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Interview with Emma Burford – Transcription
Kate Hi, I’m Kate Barrett, the founder of Shine A Light Media and the Email Marketing Academy, and welcome to the next in our series of interviews with everyone from entrepreneurs to fellow email marketing experts where we will be finding out how they use email in their business to give you inspiration in your own work.
Our guest today is Emma Burford. Emma runs the amazing Business Rocks Digital Magazine and Community giving inspiration to women in business. So Emma, hello and thank you for joining me today.
Emma Hello there Kate and thank you for inviting me. I’m absolutely thrilled to be here.
Kate Excellent, so Emma tell us a little bit more about yourself and your company and what prompted you to set up your own business.
Emma Well I have been treading the online marketing business path for a few years now and I love to try new things, I’m always keeping my finger on the pulse as to what’s going on out there, and about two or three years ago I was looking at digital mobile apps with a business partner. In the end I decided that that was not quite right for me, but at the same time, it’s interesting how things evolve really, I came across the digital magazine platform and the person behind it Mr Ed Dale, who is a very well-known internet marketer, I had followed for about five years and I have taken a number of his courses and with my love of online marketing and networking with other fellow women in business I just decided that was the one for me. So I took the plunge last autumn and the magazine now is almost a year old and I am loving it.
Kate Fantastic, and happy birthday to the magazine. Brilliant, so with that then, and obviously with your love of online marketing, what marketing channels are you using at the moment to drive people through to the digital magazine? I know it’s available on iTunes for example. How are you creating that awareness and driving people through and what is working best for you at the moment?
Emma Well I have used social media marketing for a number of years. I have been in Mari Smith’s inner circle since October 11, so I was quite used to using social media marketing and I have applied a lot of what I’ve learned over the last few years now and using particularly Twitter, I felt there’s been quite a big growth rate there as well. Obviously all the usual things like Facebook and running some ads to the digital app. In fact recently we are just waiting for another app update which will allow us to Facebook ads directly through to deep links inside the magazine, so there is going to be a lot of developments over the coming months as we test and tweak and try lots of things out, so it’s all very exciting.
Kate It is, that sounds brilliant, that sounds really good and something really fantastic and new to try out as well.
In terms of your social media, do you connect that together with your email marketing? Do you run those Facebook ads through to a squeeze page to collect sign ups, or is all targeted through to the magazine and then there’s a sign up as they join the magazine? How are you connecting your social media and your email marketing?
Emma Okay, well there’s a few different ways you can do it, and we’re trying all of them! Twitter ads, Facebook ads through to squeeze pages, and as I say, now we are going to be able to put them straight through into the magazine as well, which hasn’t happened yet but that will. I have been using un-bounced pages for my squeeze pages to capture those leads into my mail list. Currently, I have a couple of options in my tool kit, but the one that I am using the most is Aweber to put those through from the system, and also because the digital app is on Apple iTunes and Android and I have also got pdf version on Selz but for Apple at the moment we do get given the opt ins, and that’s people that have agreed to have information sent to them when they have signed up to download the app, so we are able to convert those and put them into our Aweber list and systems, so that’s working pretty well.
Kate Fantastic, so you mentioned there about Aweber, so that’s your ESP, your email service provider. What made you choose Aweber over other EPSs on the market? What is it that you like about the system, or don’t like about the system?
Emma Well, to be honest, to start with six years ago I started with Mail Chimp because it was free and most of the business women I knew at the time, a lot of them with small businesses were using Mail Chimp but I have always been keen on learning and using internet marketing and it wasn’t very good for affiliate marketing, they don’t like it, so probably about four years ago I transferred to Aweber, and that was purely recommendation at the time. I had looked at other options, but at the moment I have now got lots of lists on there and I have actually had my other website, which is a business directory for mums, I have actually had programming to integrate my list from that as well. I am kind of running a couple of systems really at the moment, but Aweber is the main one I have been using. What don’t I like about it? You know it’s funny, there’s not an awful lot I don’t like, to be honest, because I think you just get used to what you’re using. So I was to go and try something else, for example Get Response or Infusionsoft, I might go “oh wow this is so much better” but it’s just what you’re used to and if it does the job and its working then you kind of stick with it because it’s not always that easy to transfer over once you’ve gone down the line some way.
Kate Absolutely, and particularly if you have got quite a complex set up in there, there is work involved in switching to another ESP, like you say. If you’re happy with how the system works and the functionality, absolutely, stick with it!
