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You Can be an Email Marketing Supergenius #215

#2.15: The “Bait” Issue

Freebies, incentives, and prizes, are the easiest way to attract new subscribers.
1> Lure Subscribers with Freebies
2> Hook Then With the Form
3> Boring Bait is Better

1> Lure Subscribers with Freebies

Ads that say “subscribe to our newsletter,” do OK. Ads for free stuff, do better. Get people to your site by offering them a free download, report, or whitepaper. Hit them up for a subscription once they are on. Keep the offer tightly related to the newsletter topic and you’ll get a higher conversion rate.

2> Hook Then With the Form

Put a little form on your free offer page. Add checkboxes for each of your newsletters. Keep it short and make everything optional. Most visitors will subscribe to the newsletters. Anyone who won’t even fill out a basic form for something free isn’t a real prospect anyway.

3> Boring Bait is Better

Be careful when you are using a “special offer,” or a sweepstakes to build your list. If the prize is too good (i.e. a Porsche or a trip to Bermuda) you will attract the wrong kind of people — prize hunters. After the sweepstakes is over, they will unsubscribe from your list. Offer a really boring prize to get the best possible results. If you want to attract a bunch of lawyers, offer a pass to a legal conference. The subscribers you will get will all be qualified and interested readers.

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You Can be an Email Marketing Supergenius #213

#2.13: The “Placement Matters” Issue

Where you put stories in your newsletter makes a big difference in readership. Rearrange for results.
1> Last Link
2> Tweak the Template
3> Real-Time Rearranging

1> Last Link

Having problems getting people to read your entire message? Mention the last story, of the newsletter, in the email subject line. Your readers will have to scroll through the entire newsletter and you’ll get more clicks on the featured story — as well as all the stories in the middle.

2> Tweak the Template

Some page layouts just don’t work. If you feel that you have good content, but you aren’t getting the response you’d like — switch up your page layout. Slight changes in placement, cause significant improvements in open and click rates.

3> Real-Time Rearranging

Here’s a great testing trick (if your email delivery system supports it). Turn each of your stories into graphics instead of text. Why? Graphics are loaded only when the reader opens the message. This lets you test different content AFTER the message has been sent. Let the first 1,000 readers see story A, B and then C. Serve up B, A then C to the next batch, etc. Find which order gets the best response and then lock in those images.

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You Can be an Email Marketing Supergenius #208

#2.08: The “Encouraging Pass-Alongs” Issue

Learn to increase your list size by encouraging your readers to forward messages to a friend.
1> Tell Them To
2> Make It Easy
3> Reach out to Recipients

1> Tell Them To

If you want people to forward your email — just ask. Add text and buttons that say “forward to a friend” in multiple places. Readers respond to these reminders. We also say “Pass it along” right in our subject line. A little encouragement goes a long way. (Don’t worry if you don’t get a lot of traffic on your fancy “tell-a-friend” form. Most people just forward.)

2> Make It Easy

Your tell-a-friend form should be as painless as possible. Every step you remove increases the chances that forwards will happen. Fill in the forwarders email address automatically. Provide suggested text that the forwarder can edit. Use separate boxes for 5-10 friends’ names (a single big box gets fewer forwards). And be absolutely sure to include a big mention of your privacy policy.

3> Reach out to Recipients

Don’t forget about the experience of someone who receives a forward. If they just get a link or a copy of the message then you’ve wasted the effort. The whole point is to get them to connect with you directly. Tell them which friend forwarded the email. Tell them how to sign up for the list. Give them a good reason to subscribe. And don’t forget to tell them that you won’t sell their name.

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You Can be an Email Marketing Supergenius #205

#2.05: The “Design for Email” Issue

Email designs don’t work the same as web pages or direct mail. Design for email and get better response.
1> Keep it Scannable
2> Break it Up
3> Light Up the Links

1> Keep it Scannable

Scannable — not readable. People don’t read email carefully; they scan quickly to get the gist of your messages, then they move on. Write an essay and your email will get ignored or deleted. Use short sentences. Like this. It works. You’re still reading.

2> Break it Up

Remember how much clutter is in the inbox. Keep your messages clean and readers will respond. Avoid heavy designs or long blocks of text. Headlines, color blocks, and images help draw the eye through the message. Use dividers to separate sections. Include white space between stories.

3> Light Up the Links

Pavlov would be proud. When you tell people to click, they click. Label all links with underlines or use buttons. Add action verbs near each link, like “learn more” or “visit our site”. Don’t assume that people will know that images are links — put buttons and text on top of photos.

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You Can be an Email Marketing Supergenius #201

#201: The “Creating Confidence” Issue

Everyone is wary of giving out their email address. Build
your lists by building trust and confidence.

1> Promote Your Privacy Practices
2> Reassure with Reminders
3> Eliminate the Extra Check-Box

1> Promote Your Privacy Practices

You’re not planning on spamming your customers, so why
not get credit for doing good? Clearly link to your
privacy policy everywhere you ask for an email address.
If you don’t share email lists, add the phrase “We will
never release your email.” Subscribe rates will
skyrocket.

