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If Your Email Newsletter Isn’t Generating Cash, You’re Doing Something Wrong

This guest post is by Kelly Crawford of Generation Cedar.

The most important tool available to a blogger is his email subscriber list. It is the easiest and fastest way to increase sales. You probably already know that the readers who have voluntarily signed up to hear more of what you have to say are the ones who trust you the most, and the ones with whom it is easiest to keep building a relationship with. These are the people who will buy your stuff. Competing in today’s market demands that you build good relationships.

But a list by itself won’t sell your products. You must grow your list and make the most of it. Here’s how:

Grow your list

Obviously, the bigger the list, the more potential customers are getting your message. Here are three valuable ways to grow it:

Popover

A popover signup form will exponentially increase your sign-ups. A popover is the sign up box that “pops over” the screen a few seconds after they land on your site. Yes, it’s that annoying little box that I always click away from. But, statistically, far more people sign up from a popover form than a static form. I had to experience it to believe it (I had heard it was true but resisted), and found that my signups soared once I installed a popover. Aweber is one of the few companies that offer this feature.

Reminders

Make it easy to subscribe, and remind your readers to do so if they haven’t already. Include a static form on your About page, and periodically Facebook and Tweet about the benefits of signing up.

Benefits

The best incentive you can give your readers to subscribe is a series of some kind. Why? A series with several parts, sent periodically (and automatically) after they subscribe gives them repetitive exposure to you, which builds the kind of relationship that evokes trust, which will make them more likely to purchase your products.

If you’ve been writing for a while, you probably have plenty of posts you can turn into a series. What are your most popular topics? Put them in order and tell the reader what they will get: “Sign up now and receive my 5-Part Series, ‘How to Make the Most of Your Newsletter’.” Your newsletter company should easily allow you to set up automatic follow-up messages that mail at the designated time, to the subscriber’s inbox.

I also offer my readers a coupon code that’s given in the Welcome letter they receive as soon as they subscribe. This is not only an added purchasing incentive, but I tell readers they will receive it for signing up.

Make them want to open your newsletter

People get a lot of stuff in their inboxes. You have to compete and avoid being among the emails that get deleted without being opened. Here’s how to do it:

Make every newsletter count

Your subscribers are your prized customers. Reward them with good content. Except for the occasional sales announcement you might send by itself, if every newsletter has meat in it, readers will remember it and want to open the next one. Make it valuable enough that they are afraid of missing out if they don’t open.

Subject line is king

A 25% open rate versus an 80% open rate has huge implications for your bottom line. The subject line is all you get to convince readers to open. Be creative, and try to think like the recipient. What would make you open your email if you didn’t know what was inside? I’d caution you here not to deceive readers with your subject line. They won’t like it, and it will hurt your relationship—that thing you are working so hard to build.

Advertise Without Annoying

Remember how I said to put valuable information in your newsletters? Helpful articles, advice, and inspiration should make up the bulk of your content. Answer questions, solve problems, and readers will be back for more. But you can market at the same time, without being a nuisance. Here are some important points to remember:

Try affiliate marketing

Choose articles and subjects that support the natural use of affiliate products. Linking to them throughout your text lets the readers click if they’re interested, but doesn’t assume anything. Consider interviewing an author whose affiliate products you will consequently be advertising.

Use the sidebar

Use your sidebar. Routinely include pictures and links to your products (or those of your affiliates) in your sidebar. Offering a coupon code or limited-time offer is a useful incentive to push a potential buyer to act.

Add testimonials

Customer testimonials are your number one selling tools. Use them every chance you get. Instead of just listing your ebook, include a “What customers are saying” section.

The right formula

As it is with any platform, your newsletter will be the most successful when you implement the right formula. And what it that?

Persuade them of their problem, give them practical hints about solving it, then suggest a more thorough answer through your product offer, with, of course, a discount exclusively for them.

Let’s say you blog about weight loss. In your newsletter, you might write about five common foods that burn fat. Hopefully you have an ebook entitled “How to Lose Weight Eating What You Love,” or something like that. At the end of your article, you simply say, “Enter the coupon code ‘burnfat’ to get $1 off my ebook, ‘How to Lose Weight Eating What You Love’ now. Here’s what our customers are saying about it…” You get the picture!

