Brian Minick: “If You Haven’t Started A Newsletter, You’re Missing the Bus”
Are you still on the fence about starting an email newsletter? See what Brian Minick of ZeroBounce has to say – it may be just the push you need.
Brian Minick of ZeroBounce, on “The Paul Leslie Hour”
I’ll never look at email the same way. That’s how I felt after speaking with Brian Minick, the Chief Operating Officer of ZeroBounce.
The opportunity to interview Brian for my podcast revealed a great source of information about email marketing. We covered email from both a technical and creative perspective and talked about:
- why bounces matter and why you shouldn’t ignore them,
- the best kind of audience you can build through your email list,
- how to get started with an email validation service,
- the new ZeroBounce inbox placement tester, which tells you where your email is likely to land (inbox or spam),
- what he loves most about his job, and
- the two things that make a great email.
Also, Brian explained why it’s always a good idea to start a newsletter: people love them and it’s the best way to reach your customers and followers.
Some excerpts from the interview show the greatest information he divulged. Our conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.
When did you start realizing the tremendous power of email?
Once I started to get into technology and into a professional career that was focused on marketing.
Now we service a lot of very large brands on the Fortune 500 list. And I saw the tremendous amount of addresses that these companies would aggregate over time – hundreds of millions – and the messaging that they’re able to get out.
It’s so powerful.
How else can you get a message out to 10 million people at the click of a button? It’s very hard, even through social is hard to accomplish that.
With email, you’re able to get a message and put it in someone’s inbox with a really good chance of them reading it. To me, that’s incredibly powerful. Obviously, when mobile took the lead on how people check email, it just got even more powerful.
What are some of the email lists that you subscribe to?
I’m very heavy into tech, so I sign up for a lot of electronic things and deals. It’s just so much more in my wheelhouse. It feels good knowing what’s out there.
Then, anytime I purchased a concert ticket, I ended up on someone’s newsletter, which is always fun to hear about. You get nice sneak peeks as to what might be coming up.
I’ve noticed with a lot of the musicians, they offer some really cool and slick things, like free CDs, a free single – something of that nature when people are signing up. So they’re incentivizing you to do it. It’s a great way to acquire email addresses.
Some email senders maybe don’t worry about bounces. They get a few and figure “ah, well, a few bounced, we still reached most of the people. So no problem there.” Is that wrong thinking or is it about right?
It’s the wrong approach. The reason for that is the bounces are detrimental to what the outcome is: where your email might land.
When you have a list of 10,000 people and 10% or 20% of them bounce, what it’s telling the other 80% is that you don’t have a good reputation for sending emails.
We’re in a day of age where technology is way smarter than you think it is. They’re using other people’s reactions and behavior to dictate to the rest of their audience.
So, if you’re sending to a lot of gmails and they bounce, the other gmails that are real contacts might end up in a spam folder because of those bounces.
Your list is declining in quality depending upon the type of emails you have. If they’re Yahoo or AOL, those last a little bit longer. But if you have any business emails, those are turning about 20% to 30% per year. With COVID going around, it could even be higher and we’re starting to see some increases. So, it’s very important.
I would ask the question: would you rather 8,000 people get your message into the inbox? Or would you rather 8,000 people get it in the spam folder?
That’s usually the teller: what’s the outcome? If you’re not getting good results from your email marketing, you should start asking why.
So what do you suggest somebody does? They have an email list and they don’t know about this concept of email validation – what do they do?
Take a look at your own list. Take a minute, think about it. How did you get those emails? Were they opted into, did people give you the email address? If so, that’s great. Those are the best audiences.
Secondly, did they confirm that email address with you? Did you have to send them a link and they clicked it and that’s what put them on your list? That’s very common nowadays because of bots and all these bad emails out there.
So, acquiring the list in a healthy manner is a good way to start to look at what to do. It’s very common that people purchase their lists. That has a lot of negative effects. But you should still run it through a system like ours, at ZeroBounce.
What you could do – at no risk and no cost – is to get a quick evaluation of what your list might look like by running a portion of it through us as a trial. We offer that so people can start to understand how this works. Then, you look at the percentages.
So, if you upload a list to our service, and 15% come back as invalid, you should run the whole list through. These are just two of the major benefits:
We’ll save you money because you’re storing that data somewhere. And you’re paying for that storage. Most of the providers that send email charge based on the number of records you have.
Why would you want to pay for a record that doesn’t even exist? Some email service providers won’t tell you that, because that’s how they make their money. There’s nothing better than email that does nothing that they’re just storing and charging you for. So that’s one way you can save money.
Another benefit is the effectiveness: you want to have a good, clean list as it’ll get you better results than a muddy one. We help lots of customers – hundreds of new customers every day are coming to us and looking for help.
We’re a great resource for people and our support team is great, too, if you have specific questions.
There’s another thing that ZeroBounce does that is fascinating to me. I’m talking about the “inbox placement tester.” Tell us about it.
It’s a really interesting concept that we put together. Our goal is to help you understand where your email might land before you send the campaign out.
