Your mailing list, as powered by Mailchimp, is one of the most potent sources of potential customers you have. It’s valuable because it’s full of people who were already interested enough in your business to want to receive your newsletter. It’s potent because email is an effective communication method, even today. It’s also one of the very few sources of leads that isn’t controlled by a third party, such as the case with Google traffic and your social media audience. Nothing can interfere with your newsletter audience other than you.
With this amazing resource at hand, you have a huge list of opportunities. The question is how do you take those opportunities and convert them into customers?
The first step to leveraging your mailing list for profit is to make sure that mailing list is alive and well. To do this, it’s always a good idea to be implementing plans to increase the number of subscribers you have. You can use social media to draw in subscribers, you can use passive pressure on your website and you can leverage other marketing channels. Remember that you lose a percentage of your mailing list every year, to people unsubscribing, changing their addresses or leaving their jobs. You need an influx of subscribers to keep up with the atrophy.
A lot can be said about creating subject lines. For one thing, keep them short. Most email programs limit the length of a subject line even more dramatically than Twitter. Customize your sender information, so you don’t have a reply address of DO NOT REPLY or admin. Don’t use suspense to tease what’s inside; you’re already going to do that in the body of your newsletter. It’s just another barrier to entry.
While you shouldn’t tease content in your subject line – you want to maximize email open rates – you should tease value in your newsletter itself. Don’t give away the goods in the email body, make the reader click through to your site to see what they want to see. A strong start, while withholding conclusions, will dramatically increase your click through rate on your newsletters.
Which is better: an email that contains a single link to your most recent blog post, encouraging readers to read it; or an email that contains links to every post you’ve made in the last two weeks, with summaries and descriptions? One has more up-front value, but the other will have a far higher click rate. The reason is the paradox of choice. It’s a studied and proven fact that having a wider range of choices dramatically decreases the act of choosing. In other words, the more options you give a reader, the less likely they are to click one. If there’s only one thing they can do, they’re going to be more likely to do it.
There’s one word that, when spoken, is virtually guaranteed to elicit a reaction from you, the person reading this now. Care to guess what that word is? If you guessed your name, you’re correct. Nothing gets your attention more than someone saying your name. This is why it’s a good idea to ask for a name along with an email address when you gather subscribers for your mailing list. You can turn around and personalize your newsletters with their attention-grabbing name.
Email spam is very aggressive. To counter it, email service spam filters are even more aggressive. This means you have a minefield of possible advertising language that may sound like a good idea, but will almost surely get your message filed away in the bin. Some examples:
Additionally, you should avoid sending your message in the form of one large hotlinked image. Spam filters are more likely to block your message if it’s an image, because they can’t parse the context and would rather be safe.
When you’re encouraging users to click through to your website, you need to give them some incentive. Sometimes, the promised value of your content is enough. Other times, particularly if you want to encourage them to purchase a product, it’s a good idea to offer a coupon or discount. Make them feel special by offering a limited time offer, an offer they can’t refuse. Just make sure to reference the above list of language you shouldn’t use, to avoid filtering your offer message.
Are you running a newsletter test right now? If not, go start one. This post will be here when you come back.
Back? Good. Always be testing. Break your subscriber list up into test groups and send them variations on the same newsletter. What should you test?
If you’re not testing, you’re losing the opportunity to streamline your newsletter.
Segment your audience and track their click rates. Compile a sub-list of subscribers who click through your messages frequently. Set a threshold, and once you’ve reached it, send a letter out to all of those frequent subscribers. Offer them something special, something the normal newsletter reader doesn’t get. This is a great opportunity to convert them into paying customers; if they’re clicking through your messages frequently, they’re probably very interested already.
Conversely, you have people on the other side of the spectrum. The people who automatically file away your messages without opening them, or who open them but never click. You should actively prune these people from your mailing list, but not before you give them a chance. Send out a special message once they reach an inactivity threshold. Warn them that you’re going to remove them from your list and ask them to re-engage with your newsletter. If they don’t, so be it. If they do, continue to encourage their engagement.
You should always have an asynchronous set of emails to send out to any new subscriber. The first should thank them for their subscription. Afterwards, you should space them out to keep them interested in your newsletter. Teach them what you do. Teach them how you can benefit them. Finally, when your drip feed is almost done, encourage them to engage and convert.
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