Case Study: 3 Easy Ways to Grow Your Audience and Get More Responses

Corey Koehler didn’t plan on making music his career. He was the guy that picked up the guitar by the campfire for fun, but his friends saw talent and encouraged him to record. He now has a full schedule of shows and music sales on his website. Smart email marketing helped get him where he is today.

Corey Koehler didn’t plan on making music his career. He was the guy that picked up the guitar by the campfire for fun, but his friends saw talent and encouraged him to record. He now has a full schedule of shows and music sales on his website. Smart email marketing helped get him where he is today.

Why Email Marketing?

“Somewhere along the line, I heard the phrase ‘the money is in the list.’ Once I had a deeper understanding of what it meant both monetarily and for relationship building, it was a no-brainer,” says Corey.

Overall, Corey wanted to use email to help better establish his audience. Musicians especially rely on a loyal audience to thrive and email is perfect for cultivating that audience. Corey explained, “I want to be as authentic and as open as possible while keeping an eye on sound marketing practices.”

Corey knew he had to both attract subscribers and keep those subscribers interacting with his site and music. There are three important things he did to reach these goals: set up a pop up form, make the welcome message more clear and send emails to people who were not opening.

The Tried-and-True Pop-Up

If you’ve been reading marketing blogs and case studies for awhile, you’ve probably come across a pop-up form success story. For those of you who haven’t heard of them, pop-up forms appear above the web page and visitors can either close out the box or fill it out. Why do these forms do so well? Most likely because:

  • They focus visitors’ attention on the form. Some types, like the one Corey uses, will even gray out the rest of the page.
  • Visitors are forced to take some sort of action when the form appears.
  • Unlike pop-up ads, which might not be relevant to the website, these forms offer more information on something the visitor appears to be interested in.

Since Corey put the form up, there has been an 80 percent increase in subscribers.

This graph shows the growth on Corey’s list for the past year and at what point the results were affected by the pop-up.

Another factor for growth rate is whether or not subscribers stay on the list; if you have a high turnover rate you won’t see as much growth. The next two things help Corey keep subscribers on his list.

A Welcome Message Remodel

The welcome email can do great things, and when Corey asked me to look at his, I was eager to share my thoughts.

The welcome email is the first email a subscriber will get. A good welcome email should:

  1. Deliver on any promises you made at sign up (like free downloads).
  2. Reiterate what subscribers will get out of your emails.
  3. Set expectations for future emails and how often you plan to send.

Corey’s email did the first item, but left out the rest. His email was also all text, making it harder to skim. Here’s what I recommended:

  • Use a template to make the email more visually appealing and keep the width contained to less than 600 pixels. Anything over will most likely get cut off on subscribers’ screens.
  • Add images to break up the text monotony and make the email less intimidating to look at.
  • Add the welcoming text I described earlier.
  • Make the links stand out so people know what to click on.
  • Include a photo in the signature to make the email from a real person.
  • Add social media buttons to get people to spread the word.

Here’s what the updated email looks like:

This email has brought in almost 20% more clickthroughs than the previous version.

Success With Sending To Specific Groups

Corey often sends emails to subscribers who haven’t opened a particular email. “For larger campaigns, I send an email broadcast on a Monday morning, then send the “unopens” the same email on a Wednesday evening and then the remaining “unopens” on a Saturday or Sunday morning when they may have some extra time to sit down and read the email with a cup of coffee,” says Corey.

Corey set up like this because he believes that what time you receive an email will affect what you do with it. He’s not alone. Laura Vanderkam talked on Money Watch about how her emails get open more on Sunday afternoons.

The Marketing Experiments blog also talks about timing and how it all depends on your industry. Copyblogger takes a similar approach, calling across-the-board rules on timing “B.S.”

Based on all these sources, it’s really about finding what works best for you.

Corey reports this tactic has nearly doubled his open and click rates compared to past campaigns. Here’s a look at how one of these Monday-Wednesday-weekend sends turned out:

Notice that the second send brings in the most new opens. If you’re looking to boost response rates, consider sending to unopens at least once.

