Are you building a list and using it to it's full potential? If not then you are missing out on an opportunity to interact with potential clients, build a relationship with your niche audience, and make more money. Let's take a look at some of the best practice I've found for running a successful newsletter.
Your email subscribers will establish a ritual, so it's important to maintain a consistent send time. If you are going to send them something every day, then don't skip days here and there or disappear for a week. Don't send them something at 8 AM one day and 3 PM the next. Why not send it to them when you have the highest chance of them reading it? That time is before 6 AM EST. Why? Because most people check their emails first thing when they wake up (which is between 6 AM & 7 AM - use eastern since more than 50% of US residents live in that time zone). If your email is sent very close to that time it has the best chance of being on top.
How Often to Send
Are you scared that by emailing them every day they will unsubscribe? Don't be. Infrequent emails actually lead to more unsubscribers than frequent. If someone is going to unsubscribe they will do so early on and because they do not like your newsletter content. If they want your information they will want more of it not less.
What To Send
Give your readers lots of links back to your site. Link to more valuable free content and link to the products you talk about. I link at least three times in the emails I send out. That ensures that if they are interested in your content they are going to click through. Do it once early in the newsletter, once towards the end, and once again after your signature.
If you are only sending them promos and trying to get them to buy you are going to wear your list out eventually. Think of your relationship with each subscriber as a glass of water. Every time you send a promo to them you pour a little out of the cup. Every time you offer them something of value water is added back in. You have to build your relationship with them up if you are going to send them promos. If you send your list valuable content mixed in with trying to "sell stuff" you are going to have more of a response on your offers AND you are going to keep your subscribers signed up.
Let's take an example of a site that sells stock predictions. A great way to get people to sign up for your newsletter would be to give them a free pick everyday. This doesn't have to be your best stock that you see with the most potential to rise, save that for your paying customers. This can be a stock you feel good about that is showing just a little bit of value. Send it out early in the morning, every day before the market opens. When the market is closed on weekends and holidays, you can take those days off.
If you don't have a free pick on a certain day, check for someone else who does and send that (hopefully you are selling multiple experts on your site.) Make sure the analysis is top notch, don't just send them a prediction with no thought behind it. That's low value and isn't going to build a relationship. You can also give them solid analysis on certain companies, markets, or trends. Write them about the techniques you use to come up with your predictions. These can all be viewed as high-value content by your subscribers.
I've talked in the past about the importance of building a list of prospective customers that you can send emails to when you have something worthwhile to offer. However, don't just focus on getting as many people to sign up for your newsletter as you can. The size of your list is important but worry more about building a relationship with your list so that they trust the offers that you do send out to them and you get a more responsive list. The old "size doesn't matter, it's how you use it" kind of thing.
A person's inbox is a private place. If that person chooses to allow you into their personal space then you have to show them respect. The worst thing you can do is lie to them or severely over-exaggerate the offer you are bringing their attention to. Sure, a catchy subject line with an enticing body might increase your open and click through rates on that particular send, but if you fool them once they won't believe you in the future. The subscriber will opt-out and it will be a relationship that is burned for good.
Write to Your Ideal Customer
It's best to think about treating your subscribers like you do your friends. You want to write in a conversational tone, treat your subscribers like you would someone you care about, and connect with them. The best way to do this is to write each email as if you are talking to a single person. Your ideal customer. It's great if you actually have a friend or know someone who is interested in your niche because you can visualize sending the email to them. If you don't have anyone specific in ind then you have to get creative and really think about building a fictional character. Some questions to ask are what is the person's: age, gender, average income, fears, passions, the more details the better.
It is also important to only offer your list products or services that will show value and are something they would be interested in. If they see you as a nice, good person who is truly trying to help them get to a place they want to be the response rates are going to be great for you. Not just in the short term with one particular send but in the long term as well.
You also have to remember that as you start sending to your list your subscribers will start to think of you as a mini-celebrity. You are coming across as an expert and are well-known in their niche (at least they think you are well-known since they know about you, everyone else should too right?). With that status you get this TMZ effect where they want to know more about your personal life and what you are doing. Revealing some information about yourself is important in creating a bond with your readers. Don't fill entire emails with what your eating schedule is like, but starting out with a "just came off the golf course and was talking with some friends about an idea I had" helps build the relationship.
If you are new to email marketing you might think buying a list of emails is a good idea. Some shady marketer might have told you that buying emails is a way to get a quick start on building your own list and that you can make a lot of money without spending much. You might have heard that the leads you will be buying are targeted to your market, are composed of people who have specifically requested to receive these kinds of offers, and are verified and clean.
Well I'm 99% sure that they didn't opt-in. Who in their right mind requests that their email address be given out to any random person so they can get bombarded with random emails each and every single day?
