Our latest Workshop was in Grass Valley, CA with the Nevada County Online meetup group. You see Nate discussing the brutal importance of being specific, and why it matters, in how to identify, attract (and retain) customers & clients via direct personalized email and recurring newsletters.

HUGE thank you to Doug Greene who handled the video & audio, and our wonderful host Nevada County Online!

As you saw last week, where we had the honor of writing a guest blog on PR in your Pajamas. We're happy to share with you our latest in guest blog posts on SBT, with guest blogger Sreeram Sreenivasan, founder of Ubiq If email marketing is your bag (if it isn't, why the hell not??), head on over to PR in Your Pajamas for lessons learned from 1000+ mailchimp campaigns. -Nate


You work hard to publish great content, build a list of subscribers and create an awesome template for your newsletter. But what’s the point of it all if nobody reads it?

Here are 5 ways to ensure most people open your E-mails.

Provide short & relevant subject lines

Subject line is the most important factor that determines whether an email is opened or not. About 33% of emails are opened based on subject line alone. With so many emails competing for reader’s attention, it is necessary to craft a concise, relevant and interesting subject line. If your subject line is too long then many email services show only the initial part of your subject and truncate the rest. This is applicable even for mobile phones so test how your subject lines appear on them before mailing your newsletter.

Personalize the subject line to boost email open rates. Among all the emails in your inbox, imagine seeing your name in the subject of an email. It stands out, doesn’t it? Subject lines that contain the first name of your reader perform better than the ones without.

Try A/B Testing to determine which subject lines provide the best open rates. There are many email software like Yesware, Toutapp, Mailchimp, etc. that allow you to measure open rates for emails and pick the most suitable subject line.

Avoid spam keywords

Almost every email service has spam filters that look for specific words and phrases in your email content to ensure you’re not sending spam. There are plenty of online email spam checkers you can use to test if your email content will be flagged as spam. I use Contactology's Email Spam Checker to check my email content before sending it.

On a similar note, Gmail classifies emails into multiple Inbox tabs (like Primary, Promotions, Updates, Forums, etc.). Gmail users mostly use the Primary tab for their day-to-day emails. Sometimes, newsletters land in Promotions tab and get lost in the clutter of promotional emails. You need to make sure your email is listed in the ‘Primary’ folder of Gmail. Else it may remain unopened.

Use Real Name & Email

Would you rather get an email from ‘Company ABC’s Newsletter’ or a person named ‘Tom Collins’? People use email to communicate with real people. Use your own name in the ‘From’ field instead of using your company name. Similarly, if the ‘From’ email address is [email protected] or [email protected], there is a good chance your email won’t be opened. Instead, use your real email address like [email protected] Real names and email addresses tell people that you value the relationship with your readers and that they are not just email addresses in your list of subscribers.

Send emails at appropriate time

Sending e-mails on the wrong day or at an inappropriate time can negatively affect open rates. Monday’s are considered the worst day to send emails as everyone is buried in their work emails, after the weekend. Anything that is not urgent is most likely to be deleted. Most e-mail marketing studies support that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday provide better open rates as compared to other days of the week. Online activity is low on weekends as people try to get away from work and relax a bit. Also, avoid sending emails on holidays, unless your content is actually relevant (e.g., 5 places to visit this holiday season).

E-mail marketers use the thumb rule of sending out email campaigns in the middle of the week and in the middle of the day (1-3pm) as people go through their inbox after lunch. I’ve also found 5-6pm time slot to have good open rates probably because people check their mails before leaving office, or on their phones while travelling from work.

Segment your email list

If you don’t know your readers then you won’t know what they’re interested in reading. If you can’t group them based on interests, location and other factors, you won’t be able to write subject line that is relevant to them. This will affect your open rates.

You can segment your email list by location, language, age, gender and past purchase behavior. If you don’t have this information available, then you can ask your readers what they are interested in, through an online survey or in your welcome email.

