Email Marketing Expert Secrets (Mike Neidert): 4400% ROI!
Who are you exactly Mike Neidert?
I’m a Top Rated Pro Seller on Fiverr with 235+ 5-star reviews, plus I have a number of private clients including Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
I’m proud I’ve consistently grown my revenue since becoming a freelance writer, but I’m most proud that I’m able to help my clients get results. I think small businesses and entrepreneurs—which is who I usually work with—are critical to making cities and economies healthy and interesting, so helping them succeed is a great feeling.
I got started writing at my first agency job, working on the John Deere account at JWT. From there, I spent about 5 years working in staffing and tech sales in NYC, which is really where I learned the art of sales copywriting, messaging and what works vs. what doesn’t. As a freelance copywriter specifically, I’ve been at this for almost 4 years now.
What is your backstory?
The long story short is that my early career involved journalism and advertising. Eventually, I moved into tech and staffing sales after moving to NYC. When I decided to become an expat and move to Montenegro, where my wife is from, I realized I could combine my writing experience and sales knowledge to help other people with their business.
Now, I primarily focus on sales writing—email funnels, landing pages and other conversion-focused projects.
What did you struggle with when you first started learning your current skills?
Initially, I would say time management and focus. I don’t think that I’ve ever delivered a project late, but I’m definitely one to get distracted and spend way too long on tasks that I could’ve done more quickly.
How did you overcome this and become an expert?
It’s an ongoing struggle, but I found that eliminating distractions was an obvious but effective solution. I installed site blockers on my laptop so I don’t waste time during the work day. Using Pomodoro technique to stay focused and take short breaks helps, too. I also track the time I spend on every single project, so I understand if I’m being efficient—or not!
What is your current situation?
I’m grateful to say that I’m busier than ever. I have a pretty constant stream of clients who come back again and again, plus send referrals my way. It’s a great feeling to see a business grow, especially at a time when, unfortunately, so many people are struggling.
Personally, I’m trying to spend a lot more time with my wife and 6-month-old son and find some healthier balance between work and life. But that’s an ongoing focus!
Why do you think it’s so crucial to know Copywriting and Email Marketing today?
I’d argue that, no matter what you do, copywriting—or at least communicating—is critical. If you’re an accountant, you need to clearly communicate ideas to clients and colleagues. If you’re a business owner, you need to convince your employees or customers to take action. If you’re a doctor, scientist, dog walker, construction worker or mechanic, chances are you write or communicate at some point throughout the day—and understanding how to communicate your point, position benefits based on who you’re speaking to and spur others to take action—that’s valuable to everyone.
For email marketing, it’s still one of the best marketing channels. It has something like 40:1 ROI so, if you spend $1, you should earn $40 back. Of course, that depends upon the quality of your list, product or service, email copy and a bunch of other factors, but it’s obvious why you see so many big brands invested in email marketing.
What questions do beginners always ask you?
When it comes to copywriting, I often have people asking how much they should talk about themselves or their brand. My answer usually varies depending on what they do, but I typically say this: talk about and to your customers as much as possible. Everyone is self-interested. Focus on what they want and need.
Even when you talk about yourself to build credibility, make it about your customer or audience and why that benefits them. It seems counterintuitive because we’re coming out of a period of marketing where brands just talk about themselves… but that’s over.
How did you discover your “niche” and how did you know this was what you were gonna be successful with?
I consider my niche to be small businesses, entrepreneurs and startups. Because I’ve had small businesses, worked for startups and have sold to business owners, I tend to understand the challenges they’re trying to overcome.
I specialize in helping my clients clearly position their brand messaging and clarify what their benefits are to their customers specifically to drive sales and revenue. Often they have little data or history to work from, but by asking plenty of questions and brainstorming, we can come up with copy that really resonates with their customers.
What open rate should I expect If I create an opt-in offer? Will it decrease email after email?
There are many steps you’ll take before you reach here. This is a critical one though, as it will determine how the app will perform in the market.
Start by having a substantial digital presence on many marketing platforms. Promote your app on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and email companies that might help your software. You can also create tutorial videos and upload them on YouTube.
Developing an app/software might be a bit hectic when starting. But the results it brings are way beyond your imagination. It’s worth taking the risk.
How many emails should the sequence be after they opt-in before I sell them my product?
Again, this really depends on the offer, the product and the customer. It’s tough to give a specific number without knowing the industry, offer, etc.
Generally, however, I recommend sending at least 8 emails. Of course, you need to test what works for your brand. Try segmenting your list and send 8 emails to one group and, for example, 15 emails to the other group. See what converts. Play with timing, subject lines, length, offers, calls to actions—and see what works.
What do you think are the keys to your personal success?
It’s kind of a double-edged sword, but I never really have the feeling that I’ve “made it”. I’m always trying to do better, sell more, make more of a difference for my clients and learn. It can be tiring, but never getting complacent is really important.
I’m also really consistent and self-motivated. Even though I don’t have a boss per se, you won’t find me sleeping in, pushing deadlines or not getting work done. I have a schedule, a daily plan and goals and I stick to them.
