Ethical Marketing With Yuval Ackerman

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today, we have Yuval Ackerman. Yuval, welcome.

Hi, thank you for having me.

It is my pleasure. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do?

Sure. So hi everyone, my name is Yuval. I’m an ethical email strategist and copywriter. And I help entrepreneurs to basically sell ethically without it feeling cheeky and inappropriate by nurturing their connection to their audience. Yeah, thank you for that. As I said before we started recording, I think you may be the first person I’ve spoken to who is, shall we say happy or likes to talk about ethical marketing. So can you tell me what it means to you and why you feel like you have to differentiate from normal marketing? Sure. So today I am an ethical email strategist and copywriter. But if you’d asked me, let’s say five years ago, if I would do that, if that would be my job, I would probably laugh hysterically.

And that’s just because what I was exposed to up until fairly recently is all that what they call bro marketing, which is very aggressive, kind of tax tactics to sell and push yeah, products and services on whoever is on your email list. And then a few years back I started seeing other ways to do that and ways to actually yeah, tell your story and lead with that. And so it’s very important to me, as a person who’s receiving emails, but also as a person who’s writing emails and developing emails to do that in a way that yeah it doesn’t feel odd or out of place. Yeah and just make sure that we’re talking to people you know because people buy from people, people don’t like buying from companies with exceptions of course. But yeah in the at the end of the day we want to buy from people and we want to know that we’re investing money in the right things and things that are good for us and we want to know that whoever is on the other end is doing their job correctly and properly.

So it’s a win/win situation and that’s what I’m all about. Okay. I think we’re on the same page. I guess the clarification. I think what they are and I’ve actually heard this before, so I think what they would say is that in terms of response like you get a better response from and I like the term bro marketing that you have never actually heard that term before, but you get a better response from doing bro marketing than you do, let’s say ethical marketing or you know you said storytelling perhaps or non as we say awkward marketing. What do you say to that comment? Well I have started seeing a shift also in bro marketing because I’m also on so and so lists. and they also invest more and more in storytelling which I think is a wonderful thing. Still I think that you know, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself does my strategy aligned with, with who I am as a brand, as a brand owner, as the person who puts his or her face.

Yeah, at centre stage. And for some people it would be, you know, sending two emails a day or ten emails a week. Great, wonderful if that’s working for you. Amazing. But for other people who would be one email a week and that’s completely fine. And so I’m seeing a shift also in the borough marketing. and sure that was working in the past, but I think that especially now with the rise of social media and everything feeling kind of fake. and made up a lot of people are looking for that connection and a lot of people are willing to invest their time and their money in a good story. So you know, I think that we’re going there and I’m happy that we’re going there. Yeah, I think you actually touched on something there which correct me if you think I’m wrong, but I think the point where it becomes unethical is where it’s not actually true.

So I actually think that pushiness until you get consent providing you get consent like a purchase for example, if you’re willing to bombard someone with emails, I don’t think that’s unethical providing you have their permission to do that. But it becomes unethical once you start telling lies about what it is that you’re selling. Do you think that’s fair? Absolutely. I think the prime example for that is all kinds of sales and promotions that have some kind of a specific deadline and then the email list, manager just says, oh okay, let’s send them another email past the deadline and say, oh, we’ve extended that promotion for whoever. I think it’s really – what’s the word I’m looking for? Yeah, your audience is not stupid. And so respect your audience as you would like to be respected as well.

And that’s what ethical marketing to me is all about. I mean if you have a deadline for a promotion and then you’re just giving it away either way or extending that kind of promotion, then you’re basically laughing at your audience. And yeah, they’re referencing the use of scarcity. Is there a way would you say of using scarcity where it is ethical? Oh, that’s a very good question because I think that pushing the envelope a little bit is necessary, then again, not, not at all costs? Not always scarcity is very, it’s a very useful tool in marketing in general and email marketing for sure. I think it has to align with your overall strategy. Yeah. I’ve actually used the term previously of positive scarcity. So instead of using, for example, we’ve only got 100 of these left and we’ve only got 10 of these left when it’s a digital product and you know, you can, there is no scarcity there.

