NTR 13: Email Marketing Expert Tom Ruwitch

Table of Contents

Did you know that over 95% of people that access the internet have an email address (or five)?

Did you know that around 90% of those people compulsively check their email multiple times a day?

The truth is out – email marketing remains one of the best and most widely opened/accepted forms of marketing.

In this episode I talked with Tom Ruwitch from MarketVolt, a terrific email service provider located in Saint Louis, Missouri.  Tom shares some terrific tips and secrets about email marketing and segmenting your list for better overall results.

You’ll Learn

  • If email is a dead & obsolete technology
  • What is an ESP and why you should use one
  • Some keys to a successful email marketing campaign
  • Mistakes you should try to avoid when putting together an email campaign
  • How B2C and B2B businesses use email marketing differently
  • How to ‘Market to the Maybes’
  • What Tom means by ‘Separating prospects from suspects’

BONUS Video Footage for Red Canoe Elite Members:

  • The big question – when is the best time to send an email or newsletter for the best response & engagement?
  • Which days work best for various industries
  • Advanced strategies for planning an email campaign
  • How to keep customers engaged, even if they only buy from you in very long cycles (years!)
  • Find out about Red Canoe Elite

Links Mentioned in This Episode

Tom RuwitchAbout Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch  is a business growth specialist with nearly 20 years’ experience helping businesses and individuals thrive using innovative, interactive marketing. He is the founder and president of MarketVolt, a marketing firm that is best known for its powerful, easy-to-use email marketing software. MarketVolt helps businesses implement powerful technology and bright ideas to attract leads, engage prospects, close sales, and maximize retention and referrals.
Tom has helped to establish MarketVolt as one of the midwest’s leading interactive technology and marketing firms. He serves as the company’s lead consultant for clients who seek web site, email, social media, and other marketing guidance. Tom is an experienced web developer, copy-writer, and direct response marketer. He is especially adept at helping businesses coordinate their online and offline marketing efforts. He has experience designing and executing marketing campaigns for small business startups and publicly traded companies.

Tom is a speaker and consultant who appears regularly as a featured presenter at business expos and other events. He writes a monthly marketing column for a business journal in St. Louis, and he is a guest blogger on marketing topics for many online publications.



Will:  Hello everyone welcome to the navigate the rapids podcast today is January 30 2015 name is Will Hanke today we’re going be talking about something I think a lot of people maybe over look and that’s email marketing my guess today is Tom Ruwitch, founder and president of marketvolt one of the mid-west leading interactive technology and marketing firms he sever as the company leads consultant for clients who seek websites, email, social media and other marketing guidance Tom is an experience web developer, copywriter and directs respond marketer. He has especially helped businesses coordinate their online and offline marketing effort, he has experience designing and executing marketing plans for a small business start-up and publicly traded companies. Tom thanks for bring on the show.

Tom:  Thank you Will it was a great pleasure.

Will:  Very excited to have you on today and like I mentioned earlier a lot of people still even today don’t realise the power behind simple email marketing.

Tom:  I agree we hear that old cliché that email marketing is dead and nothing could be further from the truth.

Will:  Yeah before we jump in and start asking a lot of questions why don’t you tell me a little bit about how did you get started at marketvolt.

Tom:   Sure, sure it was about 14 years ago it was way back in 2001 before a lot of people even heard about email marketing and I’ve come out of a media background, I’ve a newspaper reporter for a long time worked on the online side of the newspaper as well as the print side and it wasn’t as if I’ve done email marketing I’m not going to complain or claim to be better at the internet the some political did a few years ago. I got on to the idea of email and internet marketing because what I really recognised the best way to connect buyers and sellers was to do so through interactive technologies and email a certainly an established an emerging one at that point the old media advertising models were on advisement on some page of the newspaper or a billboard or some space in the television ad hope people see that and then hope people act and buy and so forth but the internet, email certainly back in that day was all about having a conversation and connecting buyers and sellers in much more interactive way and I saw that back in 2000 or so when I could and we built it and over time the power and the potential of email has emerged and has continued to really be an important force on how buyers and sellers connect .