If your open rates are suffering, your reader either isn’t interested in your content or doesn’t know you. You can avoid this by effectively segmenting your subscriber lists, based on personal or purchase data. Sending targeted emails in a timely manner will increase their relevance. Coupled with a stellar subject line, it is bound to make more people open your emails.

We're stoked to have had the opportunity to be invited by the impressive Elena Verlee, to write a guest blog for PR in your Pajamas. If that doesn't sound comfy enough (as long as you're not going out in public, and in a college town like Chico, even that's sometimes "acceptable"); we break down the four "Lessons Learned from 1,000 MailChimp Newsletterswhen sending newsletters to your clients. Check out the full article in the link above and don't forget to let Elena know we sent ya! -Nate

Lessons Learned from 1,000 MailChimp Newsletters

I’ve written a LOT of email campaigns. I sent my first email newsletter when I was in college promoting swing dances 15 years ago, played with list digests after that, then spent a few years fiddling with sales emails, and (finally) made the jump to MailChimp five years ago, and haven’t looked back since.


Now I’ve read all the guides, and best practices, and do’s and dont's: “Craft a compelling subject line;” “Strengthen your call to action;” “Use better visuals.” But after sending a thousand email newsletters for hundreds of small business owners, I never found myself regurgitating that advice. Not once.

Here’s what I found instead:

Lesson #1: Care Then Sell

Most of our clients want one of two things with their newsletters: (1) to make some damn money, drive sales, trigger donations, etc. or (2) we’ve been collecting emails for three years on a greasy clipboard; we need to send them a newsletter, right?

But what do your subscribers want from your newsletter? Why did they sign up in the first place?

Our instinct usually revolves around something like: “Well, because they care that much about my product/service/cause/widget/idea/movement” or “To get that cool ebook” or perhaps “They want to buy stuff from me,” or even better, “Discount Codes.”

Now maybe your subscribers expect that from A newsletter, but I doubt that they want that from YOUR newsletter. Your subscribers want what most human beings want: a sense of belonging, to be inspired, to be happy, to be loved.

Gooey, kumbaya, glitter. Sure. But it’s what humans want. And last I checked, your subscribers are human (or at least I hope so, [email protected]).

Find a way to connect your newsletter into that soft spot and you’ve got something worth sending. We advise our client to not sell for the first three to six newsletters. You need to earn that right. Get your subscribers to care, and the selling part becomes that much easier.

You unearth what they want (a free tip), discover where it overlaps with what you want (a click), then serve it up via an email newsletter.

Be wary of the tempo and rhythm of your newsletter sales efforts. Alternate selling vs. not selling in your email blasts.

SELL, SELL, SELL, SELL, SELL, SELL = Monotone, and doesn’t focus attention anywhere

Share, Share, SELL, Share, Share, SELL = Less boring, and focuses attention on the sales.

Continue onto the full article here for more monkey business

stroheim-typewriterEmail Marketing Unplugged

Most small business owners consider email a ‘necessary evil’ however, a small batch of well-crafted emails sent to the right people can catapult your product, service or cause into a whole new level of growth.

So how can your business get the most out of email?

In this hands-on workshop, we’ll spend the first hour identifying more receptive targets (clients/customers/users/donors) while unearthing the true influencers in your industry. In the second hour, we’ll help you create your own easily personalized, reusable sales and outreach templates, and debunk some ‘so-called’ best practices.

In this workshop you’ll:

About Nate: In the five years since founding Small Biz Triage in Seattle, WA, Nate has helped 100’s of owners strengthen their businesses via better marketing, sales and productivity and has personally designed and launched 1,000+ marketing campaigns for non-profits, startups, and bricks and mortar businesses. Their client list includes: Carla Harris (the Chair of the National Women’s Business Council), myLanguage (app developer featured in the NY Times with 3M+ downloads) and Doug Pray (Emmy-winning director).

