229: Email Marketing – Strategies for Bloggers with Allea Grummert

An image of a computer and a camera and the title of the 229th episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Email Marketing.'

Welcome to episode 229 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork talks to Allea Grummert about how bloggers can level-up their email marketing.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Isabel Orozco-Moore about leaning into a niche, delegating tasks, and more. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Email Marketing 

What comes to mind when you hear the words, “email marketing”? Is it something you’re excited about? Or is it “yet another thing” you have to figure out?

Whatever your relationship with email is, you’ll learn so much from this episode. Allea is here to talk all about email marketing strategies for bloggers and to take you through her six-step process for implementing a successful email marketing strategy.

We’re so excited for you to check out this episode, and if you listen all the way through, you’ll find out how you can schedule a free 30-minute strategy call with Allea!

A quote from Allea Grummert’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'The most sustainable way to remain in contact with people [is] email.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Allea’s six-step process for email marketing
  • How to audit your current email setup
  • How to perform a technical audit of your current ESP
  • Why you should segment your email lists
  • How to know who is on your email list
  • How to address objections from people on your lists
  • What a long-term nurture sequence is
  • How to move people to act via email
  • Allea’s recommendations for automation-building

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If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

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Transcript:

Alexa Peduzzi: Welcome one and welcome all to the 229th episode of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast. I’m Alexa, and we are thrilled that you decided to make the podcast a part of your day today.

Alexa Peduzzi: I have a question for you. What comes to mind when you hear the words email marketing? For me, some words and phrases are ever so slightly neglected, a black hole in my marketing strategy, and not really sure what I’m doing. Do you happen to feel the same way? I like writing, so the writing aspect isn’t super scary for me, but it’s the content. What in the world do I write about? What do my email subscribers want to read about, and what resources will be most helpful for them?

Alexa Peduzzi: Well, friends, Allea is here to talk all about email marketing strategies for bloggers. You’ll learn so much from this episode as she takes you through her six-step process for implementing a successful email marketing strategy. We are so excited for you to check out this episode. If you listen all the way through, you’ll find out how you can schedule a free 30-minute strategy call with Allea. Intrigued? Let’s get into the episode.

Bjork Ostrom: Allea, welcome to the podcast.

Allea Grummert: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. We’re going to be talking all about email, which in the quick chat we had before pressing record, I was saying this is something that is so important, in general, but I think especially for people who are kind of blog content focused. I know that’s true for us, and I know that’s true for a lot of people who listen. We think about search engine optimization. We think about ranking high. We think about traffic. One of the things that we try and do on the podcast is to shine a light in the other areas that are just as important but a little bit more neglected. I think email, for this audience, is one of those things.

Bjork Ostrom: We’re going to be jumping in. We’re going to be talking about email. We’re going to be talking about strategies. Before we do that, I want to hear a little bit about your why. Why email? What was the path that led you to really focus in on email as what your career is, the work that you do?

Allea Grummert: Yeah. I mean I might be just as surprised as anyone else. Who knew? I actually started out as a blogger. I am from the personal finance space, so thanks for welcoming me into the food space.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, welcome.

Allea Grummert: My background is in marketing, in advertising, and so, for me, the blog… I would tell people it’s kind of like my, quote, unquote, digital playground. It’s why I wanted to play around with formatting blog posts and writing content and doing keyword research and all of that. I mean my friends had cooler hobbies was my joke, and here I was on a Wednesday night writing blog posts by myself about personal finance.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally, totally.

Allea Grummert: That was my background in it, and then it just became one of those things where it was really easy for me to do but not necessarily easy for other people, so they would often ask me questions. That’s where it snowballed, and then-

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that I love about you telling your story is I think it’s important for us to remember, as people who are pursuing creative endeavors and also, in some ways, pursuing some type of freedom that those creative endeavors give us, that we don’t become too set on just one path to get there. What I often see with the people we talk with or the people we work with or just people we rub shoulders with, a lot of times, blogging or anything, podcasting, YouTube, it can be kind of a gateway into another thing that then becomes the thing.

Bjork Ostrom: You probably learned stuff along the way with doing blogging where you’re like, “Oh, this is actually an area that I’m really interested in. I have an area of kind of expertise because of my interest,” because of your ability to not go out with friends on a Wednesday night and, instead, learn about an email service provider. Now you have this unique skillset because of your initial interest in blogging. Did you find that to be true, in your case, that blogging was kind of this gateway into this new area of interest?

Allea Grummert: Oh, it absolutely was. I just had no idea. The next thing I know, I’m watching webinars, and I’m reading books. I bought a big course to go through, and so it was. It was definitely a gateway. I didn’t even know. When I started my blog, I thought I was just started a budget coaching business or service, not even a business. Then I learned about blogging. Then I learned about search engine optimization and content marketing and all of that, whereas when I graduated from the university in 2012, content marketing and blogging was still for hobbyists.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, totally.

Allea Grummert: It wasn’t the full-time thing. Then what I learned, just from my perspective in advertising, what seemed the most sustainable way to remain in contact with people was email. To this day, I have the same email sequence I wrote two years ago. People are replying back to me with their money stories.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. Yep, and so-

Allea Grummert: That’s where it hit some with me that it was so valuable.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. What I love about your story is you are not only doing this as a business consulting and helping bloggers, but you also have implemented it and have it within your own business. You have practical, on-the-ground experience, and then you’re also able to connect with a lot of other people, see inside what they’re doing and help them implement strategies around that.