Origins of the List
So where do these lists actually come from? People scrape them off of old lists, find them on websites, collect contact lists from conferences, and advertise free products only to collect the information visitors provide. This means that they were never interested in what you are selling and even if they are, they didn't request to hear specifically from you.
What Happens to You
If you buy a list you can cause your mail server to get clogged up and you can get blacklisted from email providers. Your domain registrar could take away your domain. Legitimate prospects could devalue your brand.
I won't lie to you and say that this never works. Marketers buy large lists, send them out, and see positive responses. There are just too many negatives possible for me to think this is a good idea.
There is no quick fix to attracting subscribers to your newsletter. You need to grow your traffic and give visitors a reason to want to give you their information. They will want to do that if they like what you have to offer and want to hear more of it. If you are looking for a legitimate company to use for your email marketing, I personally like Aweber.
If you have have already read my article on the importance of building up a list then you know how much I love email marketing for making money online. If you are using free traffic from the search engines, then you are probably using the different ways to capture leads like a hover box and a signup page. However, paid advertising can also give you a boost in profits if you can make more money off of each lead than it costs you to acquire them. The place to start with online advertising is the most popular pay-per-click platform around, Google Adwords.
The key here is to send these visitors to a squeeze page. If you are paying for clicks it is because you want the visitors to take some sort of action, in this case it's sign up for your newsletter. If you send them to your site's homepage then you take the risk that the visitor will become distracted by reading a few articles and will leave your site before signing up for your newsletter. Instead, create a squeeze page that focuses all of the users attention solely on signing up.
How do you create a squeeze page that works? The easy way to do it is to sign up for the Squeeze Theme. This is powered by WordPress and will allow you to create custom squeeze pages in no time at all. It's so easy to use, all you have to do is choose the theme you want to run, add the text, photos, or videos, then enter your Aweber email codes in and let the Squeeze Theme do the rest. Take a look at some of their examples and I don't think it will be hard for you to see the value in their product.
What I call the sales funnel starts when a visitor comes to your site and it is completed when the purchase of a product. That product can either come directly from you or one that you recommend and get a commission off of on another site. From start to finish the No. 1 goal of your sales funnel should be to build trust with the reader. If they do not have faith that you are acting in their best interest, they are not going to pay attention to what you offer them and won't act on your pitch.
The last step of the sales funnel is when the reader actually decides to buy something that you offer. You should already have built up some trust with your readers by providing them excellent information and shown them that you are an authority in your niche. The key to finishing things off and closing successfully is to find targeted products to promote to your list. Solve the readers' problems and they will come back to you again.
Do not just promote a product because it has the highest commission. Too many times people get bogged down in recommending the products that are going to make the most money for them. That might be a better solution in the short term, but if you are looking for long term profits you want to offer the best solution to your readers, so that they trust you when it comes to recommending additional offers later down the line.
What works best with your readers? You won't know unless you test. Make changes to your copy. Try hard selling versus soft selling to see if anything makes a big difference. Constantly be reviewing and updating your information. If readers respond to any of your newsletters, make sure you learn from what they have to say and incorporate that into your sales funnel. If one user has a question, there is a good chance that others are asking the same ones in their heads as well.
If you are going to make money in any niche then you have to be able to build a relationship with your readers. It is going to be a whole lot easier for you to do that if you pick a topic that is of interest to you. If you don't like the topic then how are you going to be enthusiastic about it? If you aren't enthusiastic about writing or promoting that topic, then how are you going to attract enthusiastic followers? The answer is you won't and you will be stuck writing about something that isn't of interest to you.
With that enthusiasm for the subject you will need knowledge and experience. It's OK if you don't know everything about your topic right now, you are enthusiastic to learn right? As you learn new things, tell your readers about them. If you share your knowledge with your readers, then you will appear to be an expert. If they ask questions, do your research and answer them. It's not like you need to know everything on the spot.
A great way to build up your relationship with new subscribers is through an auto-responder. Aweber is very easy to use when it comes to auto-responders. As soon as the visitor signs up for your newsletter you will want to set up a series of follow up letters that will go out to them. Start out simple, don't promote anything. Just explain yourself a little more and list the places that the reader can find you online (Facebook, Twitter, etc..). As you build up trust then you can start being more aggressive and sending them offers, but it's important that the offers be tailored to their needs. You are trying to solve the problems your readers have, not offer solutions to problems they didn't even know they had. The more that you help your readers, the more that they will trust the offers that you send them. That will mean a higher conversion for the products and services that you promote, and more money for you.
