How To Write Caffeine Emails With Geoff Stephen
Do you feel weird emailing your list? Perhaps you’re afraid to annoy your subscribers? Are you sensitive to unsubscribes and spam complaints? Then you’re doing to love this episode, where Igor interviews Geoff Stephen, the father of Caffeine Emails. Find out how to generate more sales with your emails while creating more good will with your email list than ever before!
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Welcome back to another episode of The List Building Lifestyle with your host Igor Kheifets. Do you feel bad when you email your list? Are you afraid of unsubscribes and spam complaints? Are you getting angry responses from your subscribers calling you a spammer? Is your list inundated with offers? Are they sick of the claims? Are you trying to build an email list in the high [inaudible 00:01:16] niche like internet marketing, dating, real estate, or MLM? Well, then you're going to love this episode, I'm hosting the godfather of caffeine emails.
My guest figured out a way to make more sales with their emails while generating tons of goodwill with their email list, and even getting their subscribers addicted to their emails like I'm addicted to espresso. He emails every day. He sells in every email. He's breaking all the rules and getting away with it. He's the chief editor of Email Reboot. He is Geoff Stephen. Geoff, welcome to The List Building Lifestyle.
Geoff Stephen: Hey, Igor. Thanks for having me. It's good to be here.
Igor Kheifets: Well, it's great having you, let me tell you. Because few people understand email the way you understand it, and the way I understand it, the way people who actually make money with email understand it. One of the biggest missions for this podcast is to raise awareness to the fact that email ain't dead. Email is actually the best media you can be using in your online business, and probably in your offline business, as well. The idea behind what we do here is to help people see and understand exactly how they can use email in their business to make more money. I think there's few people who are better than you at writing daily emails, and that's exactly why I wanted to host you on the show.
Geoff Stephen: Great. Sounds good. I mean, yeah, email is where it's at, man. If people tell you that email's dead, they're either lying to you, or they're trying to sell you something else. I don't know. It's kind of irresponsible, to me, for people to say that email is dead, but it's there. I'm walking, talking proof that it's still making money, and it's still the highest return on investment that I've seen in any type of marketing channel. Igor Kheifets: Yeah. And you've been around for a while, right? Geoff Stephen: Yeah. I've been in internet marketing for probably close to 20 years now. So I've been through ... I've seen it all. I've pretty much done it all, but email's pretty much what I've been focusing on for that entire time, so kind of my main skill.
Igor Kheifets: That's interesting. How come email stuck for you?
Geoff Stephen: It just seemed like ... To me, and the way it explain it to other people is it's the easiest. It's the fastest. It's what the internet is built on top of is email communication. Like the entire internet was built on top of email, so everyone can email. It's not like a technically difficult skill to learn. Everyone knows how to email, and it's just ... If you know how to do it well, if you get good at it, the doors just are wide open for how much money you can make and how much business you can generate through email.
Igor Kheifets: Yeah. I agree with that completely. I guess what I'm wondering is, and this probably something that a lot of people would wonder, is how come ... Over the last 20 years, you've seen the development of social media sites, you've seen the development of text message marketing. How come email specifically is the one that's continuously out-performing every other media when it comes to dollars and cents and sales?
Geoff Stephen: I think it's the fact that ... I mean, you've got social media. You've got blogging. You've got articles, and all that stuff going on. But I think email is like the connector that brings everything all together. I think that, because of that, everyone knows about email, everyone knows how to do it. So I think it's just kind of that ... What do you call it? That constant that's always been there in marketing. It's a way to make money.
Igor Kheifets: Yeah. It seems like everything dances around email, because you need an email address to register a Facebook account. You need an email address to get your receipts when you buy stuff, right?
Geoff Stephen: Yeah.
Igor Kheifets: Pretty much everything revolves around email. While at the same time, the trendsetters or the wannabe trendsetters, they want to grab our attention and take it away from email. A lot of times, the feeling it creates or the perception it creates is that email is now gone. But when you get back to the real world, when you start buying stuff, when you transact with businesses, when you do things that are personal, such as getting your visa renewed or something, or setting an appointment at an embassy, or signing your real estate contract for the new house you're buying or leasing, typically, email is involved. Nobody's asking you for your Instagram account to send your receipts or documents to sign.
