John-Paul Flintoff

That trick with your invoices...

A while ago, I sent you a link to a secret page on my website. It was designed to look like an invoice, with a video, in which I talked with some excitement…

The point of the exercise was to set up a conversation about RELEVANCE – the main factor in boosting your relationship with your audience.

I'm guessing you have an audience, right? Or you wouldn't mind having one. Or maybe you were just curious. That's OK, I'm like that too…

You achieve relevance through segmenting your audience. Treating individuals as individuals. Big advertisers try to do that by spending money to exclude the wrong people.

Read that last bit again. It’s important.

They don’t try to put everything in front of everybody. They actively avoid it. And we can ALL do what big media agencies do, if we have the right platform.

Watch this. It’s 1min 28 secs

When I was helping with a local community campaign, fighting developers, I built a list of about 150 local people, and separated it into residents and councillors.

Then I separated residents by the different streets where they live, and even by different sides of the same street…

… because some things didn’t affect everybody (sunlight, for instance), and I didn’t want to drive anybody nuts with emails that were irrelevant to them.

I separated councillors by political party (while always having the option to send the same message to them all).

And so on.

Segmenting my list gave me the opportunity to send highly relevant messages to everybody. As a result, I had higher than usual rates of people opening my emails and clicking on the links.

Often three times higher:

If you’re not a campaigner, I’m sure you can see how useful this could be to your business, or artistic project…

It certainly would have helped me to know all this when I was crowdfunding my novel.

At the time, I was stuck with a platform that required me to send the same message to everybody at once – which meant asking for funds from people who’d already backed me…

… which would look inelegant, thoughtless and ungrateful.

And remember: the whole point of the exercise was to ask for money. Sending messages just to be “interesting”, without asking for money, was pointless.

Literally: there was no point to it.

So eventually I stopped sending anything at all.

This was a mistake.

If I’d known how to, I could have sent different messages to people who had already given a certain amount of funding – perhaps cheekily offering something even better, for a bit more cash.

I could have messaged people who’d expressed interest in a certain aspect of my project, and avoided talking about that to people who had no interest in it.

By doing this, I could have created stronger, more relevant conversations with so many more people.

You see why I was so excited and mysterious in that page on my site?

Click on the picture to see the page, but read the rest of this page first

Most people on my list, who never send invoices, will never look at that invoice page. And they won’t read this page either, although it’s public.

You did, because you “put your hand up” by clicking on a link in an email I sent you.

This kind of relevance is hard to achieve on other platforms.

A picture you put on Instagram can be seen by absolutely everyone who follows you (and even people who don’t). If you keep showing a promotion that doesn’t interest people, they’ll get annoyed.

Same goes for Tweets.

So what many people do on Instagram and Twitter is create a lot of OTHER content, to hide the promotions among all the fun stuff. But creating all that content is a lot of work!

Turns you into a dancing bear, never able to stop.

Facebook allows you to target your audience, but it's getting expensive. Not long ago, Facebook showed everything you posted to all your friends. Then Facebook decided to limit the exposure, unless you pay to turn your posts into ads.

Which brings us to old-fashioned email…

With emails, you can send as much or as little as you like, whenever you like, and you can segment your audience easily, using tags and trigger-based automations.

Automations that quickly and easily sort sheep from goats…

… men from women…

And people who don’t create invoices from people who DO…

See where I’m going with this yet? See how it could help YOU, in communicating with the people who matter most?

But this is what puts many people off:

Creating an audience, and manually sorting it into different interest groups takes a long time. That’s probably why a lot of people who have a website don’t bother with a mailing list. Big mistake!

Speaking for myself, I found the process unbelievably difficult using Mailchimp.

So I swapped this year to DRIP.

It has segmenting and tagging built into it so that the process of building the list and segmenting individuals within it is automated.

Drip is free while you have fewer than 100 people on your list.

Late last year, I started building a new list from scratch, because the people I have on Mailchimp were in such a mess…

I might import them all eventually, but right now, with just over 400 subscribers on Drip, I’m happier than I ever was with Mailchimp.

I’m curious: what email platform do YOU use? Please, having read this far, leave a comment below.

PS. I want to make this very clear. The link to Drip, above, is an affiliate link. This means that if you go through that link and become a Drip customer, I get paid a fee for referring you. It doesn't cost you any extra. But I'm telling you this so there's nothing underhand.