beyond seven figures. He describes some incredible examples of how he’s done this. You won’t want to miss what David has to say. So if you’re listening to Pushing Send for the first time, be sure to subscribe at Apple Podcasts or wherever you’re listening so you don’t miss an episode. And if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, I’d encourage you to check out a few other episodes while you’re here. Lastly, leaving a review will help us share these stories with other people, just like yourself. Thanks in advance for doing that. I’m Bryan Kelly, and you’ve been listening to Pushing Send from rasa.io.

 

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