Will:   So ah were you still working when you started the marketvolt thing, were you still working as a reporter.

Tom:  I had left the newspaper and was involved in an internet start-up called sports we had built software for the newspaper industry to collect and published  sports statistics we build that company up and raise money built it from me and my other co-founder to about  85 a people and sold it in 2000 and it was in that time from 2000 and 2001 that I was working on the next thing and develop the idea for marketvolts and built it.

Will:   Oh great that’s a very cool story.

Tom:   Yeah.

Will:   And I think I’ve heard of the sports thing it’s been quite a while very cool. So you’ve mentioned earlier about email being that’s not the case you say.

Tom:   Not the case at all, it’s been short of this myth or this slim that emerges over the years and when RSSV came out on websites that’s going to kill email and certainly when social media came alone that’s going to kill email and the reality is email is still enormously important part of all of our lives 95% of the people on the internet have email accounts and 90% of the people who have email accounts check their email compulsively, multiple times a day hourly sometimes and they are so stabbed that I saw in the study that—the same study that set 95% check impulsively 8% of people in that survey said they would check their email minutes or moments after they had sex it’s kind of a I hoped for your loved ones sake that you are not among that 8% I share not to gross people out or make this too R rated but I shared that so I could emphasize the idea that the people or checking their email and you have an opportunity to be in front of them and if you’re not emphasizing email is part of the marketing fix you’re missing the opportunity to have those conversations and be in front of audiences and then the numbers are not shrinking the return on investment, the number of people using email the amount of revenue generated by email that’s not going down if anything going up.

Will:   Yeah I would say the ways of communicating by far emails is the one that’s used the most and compulsively check the most often, I don’t log into twitter and see what somebody said in the last 10 minutes.

Tom:   Right.

Will:   I am running a business however most people– well ok all of the people that will communicate with me that’ll pick up the phone and call me or they send me an email, you’re not going to shoot me a message on twitter or Google plus or something.

Tom:   Right it’s true, it just remain in an essential  element of our daily lives both given our lives as consumers and our lives as business people so the tool works in different ways for different segments (07:00?) but it’s equally affective because we’re active in email as consumers we’re in email as business people and so the medium is important in both segment of business.

Will:   Yeah, yeah so you’re a and why should businesses use one for email marketing?

Tom:   Yeah so ESP is an acronym that stands for email service providers  and fundamentally there are many, many businesses market full my company is among them that are in that category and the service is software typically web posted software, you have an account you can log into the account you can use the account for the following things to store and segment your list, it has a built in database for you to manage your list and segment them into categories, creating content where you don’t have to be a HTML a web expert you can create content that is compelling and with basic word processing skills to do so, sending an email with confidence if you try to send bluck email to multiple people and do it from your own computer chances are you’re not going to get many of them true and chances are over time your internet service provider  will say “stop doing it or we’re going to cancel your account” and so sending with confidence that the emails will get through to the inboxes is very, very important and finally the ability to track and then automate. So emails service providers who open your emails who have click which links who forwarded them and then depending on the system there is automation that can follow automatically segmenting your list automatically sending follow ups and our system has a lot of those capabilities and so why is it so important to use an ESP? It just makes it easier to do all of those things and it removes the headache and hassle of processing and making sure your email is getting through, you’re paying a service to make sure it gets done.

Will:  Yeah and its definitely worth paying someone instead of trying to do that on your own because even if you’re smart enough to keep a database and all those kind of stuff you’re just not going to keep up with especially if you’re trying to grow your list it’s just going to become more and more of a problem.

Tom:  Yeah and I want to make that when people understand when you and I are using the term ‘pay someone’ you’re paying for the software that helps you do it yourself, the key thing is you’re still creating the email , you’re still pressing send it’s still you’re name on top of the email it’s you doing the work the software just makes the work so much easier and makes the results so much better you’re paying for that system that does the work for you now in some cases companies like ours provide the services too so if you don’t want to do the work yourself you can hire our consultants or our experts to help you some companies do that and some of the SP’s do it, some of the SP’s don’t so that’s a very different sub categories within the space in terms of service but ESP probably refers to the software.

