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Email marketing (3 of 3): Big numbers, big rewards

November 2, 2015

Part 3: For advanced marketers

numbers

Photo: Jeffrey (CC)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Create 25 newsletters. Send them punctually.

For monthly publishers, it’ll take 2 years. For weekly publishers, about 6 months. And daily publishers will knock it out in a month.

That gives us a starting point in understanding metrics and building momentum. Let’s move on to advanced tactics.

The goal was never to have a million subscribers. It’s much better to have a thousand engaged followers rather than a million strangers who wouldn’t notice if the newsletters stopped coming. A thousand subscribers have brought me tens of thousands of dollars in revenue over the years.

To get to that thousand subscribers requires strong consistency, both in newsletters and in website content. Newsletters maintain an open line of communication, an opportunity to speak with each person one on one. Blog content builds search traffic and site equity, giving marketers a bounty of material to share on many channels.

Consistency helps a site and a brand stand out, even in a crowded competitive industry. Being helpful to readers, being timely with information, being easy to use and quick to respond makes for a compelling resource. Of course people will want to subscribe to a newsletter from a trusted source. It doesn’t hurt to be witty or personable or anything but bland.

Anyone struggling with consistency may need the help of an editorial calendar (download our template) or professional freelance writers or editors (contact me for recommendations). Pros handle everything from email newsletters to annual reports to catalog copy and blog posts.

Building a following quickly requires savvy choices in outreach. Asking people to subscribe is the most basic way, but so much competition, we need better incentives and pickup lines to woo would-be customers.

Try the following:

  1. Bribe people. Offer a free book/ebook or 30 percent off the first order. Show readers ways to save time or money. Have a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift certificate or Apple Watch. Do it right, as I have done, and hundreds of people will jump on a new list.
  2. Use popups. Marketers worry about annoying visitors. Personally, I hate sites that ask me on every single visit. That’s why I use the WordPress plugin OptinMonster, made by my friend Syed Balkhi. I set it to pop up once every hundred visits. Other settings allow for popups based on user behavior, such as when she’s about to close the browser page. Try it!
  3. Set up autoresponders. Many mailing list services (including our Y’all Connect sponsor MailChimp) offer this feature. Having several emails that welcome new subscribers allows marketers to fulfill incentives (such as a link to a free ebook), give a tour of a blog, provide resources that hook newbies and offer fans a chance to share the newsletter with others.
  4. Be exclusive. One special factor about my mailing lists is that they are exclusive. Subscribers receive the royal treatment: first look at posts, first chance at tickets and the best opportunity at prizes and discounts. Some marketers share their email newsletters with everyone, but I’m not a fan of that approach. (I do love when my subscribers forward my emails to others and share them on social media, but that’s because it’s fan-based publicity.)

Once a larger list is in place, marketers have more options available to test and grow.

One option is to divide and conquer. Segmenting allows marketers to drill down on mailing lists: customers vs. fans, or by age, geography or offer (subscribers via an offer, a purchase, a contest or a social media channel). Have newsletters and updates reach the right audience each time. I even use a dynamic segment every week, resending newsletters to people who didn’t open it within 48 hours … boosting my open rate to 33.6 percent.

Another option is A/B testing. The ability to test more than one subject line, offer, headline, photo or layout can make a huge difference in opens and clicks. Some services automate the process, ensuring that most subscribers receive the more popular version after early testing.

Focus on the basics before attempting these advanced tactics. (Or contact me to get started today.) A mailing list built properly will bring great rewards to companies and to readers, but it requires smart deployment and consistently good content from the start.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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