Emma One day I’ll get more advice from you and then we’ll give it a go and try a new one I think.
Kate Absolutely! Let me know Emma, let me know!
Brilliant, so with Aweber and all your lists in Aweber, what have you got set up in there then, how are you currently using email marketing in your business?
Emma Well, I have a number of auto responders set up on various lists. Not all of them I have to say, because what I tend to do, and I may not be doing in the right way because I am pretty much self-taught by looking at their videos and things, I haven’t had any paid help with Aweber. I have always created new lists whenever I have had a promotion or there has been something going on so I’ve got lots of different lists and that has been my way of segmenting to some extent, being able to see where people are but I do need to do some more work on that to make it work even more smoothly.
Kate So the auto responders, are we talking individual auto responders based on behaviour or demographic information, so for example, if somebody hasn’t integrated with your emails within a certain period of time, or if somebody visits a certain page on your website, or are we talking more sales funnels as people join your list?
Emma Yes, the latter, so basically at the moment they are set up as auto responder with a series of information leading on perhaps to an offer, different things down the line based on where they have come in on the list.
I haven’t got clever enough to actually create, well I wouldn’t say clever enough, I haven’t had the time, if I’m honest, to create specific ones based on customers’ needs as such, but I do move people around so I kind of have my own probably crazy way of doing it.
Kate As a busy entrepreneur and mum there’s only so many things you can do in a day isn’t there, so if they’re set up and they’re working well for you that’s absolutely fantastic. Outside of those initial auto responders, do you send regular communications for people who sign up for the magazine, or even if they don’t and they just sign up for your email list, are there other regular communications that add value or give them extra information? What can people expect from your email program.
Emma If we’re talking about the magazine, yes they do get the initial sign up, I do give them a once a month email and that’s about all I do at the moment. However, if I’ve got other promotions going on in my other lists then I will incorporate them into those. Its relatively new for the actual magazine, so although I have got lots of ideas I haven’t put them all into place because it again comes back to having time to do it, but yes, that will come into play because obviously there are a lot of offers and some of my fantastic contributors have things that I can promote for them, so then I will promote those to people as well.
Kate Excellent. Other than other peoples offers or other valuable information like that, something that people struggle with a lot is coming up with content. So, how do you come up with content for your emails? Is it based on articles you have in the magazine, so for other companies perhaps where they may base it on blog content for example, but you have your digital magazine, how do you come up with that content every month for your emails?
Emma Yes, it is just a summary really of what’s going on and what might be useful to them from inside the magazine. I am very lucky to have some fantastic contributors, as I mentioned earlier, who are experts in their field, like yourself. They share very good articles. I’m not a writer myself. I’m not great at writing, but I am very good a curating other people’s content.
Kate You’re the organiser, but I think what you’ve said there is a really key point though, your emails give a summary, they are a window through to more information through to the rest of the article and giving that snippet of it and that’s a fantastic way to use email marketing. So are you using email mainly for that relationship building and that value added, or are you using it to generate sales in your business as well?
Emma For the magazine I have not generated sales from the emails as such, apart from the people that are already subscribed, because I do not have back end systems set up at the moment for generating more income from the magazine, apart from affiliate promotions and promoting people. For my other businesses, yes, I do have back end systems that I promote and that works very well, but the magazine it’s still quite early days and it’s a case of I’m promoting the magazines which will then, if people download them you can track it, then they may be clicking on a link and purchasing a product off of the magazine but I am not actually, I haven’t set that up inside the auto responders at the moment.
Kate It’s certainly an idea for the future.
Emma Yes for sure. I mean there’s so many different things you can do with email marketing. I do get most of them, but it is a case of having that organised and ready to go and set up. There’s a lot of different opportunities coming now because people expect quite a lot and I think the relationship building that you touched on earlier is the key part because people want to see, hear and believe in what you say before they are even going to buy anything. I have recently started putting, my mentor Ed Dell who does magazines was saying put your video image in and put your videos in there. I’ve done this in the past for my other business but I’m going to start doing more video tips, because I think people really like that and then they also get to hear and see you and so that really helps establish that relationship.