Will:  Well thanks for clarifying that up I appreciate that, so let’s talk about someone who wants to create their own email campaign what are some of the successful keys that they need to put in place?

Tom:  Yeah the 1st is planning if you don’t go into it with a plan you are bound to fail so many businesses will get into email marketing and this principle applies also to social media or any other marketing  we have to do this for whatever reason…..

Will:  When we get to the twitter we have to be there because we heard.

Tom:  Yeah why you’re doing it? Well my competitors do it my boss told me to do it that’s a good, understand why you’re doing it what are you try to achieve, what are the business goals, what are you going to say and why. We have a planning process that we can help our clients go through don’t have a whole lot of time to focus on that today  but the key thing it typical scenario of businesses all around the first of the month every month I’m going to send them an email and newsletter or month, weekly or every second Monday but just some periodic approach and then more of these businesses will get to about the 30th or the 29th of the month two are three days in advance of the deadline and their—the person responsible is thinking what heck have I ever this month and it’s a hassle it doesn’t work you’re blowing an investment so without planning you’re going to fail so that’s thing number 1. Thing number 2 is with email marketing you really want to focus on getting permission from the people you’re going to contact you don’t want to scrap together a list from a business directory or some chamber guide or visiting people’s website and just pulling emails off you don’t want to buy list and just being to pound people over and over again with spam. What you want to do is give people reasons to raise their hand and join your mailing list by providing valuable tips on your websites and drawing people to your website and giving people a reason to sign up by asking them when you meet them at networking events or if you speak there all sorts of list building tactics but the key thing is that you’re having a conversation with who said “hey Will I want to hear from you” or “hey Tom I want to hear from you” and that’s a good and to the 3rd point is the reason they want to hear from you is you’re proving value if all you do is pitch, pitch, pitch they’ll tune out because people who are in an audience who you’re trying to connect with only the smallest percentage of those people are already buyers or really on the verge of a buying decision you’re talking to the 99% who are not on the verge of buying decision and all you’re saying is here is the latest deal buy now they’re tuned out but if you’re providing useful information tips, interesting information they’ll continue to read they’ll forward, they’ll share so far 3 points very quickly summarised. Plan, build a list with permission and provide value in your emails and you will be successful.

Will:  Yeah to the point of providing value I just helped one of my clients get set up to start sending out normal newsletters they were very  accidently sending them out every once in a while and usually when somebody meeting something along the line of newsletter “oh we got to get our newsletter” anyway we said “okay” I got it all ready for him the and of course in this business owner mind it’s let’s talk about the sale, here’s what our latest sale was this month ok we could probably do that I’m going to put a couple blogs in there and things like that to break it up a little bit so we send that one out two weeks later “hey we need to do another one because there is a new sale coming and we really need to push that” and I think a lot of business owner even when they get that part down they still think they just need to push out sales all the time.

Tom:   Yeah and it doesn’t work over time because if you are proving content that people see as irrelevant or too pitchy they will being to tune out so you’re open rates will decrease your rate people say “take me off your list” will increase and your spam complain rates will increase people will click that “hey this is a spam” button that they have in their email software even if they signed up and gave permission if your emails are annoying them they’ll click the spam button and as a result you’ll have even more trouble getting  the emails through because some of the filters may think you are a spammer because people are complaining about your emails so keep it relevant and provide value.

Will:  Yeah, that’s exactly what happened to we started getting all these unsubscribes ad of course and it was all on me this wasn’t happening before well you weren’t sending anything before so there is nothing to unsubscribe to.