Bjork Ostrom: What we’re going to do today, we’re actually going to talk through you have kind of this process that you take people through. I thought that it would be great to actually just talk through what that is at a high level. Obviously, there are many details that we won’t be able to get to, but I just thought these six steps were really interesting. The super high-level take on it is auditing and then knowing your people, charting a course, writing copy, implementing, and then measure and improve. We’re going to talk through each one of those steps at a high level, and then this is also a service that you offer if people wanted to work with you.

Bjork Ostrom: Before we get into it, explain to me the name, why you picked the name that you have for your consulting business.

Allea Grummert: Yeah, so my business is called Duett, which is spelled with two Ts. It’s a nod to the power of collaboration and playing to everyone’s strengths.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome.

Allea Grummert: Yeah. I also like puns, so I say things like, “Let’s Duett.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. It works for either one of those. Let’s start at the top. This is one of the things that I actually conceptually love with multiple different areas of businesses, whether it be finance, whether it be search engine optimization, whether it be revenue optimization, but this idea of taking an audit. It’s taking a step back and looking and analyzing where things are currently at. When you’re working with somebody, what does that look like for somebody to take an audit, to actually lay it all out there and figure out what their current email strategy is, assuming that they even have one to start?

Allea Grummert: Right. A lot of times when I start an audit… This goes for anything in business. When you’re too close to it, you can’t necessarily see all the details, or you don’t have the questions to ask yourself. You’re just like, “It’s not working, and I don’t know why,” and so-

Bjork Ostrom: I feel like it’s comparable to the house analogy and shining the light. It’s like when you’ve been in your house for so long, you can have a box in the corner and kind of forget that it’s there. I’ll go over to family or friends’ house, and I’ll be like, “Wait a minute. You guys have a box in the corner. What is that?” They’re like, “Oh, yeah. We just haven’t unpacked that.” I think you can be that close to your business as well, so yeah, totally get that and can relate.

Allea Grummert: Absolutely. With an audit, this is where you want to take an overview of what you’re doing and, if you can, kind of go through and look at the technical setup of things as one phase of it. Another would be the messaging and brand voice. Another might even be visual branding. This is when I go through and I kind of take a comb through your business and see, “Okay, this is what you told me your business goals are. Is your email marketing reflecting that? Is your welcome sequence reflecting how you want people to feel introduced to your brand?”

Allea Grummert: In a lot of cases, folks will come to me when they’re doing a rebrand or a pivot of some sort, and they’re like, “I just know that what I wrote five years ago doesn’t work.” Instead of just scratching it… because there’s a lot that we can learn from that. We can learn about the audience engagement and which topics they’re responding to the most. This tends to be the baseline because before you really go start starting to segment your audience and instead of just picking a segment by random, how can you take the information that you already have through your email to be able to determine what those segments are?

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Yep. One of the things that you said is there’s kind of this technical audit. I’m guessing part of that is taking a look and saying is your email service provider… ESP is how we can refer to that. Is your ESP the right match for your blog?

Allea Grummert: Right.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m guessing that’s part of it.

Allea Grummert: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bjork Ostrom: Do you have a way for people to understand if they’re using the right email service, or is it kind of like, “Hey, the one you have is probably going to be working okay. Let’s just use that moving forward”? Talk us through how people can understand how to optimize which email service provider to use.

Allea Grummert: When I chat with people about what they want their email marketing to do, a big question of that is, “How are you going to be emailing your list?” There are different types of providers, and the way that they set up your subscriber information can either be in a list or it can be organized by the subscribers’ information themselves.

Allea Grummert: Things like Mailchimp make it really hard for your lists… They don’t communicate to one another, so it makes it really hard to really piece out who it is you’re emailing. You want that kind of control to be able to say, “I want to email these people and not these people,” whereas I will just say Mailchimp doesn’t allow you to do that, but if you’re only sending a broadcast out once a week to everyone and you don’t plan on segmenting, then Mailchimp is fine.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Allea Grummert: Got it?

Bjork Ostrom: Just foundationally to define those, can you say, okay, high level, what is broadcast email first?

Allea Grummert: Sure. Broadcast email is one where it’s not automated. You’re sending it out live, if you will, or you’re scheduling it for like a week in advance. It’s what they also call a blast email or email blast.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. This would be like, “Hey, I just published this recipe. You should check it out.” Press send. Everybody is able to see that, but it’s not something that would be part of a series-

Allea Grummert: An acclimation-

Bjork Ostrom: … or a funnel or an automation.

Allea Grummert: Yep.

Bjork Ostrom: All of those can kind of be clumped together, so broadcast is kind of one-off, and then there’s this idea of an automation which, in some ways, maybe kind of live forever.

Bjork Ostrom: Then the other thing that you talked about was segmenting. Can you talk about what segmenting is and why it’s important and kind of, in the audit process, what you’re looking for in regards to segmentation?