[button link="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/email-marketing-unplugged-with-nate-wright-tickets-12707858547?aff=es2&rank=1" bg_color="#ff0000" window="yes" size="large"]RSVP Here[/button] 

WHEN: Wednesday, September 10th, 4:00PM - 6:00PM

WHERE: Chico Start, 411 Main Street, Chico, CA 95928

COST: Free (RSVP Required)


mailchimp-logoChicoStart Presents

MailChimp = MakeMoney

with Nate Wright

Get a crash-course in one of the top three email marketing platforms. During this highly interactive, hands-on workshop, you’ll get acquainted with the inner workings of this robust platform and prepare your first, or next, newsletter, with content sure to grab the attention of your audience.

After a rapid-fire do’s and don’ts session looking reviewing actual recent campaigns, you will write your next monthly newsletter for your business, including:

You will leave with a list of truly engaging topics for their subscribers, your next newsletter plotted out top to bottom, and a plan for segmentation of future campaigns. Finally, Nate will be available to answer follow up questions via email for 4-weeks after the workshop, to help you implement what you learned to engage your customers and prospects with MailChimp and start making some money through this often misused marketing channel.

[button link="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mailchimp-workshop-small-biz-triage-nate-wright-tickets-12454312183" bg_color="#ff0000" window="yes" size="large"]RSVP Here[/button] 

WHENAugust 6th 2014, 4PM-6PM

411 Main Street
Suite 101 (First Floor)
Chico, CA 95928

COST: Free (40 seats, last workshop was overbooked)


chimpLessons learned from over 200 Mailchimp campaigns

Yep, that's another milestone for the Small Biz triage team.  You may now uncork your champagne bottles. <pop!>

S'alright, enough bragging from me.  If you're looking for a quick rundown of some Mailchimp best practices for your small business, keep reading.  If you're looking for more in-depth answers, read on anyhow, and then schedule a quick (and free) one-hour training call.

Why Mailchimp?

Email is the highest converting form of digital marketing,  but only when done well.  We prefer Mailchimp because it helps us make the best email newsletters and campaigns possible.

From Name

Send it from the heart: use your own name, not some generic [email protected]  More personal = more opens, every time.

Subject Line

Copywriting 101: Combine <choose one: clever, funny, alliterative, off-the-wall, aggressive, deeply personal> with straightforward.  In other words, compelling enough to merit a click, but not so clever, funny, or off-the-wall that it's misleading.


Most email programs will display this as the content preview after the subject line.  Your bonus opportunity to entice an open.  Rules for subject line apply.

P.S. Block

Optional, but an effective place for a "Reply to this email" call to action.



It's easy to embed images in a text block, but will make the mobile version look awful unless they're in between 270 and 285 pixels wide.  Usually you can ignore this issue by using the image cards in the drag and drop editor, which will resize the image for a mobile view.


If you want to entice more clicks with an array of content in your newsletter/campaign, the sidebar is where to put your links/images.  This keeps those links visible up and down the main body of the email, which increases the likelihood of a click.  Some templates in Mailchimp allow you to put content after the P.S. block, but nobody ever clicks down there.  Trust me.


The option to unsubscribe from an email list is required by law, so don't try to disguise it.  Why not embrace it?  Let the folks who don't care unsubscribe, and you'll be left with a better, more effective list.


Use link economy.  Focus only on links where you truly want the readers to click through and they'll have fewer distractions.  If you only have one link you want readers to click, make it a big ol' bright button to make it that much more obvious.  Use a variety of call's to action for your links to keep it fresh and interesting.

6971577682_3f39521af7_bDon't Be Lame

Epitomized by the vlog brother's DFTBA (don't forget to be awesome).  Boring content will either be ignored or deleted.

Stop Selling

The folks on your mailing list are already interested, so don't abuse that privilege.  Give them interesting things to explore.  make your content useful to them in some way.  Show, don't sell.


Early morning is a good time to send a campaign.  The odds of getting a prompt reply will be higher before lunch.  If you're on PST like me, that means you'll want to send it at 4:00 or 5:00 for your readers on the east coast.  The emails will still be there when us west coaster's wake up.  Pay attention to what days of the week your audience is more likely to open a campaign as well.  For some, it's mid week, for some: the weekend.  It really depends on your target market.  If you're an ecommerce site, you probably already know what day of the week is your biggest sales day, so send the campaign that morning.

