There, I said it.
Proposals for projects take up too much time, they don’t actually sell what you do, and they add an extra step (more if you account for editing and back and forth sending) to your entire client onboarding process.
You want to close the deal.
Get that deposit.
Know you’re booked this fall.
And your newfound client wants it to be simple once they said “yep, let’s do this!”.
So why are we still sending proposals???
^Actual footage of me
I stopped sending proposals in January. Cold turkey. No more.
But I’m still sending a doc to my potential clients. It’s a magical document I learned about from the incomparable Joanna Wiebe. Ready for it? It’s called…
A Statement of Work.
And it’s wonderful. (Almost) no back and forth. Ready for signing. Acts like a contract. Genius little docu-friend of mine.
Now, this isn’t a post about SoWs, per se, but I wanted to tell you what got me to where we’re going.
See, I had a statement of work that was, er, working pretty well. But I wanted to improve on it recently and see if a few tweaks would make it even more powerful.
So I did what any professional interneter does and I went to Google:
Lots of results ensued.
Then I found this:
I know and trust Kurt. And Shopify is a reputable source (duh).
And now we’re getting into the meat of this email-focused tear down where I hit you with the alternate title of this article:
I Downloaded a PDF From a Shopify Blog And What Happened Next Was Pretty Boring
See, I came to the Shopify blog for three reasons:
- I wanted to see another SoW to learn how I could improve on mine.
- Shopify is a trustworthy site in my eyes.
- I saw Kurt’s name in the (ahem, non-optimized) meta description.
What I didn’t know when I landed on that article was that it was on the Partners Blog and not the main Shopify blog.
I had plenty of clues but (and this is important so pay attention) I wasn’t looking at any of those clues. Remember… I was there for this statement of work sample.
So what did I do?
I read (okay, skimmed) the article and found the opt-in box so I could get that sample I was looking for in the first place.
Check this out.
I didn’t notice any of the following:
My mind was already searching for what I needed so I bypassed Shopify’s strong effort to get my attention on their partner program.
I came from a Google search with a mission in mind.
So when I got to what I was looking for I was focused. Clear on my intent.
Find that sample.
And I did:
Now before we head into my inbox, check out that fine print.
By entering your email – we’ll also send you marketing emails related to Shopify. You can unsubscribe at any time.
“Related to Shopify” is the important part. It might sound like semantics but hear me out here.
Yes, the partner program is “related to Shopify” so you’re probably thinking it’s all good.
But… you’re wrong.
Here’s what I got in my inbox in the weeks following my downloading that PDF:
Three quick onboarding emails and then I was added to their main list as previously agreed upon in that fine print.
The same emails, it seems, that everyone subscribing via that content upgrade are getting.
But I’m not “everyone”.
With my own journey, my own understanding, and my own experience of your corner of the Internet.
So let’s talk about what works, what doesn’t, and how this quick little onboarding sequence can be improved on.
A Good First Date Doesn’t Make You Marriage Material
Did you ever have a date that felt a little… pushy? Like they assumed your friend who set you up told you that they were looking for The One so they were totally shocked when you were like “hey, I’m just here for the calamari and because Alison said you’re cute”.
Your website can make those same assumptions of your well-intentioned-but-not-well-executed date if you aren’t careful.
And by “careful” I mean “personal”.
Personalization works because relevancy is everything. – Brennan Dunn, RightMessage
There are both manual and software-driven ways to handle personalization but the first step in either case is to identify where your traffic is coming from.
- What are your main referral sources?
- How are your readers getting to your site?
- Is that blog post a landing page (meaning they come straight there with a direct link) or is it a page they find through a deeper experience of your website?
- Are they coming from an email?
- Are they a referral from another site?
Knowing the answers to these questions can help you determine what path your new subscriber will go on. If your content is compelling and the opt-in is even more-so, it benefits you and your subscribers to put in the extra effort to make their experience relevant to their needs/situation.
Then if you have that Point A reference point, the rest of the journey is more clear to map out.
So let me walk you through the three emails I got and then I’ll give you an actual map of what it could look like.
Email #1: The Download
This first email is great – delivering on that promised download.