If you were to add a bonus if you buy this now and there is actually something which you only have a certain number of, it would be true to say that you only have a certain number of them and there’s nothing wrong with communicating that do you think that’s fair? Absolutely. With digital products? Yeah, it’s a bit funny to me that people are trying to use the scarcity card. then again, some digital products are also you know, you also have some kind of a live experience. I’m talking about some kind of digital courses and that kind of thing. And with digital courses or specific types of digital courses, you do want to give a one on one experience or a group experience that’s very unique. So there, I could kind of see how you can use scarcity saying there, I will only open this course for 10, people. So there, I think it’s fair as long as you’re communicating things fairly and truthfully, I don’t think there is a problem using scarcity.

Okay, any other practices that are particularly concerning to you? Oh, yes, so many, my gosh. So there’s this trend recently with marketers opening a subject line with re as in hypothetically you have had some kind of back and forth with the list manager or whoever is sending you the email. But it’s not the case. It’s a very nice trick for people to think, oh, I actually talked to this person before I might as well open the email, so it’s a very shady trick to actually increase open rates. I do not like it. And I’ve actually started thinking recently of adding question to my intake questionnaire. Have you ever started or sent an email with a research subject line?

Because if so we won’t be working together. So that’s one trend concerning one that I’ve seen. Another one is lists that don’t give you the option to unsubscribe. I’ve received an email like that yesterday and I was furious. I don’t even remember when I subscribed to that list, but the fact that I wasn’t able to unsubscribe myself, I think it’s yeah. Where’s your dignity? Where is your, you know, you don’t listen to your email list. You don’t give them the option. So why should I not even report you to my email provider, service provider or my email platform. Yeah, so, so not giving the option to unsubscribe. That’s horrible to me. What else? There are so many, it’s unbelievable scarcity, false scarcity is something that I hate.

But I think for now we’ll stop there because I think there’s so many good things that we can also talk about. So yeah, maybe it’s worth talking about the good things as well, definitely worth talking about the good things. It’s interesting that you mentioned the re in the subject line because I actually got that from a charity yesterday, which I thought was interesting is the World Food Program. So I give to them every so often and they sent an appeal for a worthy appeal. But I had never emailed them and I thought it was a really interesting thing that whilst it was a good cause it was a it was a tactic which I didn’t necessarily agree with any thoughts there. I mean, it really depends if they have used the same subject line and just kind of continued in a, you know, in another email, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t, it seemed like that was the case, was it? No, I never emailed them. So they literally put in the re as though it was, we’ve had a communication when we had but did they send an email with the same subject line beforehand?

Because that’s also a tactic. I see. well, it’s a sticky situation there because obviously they want to do good. but that’s a nasty tactic. I don’t know, I’m very ambivalent here. So I think in ethics this would be consequentialism versus I think it’s referred to as purism. So purism is, it’s always the case that something is right or wrong, so it would never be okay to put re in an email. Whereas consequentialism would be if it means that there are more donations to this charity as a result of using the re. Then it is a good thing that they used it. Your thoughts? I still don’t know. I mean maybe I can make an exception here because if they do want more donations and it’s you know, for the greater good then maybe I can give them a pass. But usually if it’s just yeah, yeah.

You know because they are trying to make something make our world better. but mostly if it’s just money for money or just people getting yeah, your product or whatever, I don’t think that’s a valid reason. So for people who perhaps are using this tactic and I think one of the reasons it is used is because people teach it. So instead of using these tactics, what would you encourage them to do instead as an expertise or you have expertise in email marketing? There are a few other things that you can do. let’s talk about from the simplest to the most complicated. So the simplest thing would be writing better emails, including better subject lines and better preview lines. So those are the lines either next to or right below the subject line depends where you’re seeing them. and the more complicated stuff would be actually create a better bond and a better connection with your audience.

