newsletter marketing

How to create newsletters that sell

I've written before about the importance of newsletters in your marketing. In fact, if you said to me today "Steve, you've got to choose one and only one marketing method to use from today forward."

I'd choose the printed newsletter.

Hands down.

Why?

It allows me to entertain while I sell.

It creates consistency and consistency builds trust.

It lets me show up differently than almost every competitor (I don't get many printed newsletters anymore…do you?).

Most importantly, it gives me an excuse to stay in front of every prospect and client, every month.

Last week I sat down with the man known as The Newsletter Guru…Mr. Jim Palmer.

Jim is an expert at the use of newsletters in your marketing. In this interview he shares his top tips for creating a newsletter that people actually want to read. (Believe it or not that's important ;-)

If you have a newsletter listen to the interview today. If you don't have a newsletter yet…you need this like…yesterday!

[powerpress]

Enjoy!

Steve

Secrets of Generating Leads - Interview with Jason Leister

Leads, Leads, Leads...

You need more leads!

And this week on the Small Business Marketing Show we're talking to a master of lead generation--Jason Leister.

Jason shares some amazing secrets to generating the leads you need to grow your business, including...

  • Why lead generation is so important.
  • Taking the long view when generating leads.
  • How to be valuable to your prospects.
  • Simple ways to stay in front of the leads you generate.
  • The importance of persistence...and how to do it.

Jason publishes a fantastic daily email--The Client Letter--you can get it at ArtOfClients.com.

Email Marketing: 6 Things to do when your list doesn't love you anymore

Best Email Marketing StrategiesThe steps you need to take to build a quality email marketing campaign are well documented all over the web. Today, I'd like to focus on how to tell when you've crossed the line and become SPAMMY and what to do to recover from it. The truth is that even well intentioned email marketers can cross the line. You need to know how to recognize it when it happens and you need to know that it's not fatal...if you take the right actions to get back on course.

How do you know you've become a SPAMMER

In my experience there are only two things that I need to examine to determine if a business is being SPAMMY.

1. Email Content: You're only sending sales or promotional emails. You can get away with this IF you promised at the outset that you'd only be sending emails like this...and it's a fit for your business. It works if you're a retailer or restaurant and everyone on your list signed up to get the weekly deals. If that's not you, good luck, this approach will blow up in your face eventually.

2. Email Results: You get more unsubscribes and SPAM complaints then clicks. Seems obvious, but it's worth saying. Watch your unsubscribes. I usually don't worry too much about them unless the numbers are high (if more than 1% of your list jumps ship on a single email start paying attention). It's the SPAM complaints that are the real red flag. Why? Your subscriber usually has to take an extra step to report a SPAM complaint when they unsubscribe. If they're doing more work to complain, you've gone the extra mile to aggravate them.

Again, if it's just one or two complaints from your list of 1000, I wouldn't be too worried. But if it spikes, it's an indication you've broken a promise with your list.

Be really concerned when the number of unsubscribes and SPAM complaints is higher than the number of clicks you're getting. This is an especially bad sign that your relationship with your list is experiencing a disconnect. Like all relationships you need to fix it with humility, service, honesty and gratitude.

How to get your email list to love you again

1. Stop thinking of "it" as an email list! Start thinking of "them." The individual people who are subscribed to your list. If you're a small business owner you probably know these people. They've been in your business or you know them from the community. Think about Bob your off and on customer. Think about Elizabeth from your Chamber of Commerce. Understand that your email marketing (and really all of your marketing) is about these people. Not your "list."

2. Be humble. I don't mean be meek...there's a difference. But approach your email list from an perspective of humility. These people have opened their inbox to you...for most that's a pretty intimate place (I often joke during speeches that it's the only way anyone other than my wife can get in my pants...where I carry my iPhone).

When you approach your email marketing from a perspective of humility it will come through in your writing. It's difficult to humbly hard sell someone. Don't get me wrong, hard sells do work in email. But they are a short term strategy. Over time they will wear out your list. If you're in business for the long haul then you need a strong, but subtle approach.

3. Take an attitude of service. Once you start thinking of your list as the individuals on it, it becomes much easier to understand how you can serve your list. I am a firm believer in the philosophy of givers gain. Be of service to the people on your list. Make your email marketing worth their time by giving them something that only you can uniquely offer...your expertise and perspective.