Tom:  I have a blog Will blog.marketvault.com and I forget how recently it was it’s probably today the 3rd or 4th most recent blog post and I know this will be our so  might have to find it but it talks about the headline of the blog posted something like ‘is your email too pitchy’ or something like that and the point of the post is that in a survey of marketing people be people we’re not marketing people but in a survey of businesses  the respondents said that marketing fails to sway them because they feel it’s too pitchy so the communications they receive coming are too pitchy now that the key thing to remember is that is you still can pitch its ok to pitch you just have to be selective and discriminate about how you do it and when you.

Will:  Yeah I went back in and said “you know what we got to switch this up” we need to provide value as you said and then oh by the way we’re having a sale and I think that approaches working much better a lot less unsubscribe

Tom:  Yeah and one of the ways to think about it is the emails that you are sending are always opportunities for you too prospect and identify your best folks because you’re able to know who opens your emails and who clicks so a great example that we use is the example of a music store bricks and mortar music store and within that database let’s say a thousand people sign up for the email list you might only have 100 people who have any interest in classical music a lot of rock and roll fans a lot of blues fans whatever only but only 100 people are interested in classical music so if for whatever reason you have classical CD’s on sale and you begin to pitch that sale to 1000 people you’re getting 900 people don’t give a whoot about it and a lot of us 900 people are going to tune out and be annoyed. So what can you do in a newsletter you can have a little bit of everything for everybody that’s a core principle a newsletter if you’re sending it to the whole list hit everybody’s –get everybody’s interest a little bit of everything for everybody a little bit of roll and roll a little bit of jazz a little bit of classical and then the classical then could have a link read the interview with the new conductor at the orchestra and then pay attention who’s showing interest in your stuff about classical music, people who click are obviously interested in classical music and over time you can begin to build segments in your database and even immediately following that newsletter so if somebody clicks that link I’m going to send them a coupon for my classical music sale and you’re hitting maybe only 15, 20, 30 people but those 30 people are really going to be happy to get those coupon and they are going to come into the store and meanwhile you are not annoying 900 people, who clearly won’t have any interest in that.

Will:   Right yeah well that’s definitely interesting. So music stores are a great kind of b to c way of doing things. How about b to b and does it work the same?

Tom:   You know we were talking before we started and you were talking about in these meet ups you got to turn off all the noise in the background. I am a working person and the phone is ringing off the hook here at market vaults.

Will:   It’s good, it’s like the telethon with all the phones ringing in the background.

Tom:   Yeah it’s so darn busy here. So you were asking about b to b.  It works in similar ways and we were talking about the myth of email being dead. We hear all the time from b to b people, “Well I am not going to sell some $5,000 piece of equipment or some consulting engagement that’s worth thousands and thousands of dollars on an email and that’s probably true. In many b to b businesses, sales are going to be get done with face to face and direct consultation in the same way that sales were being made 10 or 20 years ago; but the path to the sale can be significantly different. Who do you call or how do you get to a meeting? You might have again a thousand people in your roller desk and the old style sales hustle would be knock on every door on every floor, call people over and over again, cold call until you break through and get yourself to ten meetings. Well with email marketing we talk about the concept of separating prospects from suspects. You can send an email that has something about a particular product. I will take an example from a printing company with which we work. They do standard printing stuff and the people in their database are all interested in the standard printing but they also have a very specialized product that’s expensive and very niche and that’s counterfeit proof printing; printing that has a seal in it, for things that you have to verify that this is in fact a thing. That company in its email newsletter, included last January in advance of the Superbowl, an article about how around the Superbowl, the idea of secure printing is really important because you have the mementos and the photos and the programs and for collectors you have to use secure printing technology to verify that this is the official program and not a counterfeit knockoff. So they shared that article or they linked to an article and what they recognized strategically, is the people that are clicking through on that article are interested in the concept of secure counterfeit proof printing and those are the people that our sales reps can calls or email directly. Say like, “Hey you know I was wondering whether you saw that article we had in our newsletter, we offer a service like that and I was wondering if you are interested?” Now they are going to get to a sales meeting or get through on the telephone much more quickly and much more effectively that way, they will get to their 10 meetings or their 20 meetings or their 30 meeting much more quickly by identify prospects based on who is clicking on an email than if they just called a thousand people in a course of a month or whatever it would take and knocking on doors randomly it’s a very efficient way to identify your prospect by sending valuable and interesting information and paying attention to whose showing interest than following up.