A/B Testing

aka how we figure all this stuff out.  Create two versions of the same newsletter and see which one performs better.  Should we send our newsletter from [email protected] or [email protected]?  A/B split time, baby!  Do we get more clicks with a sidebar or with one column body/three column footer layout? A/B that stuff!  Remember to be scientific about it though: only adjust the thing you're trying to test.  If you're testing layouts and use different subject lines as well, all you data is meaningless.

Merge Taggin'

Merge tags are placeholders that will auto-fill with the data you have for each contact.  Example would be opening with |FNAME| tag that is replaced each recipients first name upon sending.  A fantastic way to personalize each email.  Just make sure to QC your merge tags so folks don't get emails that start with "Oh hi there, [email protected]"

That's all for now folks.  There's a lot of nuance to a well crafted campaign, so if you have further questions, why not schedule a free one-hour training call?

arugulacateringSome quick context here:  Earlier this year we met Chuck at the National Conference for the American Diabetes Association in Texas. Soon thereafter, he signed up for our Small Biz Boost Program, a program that is totally free, but has high expectations of those that participate.  Chuck has a lot going for him - plans for a new restaurant in San Antonio, a recently published book, and a legion of fans of his creative and delicious foods.  After a recent TV demonstration of his cooking prowess, the local host dubbed him "The Pesto King".  We'll see if the name sticks!

Anywho, our project with Chuck was all about capturing contact info and MailChimp training, with some best practices implementation work for websites and social media thrown in for good measure.  Using recent successes to find greater success.

After project wrap, Chuck was kind enough to send the following letter, which I can't resist posting:

Dear Seth & Nate,

My recent experience with your team over the past few months have been an incredible one. Our progressive rebuilding of confidence- while being taught to understand the value of the multifaceted social media network- insures our place in  part of industry we have chosen.

Sometimes technology has driven the way so quickly, I had a difficult time understanding the process. I treated it as though it was a conspiracy rather than a helpful tool as Small Biz Triage has shown.

Once the homework was issued and completed, a discovery was made.

I now understand that these tools are ever evolving and that the mentorship is there for the businesses that have fallen to hard times. The reinvention and the worthiness of what one does is constantly an uplifting tool the guys at Small Biz Triage use and never makes one feel that the decisions of the past have to keep you business from moving forward.

I can not believe where my resources are taking me!  It is up to me to translate these ideas into revenues, but I do see the work was already done, I just simply needed a tune up!


Forever grateful and truly at your service,


Chuck Hernandez.
Owner,  Arugula Catering Co.
Author of Pesto Power

Those are some seriously kind words, Chuck, and for them you have our thanks.  

You are indeed, the Pesto King.

What is MailChimp?

Simply put, MailChimp is our favorite email newsletter platform.  It has other uses, from announcements to invites, and anytime in between when you might need a slick looking email.  If you are subscribed to our newsletter, you've already seen it in action.

mailchimp newdesign

MailChimp recently overhauled their site with a new look and more user friendly functionality, so today seems like a good day to show it off and let you know a little bit more about why we use MailChimp in most of our projects.


Do I need a paid account?

No! Unless you have a database of over 2000 emails. When you hit that benchmark you can upgrade to a paid account. Also, congratulations on having a huge database. Not everyone knows how to put that kind of volume to good use, but I'll get to that in a moment.

Just one reason I love MailChimp

Just one reason I love MailChimp

When you find your account approaching the 2000 email mark, it's a good idea to scrub out the lower value subscribers and make sure your list is truly high quality before upgrading. No reason to get a paid account if your list sucks, dig?

How do I build my email list?

There are many options. We've had success in the past by offering promo codes for discounts ranging from 10% to 20% off purchases in exchange for a subscribe. Mailchimp makes this extremely easy. Once you have set up the promo code, all you need to do is include it in the final welcome email, found under "Lists".

Or, wait a minute.  This was extremely easy a week ago, before the redesign of their dashboard.  I'm going to have to turn this over to the experts:

Did I mention the support team is awesome?

