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Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 at 8:41 am

7 Tips for Cashing in on Your Newsletters

By Melissa Burdon
February 16th, 2011

First, verify your newsletter is worth the effort

The majority of our clients feature some kind of free email newsletter offering to their visitors. What’s fascinating is that many of those clients still don’t have tracking in place to confirm the value of these newsletters. Tracking is critical for all of your marketing efforts, including newsletters… how can you feel so confident that your newsletter is critical to the success of your business if you’re not tracking its success and opportunity?

Throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall and guessing what will stick is no way to run a business. You need to track, so that you can make data driven decisions. This is the only way you will know where you should be focusing your time, money and efforts. Once you are successfully tracking your newsletters/emails, and you have a sense of how they are performing with respect to generating more traffic and sales/leads, then you can determine if your strategy…

  • is a total waste of your time
  • needs to be refined/altered
  • needs to be completely changed

7 important things to consider when completely changing or refining your newsletter strategy

1. Use an email newsletter service that integrates with your analytics, and gives you tracking capabilities. In order to know how to change and improve your newsletter strategy, you need the data to drive the insights. Another great feature to look for is the ability to easily setup an auto-responder or sequence.

2. Your newsletter must present content that appeals to your readers and will make them come back for more, so learn as much as you can about what motivates them. Ask yourself these three questions; 1) Who is reading your newsletters? 2) What action do you want them to take? (ie; do you want them to buy products/services?) 3) What will drive them to take that action?

The only way you can drive your readers to take the action you want them to take is to give them the information they are searching for. The last thing you want to do is offer sales copy. That’s a sure way to lose readers. You want to offer valuable information that the reader is interested in. Better understand what motivations are driving them to read. What are they trying to learn? Do this exercise to create personas to help answer those questions. Then start creating organized campaigns and themes that help those specific visitors get what they want, and help them look forward to getting more. Which leads into #3…

3. In order to create readership and interest, you need to give the reader something to look forward to. Create a system or strategy that connects your emails from week to week. In other words, each email should NOT have it’s own individual identity. Connect topics or themes, and help the visitor create an interest in what is coming next.

4. When someone signs up and confirms their subscription by clicking a link in a confirmation email they are sent (double opt-in is required by the law), send out a welcome email. It’s all about making the reader feel good about subscribing. Become the reader’s friend with an approachable tone. Give them a quick and casual intro to the site, introduce yourself and show them around. Help them dig into some existing archives of main topics they may be interested in. Give the reader an opportunity to interact right away. Don’t wait until the next newsletter comes out to start creating the long term relationship with the reader, start as soon as they sign up!

5. Don’t let the visitor forget about the past. Integrate topics and useful content that you previously wrote about that may interest the reader. This helps you to resurrect old content that has been lost in archives of information and is no longer getting a lot of traffic. Don’t let this content die… bring it back if it is helpful to your readers. You can bring it back by completely rewriting a campaign of emails based on an archived theme or topic, or you can simply integrate effective links where applicable. Getting the reader to click and interact with your site should be one of your goals in this process. By offering links to archived articles, quizzes, and free resources, you’re creating this interactive experience.

6. Make the newsletter viral. Give the readers easy opportunities to share with friends and/or family.

7. Last but not least, at the very end of the article you should provide a brief but concise description of who you are, what you offer that is unique and different, as well as the link back to your website and contact information. You always want to keep your door wide open and let the visitor walk in…. without having to push her through the doorway!

Do you have other strategies that have worked to make your newsletter efforts pay off?  Go on… toot your own horn then!

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Comments (17)

  1. and it’s nice even if u will contact ur prospectors by there name with the title of the Email cause it will be much more friendly for them and u will have more chance to be read, and try to put all the information that u want them to see or the information that u want to focus on it in the top middle of the page, try to don’t use so much pictures in it too so then with what u said it will be nice. Any other thoughts can help ??