4. Be honest. If you step in pooh as you walk into a cocktail party, you might as well point it out...everyone can smell the stink anyway. Come clean with your list. Apologize for stepping out of bounds and show the way forward. Pointing out your own flaws shows strength. And in the end the people on your list are there to be lead. Show them that you have a plan to lead them forward and tell them why the journey is important.

Your true fans will rally around you. And you'll build anticipation for the good stuff to come.

5. Show gratitude to the people who pointed out your error. Figure out a way to personally contact (by telephone if you can) the people who complained. Apologize, then thank them for alerting you to a weakness in your email marketing approach. Explain what you're doing to correct it and tell them they are welcome back if and when they are ready. For many email marketers this isn't possible. Often you've only got their email address and you can't send them anything because of the complaint. In that case, say it publicly. You may not reach everyone who complained, but you'll show your future subscribers that you're transparent and you listen.

6. Make and keep two promises.

  1. Tell your subscribers what type of content you'll be sending, including offers.
  2. Make them a promise on the frequency of your emails going forward.

And keep both promises!

You may get more unsubscribes when you make these promises. That's OK. You're setting new rules and some people won't want to continue. Get them off your list now.

Once you commit you need to stay consistent.

Fully 9 out of 10 of my clients fear high email frequency when we are designing their email marketing plan. But frequency is not what generates SPAM complaints. Broken promises and inconsistency generate SPAM complaints.

As an example, I get a great daily newsletter called Early to Rise. It's not one of these joke a day or word of the day emails that are just a few sentences long. It's usually a 2000-4000 word article each day. But I read it for three reasons:

  1. I signed up knowing it would come every day.
  2. The content they send is exactly as they promised.
  3. The content is highly relevant to me.

The publishers honor the promises they made to me (and that I willingly accepted).

The real truth is that high frequency, relevant emails sent with permission will generate fewer complaints then low frequency (like quarterly) blasts. The simple reason is familiarity. If you're only touching the people on your list once a quarter they'll forget that they wanted to hear from you in the first place.

If you've created a SPAM problem, don't worry too much. If you catch it early, you can correct the problem and emerge with a stronger relationship with the people on your list.

Was this article helpful? I'd really appreciate it if you'd share the article on Facebook, Twitter or wherever the kids are hanging out these days...

Photo courtesy Kevin Dooley.

A Quick, Easy Small Business Marketing Plan For 2010

The New Year is just around the corner and if you're not already thinking about it, you should be outlining your marketing plan for 2010. If you're like a lot of small businesses, you're coming off of a rough 2009 without a lot of free cash to dump into new marketing. I hear you loud and clear...so here's a plan to boost your marketing and go easy on your wallet.

Marketing Secret # 3 – The One Marketing Tool You Must Have

If you could do just one thing to market your business what would it be? My choice is simple…a monthly newsletter. Why? Marketing Guru Dan Kennedy believes (and I agree) that you lose 10% of your influence with a customer or prospect each month you don’t communicate with them. If you go for a year without any communication, you’ve lost all influence. It’s like starting the relationship all over again. The easiest way to keep your influence is to use a monthly newsletter. Most businesses don’t send a newsletter for one of two reasons:

  1. The business owner wants to but never gets around to it.
  2. The business owner is intimidated by the pressure of writing something good EVERY MONTH.

Neither reason is sufficient. Owner #1 claims he’s too busy, but the truth is a monthly newsletter allows him to leverage his time by writing a single message and sending it out to all of his clients. He could never personally deliver that message by phone or face-to-face…but in the newsletter it’s possible.

Owner #2 doesn’t feel comfortable writing. Tack on the pressure she feels to produce great content each month and it becomes overwhelming and doesn’t get done.

Really there should be no pressure. There’s content all around you. Everytime you read the newspaper, a magazine or a book, you discover content for your newsletter. Comment on an article, an event or a recent trend. It doesn’t need to be long. One page (about 500 words) is plenty to get started. I clip articles and put them in a file. Then review the file when I sit down to write our newsletter. It couldn’t be easier.

To trim the cost, consider using an email newsletter. Services such as iContact.com, aweber.com or constantcontact.com allow you to upload a list of clients, create a message and send it within minutes of signing up.

There are also services such as Jim Palmer’s Success Advantage that will provide you with content or even take care of the entire newsletter production. You just give them the mailing list. So really there’s no excuse for not having one. It’s the simplest and cheapest way to stay in front of your clients and prospects.