Don’t forget to scan old but popular articles for newsletter fodder, tweaking them to implement all these strategies.

So, what are you waiting for? Go turn your newsletter into cash!

Kelly Crawford is a “mompreneur” and contributing author for five blogs, including her own, Generation Cedar. She also founded the membership site, Home Paid Blogger, a step-by-step guide for beginners to making money by blogging. You can follow Kelly on Twitter @generationcedar or on Facebook.

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Comments

  1. Akos says:

    Good article with loads of awesome tips! :)

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the “readers click if they’re interested” bit (in the advertise without annoying part):

    If they want to buy.. they will buy.
    If they don’t.. they won’t buy.

    If you overwhelm them with loads of products and services they don’t care about, they will freak out and maybe they will get off your email list. (Which would be a huge loss!!) So keep it minimal when it comes to ads in your newsletter! [own experience]

  2. Shayna says:

    It’s incredible how simple and effective these tips are, and how few people actually DO them.

    I know that I dragged my feet on it for a while because I didn’t want to invest $15/month in the paid version of Mailchimp since my site wasn’t making any money yet. But lo and behold, in the month since I bit the bullet and instituted an autoresponder, I’ve made 5 sales of my product!

  3. Interesting, thanks for sharing these tips. I definitely need to offer more incentives for subscribing to my newsletter.

    By the way, the Aweber link doesn’t work.

  4. Adding testimonials by some popular people on the web who have used your product earlier is a good method to establish some positive opinion. I tried this and it really worked for me.

  5. Very good suggestions. Don’t try to trick your recipients with fake headline just to get them click. It’ll hurt and scare them away. I enjoyed your tips. Keep ‘em coming

  6. Justin Mazza says:

    Love the newsletter tips Kelly. I am still debating with myself whether or not to use one of those annoying pop up windows or not for my newsletter too. Either way, the newsletter is the absolute best way to stay in touch with our readers and even make a few bucks doing it. :)

  7. jeff h says:

    Great ideas. The popup idea is great. A little known secret is wpsuperpopup. Its a plugin for a free pop-up to use with WordPress. Its as good as premium pop-up services

  8. Daniel says:

    Some good information, Kelly.

    I have heard(read) so often of the importance of an email list, and of how people should make the most of it…

    I am still wishing to set up a proper mailing set up, though, I am not sure which service would be the best to get started with….considering I do not have a big audience it may not really be all that useful. .

    When I hear the expression “Grow your list” it can be a little confusing at times…as your list could only grow in respect to the number of visitors to your site who join your email list…unless we send spam to unsubscribed sites!….

    So as much as having countless methods to throw in sales pitches, the website needs to have a decent following for those “sales pitch ideas” to be effective….

    As far as Email services, they can tend to cost quite a bit, which can be a little off putting…

    Many companies have free offers(to a point) then become quite expensive….and many people frown upon the free services….

    If a site has build up a large following, then the benefits should outweigh the cost…

    Not to mention that companies like mail chimp are said to be a little sensitive about people including affiliate offers in their correspondence to their mailing list…

    So you have some great ideas that could be applicable, once a site has a large following…

  9. Tim Barnes says:

    I am a Life & Health Insurance Counselor. Because I am licensed by the state, I am limited as to what I can say and do on-line. Anti-rebating laws do not allow me to offer coupons or discounts and my shy personality does not allow me to use pop-up windows that I find annoying. I whole-heartedly agree with the philosophy that “If someone wants to buy my product, they will buy it.” I just want them to buy it from me. I know that my target market, Baby Boomers, tend to use email more than they do blogging. My focus is on building my email list with Baby Boomers in my state. It is just not building as fast as I would like. I do appreciate the idea of using old posts to form a series of auto-responders. I will look at a way to do that this week. I just launched a new educational e-book this week but I love the idea of turning old blog posts into a series that people will look forward to. Ultimately, I want to build a series of insurance education posts for auto-responders but that takes time. Your idea may be just what I need to implement while I am working on the lessons.

  10. Hi There,

    I guess this is another time we should really know our audience, because then we will know what they want and provide it to them. I totally agree with you the popovers (javascript lightbox) really do increase signups, the Groupon UK site has one and they have a huge email list, so the proof is in the pudding lol

    Thanks
    David

  11. It’s incredible how simple and effective these tips are, and how few people actually DO them.

    I know that I dragged my feet on it for a while because I didn’t want to invest $15/month in the paid version of Mailchimp since my site wasn’t making any money yet. But lo and behold, in the month since I bit the bullet and instituted an autoresponder, I’ve made 5 sales of my product!