Will:  Yeah and we’re going to have John on here in a couple weeks about cold calling and the great thing about the email is its intrusive so it shows up when you’re ready to open it.

Tom:  That’s right, that’s right but even we have worked with John, John is a great tele prospector and what we’ve done with campaigns with John, yeah it’s a cold calling in many cases the primary call to action might be on calling on behalf of so and so and we’ve like to set up a meeting and people will say not interested but we’ll have a secondary call of action would you like some free report could we get your email to send you something that you would value and then they’ll say “yes” much higher rates of sure I’ll take a meeting so for every person who takes a meeting and you might have 30 people who give you their email address and then we track who clicks or who opens the email and we invested in other phone call to those people because they say no at first but they got my thing and they’ll pick up the phone and you get additional action on the back side or it might not even be John doing the follow up calling it might be the business person directly or the sales rep this idea of knowing who your prospects are because you can track who’s opening your email and they welcome the email , who opened the email who clicked on the link they are showing interest they are more likely to answer the phone because they know you and are paying attention to your  content and they are more likely to take that next step, sales meeting, whatever the case maybe.

Will:   Yeah it’s interesting how they say no but then you see them opening the emails and that’s actually something I heard you talk about before, it’s kind of marketing to the maybes. What do you mean by that?

Tom:  Well if you think about putting a marketing message in front of a thousand people, that small percentage of people who are ready buyers, you know in sales we talk about the person who has the need and the authority and the resources to make the purchase and all three of those things have to be  at the moment you are putting a marketing message in front of a person, in order for that person to say, “Okay I am buying it”. Then you may also have the opposite spectrum, those are the yes es; you have the opposite spectrum: I have no need , I have no interest, I have no desire, I am happy with whom I am with, or I know you and I don’t want your product, the flat out nos. You won’t move them, they are not coming around. But that whole spectrum in-between is the maybes and if in your marketing, whether it’s a print piece or a teleprospecting script or a billboard or a television ad, if you provide some way for the maybes to raise their hand; it’s not yes I will buy, it’s sure I will give you my email address for a free report or for something of value or I will text 12345 to enter a contest and then reply with my email address when the text ask me to get an additional something. The maybes, if you can get them to raise their hands so that they can give you their email address and you can then begin to engage them with ongoing valuable content, you will convert more sales over time, it’s as simple as that; the bigger your email list, the more sales you will convert over time. It may not be tomorrow but it will happen and so thinking of your marketing communications, your advertising and so forth as an opportunity not just to jump to please to meet you will you buy but please to meet you, will you buy and If you think of your marketing communications as not just please to meet you will you buy? But please to meet you, can we begin a conversation? Which is what you are really asking the maybes, you are going to have great success doing your marketing communications.

Will:  Yeah I have something huge that I started steering a lot of my clients towards, like hey let’s offer some sort of a free check list, let’s offer a top 7 tips or something like that that they can give an email address, they can pull it down and there is no sales pitched involved; it’s purely just giving them a piece of value and it’s something that they can consume very quickly, it’s not a 200 page eBook where they are just going to give up 3 pages in. But that has made the entire list building process a lot simpler.

Tom:   Yeah we have one on our blog, on the sidebar of our blog website. 10 secrets to write subject lines that sell and you enter your name, you enter your email address and you get a two pager with 10 quick tips and if you are doing email marketing, this is going to be valuable to you. And from our perspective, marketing our business, the person who is thinking about, “how can I make my emails more effective” is the person we want to be talking with and we want to provide value to. So what follows that opt-in is a follow-up email telling them a little bit more about our company, telling them a little bit more about the value we will provide if they stay on the mailing list, here are more tips, here is what you can expect and over time, many of those who sign up for that free report ask for demos, sign up for the software, become customers.