Once site owners have realized the importance of building up an email list, there are still some mistakes that they can make which will cause them to not make as much money as they possibly could be. We have already covered how a site owner can capture more leads by using free incentives, but another way to maximize the number of subscribers is to make sure there are several different ways for the visitors to signup. If you want to have as high of a conversion rate as possible for capturing leads then you need to use every chance you can get to put your free incentive in front of your readers to entice them into signing up.
Having a signup box has become a standard on any site serious about capturing leads. You want to put this signup box in a highly visible spot on your site, above the fold. You also want to make sure the signup box details your free incentive offer in an enticing way and lets the user know just what they have to do in order to receive your offer.
I've said in the past that Aweber has the best delivery rate of any email service that I have used in the past, and I love their auto-responder system. My favorite feature of the site though might be their hover box. You design a signup box and then set a timer in the Aweber backend. After a user has been on your site for that period of time, the box drops down. It's great because it doesn't annoy them immediately upon entering your site, but once they are engaged and have shown interest in what you have to offer the box pops up and the reader can't simply ignore it. They are drawn to it and will read your offer. This is a great tool for increasing signups and since you can set it to only show up the first time a visitor comes to your site, it isn't too intrusive to the repeat visitors.
The key to both of these methods is to test, test, and test some more. See what has the highest conversion rate and works best for your site design and your visitor.
We have already talked about the importance of an email list, so by now I hope that you at least have a sign-up form on your site or some other way to generate leads. Now the question turns to "what is the best way to encourage visitors to subscribe to your list?" Something that has worked very well for me in the past with my sites is offering a free incentive. Basically you give the visitor something of value in exchange for their email address. By giving the reader something in exchange for their information you are going to see a higher conversion rate of visitors who end up subscribing. This gives them an additional reason to sign-up other than just to receive your special offers or latest updates.
The question then becomes "what can I offer?" If you have a membership site then maybe it's some kind of a free trial or if you own an ecommerce/affiliate site then you could offer an ebook of the industry or product, detailing your knowledge and informing the user of answers to questions they may have. Blogs and information sites can create an ebook that lists the "best of" their site so users don't have to scroll through the archives to see what your best posts are.
The real key to making this work is to give the reader something that will see as having value. The incentive needs to be related to your site or it isn't going to convert. However, if you give them something of value that is closely tied in to what your site is about it will not only increase the likelihood that they will sign up for your newsletter, but it will also move you up faster in terms of trusting the offers that you send them. This will only increase the amount of money that you can make off of the list that you build.
If you really want to make money online and you don't have an email list, then I hope you do not seriously think you are making as much money with your site as you possibly can. Email marketing is something a lot of sites overlook, but is something that every single site owner who is making serious money online utilizes. There are other important tools too, such as RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and your blog posts, but the real money, the really big money, is in having a list you have built a relationship with that you can contact on a regular basis.
When you build a large email list, you have a strong asset. It's one of the few things when running an online business that you can control and that can not be taken away from you. When done right, a list is something that you can make money right away from, simply by putting together an email and sending it out.
A lot of traffic sources are viewed as assets but are not. SEO isn't an asset as Google or the other search engines could change their algorithms and cause your rankings to plummet. Your affiliates are not a strong asset either as they can start promoting a competitor or release their own product similar to your own.
The sole purpose of some sites is to simply generate as many leads as possible. These site owners do not want to sell anything directly to the visitors to their site, they want to establish a relationship with the person through email so they can make more off of that visitor in the long run.
Even if you have an ecommerce site, affiliate-based site, or make your money soley via advertising you need to add lead generation to your business model because it can add to what you already do. Ecommerce and affiliates can email leads special offers or new products, while blogs and information sites can email users a list of recent articles that users will click on to get back to your site in order to view advertisements. If you have a large email list, then you can promote to those subscribers your own products or affiliate products. You can even send out an email when you start a new site that may be of interest to your readers, instantly getting traffic to that site and helping it get off the ground.
Do not wait to start your list. Have a sign-up box on your site from day one. Some people worry about adding a bunch of content and building traffic before they worry about adding a sign-up form to their site, but they have lost the chance to entice all of that early traffic to sign up for their list.
Do not go cheap with your provider either. Sure, you can buy a newsletter program to host on your site or use a free provider with the intentions of switching when you start making money with your site, but you are going to lose a lot of subscribers off of your list if you try to switch down the line. The reason is that the reliable providers will all require a double opt-in, so you are going to have to send out an invitation to your list asking them to sign up with the new provider and less than 25% of them will likely do that. The other 75% will be lost.
So who should you go with? I recommend you start out with Aweber from the beginning since in my mind they are the best in the business. Their emails get through to your subscribers inbox and are not blocked as spam, they have a great auto-responder system, and they are trusted by all of the biggest names in the business. You can even try out Aweber for $1 your first month and then it's only $19 per month after that. If you aren't making $19 off of your list then you must have almost ZERO traffic.