Geoff Stephen: Right. Right. True. No, you're right. It's your unique identity on the internet. Everyone's got one, so it's everywhere. And there's no reason why it shouldn't be capitalized on as a marketing channel. I think email is like ... I talk a lot of marketers who are maybe newer, who are just kind of getting in the game, and I find that the biggest bottleneck that people face in their entire process, or their funnel, or whatever you want to call it, is writing emails for some reason. It's like they, "Well, I can make a funnel. I can drag and drop my way into a pretty looking squeeze page and a sales page, and whatnot. I can do this. I can put this together. I can create opt-in forms."
But then they get to the point where they're like, "Well, how do I communicate with these people?" And they're like, "Oh, email. I don't know what to send. I don't know what to tell them. I don't know to communicate that way." So it's this huge bottleneck for people, which kind of surprises me, because email's so familiar [inaudible 00:06:44] everybody. But it's like once they get to that point, they're like, "I don't know what to write," or, "I'm just going to copy someone else's stuff and hope that works." It's almost like they get to that point and they choose to ignore it, even though there's so much money there.
I always tell them, "There's so much money almost hiding behind email that once you understand how it works, understand how to write the correct type of emails and how to get your list engaged, and all that stuff, it's ... Like I said before, the doors are open once you know how to do that." For some reason, people just kind of let it bottleneck up their funnel, and they don't witness the potential that their sales process actually has without doing email.
Igor Kheifets: Yeah. I see two big problems with that. I see the first problem, which is most common, is people not writing emails at all. Typically, that fear, I guess, or whatever that is, prevents them from making a lot of money. The second problem is even if they overcome the fear of writing the emails, they tend to just write, maybe, a seven-day or maybe like a seven-email sequence that spreads out over 30 days. But they don't necessarily continue writing them every day, and they sure as hell won't email their list every day, which is something that I think is a huge mistake.
For example, recently I came back from the T and C, Traffic and Conversion, Summit. While I was away, I made sure my list is getting at least one email a day, and on some day, we mailed out more than once. I couldn't have been happier with the results. I came back. I checked my stats, and we've been averaging about $11,000 per day in revenues, not profit, but revenue, from the sales that came directly from those emails. Anyone who is build a list and is not mailing their list, why the hell are you building one, then?
Geoff Stephen: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, if someone asks me ... I don't know if you're going to ask me this later ... but if someone asks me, "What's the kind of defining element of email marketing, the defining thing that will either be successful or not?" The defining thing, for me, is consistency like you're talking about. If you're not consistent with your list, if you're not what I call relentlessly consistent, which is like email, like you said, every day, at least once a day, including weekends, including holidays, if you're not doing that, you're missing out.
I calculated if you miss a day of sending an email, you're basically put yourself three days behind in engagement with that subscriber. So every day you miss, kind of puts you three days behind, because of short attention spans and people doing other things. They kind of lose interest really quickly, so you have to keep up with it. You have to keep emailing every single day. Absolutely. Consistency is like the ... Well, just like with all marketing, right? It's like you have to be in front of their eyeballs as much as possible, so nothing's different there with email.
Igor Kheifets: Yeah, absolutely. You have to be ... The new term for that is omnipresent, right?
Geoff Stephen: Right. Yeah.
Igor Kheifets: Wherever they look, you want to be there. That's why targeting is becoming more and more important these days, because they visit your website, they get on your list. All of the sudden, you appear on their sports live score website, or whatever. I actually got a text message from one of my clients about a month ago. He's a big hockey fan. He's sending me a screenshot with our banner ad. He's like, "You're everywhere. You're in my hockey website." But, yeah. As far as email, the consistency with mailing every day is critical.
I'll even go ahead and suggest this, taking it a little bit further. What I try to do, I try to email on the exact same hour every day. So not only is the consistency of daily emails, but it's also consistency of daily emails at a specific time. So eventually, the people who read your emails all the time, and even the ones who don't read them but see them, they kind of get used to expecting for you to appear in their inbox.
Geoff Stephen: Yeah, for sure. People are creatures of habit, so once they get into a routine, and once they see that you have a routine, and they get used to reading your emails, absolutely. I test this all the time. Same time every day, or I stagger them, or I send them in the evening kind of thing. It doesn't seem to matter what time they go out, as long as they consistently go out at that same time.