So whenever you do, they do see your name in their email list, they would be very happy to open your email. So, I liken this to a relationship that you have with someone individually, let’s say a friend, a friend doesn’t have to put re in their subject line for you to read it because you always have that you already have that relationship with them. Is that what kind of what you mean? Yeah, exactly. Anything else that you think is a positive move in the email marketing world? Oh sure. This is one thing that I absolutely love seeing whenever I do get that. so in complete contrast to people who don’t give you the option to unsubscribe. I occasionally get emails, emails from email list managers, saying if you don’t see value, if you don’t get the value from our emails, please unsubscribe. And that’s what this email is all about. Like an occasional email saying, please unsubscribe and let’s make this a win/win situation for the both of us, because not in this particular phrasing obviously, but um, if you don’t get the value, then please don’t screw with our stats.

Yeah. One of the things, if I’m not mistaken that you’re happy to talk about is that the people presuppose that it is the case that an email list needs to be very large in order to do anything with it, but that’s not the case, is that right? Absolutely not. I mean, first of all, as you said, when you do get an email, you want to feel as if a friend is sending you that email and if one person is sending you that email. So no one really knows how big is your email list because what you want to achieve is that sense of familiarity either way. And so having a large list is great, but how healthy is it? Is your list engaging enough with your emails? Do you have nice open rates? Do you have a nice click through rates? I would rather anyone having a small list of a couple of hundreds or maybe a couple of thousands of people and maintaining that kind of relationship healthy relationship with your list and having better stats instead of having a large list that you cannot control it, you cannot manage and you’re not getting the results that you want out of it.

So the size doesn’t matter regarding because basically during this conversation I’m thinking because I’ve heard many times throughout my business career and even implemented email marketing before, but I’ve never actually kept it up. So and what I mean by that is I know that I’ve heard the phrase is so that the money is in the relationship with the list. I’ve heard that one before. and also, I mean there is a reason why you make a you have a profession from email marketing is because it’s a useful thing. So for those who let’s say aren’t doing it including myself, what do you say to them? Don’t be afraid to fail. I have failed with email marketing then fail again because email marketing is all about strategy and testing and as incredible as your strategy, maybe no one is perfect and strategy is there to tweak it, So rules are there to be broken or whatever.

However, this phrase is going, I’m still not fully awake. and so and just test first and foremost for yourself, what is it like to actually send an email a week and email every other week, one email a month. so, so there’s this kind of testing also their tests, you know, reactions, subject lines, calls to action at the end of your email, so there’s all sorts of testing that you can do and no one is becoming incredible at email marketing from day one. So there’s nothing wrong with testing, figuring things out, asking for feedback from your subscribers as well. I think that’s a marvellous tool that we can utilise even more and finding your way and finding your way to have fun with it. I think that’s the most important thing because sure, email marketing is an electronic email, so you’re not really seeing the recipients face.

but the most important thing is that you have fun with it and if you have fun with it, I think that that shows, do you cover actual how to go about building that list? You have any thoughts there? There are a bunch of ways to do that. You can definitely start with a freebie or some kind of a lead magnet, which is a very common practice, but obviously you do have to have some kind of a market research and you obviously have to offer some something valuable to your potential subscribers. So that’s one way. the second way is just having conversations with people wherever you are. So if you are focusing your efforts in on Instagram for example, or on LinkedIn, start having conversations with people over there and surely if people find you interesting then they would want to hear more from you and they would want to hear more of what you have to say.

And so an email list would be a very natural kind of pivot. there’s also the way of participating in events and networking or being a guest in a podcast or a guest or a speaker on a summit or some kind of an event. So that’s a great way and the best way, which is my favourite is word of mouth, so if you’re doing a great job with your email marketing, other people would recommend it to their friends and so on and for those who are wondering, you provide these services? How much do you do? So in terms of if someone were to hire you, how much of that process do you look after? I’m doing this strategy and a bit of the research if needed. In most cases I do my clients do have all the research already done most of them I would say.