Allea Grummert: Sure. Segmentation, in general, is making sure that you’re sending relevant content to the right people and that you’re not, quote, unquote, spamming people who are not relevant by sending them irrelevant content.

Allea Grummert: An example might be say you have a blog where you’re teaching people guitar. You want to be able to segment out these people are beginner guitarists, and these people are totally shredding it. You want to make sure you’re not sending irrelevant content to either one because that’s kind of a… not just offensive, but it’s just noisy. You want to be responsible with your email marketing so that we don’t get that bad reputation of sending spam.

Allea Grummert: Yeah, so in the audit process, it’s looking at, from a high level now that you’ve kind of been collecting these subscribers, trying to figure out and learning what do they have in common, maybe what are some nuances that separate them that might mean that they need to receive different content?

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, got it. Another example of how we’ve dealt with this on a really specific level and how we’ve seen segmentation really help our business… Food Blogger Pro, there are members, and we want to talk to members differently than we want to talk to non-members. There’s been times where there’ll be a little hiccup in our system, and it won’t properly record somebody who’s actually become a member, so then we’ll send them an email and it’s like, “Hey, you should join.” They’ll respond back and be like, “I’m already a member.” It’s like you said where it’s like it’s this feeling of like, “Wait a minute. This is borderline offensive. Why are you marketing to me? I’ve already joined.” There’s all different versions of that.

Bjork Ostrom: If you have a recipe blog, you might talk about two very different types of things. Lindsay, on Pinch of Yum, might have a series… We don’t have this, but it could exist, a series on our favorite desserts, but then she also does a series on sugar-free January. We want to make sure that those things aren’t getting crossed over, so you want to make sure that we’re segmenting those people. I think it’s a really important concept.

Bjork Ostrom: You’re kind of getting to this. One of the things that’s important is that you actually know who your people are, which is the second step in the process. You kind of step back. You take an audit. You look at things, get a understanding, kind of the lay of the land, but then you actually need to know who those people are and how you’re going to talk to them. How do people do that? How do you get to know who’s on your email list?

Allea Grummert: Oh, man. There are a handful of ways, but my favorite ways are to do either a survey or do one-on-one interviews with people whether they’re clients or customers. That sounds so bizarre because we’re like, “We work online. We don’t talk to people,” but you are. You’re always talking to people.

Allea Grummert: The way that I do it, typically, with my blogging clients is to send out a survey because we usually get a pretty good return on people responding. Through there, I follow the methodology for interviewing called Jobs to be Done. It’s asking them like, “What caused you to look for something? What other alternatives were you looking at? What were you feeling before you found my blog or my resource or my book, and how are you feeling now, and then what’s the number-one thing you’re able to do now that you have my website?” And-

Bjork Ostrom: I’m familiar with the Jobs to be Done just as a concept. Do you know kind of where that came from and what the purpose of Jobs to be Done is? Who would use that concept in terms of building out an understanding of your audience?

Allea Grummert: Great question. I learned it from a mentor of mine, but the idea is that… I don’t know if you’ve ever heard people don’t necessarily need a drill. They need a hole in the wall.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Allea Grummert: Right? If they’re looking for, “I’m looking for a way to impress my coworkers,” it could be, “I’m going to make a homemade recipe,” or, “I could just go buy them all Amazon gift cards.” You know?

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, yeah.

Allea Grummert: What’s the motivation behind what they’re looking for versus-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and another example being they’re not looking for a healthy recipe. They’re looking to get healthier so they can… somebody can spend quality time with their grandkids and not feel like they’re wiped out by the end of the day, so they want to be healthy, so what is the core thing of what you’re trying to do and then being able to… Is the idea then you are able to speak to people in a way that addresses the hole as opposed to talking about the drill?

Allea Grummert: Of course, yeah. Yep, yep. You’re talking about the core issue. For instance, I just produced all this research for a client where it’s like a deals blog, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Allea Grummert: They’re like, “Well, people just like saving money.” Well, half of the respondents are like, “I have no time for my family, for meal planning, for whatever.” When you can say, “If I can help make this part of your life easier so you can spend more time with your family,” you’re going to respond differently to that because it’s like, “Oh, it’s like you know. It’s like you know what I’m going through at home and the kind of help that I need to make life easier.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, it’s totally… Yes. It’s kind of like it’s a reminder of the importance of copy writing. It’s the different between find the best deals on the internet and get the last part of your day back with your kids, like gain back evenings with your kids. It’s like, oh, that’s much more appealing to people, especially who have that strong need, than find good deals.

Allea Grummert: Right. I’m like there will always be those people who just want to be thrifty, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yes.

Allea Grummert: There will always be those people who are just looking for browsing for a recipe, but what’s the core issue?

Bjork Ostrom: When you are surveying your readers, what are some of the most helpful questions that you’ve seen to include within a survey to help inform some of the ways that you can start to talk to your audience?

Allea Grummert: Absolutely. One of the first ones is, “What was going on in your world when you went looking for a resource like my blog?” What’s interesting about that is, if you think about it, it’s actually what is the external motivation? What happened outside of… Maybe you’ve been feeling like you need to lose weight for five years, but what happened that finally made you think, “Okay, now I need this”? So asking for what that external motivation was.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Allea Grummert: Was it because you have to take family photos soon or something like that? Yeah, and then asking them, “What are the things that you found, as a result of my blog, that have made life easier?” Then it allows you to kind of piece those things together for a new subscriber saying, “If this is what you’re looking to solve, this is how I’ve solved it for other people.”