Will:  And this is automated right they click on the link on the side of your  blog fill out their email address and it automatically emails them, it does this automatically right?

Tom:  Yeah and in fact the way that we start to talk about the product, you know the balance between pitching and value, we say, “Hey by the way here is an email thanking you, thank you very much for downloading the thing, we hope you find it valuable, we will continue to send you some stuff, by the way this email was sent to you automatically, setting up automated marketing processes is a really important thing for you to do as a business” that’s a tip. Setting up automated marketing processes is a way to help grow your business and here is how I did it. And the here is how I did it is beginning to describe our system, our software. So we are establishing that relationship, we are providing value, you just got some tips, but we work our way into pitching. So it goes back to that point I made before; it’s not that you should never talk about your products and services and be afraid to pitch; you just have to do it in a context where it’s going to be welcomed and ere it makes sense and it is not over killing the irrelevant stuff.

Will:   Yeah so another thing I heard you talked about was separating the prospects from the suspects; can you explain that concept and how it applies to email marketing?


Tom:  Yeah we were talking about that a little bit before this idea, link tracking and in a b to b or b to c. The paying attention to the classical music fans who click the link, those are my prospects and the people who are never opening the email or never clicking, those are the suspects and part of the idea is that you want to call your list over time, you don’t want to keep pounding emails to people who are showing no interest and occasional people will just sign up and tune out over time. And so in marketing and sales in general your goal is to have as many conversations with the true prospects who welcome your communications and minimize the amount of time you are spinning your wheels with the suspects. Now you can send emails to anybody and there is not a whole lot of additional cost by sending or apparently any additional cost if you press send and send it to everybody; but if you send everything to everybody every time without paying attention to separating the prospects suspects, what we talked about before is your open rates will go down, your spam complaints will go up and you will have less returns.


Will:   Yeah well listen I appreciate you being on this show today, this has been terrific information.

Tom:  I am really, really happy to be here and to spend some time with you and it’s a great program you have going and I am going to continue to tune in. Next time I am on or going to hangout with you or anyone else, I am going to unplug the phone before I start.

Will: Yeah I think I told you that we did one before With Cathy and her cat jumped up on the table and ran across the screen; that was fun.

Tom:  Yeah well cats do that, you know you can’t keep the cats off the keyboard.


Will:   Right so tell me how people can find out more about marketvolt?


Tom:  So first of all I like communicating one to one with people. So if you have a direct question or want to reach out to me, you can reach me at [email protected]. Our website that talks about our products and services and has resources on it is marketvolt.com. The blog that I mentioned that’s marketing tips of all sorts, not just email marketing but all things is blog.marketvolt.com. And we have a new thing that I wanted to encourage people to check out and that’s called 5in25.com, the idea there it’s a webinar series; 5 powerful marketing tips delivered in just 25 minutes. We typically do it in the middle of the day so you can grab a bite to eat, sit at your computer and in 25 minutes we cover all sorts of cool stuff, tips for b to b marketing, b to c marketing. So check out the site, we have a different slate of webinars at different times; if you click 5in25 you will see what we have, always free, always 25 minutes.


Will:   Can people go back and see the previous ones that you have done?


Tom:  We have things archive in different places and we are working on that but for now the best way is to sign up for one. If you can’t attend at the date that you see when you hit the link, sign up and you will get a link after the date that it runs, we have the video in our archives.

Will:  Which is what a lot of people do, they will sign up for the webinar and know that the recording will come later.

Tom:  Right

Will:   That’s okay. Well listen I really appreciate you being on this show today. Marketvolt is a wonderful system, I have got several clients who use it as well and I really appreciate the tips on the segmenting and the marketing to the maybes, those were terrific.

Tom:  Thanks Will, thanks very much.

Will: Thanks everyone for watching this show today, my name is Will Hanke hopefully we have helped you today to navigate the rapids of business a little better.

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