Zac Johnson – Email Marketing Expert Interview

Online lead generation and email marketing are constantly changing the way business is done in the world today. However, at the end of the day, it always comes down to providing value to your audience and giving something to take action upon. The same holds true for email marketing today. While everything keeps changing at a fast pace, the core basics and fundamentals of email marketing still remain the same today.

To help with this process, we’ve sought out some of the top email marketing experts in the world today and asked them for their best tips, tricks and working methods to find success with email. This week’s featured expert is Zac Johnson of With nearly 20 years of experience in the world of email and online marketing, he’s sure to provide some useful tips and tricks on how to start using email marketing within your business.

1 – Please briefly tell us about yourself and how you got started with online marketing.

Zac Johnson Profile PicI first started making money online back in the mid-90s while I was still in high school. This actually started out by making graphic banners for other site owners in the AOL “Web Diner” chat room for just $1 each. This was years before anything like Paypal was around, so people had to send actually send me a physical dollar in the mail! This was cool for a while, but it wasn’t til I started a celebrity resource site and used and their affiliate program, that I really started to make some good money online. I ended up doing six-figure in sales with them while still in high school and this also led me into the world of affiliate marketing and CPA (cost per action) marketing. I then discovered I could make more money with CPA marketing versus needing someone to take out their credit card with Amazon and only getting a fraction of the commission. This ultimately led to me creating new sites and CPA deals of my own (mainly in the contest and free stuff space). After playing around in this space for a while, I had around a 2 million email subscriber list size.

Having been in the online marketing space for nearly 20 years now, I’ve had my hands in many facets of the industry. Today I mainly focus on my personal brand and business that I’ve established through The site acts as a massive resource for anyone looking to get started with making money online. Email marketing still plays a huge part in my business today, as it’s one of the best methods for staying in touch with your audience and getting fast results.

2 – Is email still the most effective marketing platform today… and how has it changed over the years with the addition of social media and mobile?

I definitely believe email marketing is one of the best forms of marketing today. I know I personally check and use email as my main way to conduct business and connect with others around the world. Mobile is definitely on the rise, but email is still #1 for me.

To further stress the point of email marketing, it’s not just about email. With an email address, you can deliver retargeting advertising through Google Adwords, Content Network, Facebook, Twitter and much more. Once you have a user’s email address, you can even use other third party networks to grab their name, physical address, and many other demographics.

What I’m getting at is, email marketing is extremely important and still one of the best ways to increase conversions and revenue across the board — especially when you are following up with retargeting-based advertising.

3 – With so many different email platforms to choose from, what should marketers specifically be looking for?

Email marketing and delivery has changed a lot over the years. When I first started mailing, prices were so much more expensive and many providers were charging on a simple CPM basis. Today it’s all about automation and having a reliable solution in place.

Whether it’s Aweber, MailChimp, Constant Contact or GetResponse… at the end of the day, they all pretty much offer the same thing. I would recommend every try each of them out and look at the features provided. The delivery rates and monthly costs will be quite similar.

For more advanced setup and mailings, there are definitely better alternatives — but these will likely cost you more as well. Do your research before going with a list hosting company and also search for reviews online and who the big players are using.

4 – What is your preferred method of collecting emails and building your list?

Popup and lightbox windows are what’s working really well for me right now.

Since I focus a lot of my time on content creation and ranking higher in the search results, I’m always getting a lot of people to my site. With over 70% of the people coming to a website for the first time and never coming back, it’s extremely important to grab their email address. Having a great call to action and using popup and lightbox windows, this is a great way to grab 5-15% of that audience. It might not sound like a lot, but it definitely adds up on a daily basis!

I also created a post on the top popup windows being used by top bloggers and sites on the internet today. Be sure to check out this list to see what’s working and for getting ideas on how you can create something similar.

5 – What are you best tips for writing effective email titles/content that get opens and clicks?

Everyone is fighting for space within your inbox. Think about the ones that make you click open and the ones that make you click delete. This is one of the best ways to start coming up with new and creative headlines for your emails.