Bjork Ostrom: Is the idea with this information, then, that you have a general idea of the, broadly speaking, the norm for people who are signing up for your email list or who your audience is so then you can surface to the top the things that those people most often respond to? What are we trying to get at with this survey in terms of a thing that we actually fold into as concrete written material as a part of an email?

Allea Grummert: Right. Part of it is looking for those common threads or the most common answers you’re getting. What are you seeing as common motivations? Is it, “I want to lose weight”? Is it, “I just want a more active, healthy lifestyle,” those things? Then also you’re asking them, “What are other alternatives that you’ve sought out, and why didn’t they work?” and so using some of that language saying, “The reason why it hasn’t worked for you creating your own meal plans is because of this, this, and this, but that’s okay because I have this resource that has been proven to work.”

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Allea Grummert: It’s calling out like, “Here’s why you haven’t seen change,” or, “Here’s why that change is taking so long.”

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. We’ve done a little bit of an audit. We start to get to know our people through, if you’re extremely introverted, a emailed survey, if you’re a little bit more ambitious and bold, actual conversations with people that you could line up and just do whether at a coffee shop if they’re local or Zoom or Skype-

Allea Grummert: Yeah, just do a Zoom call, a 20-minute Zoom call, yep.

Bjork Ostrom: … to get to know people a little bit better. Then now you have a little bit of a sense of who these people are. My guess is, at that point, then you kind of plan out like, “Okay, in this new version of how I’m going to communicate with people through email, here’s what it will look like.” You call this charting the course. Can you talk about what that step is like and how people can take this information that they’ve learned and then kind of build a new plan?

Allea Grummert: Yes. This is the part of the phase where you’re developing out your content strategy but not on a blog. It’s part of an email. What does the sequence look like? When are you addressing objections? When are you saying or boosting them up with some encouragement for change or… Yeah, so it’s looking at what does each of these emails include? What order are we putting them in? Where are we leading them? What are we asking them to do? This is really that high-level, still before you start writing anything, of like, “Where is it that I want to take people? What’s their next step?”

Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk-

Allea Grummert: And whether they need to believe it’s possible before they can actually confidently take that next step.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think those are really important concepts. Can you talk about the idea of addressing objections, how you do that and why you want to do that?

Allea Grummert: Yeah. The objections could be things that they’re thinking about themselves or objections, actually, other people maybe have told them. Maybe the objection is, “But I just can never lost weight.” Maybe the email is, “Three reasons why this mindset is holding you back,” and you just kind of call it for what it is or, “Three myths about losing weight.” Maybe that’s where you teach them, too, part of it is genetics. Part of it’s not just because you’re not trying hard enough.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The idea here is you know that there are common threads that… You’ve gathered this through the survey. You know there’s common threads that people have in terms of hurdles they might face or kind of self-limiting beliefs or actual realistic struggles that exist, like in the case of genetics, but idea being you’re calling that out, so you’re not pretending like that doesn’t exist. You’re acknowledging that and saying, “Hey, either this is a mindset, maybe there’s something you need to change, or this is a reality. This is just something that exists, and here’s some strategies that we can use to move through that.”

Bjork Ostrom: That could exist whether it’s the example of eating healthy, or it could exist if it’s starting a business, or it could exist if it’s like, in your case, it’s a series on having success with email marketing or personal finance. All of those categories will have these areas where people have these kind of issues that exist in their mind that you can address, but you don’t know how to address those unless you survey the audience.

Allea Grummert: Yes, unless you know what the-

Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s a great call back.

Allea Grummert: Yeah, unless you know what’s holding them up. For instance, with email marketing people, I would hear from clients even saying, “Well, what do I have to tell someone? Why would they listen to me?” I’m like, “Excuse me. You have 10 years of blogging experience. You have taught many a people.” You know?

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, right.

Allea Grummert: It’s kind of me coming in as a bit of a cheerleader and being like, “Hold up. You do have things to share.”

Allea Grummert: Another example for a personal finance example, the alternatives that these folks were looking at instead of buying a spending or budgeting plan were DIYing it or this one popular book author, and then the other option was free apps and tools. Well, none of those worked because one was too complex or one was my own formulas never worked. Maybe they have this mindset that it should be more complex than it is, whereas a spending plan could be like it’s actually really easy, or they have this idea, this complex about, “I shouldn’t have to pay for money advice when I’m short on money.” There’s all sorts of ways that you can kind of work through that, but that’s kind of what that research reveals.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. One of the questions that I have personally, as it relates to Pinch of Yum, is one of the things we’re trying to sort through and figure out is we have this kind of generic catch-all like, “Hey, subscribe and get an ebook with recipes.” It’s a pretty terrible offer and something that’s been really neglected. Then we’re starting to get into thinking through specific series that we can do that address a really specific vertical.