We provide you about 20 email boxes for you to send a test. Those different email boxes come from 20 different major providers that most likely you have customers on. Once you send the test to us, we’re going to tell you, very quickly, where your email landed.
If it landed in the inbox, that’s great. If it landed in the spam folder, don’t click “Send” yet. You need to figure out why it’s spam: it could be content, it could be a picture, it could be a link.
Our tool will allow you to continue to send to it until you move it from spam to inbox. Super powerful and very insightful for people to make sure that their end-users are getting the message.
Because remember, when you send an email through any of these providers, they’ll never tell you if it went to spam or inbox. They just say “delivered,” and delivered is a very vague term.
Delivered to spam? Might as well have never been delivered. I don’t know about you, but I’m not checking my spam folder. And when I do, there’s nothing that I’m really looking for in there that I’m like: “Oops, I missed it!”
That’s becoming more and more common these days. People aren’t checking their spam folders, they’re really not out looking for your ad, or your newsletter. Unless they’re truly looking for it. But, if it’s in spam, consider it toast.
What do you like about ZeroBounce?
I’ve been with ZeroBounce now coming up on two years. What’s fascinating is the type of organizations that we’re working with, their size, and the problems we help them solve.
We’re a three-year-old company and growing very fast, simply because we’re solving challenges out in the marketplace. We can save you money and we can solve problems. Pretty good scenario to be in!
I love it.
We’re a very agile company. We move very fast, make decisions fast, and listen to our customers. To me, that’s the perfect organization to be in.
We’re open to feedback, take it, and improve. It’s why we’re the best in our industry. I confidently say that. So it’s very exciting times here at ZeroBounce.
The CEO of ZeroBounce is a man named Liviu Tanase. He’s kind of a mysterious figure, I think. How would you describe him, who is the real Liviu Tanase?
Liviu is a genius. I say this because his brain works like not many others do. The thoughts and ideas and the way he thinks about things are radically different than a lot of people, and it’s really fun to be a part of.
I can’t even think of one time that I’m like: “Why did he do that?” in a bad way. It’s always: “Wow, he did that?” It’s always the other way around.
But who is he? He’s one of the most generous, truly caring, and very thoughtful people I know. In a sense, he’s almost a role model for everyone in the company.
We’ve done some really great things for our team and for charities and local organizations that he fully supports. Some of them are his ideas, even though he’s not on the ground level as much as we are on the day to day.
He’s a great guy. I really like working for him and with them. And I learn things from him every day. It’s really a pleasure. Everyone on our team would tell you that.
How do you think someone knows that starting an email newsletter is a good idea?
It’s always a good idea – and here’s why.
Number one, it shouldn’t cost you much. By much, I mean it could actually cost you nothing. There are a lot of services that are out there to try to help new businesses start to build a presence. Ultimately, they want your business long term.
There’s no better time than now. If you haven’t started a newsletter, I would say you’re missing the bus. Get on it.
Emails aren’t going anywhere. If you think about what’s changed, emails become more of a piece of property, just like your phone number has. So, if you’re not collecting the way to talk to people, I would challenge you to rethink that.
If you’re thinking about social media – it’s a great outlet, no questions asked. But we all remember MySpace. We all remember some of these platforms that were “it.” At that time, AOL! that was one that was it – and suddenly it just vanished.
What hasn’t vanished?
So don’t forget about the proven method that hasn’t changed. I’d recommend anyone who isn’t collecting emails today to start to collect them.
Get your message out there, get in front of your audience. It’s almost free.
What commonality do you see in successful emails?
What I see is you either have to bring value or humor. People are so distracted.
If you’re just trying to throw an ad at somebody and say “buy this, buy that,” I don’t find those to be as successful. Once you add value – whatever that means for your audience – then people trust you.
They think of you as a thought leader or as the person they look up to. Then they’ll do anything with you. Once you have their trust, people will work with you. It’s the way to go.
So, the things I find to be successful are: engage with your customers, engage with your fan base. What do they want to hear? There’s a lot of negative stuff going on. Do you want to throw a piece of positive in?
There’s just so much great stuff out there, but you have to tailor it this way: “If you read this, what do you think about it?”
Is it a sales pitch? Or is it a piece of information that I can think about or enjoy and laugh.
You know, it’s funny, but the most successful thing out there that people send is puppy pictures. Paul, you ever got a puppy picture in your inbox?
Did it make you smile or did you ever unsubscribe from that?
I didn’t unsubscribe.
Right. So, it’s little things.
If someone sent you a promo code for something you weren’t interested in, you’ll just fly right by it. But if that promo code is hanging out of a puppy’s mouth on a piece of paper, that changes it. You’re adding a feeling.
So you have to be creative, as well. And you can’t keep trying to do the same things. If it doesn’t work, change it. Be creative, and be thoughtful.
What would you say to anyone listening or reading this?
Keep pushing for whatever it is that you deeply believe in.
There are a lot of challenging things happening right now. When it gets tough, you got to keep going. Whatever it might be, whether you’re trying to get off the ground or you’re off the ground, help other people as well.
Let’s push to be better, and always be better, and not accept being stale. When we continue to do that, that’s what’s making us amazing and powerful. That’s how we continue to evolve.