Igor Kheifets: Yeah. Yeah. There's definitely ... One of the most common questions, I think, we get is, "Igor, what's the perfect time to send out an email?" Right?
Geoff Stephen: Yeah.
Igor Kheifets: Over the years, I never found a perfect time. I've had periods in my life when I was emailing at 7:00 AM EST, other periods when I was mailing at 9:00 PM EST. Eventually, I just said, "You know what? Let me just email twice a day, once in the morning, once in the evening, sent to Unopeneds," and just try to cover as many time zones as I could. But as far as there not being the perfect time unless that is the exact same time every day, that is so true.
Now you mentioned email identity, which is something I had never heard anyone else talk about, and I study email every day. Do you mind expanding on that a little bit?
Geoff Stephen: Email identity?
Igor Kheifets: Yeah. Or you said email is everyone's unique identity on the internet.
Geoff Stephen: Oh, no. I just mean that everyone has an email address. It's your unique identity across the internet. There's only one of email that you have, so I'm just saying that that's why email is so foundationally important to internet marketing. That's the foundation or the root of who you are on the internet is your email address. That's kind of what I was going for there.
Igor Kheifets: Yeah, got it. Got it. Okay, cool. I agree completely. Not only that, I think it's also about being very personal. When you're in their inbox, it's a more personal relationship than being on their Facebook feed.
Geoff Stephen: Yes. Yes. It can and it would be. I will say that email is not tactical. Email is conversational. So when someone asks me, "What time should I email every day?" Or someone asks me, "How many [inaudible 00:13:10] 500 words? 1,000 words? How long should my email be? How long should my subject line be?" because Gmail has so many characters, and all this sort of stuff. What you'll find is once you start emailing every day, and sort of building a relationship with your list, and being conversational with your emails, all that tactical stuff starts to matter less, and less, and less. Because all people need to see is that this email is from Igor, or this email is from Geoff, and they'll open. And they'll read it based on just the relationship that you have with your list.
Email, as I said, it's conversational. It's non-tactical. Tactics are really easy to teach people, so there's a lot of information out there that's tactical. You might think that, "Oh, I need this email course, because it teaches me a good email ... No more than 500 words. You have to have the PS. You have to have your picture. You have to have a subject line this long," and all these tactical things, which are totally easy to teach. But they don't matter nearly as much as the relationship you have with your list and the type of emails that you actually send.
Yo, it's Igor. If you're loving the content hop on over to listbuildinglifestyleshow.com for more free training and a free transcript of this episode. Oh, and I'd really appreciate if you logged into iTunes and rated the show. It really helps. Thanks.
Yeah, absolutely. Most of my emails these days are very friendly, so there's not much hype going on. It's just mostly, "Hey, I just put together a new video about my latest trip to San Diego. In this video I talk about how I generate subscribers while being away from my computer, so go check it out." That's pretty much the whole email.
Geoff Stephen: Yeah, that's it.
Igor Kheifets: It's not really ... Yeah.
Geoff Stephen: People ask me what type of emails you should be sending. "Should my grammar be perfect?" All this other stuff. I'm like, "Imagine this. You're sitting across the table from someone in a coffee shop, or in a pub, or across the dinner table, or whatever, and you're talking about your day. Like, "You wouldn't believe what happened to me yesterday on the way to the coffee shop. This guy cut me off," and whatever. You have a story to tell, right? If you can read your email back to yourself and it sounds like a conversation, then you're on to something. But if you read your email back and it sounds like you're a marketer, or it sounds like you're reading the first page of a novel or something, then you're on the wrong track. You always have to imagine yourself in that conversational space between you and another person.
Igor Kheifets: Yeah, which is where it really helps to at least have some sort of an image or an idea of who you're writing to. Because then you can imagine that person potentially ... For me, as far as writing the emails, I always try to imagine my ideal customer literally sitting across the table, will you said, maybe in a coffee shop. And what would I say or how would I say it if they were literally right there? It really helps with not trying to get caught up in big words and swipe files, and stuff like that.