Bjork Ostrom: An example, actually, is outside of the recipe space, but it was the easiest one for us to kind of test this on. It was Lindsay had wrote a couple articles on a capsule wardrobe, so it’s more in the lifestyle category and less on recipes, but then we created an email series specifically around how to go about implementing that. It was a really easy, clear-cut way for us to say, “Oh, this would be a great place for a series to exist.”

Bjork Ostrom: Ideally, we would use recipe blogs as an example because that’s what we do and that’s what we’re about, but how specific do you get with the different email funnels that you’re building knowing that, for people who are publishing content, there’s probably general categories that we hit as opposed to an email serve… or like a web app like a SaaS app where it’s like, “Hey, we do this.”

Allea Grummert: And only this.

Bjork Ostrom: “And we’re going to teach you how to do that right.” It’s a little bit different than personal finance, which is people who are trying to either get out of debt or grow their wealth, which there’s probably broader categories to that as well, but point being, question being how specific do you get and how do you know where to start in terms of what type of content to build around with email?

Allea Grummert: Sure. When it comes to building out a lot of different sequences, I mean I lean towards keeping it really simple. If those sequences are proving to be something a lot of people have questions about like, “How do I live a sugar-free life?” You know?

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Allea Grummert: Maybe that’s where you take your January content and turn that into a series and use that more as an opt-in as they get to join some sort of challenge or course. In general, if it’s content that you can use that needs to go to everyone that would benefit all new subscribers, with the exception of any segments that it’s wouldn’t work, but building that into what I’d call a long-term nurture sequence.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay.

Allea Grummert: Your long-term nurture sequence can go on for two years if you really want. You could make sure that that content is always going out. It really varies. Instead of creating 10 different smaller sequences, if it means that you could do a handful of shorter sequences that meet their needs and answer their questions efficiently through a course or a challenge and then they go into your main email list where they get all the rest of your really great content and then they start getting your live broadcasts, that’s a really great way to usher them in, so using it more as an opt-in than necessarily nurturing them on a one-off basis.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it, yep. It seems kind of like both end where there’s the potential to create smaller series for really specific segments of your site, but then also you probably want to have this kind of catch-all that intentionally communicates the best things about your blog and your site because, a lot of times, we have this really clear understanding of our site and each specific post and the best posts, but a lot of times, people don’t have any idea of the content that exists on the site, and they’re missing the best things. Email’s probably a good way to do that. Is that how you’d use something like a long-term nurture sequence where you’d include some of that most popular content within that sequence?

Allea Grummert: Absolutely. That’s one of the questions I ask even before the audit. I have a new project questionnaire, and I ask them, “What is the transformation you want to see a reader go through when they’ve come to your site? They’ve never met you before. Where is point A to point B, and what is the content or beliefs that they need to instill to get to that point?” I ask, “What are the top three blog posts you think every new reader should know about?” It’s sharing your mix tape of best… your best-of.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes.

Allea Grummert: Yeah. I was telling you this before the call, but I have bloggers who say, “Well, why would anyone want to listen to me?” I’m like, “Well, you wrote this stuff. Even though you wrote it two years ago, people find that really valuable, so we need to bring that back into the fold.” Part of it is repurposing this content.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, point being that people are nervous or hesitant to re-share content that they’ve already published as if it’s kind of an inconvenience to people like, “Hey, you’re pushing this content. I already know about it. Stop bugging me,” but it’s like there’s a very high probability that those people have never seen it, so you need to be really intentional with putting that in front of people.

Allea Grummert: Right, and even if somebody has seen it, they’re like, “Oh, that’s right. I really like that blog post,” or they’re like, “Oh, yeah. I’ve already read that one. I’m glad I’m up to speed.” No one’s going to be mad about you sharing awesome content, so yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Right, got it. This idea of charting the course, we’re planning it out. We’re kind of building an outline. Then we actually go into the process of writing copy. That’s step number four, writing copy that connects. Then this part is interesting, moves readers to act. What do you mean by that last part?

Allea Grummert: Whether you’re asking people to go to your blog or to follow you on Instagram or to reply back to your email, that is a nod to the call to action. What is it that you want them to do, think, or feel as a result of this? Maybe they’re not necessarily acting, but you’re helping change how they feel about cooking or change how they feel about paleo or whatnot, but how are you kind of moving them along that journey?

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. We’ve talked about copy writing a little bit, but what are the most common changes that you see or kind of the lines that you continually need to repeat to people as you work with them as it relates to copy writing, kind of some of the foundational things that, oftentimes, people forget or maybe get wrong?

Allea Grummert: Yeah. There’s a couple. The first ones that come to mind is personalization. Part of that is dropping their name in the email, but back to segmentation, that’s part of personalization too, so making sure you’re only sending content to people that it’s relevant to.

Allea Grummert: The other one is that you don’t want to hit people with too much in one email, especially… This can go back to some of your nurture emails. When you’re first welcoming someone and you’re like, “Here’s everything,” I personally love that. I’m like, “Yes. I’m going to get in on this. I’m going to get in on the ground floor. I’m going to know everything about this site. Thanks for sending all these resources over.”

Allea Grummert: One big thing that I tell people is to know what your one big idea is. You don’t need to change their mind about four different things in one email. You don’t need to send them to four different… like, “Join a giveaway, and check out my blog post, and I got a new video over here that’s completely unrelated,” just allowing it to be really simple and letting those simple touches be simple.