The Benefits of Email Marketing

“The biggest thing for me has been the relationship building,” Corey said. “As a musician, it’s very powerful for me to be able to be accessible and have an ongoing, open dialogue with people who can relate to my music.”

“For example, I recently had a women reply to an email to tell me that my music was helping her get through chemotherapy. Sure, this sort of thing happens without an email marketing mechanism in place, but it is a hell of a lot easier for someone wanting to reach out to hit ‘reply’ and send a message than it is to hunt down contact information.”

“In addition to that, it has helped me gauge the success of my marketing efforts and create a recurring stream of revenue – which, for musicians, is not the easiest thing to do these days.”

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  1. Corey Koehler

    4/25/2013 9:06 am

    Crystal, great job on the article. Thank you so much for your help and for sharing my story.

  2. Brynn

    4/25/2013 1:44 pm

    Great advice for musicians 🙂

  3. Svetlana

    4/25/2013 2:22 pm

    Great article.

    So, how do you exactly do that?

    How do you find unopens for a particular email, and after you send them the newsletter for the second time, how do you find unopens for that second try?

  4. David Andrew Wiebe

    4/25/2013 2:44 pm

    Very nicely done, Crystal, and congratulations on your email marketing efforts Corey.

    I may have to implement some of these strategies myself. 🙂

  5. Randall Magwood

    4/25/2013 3:18 pm

    Great use of email marketing to promote your music Corey. You seem like a marketer who definitey knows what you’re doing online. Congrats and I wish you nothing but success.

  6. Jarom Adair

    4/25/2013 6:31 pm

    Nice article, but a quick question…

    Who is talking there at the end inviting us to sign up for their email list? Is it Corey Koehler? Or Crystal who has her own email list? Or is it the general Aweber email list that I’m already on?

  7. Phil Polson

    4/25/2013 6:42 pm

    Thanks for this great information Crystal. Liked it so much I have retweeted.
    There are so many emails coming in everyday it is important to stand out from the pack and Aweber sure helps us do that.

    Emails give a chance to test for immediate results.


  8. Mike C Smith

    4/25/2013 11:25 pm

    I’ve got to make it a habit never to miss opening a aweber email, always something valuable to help me with my sites. One of the things I did not know and correct me if I’m wrong. Do I take it that you can see if someone opens or not opens an email?
    thank you

  9. Daniel Evans

    4/26/2013 1:06 am

    Great article! I always use a personal photo to connect with my audience. Congrats on your success Corey!

  10. Timo

    4/26/2013 3:45 am

    Thank you Crystal for another great post.
    I especially liked “Welcome message remodel” ideas.

  11. Crystal Gouldey

    4/26/2013 7:33 am

    Svetlana and Mike – You can see who has opened or not opened your emails. In, AWeber, if you click on a sent Broadcast you’ll see the QuickStats page which will break it down for you. You can also follow instructions here.

    Jarom – Sorry for the confusion! I wrote the post and I’m inviting everyone to join a brand new email list that I created.

  12. Top 25 Inbound Marketing Articles of the Week: April 26, 2013 – UpCity

    4/26/2013 8:32 am

    […] AWeber features a case study outlining three easy ways to grow your audience and get more responses. […]

  13. Mark Washington

    4/26/2013 11:50 am

    I Just love email marketing, especially how you can set your messages (customized) ahead of time before sending them out.

  14. Mike Monday

    4/26/2013 10:23 pm

    Great ideas there – thank you!

    I do like the idea of increasing open rates for a particular message by resending to unopened – in principle. But I’m a little concerned that it could significantly increase complaints.

    If I went through my inbox and found 3 copies of the same message I’d probably get a little exasperated, even with someone I liked/want to hear from.

    But maybe that’s just me…

    I guess testing and a “light touch” is needed!

  15. Ajit

    4/27/2013 3:49 am

    I am regular user of Aweber and using it since so many months ago and getting good conversion.

    Your tips are good for all marketers like me.

  16. Erich Senft

    4/28/2013 2:07 pm

    Thank you Crystal for an enlightening post! How does one set the width of an email to 600 px without using a template?

  17. Barbara Saunders

    4/29/2013 3:58 pm

    thank you for the ideas, “you don’t know what you don’t know” applies to me.