I’m really fortunate that my wife and family are supportive, too. That might be the biggest factor because you need people in your life who can help you navigate the highs and lows of solopreneurship.
What tools do you use for your work? (website host, email responder, software, tools)
It’s amazing how much free or low-cost software is out there and it makes a massive difference.
What are the biggest tips you can give to beginners?
I’ll speak to beginner freelancers here because there’s a lot of good tips out there for business owners or folks who need email marketing.
I’d say that, whatever you want to do, just start doing it. Don’t let perfection stop you from beginning.
From there, learn as much as you can. YouTube, Reddit, books—whatever. There’s so much free info out there to help you learn.
But, most importantly, you’re never going to learn more than when you’re doing actual work. Do your best on EVERY single project. There are no off days or opportunities to do things halfway. Eventually, you’ll have a solid client list, start building referrals and have a portfolio you can use to get more work—and raise your rates.
Definitely raise your rates. Raise them all the time, even to prices you think are crazy. The last thing you want to do is underprice yourself… and you’ll be surprised by how often budget is not the primary concern of good clients. I’ve found clients actually trust you more and see more value in what you do at a higher price point.
One final thought: choose your clients well, even when you’re starting out and maybe not doing so hot financially. Bad clients eat up your time, make you less profitable and can ruin your future as a freelancer. Make sure they value what you do, understand what needs to be done and respect you, your time, your skills and your rates.
What expert secrets have you discovered along the way that you can share with us?
Hmmm… good question! I’ll echo what other writers and marketers have said repeatedly: focus your copy and brand on your customers, not on you.
It’s something that can be really hard to convince people to do because it seems counterintuitive. They’ve created a service or product and they’re proud of it. They want to talk all about it.
But ultimately your customers most value their problems, hopes or goals. They want to hear a brand that thinks and speaks like they do, that offers them benefits they care about.
If you’re not sure how to speak to your customers, read reviews of your competitors, written by your potential customers. Join the Facebook groups, subreddits and forums you think they frequent. Get inside their head, use the language they use and you’ll have a far greater chance of connecting with them.
Also, see how often you’re using “we/us/our” versus “you/yours” in your copy.
What is your secret weapon/specialty that you do better than all your competitors?
I consider myself a really good question-asker. That might not sound important for a writer, but it helps me learn a ton about my clients, their customers and their product or service. I may ask the same question in 4 different ways to elicit new information that I can then use to write good copy. But it helps me understand nuances that really matter, uncover certain motivations or details and I think that comes through in my writing.
What are the biggest false beliefs people have about your copywriting or email and why they are false?
Oh, good question. I’d say the biggest false belief people have about my copywriting or writing in general is that anyone can do it or that it’s easy. I write at least 10,000 words per week—and I’ve done that for a little over 3 years now—plus my time in advertising and sales, where I was writing and sending 50-100 emails per day.
It can take me 20 minutes to write, edit and finalize a sentence or two. Because every word matters and carries weight. Language is complex.
I guess pretty much anyone can write… but writing so that you actually get results and positive outcomes? That takes years to master.
If you were to give people a checklist on how to get started, what would it be?
It would be a pretty short checklist. “Get started” would be the most important step because, unfortunately, so many people try to perfect everything, read 500 books, go to seminars or hesitate. They never even begin, so any step after that is irrelevant.
If you want to be a copywriter, start reaching out to local businesses or nonprofits. Offer to write copy for them at a reasonable rate. Or, if you can’t get a reply, start writing copy for real or imaginary businesses. Just start writing. Don’t let it become something you’ll do “one day”.
For email marketing, get started with an email service provider, whether it’s something free/cheap like Mailchimp or more pricey like Hubspot. Think about what your customers need to hear—what they actually want to hear about, not what YOU want to tell them—whether it’s a new offer, a cool product, some value add or educational content. Whatever it is, write some emails–or work with someone like me to get that part done right.
Just start. You’re better off writing some bad copy than not writing at all. You’re better off sending some below average emails than sending none at all.
Is there a mentor (or colleague that you admire), a book, or a course that you would recommend to our readers?
If you do what I do—or if you’re running your own business—check out Donald Miller of Storybrand. His methods and approach to marketing are brilliant and accessible.
And check out Steve Roller and his group, Cafe Writer, on Facebook. It’s a great community of writers and a friendly group of helpful people.
Is there a question I didn’t ask and you wished I had? (and what is it and what is the answer)
It’s not necessarily something you didn’t ask, but something I think about whenever I read interviews from “experts” or people who know a thing or two.
I’m happy with what I’ve built, but I still encounter challenges. I feel confident in what I do, but there are times when I doubt myself. I’ve been exposed to quite a few founders, CEOs and business owners, folks who are successful by most definitions—and you’d be amazed how many insecurities, failures and fears they have, too.
Don’t think you can’t do it or that you’re missing something that others have. Everyone starts somewhere.
Thank you very much for your time! 🙂
Thank you, Sylvain! It’s been a pleasure.