So the strategy, a bit of the research and obviously the writing. Okay. So would you actually like male chimps a common one? For example, would you actually go into mail chimp and send that off? It’s not my specialty. So I would rather concentrate and focus on the things that I do best. Okay, so you’d write it and then the tech side is covered by whoever sends the email out. Exactly. And also the formulating of the wireframe or giving the wire frame to your technical person to implement it the correct way. Okay. And have you got any we say case studies or favourite examples that you like to share? Sure. I actually worked on two things that I would like to share. One of them is an email welcome sequence which I highly recommend every business owner to have because it’s a wonderful tool to create that bond with your audience and by the end of the project, my client basically wrote in the comments in the document.

I knew that my products were good. I didn’t know how good they are, they truly are, and if I wasn’t even selling them and getting this email, I would want to by my own products. So that was one that I was incredibly proud of. Another one that I really, really liked the process of creating the strategy. And the emails themselves was one where my client had a very technical kind of product and I found ways to humanise a lot of the things about that. and if we’re talking about email, ethical email marketing, humanising objects in a sense, if you’re doing it cleverly and with a bit of humour, that’s something that can really benefit you. So that was a fun project as well, and how did you get into doing what you’re doing now? So I started with content writing and I started working well with all sorts of clients, starting with writing blogs for them and then slowly but surely I actually got requests from them to write other types of marketing materials, like video scripts and Facebook ads and Google ads and email sequences.

And so I felt it was a very important and interesting point too, really figure out what it is that I want to do because I was a generalist up until fairly recently. and I felt that if I specialise in one thing, it would bring so much more value to whoever I work with and serve. And so around about that time I started learning more about copyrighting because I did realise that what I’m doing is no longer content writing, but actually copyrighting and started looking at the different possibilities that I had there. And email marketing was very, very interesting because of the options because of the storytelling. And I’m I’ve been a storyteller ever since, I could remember myself. So the fact that I could incorporate the storytelling in email marketing, I think that’s what drew me into that specifically any misconceptions about what you do, misconceptions about what I do.

It’s not all creative and it’s not all about writing. a lot of people when I tell them that what I’m doing is how 50% writing and 50% analysis and data based, they are quite surprised. And so as much as the writing part is very, very much a thing that I enjoy. the analysis and the data and the tweaking of a strategy and learning from the stats, that’s something that I think is it a wonderful thing when you say the stats presumably that’s the back end of the system that they’re using gives you feedback about how successful that email was. Is that right? Exactly. So open rates. So how many people from your list or from that segmentation? opened your email, how many people clicked on it. and of course how many people responded or bought your offer? And where do you see it going in the next few years?

What’s, what’s the future of email marketing? I think, or I at least hope that more and more people will lean towards ethical email marketing and we will see hopefully people well that’s a very personal kind of wish but getting away from social media and investing more in the one on one kind of conversations which email marketing is a wonderful platform to do that. So I think more and more people will go towards ethical email marketing and yeah, hopefully all the old methods and older, sleazy sales tactics will no longer be a part of this room. Is there anything I should have asked you about today? I think we covered a lot already. So yeah. And can you tell me about what your goals are for maybe personal or maybe three for your company? I would like to work with more entrepreneurs who want to change the world somehow, even if it means changing one person’s life, it’s huge.

So if I can work with more people like that, I would be incredibly grateful. So does that have to be a charity or is it maybe a company with a good social course? That could be anyone and anything that wants to, yeah, improve something for someone. It could be a charity, could be an entrepreneur, a service based entrepreneur. It could be so many different things, as long as you don’t use the re tactics. Good. If someone wants to hire you or maybe know more, where do they go? So I’m mostly active on Instagram. I know, I just kind of contradicted myself there. But you can find me and my handle is @Ackermancopyrighting or just send me a message or fill in the contact form on my website, which is Yeah, and send me a DM on Instagram or yeah, let’s have a conversation.

You’ve always been an interesting conversation. Thank you very much.

Thank you.