Kate Absolutely and they’re really quick and easy. They’re building the relationship, it’s the eye contact isn’t it, it’s that kind of element. I think absolutely, videos served through the email, send then the link to it, or if you’re just sending to people in Hotmail you can actually serve the video straight in the email but we won’t get into the technicalities today. I mean it sounds like you’ve got a lot going on the moment and finding the time to implement these campaigns, not even implement them, plan them to make sure you are doing it in the right way, implement them and make sure that all of your emails are optimised and that you follow best practices so you can ensure those best results. It takes a lot of time, and anything that’s worth doing is always going to take time to do. Outside of that, what’s your biggest email marketing challenge? Outside of the time constraints what would you say is your biggest challenge?
Emma I think for me it’s very much I’m reactive so whatever comes through at the time I will work on that, and as I said at the beginning, I don’t have enough auto responders in the magazine account so I need to get that set up so I’ve got more goodies to send people. So it’s being reactive at the moment when I want to actually be ahead of the game.
Kate Absolutely its getting those plans down in advance so you know what you’re doing and so, like you say, you can get ahead of the game. Fantastic, so we’ve talked about relationship building and in your mind is that the most important use for email in your business at the moment? So obviously we talked about you’re not quite in a place yet to generate those sales but that you want to build a relationship with people and that people need to see you and hear you and that comes back to the videos that you’re thinking about as well. Do you think that that is the key use for email marketing in your business at the moment?
Emma Its probably the key end result at the moment. The key thing I guess is the fact that we are collecting those emails because that’s really important and keeping that line of communication open. So even if my emails may not be full of fantastic content, the fact that you’re actually getting it out there and keeping that connection then people are still going to be there when you’re ready, one hopes, most of them will still be there when you’re ready. Funnily enough, off track slightly, but recently I’ve been doing some ads in the Gmail account. I don’t know if that is something that you’ve come across but that’s been put to me that it would be quite beneficial to run some ads in Gmail. Is that something that you’ve seen?
Kate I’ve certainly seen the ads in Gmail. It’s not something that I’ve done myself. I think that it’s a very new thing, it only came out in the last year or so, so it’s still very new to Gmail. I think it will be really interesting to see what the results are there and how it actually works. I think that it’s definitely an interesting one because of how they serve it. If we are thinking about the same type of ads, in terms of the ones that come up above your emails in your Gmail account, there’s usually about two of them above with the sponsored message across them. I think it would be very interesting to see the results. Me personally, I’ve never clicked on one of those ads, but maybe that’s because I know what they are and why they’re there, or none have grabbed my attention enough for me to do that. I think it will be really interesting. We’ll check back with you.
Emma I was curious because I actually find them a bit of distraction. I use Gmail all of the time, but apparently they are getting quite good results, so I was just curious, it just sprung to mind, it’s another form, another channel, going back to our question no. 2, it’s just another channel to pull in more leads. So yeah, that’s something we can look at another time.
Kate Really interesting. I would definitely be interested to see how you get on with that. Gmail is a beast in itself and it likes to change things, we had obviously the introduction of the separate tabs for the email marketing to sort the emails automatically for you, we’ve had the Google images where you have an image of the email rather than the preview that you would usually have in Gmail, and then obviously adding in the ads around it, so not just the banner ads that you might see on the internet, they look they are emails at the top there. I think it would be really interesting to find out those results from you Emma. We’ll keep a pin in that one.
Back towards the beginning of our conversation, you mentioned obviously using Aweber and that you were self-taught on that system, watching some of the Aweber help videos to learn how to use the system. In terms of marketing techniques in general, whether its email marketing, social media, banner advertising, whatever it may be, whichever form of marketing you use, how do you learn new techniques and update your knowledge? Are there specific blogs that you go to, or specific people that you’ve perhaps taken their courses? How do you learn about new marketing techniques and keep your knowledge up to date?
Emma Well really important to do that of course, and from the very start six years ago when I started working online, as on as I started to earn a little bit of money in my small business, I started investing and in fact it was Ed Dale’s, I don’t know how I came across him, I can’t remember now but I came across him because as you do, you’re looking out for people that shine out to you and I liked what he was doing and I joined his, he had a name for it now and I can’t remember because it doesn’t have the same name, but he had a private group and at the time it was $27 and I was like “Oh $27 a month”, it seemed a lot of money but obviously that’s gone up now. Lots of people are doing all sorts of courses and monthly memberships for way more than that. I am still a member actually of his private group so that’s great.