Also, try to stay away from misleading and click-bait headlines. You might be able to get people to open your email, but if the content isn’t what they were expecting, it might lead them to clicking the unsubscribe button. Check out this useful guide and infographic on creating better email titles.

6 – Based off your own experience, is it better to send long form or short form written content in emails to your mailing list?

Write as much as you feel your message needs to get the point across. At the same time, I personally prefer shorter emails over longer.

As good way to look at this is to think about why you are sending your email in the first place. If you want to send out a mailing just to get people to click over to a site or offer, your email should be quick. On the flip side, if you have a trusted relationship in place and want to send out a message about something new in your life or business, feel free to keep it longer, but make sure it provides value and is interesting.

7 – What is the best way to setup an effective autoresponder series?

Everyone is using autoresponders these days, but not everyone is doing it correctly. One of the main reasons why autoresponders are commonly used is to build a relationship and gain the trust of an audience — not to pound promotions and sales down their throats on a daily basis. It’s very easy to quickly see if a list you just subscribed to is going to provide value or just try and make a quick buck off of you. This is not something you want to be known for.

When setting up my own autoresponder series, I like to make sure they are personal, provide value and also coincide with content I’ve already published on my site. This way I can write my email content, then tell the user to click a link for further reading or resources.

I also like to set up autoresponders to have 50+ mailings in place to keep the conversation going. These mailings are usually sent out a few days a part in the beginning, then on a weekly basis after the first month or so. Make sure to focus on providing value in your first several emails and building the relationship. Once this is in place you can start focusing on promotional tactics.

8 – If you had to start over from scratch and only had $1,000 to start a new mailing list, how would you spend it?

I’ll take a unique approach with this one, hopefully, to inspire others on how to do something similar. Starting from nothing and only having $1,000, I would…

  1. Get a domain name and create a site ($20)
  2. Set up an account with Aweber/MailChimp ($30)
  3. Pay $450 to two big marketers to run a free webinar

Now here’s how this would work… The domain/site/mailing list are all easy enough and barely take up any money at all.

The majority of time and effort is going to be spent on finding your niche topic, having a great site and something of value to offer. Once all of this is in place, you can then perform outreach to different sites in your niche and see if any of them would like to do a free webinar for their audience. This is something you can straight up pay for in exchange for mailings to their list. When setting this up, be sure to create a webinar landing page (through something like Leadpages) where you can grab the email address and get them on your list. This way, when you have someone with 100,000 email subscribers sending out the webinar to their list, you would then be building a huge mailing list in the process.

If you ran just two webinars with two big list-site owners, you could easily end up with 1,000+ subscribers on your mailing list. That’s less than $1 per subscriber! Try and find that ROI elsewhere.

9 – Lots of site owners and marketers have mailing lists, but they aren’t making money with them. What are they doing wrong?

I think the best way to answer this is to reflect back on what I was saying about autoresponders. There is simply way too much content out there already, so when information is being delivered, it needs to be great.

Look at your inbox right now and see how many emails you are actually happy to be subscribed to. Those are the people that are doing email marketing right.

Find a niche audience and provide better content and value than the competition. No one said this was going to be easy… it’s your website and mailing list against the world. That’s how you need to make your audience feel — like they are your most important client and focus!

10 – If you could tell online marketers and brand one thing that could improve their email marketing and list growth, what would it be?

Right back at my previous point… this isn’t going to be easy. However, when you put in the necessary time, effort and focus, the rewards are amazing!

Know your audience and provide them with the best content possible. It doesn’t matter if you are an entrepreneur, a brand or selling physical products online… everyone is searching for something online and if you can provide them with a solution, they are going to want to do business with you. The same holds true for email marketing and how you should be engaging with your audience as well.

Also, don’t forget about what I said in the beginning of the article with email retargeting. This is simply one of the best ways to increase conversions and lower costs across the board.

Special thanks to Zac for taking the time to share his email marketing tips and expertise. Check back weekly for a new interview in our Email Marketing Experts series!