If you take a close look it’s kinda clear that this is one of those “fill in the blank” kinda templates that they’re clearly re-using for various content upgrades. But it’s cool, at least it’s referring back to the right piece of content, right?
It’s just that, remember, I don’t recall this download coming from the Shopify Partners blog. In fact, I don’t even know there’s a whole separate blog for Partners. I just know I found this great article on Shopify.
So instead of talking about the partner program right away here, why not take a pause and find out if that’s something I’m even interested in? (More on that to come. Hang on.)
Email #2: Pure Pitch
More about the Partner Program huh?
…but I don’t own a web design business.
See, this is where getting your subscribers to tell you more about who they are (using a link trigger, for example) can pay off in dividends.
Instead I’m left feeling like I don’t fit in. Are only web designers Shopify Partners?
Email #3: Additional Resources
I love love love (love!) seeing Shopify pointing me to other resources I might like based on my previous download. Even if I’m not interested in the Partner program, getting me engaged with their content again is a smart move on their part. The more I visit their website, the more likely I am to find one of two things:
- Highly shareable content that I send out to my followers who might be interested in Shopify and/or their Partner program.
- Shopify products that I do want to use (like maybe I’ve been thinking about opening a sticker ecommerce shop and, oh yeah!, Shopify can help me do that).
See how this whole email thing can pay off?
A More Personal Path
Here’s what it might look like for Shopify in another (more optimized) scenario:
Creating personalized onboarding from a content upgrade like this PDF download helps your new subscribers get a lay of the land AND they end up taking more interest in what you have to say.
Remember that I missed every clue that this was a Partners focused blog.
And I like to think that I’m wiser than the average subscriber bear.
With more customized onboarding, Shopify could have identified me as someone who was likely unfamiliar with their partner program and even gauged my interest in that program right up front.
If I want to know more?
Cool! Send me more details?
If I’m just here for that PDF?
Please don’t waste my time and the precious amount of brain space I have reserved for your brand.
Be that awesome resource for a killer content upgrade.
Deliver what I’ve asked for.
I’m not saying don’t engage with me. No, that’s not it either. The key with personalized onboarding (yes, even/especially from a free content upgrade) is that you have an opportunity to show your new subscribers that you care. That they’re not just another number.
And if you care that deeply when they’re downloading a free resource from your blog that was posted over a year ago??
Your subscribers start to believe that you will care even more when they become a paying customer.
(Related: you should actually care even more when they finally do become a paying customer but That’s Another Blog Post™.)
Shake What Your Momma Gave You
Here’s the thing:
We have more data and information at our fingertips than we even know about.
Think about it.
There are very powerful personalization features your email marketing tools have that you likely haven’t even explored.
So it’s time to make use of those features. But you have questions. Questions like:
Does it take time?
Is it complicated and/or confusing?
Can’t I just keep on doing what I’m doing? It works for everyone else!
Sure. Keep doing the standard. The B- work. After all, B- grades still graduate (hell, I’m living proof of that fact).
But can you honestly say that you read this far in this article because you’re really stoked about your B- work? Aren’t you actually interested in being an A-player?
YEAH YOU ARE.
So here are your action steps:
- Find out where your website traffic is coming from (Google Analytics is your friend here).
- Identify your top opt-ins and note the traffic sources on those pages.
- Reach out to your email service provider’s support team and find out what features they offer that can help you personalize. Ask about things like “Dynamic Content”, “Merge Tags”, and “Liquid Text”.
- Use a tool like Lucidchart or good ol’ pen and paper and map out a personalized workflow for your top 3 traffic sources.
- Take those workflows to your team and get their feedback. Decide who will help with implementation.
Get a little practice under your belt with your top 2-3 opt-ins and then test, measure, iterate, and do it all over again.
Treat other people the way you want to be treated. -Mom
Your subscribers want to connect with you.
And think about it… they want to get emails from you. They just told you so by opting in for your content upgrade. You’ve done 3/4 of the work already. This is your chance.
Don’t blow it.
And if these strategies are overwhelming or you just need help making it all happen, I’m right here.
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