Allea Grummert: I used to work in video production. When we would work with a company and they’re like, “We want to highlight all 16 of our programs,” we’re like, “You realize they’re going to walk away remembering none of them.”

Bjork Ostrom: Nothing, yes.

Allea Grummert: It’s just a balance between if you really want them to know, think, or feel something, you have to keep that really focused.

Bjork Ostrom: A really simple, specific tagline that I remember, as it relates to copy writing, that I’ve thought about a lot, the more that you write, the less people read. I don’t think that’s universal. I think there’s exceptions to that, but I think, especially on the internet, that there’s this correlation between more and more words potentially means less words actually consumed, and so there’s this kind of balance between just the right amount of information and also in as few words as possible. Do you have a goal that you shoot for in terms of email length or you never want it to be shorter than this or longer than this?

Allea Grummert: That is something that is totally testable based on your audience. Definitely start with whatever feels comfortable for you as a writer. If it’s easier to say, “Here’s a two-paragraph summary about this latest blog post,” and send it out and see if you have people respond, your audience may just absolutely love that, and that becomes part of your brand that it’s short and sweet.

Allea Grummert: I work with a lot of clients who, in the finance space, there’s just a lot more storytelling that needs to come into play because there’s a lot of beliefs that we have about money that we need to work through. Definitely, if you feel like you’re rambling, your audience is going to know that you’re rambling. If you can tell it in a concise story and the story has a direct tie to the call to action in some way or it really makes sense for why you’re spending your time telling the story, then it makes sense.

Allea Grummert: Yeah, but storytelling is another huge element. I know that we hear that a lot, especially in the last few years. We heard that all the time in video production and, to this day, it’s still really important, but yeah, bringing yourself into it also helps humanize the content so it’s not just like, “Oh, I’m just somebody who’s over here cranking out blog posts.” It’s like, “Hey, here’s where I was able to use this recipe recently. This is what people said about it, and here’s how I hope it can help you.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That last part that you said, “Here’s how I hope it can help you,” reminds me of one of the things that Lindsay talks about as she reflects on her writing is the difference between, “Here I am,” and, “There you are.” What she talks about is one of the things she hopes to do is, in a positive way, hold a mirror up a little bit through her stories, so it’s not storytelling just for the sake of, “Hey, I want to tell this story about me.” It’s storytelling for the sake of transformation and impact. I think that’s one of the greatest ways to make an impact is through story because, for whatever reason, we really connect with stories and can understand, conceptually, if told right, how that then applies to us. I think that’s another really great takeaway-

Allea Grummert: Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: … as it relates to copy writing and being sure to include stories as much as possible.

Allea Grummert: Especially because, when you share stories, the goal is that people will see themselves in that like, “Oh, I’ve had an experience like that. Oh, okay, someone said that to me before,” so-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. An example that I think of that we could even… As one of the things that happens on these podcast interviews, I listen, I’m like, “Oh, how could we apply this to what we’re doing?” Just the other day, Jenna, on our team, sent over this screenshot of a message that came through on Instagram. It was three friends who made every single freezer meal that Lindsay had ever published.

Allea Grummert: What?

Bjork Ostrom: It was this table of these freezer meal bags. They got together, and they hung out, and they made these freezer meals. Then they had all these meals prepared for weeks and weeks. I think that is a way to share a story that highlights content but then also encourages people to take action, which would be, “Hey, a great way to use these would be to get together with your friends and make freezer meals. It’s fun, and you’re doing it together, and it’s efficient.” It also, then, would make for a great email. You can package that all together and tell a story through that, so-

Allea Grummert: Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s inspiring even for me to hear that. We’ve gone through this process starting way back with auditing. We’ve surveyed. We’re starting to get to know the people that we’re interacting with. We have a basic outline. We’re at step three. We’re charting the course. In four, we’re actually going in and writing that compelling copy where there’s story. It’s concise. It’s to the point, but there’s also a call to action involved. That’s step four. Then, number five, we’re actually implementing it. We’re going into an email service provider, and we’re building out all of this stuff.

Bjork Ostrom: At this point, we haven’t even really potentially spent much time doing email. We’ve done a lot of planning and preparing and thinking. Maybe in the audit process we did, but now we’re actually implementing it. Before we start, I’m curious to know do you have a favorite? If you were to start from zero, what would the email service be that you use? Do you have a favorite or…

Allea Grummert: I would probably go with ConvertKit because it is such a subscriber-centric way of managing your list. There’s all sorts of cool things like conditional tagging. I know you can do that in ActiveCampaign as well. I have clients who use that, but I’ve been in ConvertKit for so long for the last few years where it’s just so easy to toggle back and forth between emails in a sequence. It’s so easy, and it’s very much more text-based, so it’s not going to be like kind of over-the-top design-wise like what you can see with Mailchimp, or even ActiveCampaign has a lot of design aspects too that you can implement.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, great.

Allea Grummert: ConvertKit would be the one. I usually tell people, though, if you’re getting started, at least for the first six months or so, use a free service and just get in the habit of using it. Play around with it. Make sure that email is something that you’re ready to invest your time into.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, and a free service being like the basic version of Mailchimp.