  18. Ron Lavine

    5/1/2013 1:57 pm

    Does aweber have an automated way to resend the same e-mail to those who didn’t open it the first time?

  19. Ishmam

    5/2/2013 8:13 am

    Congrats on your email marketing effort. These strategies will obviously help me in promoting more effective ways.

  20. Crystal Gouldey

    5/2/2013 8:44 am

    Erich – It’s harder to do without a template. You or your designer would probably need to set it up in the HTML.

    Ron- It’s not automated, but it’s pretty simple. You just click on a few buttons and it’s done. The link in my previous comment walks you through how to do it.

  21. Greg

    5/3/2013 5:32 pm

    Hi, the Pop Up you mention in the article, is it available on AWeber or is it one that we need to purchase ?

  22. Joann McCraw

    5/6/2013 3:35 am

    Wow, these are fantastic information. It is really nice to know all about these email marketing strategies. I understand that what is essential is that you make everything simple and direct to the point. It is also great that you have decided to use email marketing in promoting your music, Corey. Thank you also Crystal for sharing this wonderful and informative post.

  23. Crystal Gouldey

    5/6/2013 7:52 am

    Greg – You can create a pop up form in your AWeber account, there’s nothing you need to purchase. Full instructions are available here.

  24. Greg

    5/6/2013 8:45 am

    Thanks Crystal,
    I looked at Pop-Ups a long while ago but shyed away because they are blockable ? I guess that depends on how savy my readers are ? Any way to tell if the Pop-Up gets blocked ?

  25. Crystal Gouldey

    5/6/2013 10:07 am

    If you choose the “pop over” or lightbox” option you should be fine. These are types of pop ups that aren’t blocked by most browsers. The regular pop up opens in a new window, which is why it’s blockable.

  26. Kevin Striker

    5/7/2013 11:24 am

    Been Aweber subscriber for a while, but these case studies are great reminders (and idea generators) for me. Love the case study format where you can see how it applies to someone else’s business and provides helpful tips. As a guitar fan, this particular post was right up my alley.
    A ‘loyal audience’ a must for all successful marketers.
    Congrats Corey and thanks Crystal.

  27. Niki Spence

    5/9/2013 10:28 pm

    Very interesting… I am going to look further into the resend option for those that dont open the first time. And revamp my emails ls so that the links are bolder. Thank you!

  28. Andy Nathan

    5/17/2013 6:30 am

    Awesome case study! Already did a resend on a freebie I sent out about two weeks ago to my list. Great idea!

  29. Sara Hawerlander

    6/12/2013 11:36 am

    Thank you for this. I’m interested in sending multiple emails to the unopened list. How do you adjust the subject line and email copy for the second and third time you send it out? Do you keep it exactly the same each time or make minor adjustments? Thank you.

  30. Crystal Gouldey

    6/13/2013 7:22 am

    Sara – You can keep it the same or make minor changes. Many marketers will just change the subject line. All you need to do is copy the sent message and then you will have the option to edit it or send it straight to your unopened segment.

  31. Sara Hawerlander

    6/13/2013 8:03 am

    Thanks Crystal!

  32. Anirudh Bahadur

    6/20/2013 2:42 pm

    Great tips. Thanks. Adding pop up box again to my blog!

  33. Bob The Teacher

    6/26/2013 9:31 am

    Thanks for a great case study, Crystal, and to Corey for sharing your results!

    The unopened/not clicked on search feature (and then saving that as a segment) is easy to do in Aweber, but I often neglect to do it. This is a great reminder of how important it is to repeat a message a couple times instead of sending different messages each time. It’s also great because sending the same message to the entire list gets boring for those that read it the first time.

    I’ll be sharing this with my community as well!

  34. Alex Writer

    7/11/2013 8:50 am

    If the popup window is not strongly imposed, yes it is good

  35. Larry

    9/3/2013 2:54 pm

    Great case study, Crystal!

    I may have to implement some of these strategies myself.

  36. Alex

    6/15/2014 2:00 pm

    You make such a good case for email marketing. I’m going to keep this post in my back pocket for the next time a client says that having an email list is too much work or doesn’t seem worth it.