Did I mention the support team is awesome?

Another method is to include a check box on your check out page that allows folks to opt in to the newsletter just by clicking on it. If they're fans of your products, they will. Subscribers generated through this method are awesome, because you know for a fact that the customer wants to hear from you.

Some folks will buy lists, but that's a spammy move and the quality of the contact info just isn't there. Don't waste your your money.

How will an email newsletter help increase business?

Even if you're not technically an e-commerce site, a newsletter can be the most effective, most efficient way to stay in contact with folks that have already bought from you before.

This is really marketing 101 here. A newsletter should have news, obviously, and whatever you're selling shouldn't be as obvious.

Some newsletters should leave out sales entirely, as in the case of an alumnus of a workshop. They don't need you to sell the same workshop to them, and will unsubscribe if you try. However, a well crafted newsletter may warrant forwarding to friends that haven't taken to program.

Remember that you build your list from folks that have bought from you before. All you need to do is remind them of the satisfaction they get from using your product/services, and maybe entice them with the promise of future satisfaction.

There are many ways to accomplish this, and it will vary from project to project. If you want more specific advice, you know who to ask.

How do I maximize the outcome of my newsletter efforts?

NEVER SPAM. Seriously. If you promised folks one monthly newsletter, best not to surprise them with two. It can be tempting to send extra blasts when you're desperate, but all you'll get from it is a flood of unsubscribes. So don't do it.

You should, however, observe all the usual copywriting best practices, e.g. scannable copy, clickable images, bullet points. Make it useful. Make it fun. Change up your calls to action to reflect the attitude voiced by your writing. Make it personal.

mailchimp segments

Another extremely handy tool to maximize your effort is the power to divide your list into segments. Knowing which segments you can sell harder to and which you can't can help you create multiple versions of the monthly newsletter, each tailored to a different market. Each subscriber still receives only one email, but the'll love you all the more for knowing what they're looking for and giving it to them.

How do I design a great template?

The right template for you will evolve over time. The drag and drop editor makes creating your first draft easy/awesome.

I also highly recommend using the image cards rather than embedding images in the text blocks, as this will allow the images to scale for mobile users, which is pretty much guarantees to be a majority of your audience.

Make sure it looks good in preview mode for computers and mobile devices, and go through few drafts with your team to ensure quality. Then send it!

Give it a few days and check the report. You'll be able to see what parts of the email were enticing enough to click on, and you can incorporate more of those elements in your next newsletter.

Click map from part of our May newsletter - Trying not to take it personally that no one clicked on the TARDIS.

Click map from part of our May newsletter - Trying not to take it personally that no one clicked on the TARDIS.

You can use your last newsletter as a template for the next one simply by choosing "replicate campaign", and then make your edits from there.

My open rate is abysmal! Help!

When it comes to your open rate, there are three factors you need to consider:

1. Subject line

It better be enticing enough to merit opening the email. If you're subject line is too boring, you won't get many click. Fortunately, MailChimp has a tool for researching terms you might want to use in your subject line, comparing their performance from previously run campaigns. That's just cool.

2. The preview area

This little box contains the text that folks will see as a preview of the email that shows up after the subject line in their inbox. Make sure it rocks!

This little box contains the text that folks will see as a preview of the email that shows up after the subject line in their inbox. Make sure it rocks!

3. Previous history of receiving emails

Some folks will sign up for a newsletter and then never open it. Repeatedly. You can probably drop them from your list, or set their info aside in a segment that you won't send emails to.

Some folks, on the other hand, might have seen previous newsletters and decided they don't seem very interesting anymore. I've been this guy myself before, and sometimes I'm just to lazy or too attached to unsubscribe. Not much you can do about it, except for make your newsletters better and hope they start opening them again.

Remember that any open rate above 20% is actually pretty good, so don't cry if not everyone on your list opens the thing.

There's a lot more to MailChimp than just this stuff, but as always, leave further questions in the comments and we'll answer 'em! Thanks for reading!

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Glendale, CA

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