  12. Katy Mercer says:

    Great suggestions as I have just started up and sent out my first newsletter. I’m using Mailchimp and so far really like it – it produces a great looking newsletter. Gotta get the e book happening and I like the idea of adding what customers are saying.

  13. Rich says:

    I personally hate popovers and hadn’t installed one on my blog for that reason. Perhaps I’m missing a trick after all? I’ll certainly look into AWeber as I didn’t realise they offered such a service.

    I have a very basic blog that does not take into account many of your suggestions so I’ll think about adding some over time

    Thanks!

  14. The one thing I’m really missing, and haven’t been really motivated to get to work on it. I know it’s important, have known for years, but never seem to want to invest the time in it.

    I use the lazy feedburner mailing list way, and I know I’m leaving money on the table, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to it.

  15. Sean Chang says:

    Great tips Kelly. I especially like the last section on ‘The Right Offer’.

    Some of our corporate clients use the same technique to encourage brand loyalty by offering special discounts or bonuses for customers who subscribe to their mailers.

    In fact, even if the blogger doesn’t have a product to sell yet, a deal can often be struck with someone who already has a product to offer a special discount or bonus in exchange for promoting the product to the subscribers. The blogger can then earn from the affiliate fees.

    P.S. Your blogs are beautiful. Looking forward to reading more of your works!

  16. Mohit says:

    Being assertive and act assertive is all makes the difference and things which differentiates a “He Is a Blogger” and “He Was a Blogger” is as follows:-

    A. Marketing With Sense:- If you do marketing too much you are loosing potential customers, and if you are marketing on a wrong channel is half a battle lost. keep sniffing the readers from where they landed on your page and focus your marketing on that particular channel.

    B. Understand the Readers problem. It is similar to marketing strategy but understanding your reader problem is again a sniffing job done through socializing. (Which is covered by your post in detail).

    C. Putting yourself in readers shoes is quiet easy to say but difficult to implement. Blogger has to look after his Page Ranking, ECPM,CPC, CTR,Followers on Twitter, Facebook etc. etc. etc. but putting yourself in readers shoe is possible if you are reader (like I am doing right now by reading and responding to your post :-). The reaction you feels as a reader is the same the readers feel about your post.

    D. Last thing ask a question to yourself. Is my Post/Newsletter going to add value to a reader ? If yes go ahead and Publish! if not keep it in draft let the readers wait for a finer post.

    Remember There is no Shortcut to Success..

    Tele-Columnist!

  17. Bill Zipp says:

    Great advice. My newsletter goes out via AWeber, and I’ve resisted using the pop-up form. I think I’ll give it a try. Thoughts on making it it less obnoxious?

  18. I discontinued my newsletter last year and don’t regret it. My free gift is now an eBook and my list has way more than trippled since I introduced it and I don’t have to spend hours every month trying to come up with something fresh and new for a newsletter on top of writing articles and my books.

    Re popups – I hate most of them because they are in your face before you ever even get to read any of the content. That said, I do have a pop up on my site – I use Pippity. It’s not free, but I love it. The forms are completely customizable and I have mine set so a visitor has time to actually read a post before the pop up appears – it’s made a huge difference. If anyone decides to try it, here’s a tip – the software doesn’t like IE – upload it on Firefox and you should have no trouble.

  19. This is a great post. I’ve dragged my feet way too long on getting started on a newsletter. Spending the weekend FINALLY learning how to set it all up.

    I know that popups increase sign-ups, but I ALWAYS find them terribly annoying. Can’t decide whether I’m willing to go in that direction or not.

    I guess one step at a time is at least progress – although being more aggressive on my would probably be a good idea.

    Thanks for inspiring me to actually get started with something.

  20. which email marketing is better?

    aweber or mailchimp or godaddy.

  21. Excellent ideas. I’ll try to use the tip of the testimonials, I think it will be well regarded by my readers.

  22. Raj says:

    Adding testimonials in email newsletter do work far better and in addition that adds trust and convinces the users to buy the product/service which we are promoting..