Relationship First, Marketing Second
Email marketing has an important role to play in your business. There are two tasks that properly executed email marketing does well.
1. Building relationships with people who have visited your site.
2. Selling your services, hard goods, e-goods, affiliate products, etc. It can also be used to promote your business (to gain additional visits from previous visitors) or to promote yourself as an expert in your niche. So even when you're not selling to them, you're marketing, which will eventually lead to more sales.
Building relationships is listed first because without a trust connection between you and your reader, you'll likely never sell her anything.
To build a relationship, the information you offer to your visitor must be relevant to why she subscribed to your newsletter in the first place.
If she subscribed only because you offered an incentive that was too good to pass up, then once she has your freebie, she many never bother to read more than the first one or two newsletter issues you send her.
The description of your newsletter must be good enough to "sell" her on subscribing. The incentive is only to tip the scales in your favor when she just needs that small nudge to take action.
Your relationship with your visitor starts out unbalanced. She knows a fair bit about you. She may have read your About page, where you talk about yourself. And she read enough content on your site to feel confident about the value she'll receive from her subscription.
She may have also checked out your Facebook page and/or Twitter account. She may have even pinned a few of your images to her Pinterest boards.
Learning About Potential Subscribers
In contrast, you know basically nothing about her as an individual. What you've learned, and can learn, comes from your knowledge of your niche and any tracking code you've added to your pages. For example...
A niche about knitting or crocheting is likely to have women as most of its visitors, whereas a niche about diesel engine repair is likely to have men visiting the most.
A travel site about an international destination (especially an exotic one) is more likely to have an international audience than a travel site about a small region of the U.S. or Canada. A travel site is more likely to have both male and female visitors (unless it's a site directed only to men or women).
Tracking software can provide a few insights. For instance, Google Analytics provides frequency and recency stats.
Frequency tells you how many people are returning to your site (don't be disappointed to learn that the vast majority are first-time visitors, and don't be surprised to see some visitors returning dozens of times).
Recency tells you how long it's been since a person's last visit to your site. Again, the vast majority will be first-time visitors, but don't be surprised to see that some have returned after 6-12 months or longer. One goal of your newsletter could be to get people to come back more often than 6-12 months later.
Engagement tells you how long visitors are staying on your site. If the 0-10 seconds and 11-30 seconds numbers indicate that a lot of visitors leave after that short period, focus on improving your on-page content before considering a newsletter. The people in these two groups aren't spending enough time on your site to even notice your subscription box.
Learning About Existing Subscribers
You can also learn about visitors who have already subscribed to your newsletter.
Are most of the subscribers women or men? Are most of the email addresses from ISPs (e.g., @comcast.com, @verizon.net, @aol.com) and email providers (e.g., @gmail.com, @yahoo.ca), or are the majority from business addresses (e.g., @ibm.com)?
If you know that most of your visitors are women, but there are a lot of men subscribing to your newsletter, either there's a disconnect in your newsletter's description that's attracting the men, or you've just discovered a target audience that you can write for on your site!
If most of the email addresses are corporate, there are times that you shouldn't send out emails. Weekends are obvious. But late Fridays (when minds are on other things) and Mondays (when there's a flood of emails to wade through) are the other two times to avoid.
Weekends may be a good time to send out each issue to personal email addresses. But you'll need to review your open rate a few days after each issue. If it turns out that a lot of people aren't opening your email, consider switching to Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
Review What You Already Have
You now know a lot more about potential subscribers and existing subscribers than you did. With that information, review your newsletter sign-up page to see how you can improve it. Perhaps it's not listing the benefits for your target audience. Or perhaps you haven't focused it (or it's too focused) on men or women.
Also ensure that there are no distractions on your sign-up page, such as AdSense Ads. Your visitors have clicked to this page to learn more about your newsletter. The only action they should be taking is subscribing, or clicking the Back button.
Next, review a few of your back issues, especially the ones with the highest unsubscribe rates. In MailOut Manager, click on View Stats & Archives.
How would you change those issues, armed with the information you have about your potential subscribers and existing subscribers?
Next, review some of the ones with very low unsubscribe rates. What did you do right in those ones? Is there anything you could improve upon if you were to send out those issues again?
The Open Rate is also valuable. Did you see a big drop in the open rate for an issue? Review the previous issue to see what you might have done wrong with that one (e.g., did you push an affiliate product a little too hard?).
Building the Relationship
Now that you know who your potential and actual subscribers are, and what you may have done incorrectly in previous issues, it's time to build your relationship with your subscribers.
The place to start? Make each issue invaluable to them.
Offer them tips to be more successful in your niche (some can be brief tips, while others can be the focus of an entire issue). Provide niche-related news items that they may not have seen. Provide links to your site where they can go for more information. Review other sites in your niche to find out if there's important info or a different point of view there.
You'll start to think of more ideas as you develop your "make it invaluable" mindset.
Selling With Your Newsletter
if you want to earn anything beyond AdSense income, you need to ask your visitor to take an action, whether it's clicking on an affiliate link at the bottom of your review, or clicking to buy your e-book or other digital product.
It's really no different in your newsletter issues, except for this...
Your visitor came to your site, looking for information and, possibly, looking to buy. Your content pulled her along, right up to your Most Wanted Response.
But with your newsletter, you pushed the email into her inbox, hoping that she'll open it, then read it, and then take the action you want.
Yes, she did ask you to send her your newsletter, but after a few issues, she may have forgotten why exactly. And if you go for the hard sell one too many times (or perhaps just once), you'll lose her.
There are a few things you can do in your newsletter to reduce her resistance to your call to action. These include...
But don't always place your sales message (including product review) at the end of the issue. If you do, she'll soon learn to ignore that last part of each email you send to her. Mix it up every other issue or so, putting something you know she'll want after your sales message.
If it's a heterogenous group (some men, some women, and from the U.S., Canada, England, Australia), the benefits for one subgroup may not be the ones a different subgroup wants.
Email marketing isn't dead. It's not even on life support. But it might as well be if you don't take the time to learn about your potential and existing subscribers.
Build a relationship with them by providing the information they're looking for. Then ask them to take action on your Most Wanted Response.
If you put most of the
ideas listed above into action, you'll soon be earning a good income from your
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