Geoff Stephen: Yeah, yeah. I always tell people to stay away from those swipe files. There's so many ... "Well, I'll just copy and paste these templates, and put in my name, and send those out." I'm like, "Really? Why would you do that? Why would you take someone else's email that maybe worked for their list? What makes you think that that email will work for your list knowing how you built your list and hopefully knowing who your customer is and who is actually on your list?" Those templates aren't going to work. All they're going to do is ... They'll probably, actually, do the opposite of what you want. They'll probably push people away, because you're going to sound like you're pretending to be someone else. It just doesn't work.
Igor Kheifets: Yep. Yep. From experience, I can tell you stealing other people's emails word for word simply ... That does not work. I used to do a lot that, and I would be so angry. It was like, "Oh, Frank Kern sent out that email, and it obviously worked for Frank Kern. Why is it not working for me?"
Geoff Stephen: Yeah, right. Yeah.
Igor Kheifets: Earlier on the call I mentioned caffeine emails. I'm sure a lot of people are wondering right now, "What the hell are those?" Can you give us the Caffeine Emails 101?
Geoff Stephen: Caffeine emails are just ... It's basically the process that I use to come up with my emails. I use caffeine, because caffeine is ... For one thing, I drink a lot of coffee. My routine is I get up in the morning. I send my kids off to school, do all that. Then once I get started, I get my coffee, and my first thing in the morning task is writing my emails for the day. I've got it down to my entire process, probably 20 to 30 minutes to get my emails written and send them out.
I use caffeine, because caffeine is just one of those things that triggers your mind. It wakes you up. It keeps you engaged, and it sort of ... The way caffeine works in your brain is it blocks the mechanism in your brain that makes you tired, so it pushes all the tiredness away, and keeps you alert, and keeps you stimulated, I guess. That's why I call them caffeine emails, because you have to sort of weave that logic into your emails as far as stimulating people's brains, and getting them into your story, and giving them visuals so they can relate to your emails and put themselves in your story. Yeah, that's the gist of why I call them caffeine emails.
Igor Kheifets: All right. What do you write about?
Geoff Stephen: Whatever. I mean, typically, we go with storytelling emails. A quick story. A quick snippet of my life, something that happened. Something that might have happened, but I might just be making up at the time. Doesn't matter. Something that you can transition from your story into your sales pitch, so it's not ... I'll say it's simple, but it's not easy. It's simple to do, because we're just writing emails. But it's not something that's easy to be really good at it, so you have to have people critique, and review your stuff, and teach you how to do it right.
The emails that I write can be about almost anything, as long as they don't sound like marketing emails. As long as they sound real, as long as they're conversational. It's like me picking up the phone and giving you a call and say, "Hey, what's up? How's it going?" Then you start talking, and you get into conversations and, "This and this happened." It's a very non-specific thing. There's no perfect formula, but it all comes out in how you develop your style, how you develop your own lingo, how you develop your own pattern, I guess, when you write. I think that when you start writing every day, and you start being consistent, all that comes out. All your personality comes out in your email, and how you write, and how you use different words, and how you spell things, maybe, differently just to be different, or whatever. It's kind of an ongoing process.
Igor Kheifets: Yeah, absolutely. Are there any go-to topics or principles you tend to go to when you're struggling to come up with things to talk about in your emails?
Geoff Stephen: Not really any go-tos. What I use frequently can be ... Like if my product is teaching people how to write emails, I will set examples using other people's experience, like other people's examples, and showing people what not to do, kind of thing. It's one of the things I use. Just going like, "Long story short, but this guy did this. It was wrong, because he should have done this, and this, and this. And here's how to do it right." That kind of thing, right? That's kind of a go-to sort of template, I guess.
Igor Kheifets: All right. Talk about what not to do.
Geoff Stephen: No, no. I don't ... Yeah. I don't really have a template. I have a ... I don't know if it's a talent or just a practiced skill to just start writing and just coming up with stories that work pretty good in transitioning into the sales pitch.
Igor Kheifets: Okay. When you sit down to write a story, then, is there a template to the story you tend to follow? Are there, maybe, a couple of templates, like the way they're structured in terms of like building blocks? Because, typically ... And I'm talking about my own experience and experience connecting with other writers ... you can typically spot the formulas that those writers are using.
Geoff Stephen: Right. Sometimes, but honestly, I try to mix things up a bit, because if you get into too much of a habit of writing a certain length of an email, people get used to it, and they start getting blind to it, and they start ignoring it. Frequently, what I'll do is maybe I'll have a longer email, or whatever. And then next day, I'll write like a one-liner or a two-liner out to my list. What happens, typically, is it kind of catches them off guard, and it gets more engagement that way.