  2. These tips are great. A client of mine recently wanted to start an email marketing campaign. to make a long story short we talked about virtually every step here, and made a great plan, yet he just couldn’t get over the design. HE was so caught up in changing every little color and “redesign” the template every week it never went out. The content matters much more than the look…but some people never learn. Great info here!

  3. I think all of these points are great and want to add two more: create a landing page for gaining emails and split test them (ab style tests) for different versions of the page. You can then find out the highest converting style for the page- the style that gets the most people to sign up. Then, when they sign up, you can show them how much value they just signed up for.

  4. Thank You Melissa for your insight. Your point about tracking success is very well made. Do you have any suggestions for service providers? I look forward to seeing your reply.

  5. The double opt-in tip is good not just because you make the reader feel good about subscribing but also for all of those subscribers with short memories who don’t remember what they subscribed to only hours after they subscribe. Getting that confirmation email out to them is a good way not to have someone contact you a month later, irate wondering how their email address got on your list. Always try to minimize your problems. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Good article.

  6. Tracking is critical for all of your marketing efforts; this is always the hardest thing to when it comes to ROI. I always seem find it almost impossible to track traffic or conversation rates on marketing. It always feels like a moving target.

  7. “Throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall and guessing what will stick is no way to run a business”: Thats exactly what I faced, but It is not what I wanted, it is beacuse everyone has a different philosophy how to do it. I am getting lost in all tries and still not sure which is the best path I should stick to. Anyways, I find this article pretty interesting and will try to integrate it within, hoping that it wont be another throw against the wall. Thanks for sharing.

    Suzzy

  8. Hhmm. I’ve been thinking of what do i need to know when it comes to getting a newsletter. Oftentimes, companies will give me info about their latest promotion, offer this and offer that. I’m often times annoyed than thrilled. Companies should really look into this. They might start reconsidering things.

  9. @Suzzy – there may more than one way to solve a problem too! The bottom line is that you should let data drive the decisions you make. That means, collect data about the results generated by each way of doing something, and compare them to one another. This is why it’s important to use a tool like Google Analytics, and an email newsletter application with tracking: so you can track how many people open your emails (comparing one subject line to another, one time of day for sending to another time of day); click on the links embedded in the emails (comparing the copy/content of the email and the way the link is worded); who buys/signs-up (or asks for more information if you are a lead gen site).

  10. I think all of these points are great and want to add two more: create a landing page for gaining emails and split test them (ab style tests) for different versions of the page. You can then find out the highest converting style for the page- the style that gets the most people to sign up.

  11. I have a large list that I have built from people who have contacted me via a webform looking for pricing. They have not opted in but if I use something like Constant Contact that gives them the option to opt out would sending them email be considered spam?

  12. @Ray- Send them a new email after setting up your “Constant Contact” service and have them re-optin to your new list to avoid any spam complaints.

  13. I think this is the best advice I have seen on newsletters. I think people are getting too spammy with these though. They are constantly popping up when you first go to a website for the first time and it is annoying!
    Anyways, off my soap box, tracking is huge not just only in newsletters but everything else on your website.

  14. I always struggle with making the Newsletter “short” enough. By the time I try to cover all the bases, I feel like it’s a book I’m sending out. But when I cut it down, it feels like it loses impact.

    I think I need to bring in a pro to get the format down, then work from there.

  15. Ironically I’ve been in some bigname Internet marketing guru mailing list and most of them sent nothing but sales pitches in their so-called “newsletters”. We don’t want to be like them.

  16. Hi Melissa, you’ve made some very good points there – hard to disagree with any of them. I would add that list segmentation is another good way to improve the performance of newsletters. If you’ve got a broad offering such as selling men’s clothing, your age range could be from 17 to 70 depending on what you sell.

    By splitting your email list into well defined segments by age, location, interests or whatever else you can write separate newsletters for each group.

    Of course you have to have a way of getting this information from people in the first place when they sign up.

  17. really very good & important things which you have shared with this post.

    few things which should not be use by experince which i want to share like that:
    1). Don’t use blinking text
    2). never use same news-letters, for the marketing.
    & many more.

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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