Starting and maintaning an email newsletter is among the most important things a new business can do. A business that communicates relevant, timely, valuable information to a group of people (subscribers) who have pro-actively chosen to receive it...well, that business will likely do very well. But, how does a business get started using email marketing, and how does it maintain the program and grow the list once it's underway?
You need recipients for your email messages. Likely, you've already got a basic list or at least remnants of one due to the many business cards, email addresses and contacts in your database/rolodex/desk drawer. It's time to (finally) put those to work! Get them into your email list then ensure they want to receive your stuff. Voila! You've started building your email marketing list.
You need to continually grow the list if you're going to stay successful with email marketing. A simple sign-up form (first name and email address) MUST be in an above-the-fold position on your website. Building your email database is one of the most important business development activities you can engage in. It's that important and it needs to be a high priority on your website. Web attention is fleeting, so catch people while they're on your site and interested, or you may lose them forever.
Look for offline opportunities to grow your email list. Networking events are a great place to meet new people, make contacts and ask if people may be interested in receiving your newsletter. Yes, you need to ask their permission. Don't go to a business mixer, collect a bunch of business cards then add everyone to your email list when you get home. Poor tactics lead to poor results and that tactic is among the poorest.
Be sure that your marketing materials are pro-actively asking and telling people to sign-up for the newsletter. You want people to sign-up so tell them to do so. Make sure you do it consistently across all marketing materials, presentations, etc. You should be constantly looking to build your email newsletter list everywhere you go and in everything your business does.
Want a "secret" that will boost your number of newsletter subscribers? Give something away in exchange for their email address. Offer people an incentive to sign-up. It could be a white paper, case study, special report, audio download or special-access video. Keep it relevant to your area of expertise and use it as a way to showcase and demonstrate your incredible knowledge. Remember, this giveaway or incentive could be the thing that pushes someone over the edge who then decides to subscribe to your newsletter and goes on to become a customer and fan. If you're giving away something that you could probably charge money for, then you're on the right track.
It won't matter how big your list is if you don't have something relevant and valuable to share. Your messages to subscribers must be rich with value and interest. Once you've gotten folks signed up for your list, don't lose them by sending crappy messages. There are people who are proactively engaging you and are interested in what you're doing or saying. Give them substance, give them more than you would give a random prospect, give them real value...or prepare for them to leave your list.
Develop case studies, white papers, briefings, workbooks, etc. Give your subscribers the value of your expertise. Inform and educate; don't just sell. People want to gain and benefit - help them do so by giving your subscribers the inside angle, the important information and the insightful analysis. Doing so will increase interest in and subscribers to your newsletter, both of which are super important.
Make the message valuable and people will keep coming back. Respect the time your audience puts in to reading your messages by making the messages as valuable and content-laden as possible. Look at the newsletter from the perspective of what your subscribers want, not what you want.
But don't forget...your subscribers signed up to get your stuff. They probably don't want or need to hear from you everyday, but they'd probably like to see you in their inbox more than once per month. That once per month frequency seems to be the default that many businesses have in mind when beginning their email marketing campaign. Simply stated, it's not frequent enough. You can't gain attention and mindshare by being a once-every-thirty-day blip on someone's radar.
So far, so good. The next step is where things get very challenging for most businesses. Enter, technology.
Which service to use is usually either the very first question that gets asked or the very last question that gets asked. There are many email marketing service providers to choose from but for most business owners, the choice comes down to: A. Constant Contact, or B. Everything else.
Constant Contact is initially attractive to many business owners. Unfortunately, its beauty is fleeting. That's because many spammers tend to use the service. The servers and networks that power the Web and distribute email around the world recognize that Constant Contact has been used by some folks with not-so-good intentions. Essentially, what that means is that your Constant Contact email newsletter may or may not make it through corporate firewalls, spam blockers, etc.
So, those subscribers you worked so hard to get? They may not even see your stuff because it's sitting in their spam folder.
The service you choose must be able to get through the spam filters and to the inbox. Without that seemingly simple step, all is lost. But the service you choose also needs to be easy to use and manage, affordable, powerful and able to grow with you.
The solution? Aweber. I'm not sure why they call it that, but strange name notwithstanding, Aweber is without question, the best choice for email newsletters and email marketing. Why?
- Delivery - As we've discussed, the only thing that really matters is whether the person actually get the email newsletter you sent them.
- Usability - Building your email newsletter shouldn't be the hardest part of your business. You'll get more use, more value and more profits out of an intuitive, easy to-use-service.
- Reliability - One of my favorite things about Aweber? Being able to call their Philadelphia office, speaking to someone who understands and can speak English and then getting my issue resolved before I hang up the phone. When you sign-up, they even send you a perforated card in the mail with their contact information to keep by your desk.
Email marketing is way too important to the future of your business to take any chances. Your subscribers must actually receive your content. You also need the ability to send newsletters easily and quickly. And, if something goes wrong, you will probably need someone to help fix it. Don't leave such crucial issues to chance. Make the same choice I made, try Aweber today. They even offer a 30-day trial for $1 so you can immediately start implementing email marketing into your business.
Go get 'em!