Allea Grummert: Mailchimp or MailerLite is another one.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Okay, great. Before I forget, we interviewed Nathan, who’s the founder of ConvertKit, back in Episode 140.

Allea Grummert: Oh, I know Nathan.

Bjork Ostrom: For those who want to learn a little bit more specifically about ConvertKit, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/140. We actually use ConvertKit for WP Tasty. We use ActiveCampaign for Pinch of Yum. Both are incredible services, and really like both email service providers and would agree I think ConvertKit is a great place, especially for bloggers. It’s kind of where they started. They’ve pivoted their language a little bit now to kind of the broader creators but really started as a place for bloggers to create email lists around selling products and promoting their content.

Allea Grummert: They’re great.

Bjork Ostrom: Let’s use that as kind of the example moving forward. You go in. Where do you start? How long does this process take, and what are some of the first things that you should set up once you do have your email service provider?

Allea Grummert: Sure. One of the first things you’ll want to set up is your email template. ConvertKit, it’s a little tricky, but once you set up your template in ConvertKit, you can toggle between templates when you’re creating your broadcast or a sequence. Having that, it’s built into the HTML, so your fonts will change, your colors will change, your header, all of that, just at the flip of a dropdown tab.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool.

Allea Grummert: You’ll want to make sure that it reflects your branding. A simple header is usually what I recommend and then making sure that your brand colors are reflected in the links and any of your text.

Bjork Ostrom: If somebody’s not tech-y, like if they’re not somebody who’s like, “Hey, I can go in and put a basic HTML header together,” are they still going to be able to do that, or would there be somebody that they need to hire that would help with that process?

Allea Grummert: Well, if you’re like me, you can just learn it on the internet, which is what I did. I did a lot of Googling. They have a lot of text setup things on the ConvertKit knowledge base to help you out, so it just gets a little tricky, but if you think about it, this is what my mom says. She’s like, “You help people create things that they can’t mess up later.” I was like, “That’s because the system will make sure they can’t mess it up.” It’s just complex enough, so yeah, so learning how to drop a header in because ConvertKit is different than Mailchimp where it doesn’t store your files, your images. There’s a handful of workarounds, but it is really simple once you just hop onto Knowledge Base and follow the steps there.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Cool. You go through this process of building it up. I think, in some ways, conceptually, this is probably the easiest for people to understand as it relates to going in. They know we’ve published blog posts before. It’s probably pretty similar in… conceptually as opposed… It won’t be like you’re in WordPress, but the idea’s the same where you’re composing. You’re dropping in images. Maybe you’re including links. Then you’re also building out these automations.

Bjork Ostrom: Can you explain, in this stage when you’re building out an automation, are there recommendations that you’d give in terms of the time between emails that you’re sending when you do have this nurture sequence? Are you emailing people every day for a week and then once a week after that? Any guidance on how often you should have these touch points as you’re starting to implement this?

Allea Grummert: Yes. For the welcome sequence, best practice is you can email people maybe three days in a row and then space it out after that point, so once immediately when they first join your list and then once the next day and once another day. In those emails, definitely set up the expectation saying, “Hey, I’m going to make sure that you are totally up to speed on all things Pinch of Yum, and so I’m going to make sure I’m going to be sending you these emails over the next six weeks. You’ll hear from me every Monday and Thursday,” something like that.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it, yeah.

Allea Grummert: If you’re hoping to set expectations that way, otherwise, you can kind of test and see. Once a week is usually fine, but I don’t necessarily… It depends based on your frequency of blog content and creation. I have a blogger, a gal who sends out deals. She sends out three emails a week, and all the content is different. If you’re cranking out that much content, then it is helpful to email your list more than that.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Great. We’ve implemented it. It’s up and running now, but there is a last step. I love this last step, this idea of measuring and then improving. We have this concept that we talk about on the podcast a lot, 1% infinity, getting a little bit better every day over a long period of time. Email’s a great way to play out that concept and because you can continually tweak change and improve, but it’s kind of hard to do because it can get neglected. How do you keep that top of mind and continue to improve your email? What does that look like on a practical level?

Allea Grummert: A lot of this can be very nuanced, but from the beginning… At the audit, we’re tracking your data where it currently is. We’re also determining what your KPIs are, your key performance indicators. Is it sales? Is it number of visits to a particular page? Is it number of opens or clicks at this stage? At this point, you already have it built. It’s important to go back and continue to monitor those numbers and see what the click or open rate is. At this point, you can go back and do some of the nuanced things like maybe we swap out the subject line, or maybe we test it with something else and see if we get a higher open rate, or maybe we need to adjust the calls to action internally and see, maybe if we use a different phrase inside of the email, people will click through a lot easier, or maybe we need to drop in a couple more calls to action throughout the email. Maybe one isn’t enough. That’s where you get to play around with that information.

Bjork Ostrom: When you’re making those changes, what you’re looking for is previous performance based on performance after the change. You had mentioned this idea of KPIs. Those could be different. It might be, depending on what your goal is, but it might be how many people purchase a product, or it might be how many people click on a link and go to the blog post, or it could be some weird thing like how many people reply to the email or forward it to a friend. Is there a way within ConvertKit, I haven’t spent enough time within it, to A/B test in an automation in email, or are you having to compare before and after? Does that make sense?