But as far as templates ... I mean, simple story writing is subject line, introduction, narrative, transition, call to action, and then something that I call a return, which is kind of like a PS, but it's not a PS. It's just, basically, a reminder for the subscriber or the reader to check out what I'm offering again. It's just sort of they read to the bottom, they get to this, they go back up, so it kind of keeps them inside the bubble. But, I mean, that's kind of the format, right?
Your subject line, which leads them into the introduction of the email, the introduction draws them into the narrative, which is another word for just the story, or whatever it is that you're talking about. The narrative will transition. You have to have a transition, which transitions to the call to action, which is what you want your subscriber to do, whatever that is. Whether it's buy a product, or like a page, or reply to your email, or whatever that is. Then I have the return, which reminds them of what this whole thing is all about. That's kind of a template, but more of a format, or a process, or something like that.
Igor Kheifets: Yeah. It's like an outline more so than it is a template.
Geoff Stephen: Yeah.
Igor Kheifets: Yeah, that makes sense. If we're just getting started with email, where would you recommend getting started? Like what would be the best way to approach email?
Geoff Stephen: Honestly, it's just start writing and just keep writing. Again, it's a thing that's not templated. It's a thing that's not really a formula. It's just practice. It's practice. If you have someone to follow, like myself or yourself, where we lead by example. We can say, "Well, this is a really good email that I wrote that got really good results. Look at what I wrote and make it your own. Tell your own story. Follow the same format and practice doing that." Sort of what I would direct people to do.
Igor Kheifets: Okay, got it. Obviously, you publish an email marketing newsletter. It's a physical newsletter. It's called Email Reboot. In your newsletter, what sort of advice, or guidance, or coaching do you tend to share with your subscribers?
Geoff Stephen: Typically, it is two or three subjects. It's not just all one topic or two or three topics, I guess, that I would cover. Honestly, it can be anything from, "Here's my latest split test results, and why they worked, and why they didn't work," to more psychological copywriting. Each email issue has a topic. Obviously, it has a title, but then I go a little bit deeper into each separate topic within the issue. It's different every month, obviously. Different topics. But everything is designed to help you write better emails, help you make more money with your email.
Igor Kheifets: All right. Sounds good. Obviously, to join your newsletter, we need to go to EmailReboot.com, right?
Geoff Stephen: Yes. EmailReboot.com is the opt-in page.
Igor Kheifets: Right. Opt in, get on your list just for the sake of getting your list, I guess. Obviously, the newsletter is $77 a month, right?
Geoff Stephen: Correct. Yes.
Igor Kheifets: Cool. Do we have to pay shipping, handling, as well, on top of that?
Geoff Stephen: No, no. It's $77 a month. That's it. That's all you pay. It's a combination of ... I mean, you say it's a physical newsletter, which it is. It's not digital, it's physical. It gets delivered right to your door. But it's a combination of the newsletter, plus like a back office full of email training, plus a Facebook group, plus direct access to me as an email coach, which is something a lot of people don't offer, because of time or whatever. But you'll have direct access to me to critique, and review, and just give you ongoing advice on your email marketing, and just your copywriting in general. So it's sort of an all in one solution for anyone who wants to make more money with their email marketing.
Igor Kheifets: All right. Got it. That's EmailReboot.com if you want to get on Geoff's list, as well as sign up for the Email Reboot newsletter. It's a physical newsletter, plus coaching, plus guidance, plus access directly to Geoff, who will review and critique your emails, which nobody does for $77 a month. It just doesn't happen. All right, cool. Before we part, maybe any last few words of wisdom for beginner email marketers?
Geoff Stephen: If you're just getting into email, I would recommend jumping in, keep writing every single day, focus on the fact that you have to be relentlessly consistent with your emails to be successful. And just practice, practice, practice.
Igor Kheifets: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice.
Geoff Stephen: That's are.
Igor Kheifets: All right. Cool. Thank you very much for tuning in to another episode of The List Building Lifestyle. This is Igor Kheifets and Geoff Stephen. Thank you so much. Until next time we chat, have a good one.
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