I have done lots of things, I’ve been a member of Mari Smith’s inner circle which is social media based and also the SNA, which was the Social Networking Academy with Jo Barnes. She has an amazing system now, she’s got a new website now called Online Addict something. I’ve been a lifetime member with her so that’s been great, I’ve been able to follow through all her various videos. I have been a member of a number of other internet marketing groups over the years. I’ve joined the Online Edge Academy, as you did Kate, and I have loved being part of the community of likeminded business women. I am a member of the Podcast School with Chris Gilbertson and that’s something that I may put into practice next year once I’ve got everything really flowing nicely.
I’ve always taken on lots of courses and I just love to learn, but at the same time I really have to focus and make sure you implement what you’re learning, so that’s my key, take one thing on board, learn it, either put it into practice or with me, with the podcasting, I have put it on the shelf for the moment because I felt it wasn’t the right time for me to do it. You have to go to the right people at the right time and learn those techniques.
Kate Absolutely, and you’ve gone to specialists in each of their environments and learnt those specific areas from them and you’re right it’s really important….
Emma I’ve got one more important one and that’s Carol Dodson, who’s my Google Plus mentor, so I mustn’t forget her because I’ve been since January 2013 in Google Plus and Hangout Professionals membership and its fantastic and so that’s one that I’m still very keen and an active member, because Google Plus is really still in its infancy and we all use it but not enough, but it does have an effect on our websites so that’s one to watch.
Kate That’s a really interesting one, because I’ll put my hands up and say, I know I should be on there and doing things, but I’m not! It’s another one in the whole stream of social media, but like you say it really is connected to your social media rankings and driving traffic to your website, so that’s a great tip. I think you’re right, like we were saying, learning is really important, but slowing down, learning something, implementing it before you go on to learn a new thing, I think that’s a really great tip.
Emma Definitely, and that is key because I think a lot of us like the learning, we like to learn, that’s human nature generally, but also we are not good at putting things into place, people procrastinate, don’t get going. I am quite fortunate my character is very driven so I drive myself quite hard but I still get swayed by things, I think “oh that’s looks good”. At the end of the day the focus has to be on one end result really so you have to work really hard to get to the end.
Kate Absolutely. So talking about the end result, what’s going on your business right now and how is email going to help support your business plans at the moment? Have you got any offers for our audience, or anything that you’re launching right now that you would like to tell us about?
Emma Well, with the business magazine I’ve got a special offer for your listeners and readers I guess on your blog and that is I’d love them to come and download the app either on their Apple App store or the Android Google Play store and get a three month subscription so they can really get to see and read and watch videos and tutorials inside the magazine. We will be sharing the link for you for Shine A Light Media down below this post when it’s up on the website, and I’d love you to come and check us out, and if you like writing and you’re a business woman and you do lots of interesting things then do get in touch with me as well at firstname.lastname@example.org because I am always looking for interesting articles to include.
Kate Fantastic, that sounds really great.
Emma Over the next few weeks, as we mentioned right at the beginning “happy birthday to you!” we’re going to be a year old and I’ve got a free special anniversary free issue coming out on 24th October so when people download the app they do get access to back issues that a free and then they have the choice if they want to subscribe they can, but I’ve got a special offer for your listeners that they can access that for three months and check us out see what they think.
Kate That is a fantastic offer and obviously, as we spoke about earlier they’ll also get your added value emails with the little summary snippets which lead them to the best content and add extra value to them.
Emma Of course, exactly.
Kate Fantastic. So that all sounds really great. And Emma, I’d love to wrap up the interview on a question I always ask my interviewees, and that’s around which business people do you admire and why?
Emma Who do I admire and why? I know I’ve mentioned Mr Ed Dale from Australia, Down Under. He is consistently fantastic at providing his information and is ahead of the game as far as online and digital communications now. He is someone I really admire, he is very down to earth and a very giving person and so he would be one of my main people. The other of course is the very lovely Mari Smith who is kind of known as being the “Queen of Facebook” but she actually has had many types of business and is very very knowledgeable and has a heart of gold. I love talking to her, I’ve learned so much from her. She is very generous with her information that she shares. If you don’t follow either of these people then you should. They both have worked in the online business world for many years and have really created fantastic businesses, down to their hard work ultimately. They have stuck and what they know and they have crafted their businesses and made them really good, so definitely follow those two.
Kate Two fantastic recommendations there Emma.
Thank you so much, and thank you so much for taking the time out today and talking to me about your email marketing and what you’re up to. I really appreciate it.
Emma Thank you Kate, it’s been a delight talking to you, as I knew it would be. I love all the things you share about email marketing with shine a light media. Can’t wait to catch up with you.
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