Allea Grummert: Yep. There is no way to do A/B testing right now within a sequence. That is in high demand from other ConvertKit users. Let’s see. There’s no way to A/B test the subject lines either within the automation. That’s usually why where like-

Bjork Ostrom: That’s historical. You’d have to look back and say, “Okay. We made this change. What happened?” You make a note, kind of a… either on your calendar or maybe in Google Analytics or something. You create an annotation and then you look back and say, “Historically, here’s what it is. We made the change.” If it’s better, keep it. If it’s worse, then change it back.

Allea Grummert: We go back. Yep. At that point, you’re kind of playing with history and seeing if you can beat it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, yep. Got it.

Allea Grummert: It’s like racing yourself on Mario Kart.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally, and there’s that little ghost-

Allea Grummert: Okay, and beat myself.

Bjork Ostrom: … ghost cart that you’re trying to beat. Yep, right there with you.

Allea Grummert: Yeah. Make a change and then give it 30 days and see if there’s a lift or not.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Cool.

Allea Grummert: Say you’re incorporating a… What’s it called? A webinar. Say you’re incorporating a webinar. Maybe it’s tweaking the name of the webinar to get more people attend or adding in another email to get people to attend live, things like that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Things like that like a simple change of the name can have such a big impact. We’ve noticed that. That’s, a lot of times, how people will make a decision is what is the name? They don’t know what the content is, right, so they have to make this decision based on the name. It’s one of the most important things, subject line being another example of that. Is this applicable to me? Do I open this, or does it not apply, and then archive and don’t even look at it. Lot of things to consider.

Bjork Ostrom: If you were to say, “Hey, one thing that somebody can do starting today,” Allea… Somebody hasn’t spent a lot of time with email. They want to get better at it. What is that? We’re all about this idea of the first step. What is the first step somebody can take as it relates to understanding or even improving their email? It doesn’t have to be a big project. It could be something super simple. Do you have any ideas of what that might be?

Allea Grummert: I would say ask yourself, “What are those two or three resources that I wish every new subscriber could have? If I could gift it to them when they first walk in the door, what is it that I would want to make sure that they have?”

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. I love that. That last part that you said there I think is also really valuable, to imagine people actually walking through the door. I think, as much as possible, if we can personalize the online interactions we have, we are going to be better for that, not only for the ability to serve the people that are working with us but also the success of the business, because I think the more that you can serve people the more successful your business will be.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the best ways to think about that is this idea of hospitality. When people come in, what are the ways, in your house, that you make them feel welcome? You’re like, “Hey, can I get you something to drink? Are you hungry? Have a seat. How are you doing?” It’s all of these relational questions that sometimes get dropped in a online relationship, but as much as possible, if we can start to fold those in and, like you said, imagine somebody coming in the door, what are the things that you could gift to somebody that are truly helpful? Let’s try and figure out ways to get those to people as quickly as possible. I love that, and I think it’s a great note to wrap up on.

Bjork Ostrom: Allea, I know a lot of people are going to be interested in connecting with you and potentially working together. Do you have any way for people to reach out and connect with you? I know that you actually even have a specific page that people can go to. Speaking of those resources, you have those that people can download specific for the Food Blogger pro audience.

Allea Grummert: Yes. I have a landing page created for all of your listeners. It’s duett, D-U-E-T-T.co/foodbloggerpro. On there, I have my freebie there of Five Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Email List. That’s helpful whether you’re getting started or you’ve been doing it for a while and you want to see some tweaks you can make to your existing list to make it more personable and more effective. Then I am also offering five free strategy calls to any listeners.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool.

Allea Grummert: Just to hop on a call with me and talk through any frustrations you might have or any opportunities that you’re debating whether to move forward with, so-

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. If people want to, is it submitting their name for a potential strategy call, or is it kind of first come, first serve, or what’s the best way to go about doing that?

Allea Grummert: On that landing page, there’s a link directly to my calendar. It’s first come, first serve. I would say, even if you’re listening to this a couple days after it airs, definitely check it out and see if there’s some that are still available.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, great.

Allea Grummert: At that point, yeah, we can also look at other alternatives if we book those up.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Hey, that’s great, Allea. Thanks so much for talking through this stuff. I know that I have some action items on my end, and I know people who listen will as well, so really great to talk to you.

Allea Grummert: Awesome. Thank you, Bjork.

Alexa Peduzzi: That’s a wrap, my friend. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Did any of Allea’s advice resonate with you? I really love the idea of creating more personalized email sequences with stories. We’re slowly starting to implement these types of sequences on Food Blogger Pro, so it was really exciting and really motivating just to hear some of Allea’s tips and tactics.

Alexa Peduzzi: If you like the episode, we would love and so appreciate it if you left us a review on Apple Podcasts. All you need to do is search for the show, The Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Leave us a rating, and tell us what you think. It puts such a smile on our faces to know that the episodes are resonating with you guys, so we absolutely love reading your reviews.

Alexa Peduzzi: That does it for us this week. We’ll see you next time. Until then, make it a great week.

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