2> Reassure with Reminders

We all hesitate before clicking a “subscribe” button.
Get past this barrier by reassuring customers as often as
possible right on the subscribe form. Say the obvious:
“You can unsubscribe at any time,” “You will get only the
emails that you requested,” or “All emails are kept on a
secure server.” Little reminders result in real
increases in trust (and list size).

3> Eliminate the Extra Check-Box

Do you have a check-box that says “Get offers from our
partners?” Get rid of it. Even if consumers don’t check
it, that box is a blunt reminder that you do share email
lists. It’s enough to scare away many legitimate
subscribers. Whatever revenue you get from partners
doesn’t justify the lost subscribers to your own list.

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You Can be an Email Marketing Supergenius #126

Segmenting Your Subscribers
Issue # 126

1> Seduce Them Into Self-Segmenting
2> Qualify Them With Clicks
3> Segment With Surveys

1> Seduce Them Into Self-Segmenting

Your subscribers will funnel into nice, focused segments if you use the easiest technique of all — offer lots of newsletters on very narrow topics. Keep your titles fine-tuned to be of great interest to only the right people. If you do a good job, each list will reach a specific, targeted segment — and non-qualified subscribers will get bored and drop off.

2> Qualify Them With Clicks

Every click from a reader is a clue about their interests and behavior. Most list servers will let you track which individual clicks on which link. The good ones will let you create a new list based on who clicked on what. Use this feature to learn about your readers. Add in lots of links designed to draw out users with specific interests. For example, if you want to identify readers interested in education, link to stories and resources about education. Anyone who clicks can be moved to a targeted list.

3> Segment With Surveys

Short surveys are a great trick to get readers to give you demographic information. Stick a few mini-surveys in your emails. Add a simple demographic question, such as zip code, and many people will fill it out. You’ll get better response if you do fun surveys (like “What’s your favorite. . .”) and if you offer a prize to respondents.

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You Can be an Email Marketing Supergenius #124

Find Your Chicken
Issue # 124

1> What’s Your Chicken?
2> Split Your Subject
3> Get Creative

1> What’s Your Chicken?

IVillage’s food channel discovered that emails with the word “chicken” in the subject had a better response rate than anything else. Readers loved those recipes and that word. There are plenty of theories about why this happens — but it doesn’t really matter. Keep researching until you find those words that work best for your list, and you’ll get a real jump in response rates.

2> Split Your Subject

The fastest way to find great “chickens” for your list is to keep running split tests. Every time you send out a mailing, extract three subsets of your list with 1,000 names each. Try a different subject line on each list. Do this every week and you’ll discover winning words again and again. When you find a winner, use it until you can beat it with a word that works even better.

3> Get Creative

You’re not going to find breakthrough subject lines with standard marketing language. Break out of the box, try creative phrases, and go a little wacky. Remember that you are competing for the reader’s attention against hundreds of other subject lines in the inbox. Your chicken has to be a rooster to wake up readers!

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You Can be an Email Marketing Supergenius #123

Encouraging Reader Participation
Issue # 123

1> Surveys Attract Subscribers
2> Recognize Your Readers
3> Focus on Feedback

1> Surveys Attract Subscribers

People like to be heard, so put a survey in your newsletter. Readers respond eagerly. Even better, they will stay on the list to see the results in the following issue. As a bonus, your survey results might make a great press release or white paper. Silly surveys work as well as serious ones.

2> Recognize Your Readers

People like to see their name in print — just ask them. Readers will gladly send in stories and story ideas if you promise to mention their name if the idea is used. Put up a form on your site to capture the feedback. And don’t promise to respond to every idea personally; you are likely to get more responses than you can handle.

3> Focus on Feedback

People like to tell you what they think, so make it easy
for them to give you their opinion. It’s the only way you’ll ever find out if your newsletter is any good — or if it needs serious help. Be sure to offer an email address in your newsletter for contacting the editor and a form on your web site for comments. You’re better off getting a grouchy letter than losing a subscriber.

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You Can be an Email Marketing Supergenius #121

How To Mail More Often
Issue # 121

1> Ask Your Readers
2> Get Specific
3> Make It Newsy

1> Ask Your Readers

Why agonize over months of testing various message-frequency strategies? Just let your readers pick what works best for them. Add a choice on your sign-up form that asks how often readers want to get your email (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). Put the same choice on your unsubscribe page — you’ll be surprised how many readers choose to get mail less often instead of unsubscribing altogether.

2> Get Specific

Many readers will read a single publication only every so often — but they will sign up for several publications on a variety of topics. Break your email newsletters into multiple titles that focus on very narrow topics. Keep them short and specific. Usually you should send one newsletter only once a week, but if readers sign up for two or three newsletters you have their attention much more often.

3> Make It Newsy

If you want to email every day you need a genuine, no-BS reason to do it. That means you need breaking news with real urgency. Find a source of information that gives you one or two vital updates that your target market wants to know about immediately. Make sure it’s really time-sensitive, or you’ll lose your credibility.

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