E-mail is the lifeblood of your business, and that is why it is so important to have systems set up to capture and manage email addresses.
Your website is passive and pretty much sits there, occasionally making sales on its own to first time visitors. You will find that most of your sales are as a result of those generated through email campaigns.
It has always been somewhat of a challenge to get visitors to part with their email address. Therefore internet marketers have created various ways to entice people to give you their email address, and I’m sure that there will be more to come.
In all cases, the minimum information you should gather is:
- First name
- Last name
- Email address
If you can get additional information, that is a bonus. Some of the other information that will be useful includes:
- Street address, City, State, Zip
- Phone number
Opt-in forms – one of the easiest to capture an email address is with a simple opt-in form. If you are using a static opt-in form (not a hover ad or pop-in box), placing it in the upper right corner of each page on your site will generate the most opt-ins. It has to do with where people look first when they get to a webpage.
Usually these are simple boxes with a short message encouraging visitors to subscribe to a newsletter, weekly tips, etc.
Hover ads or entry/exit pop-in boxes – this is one of the most effective ways to capture email addresses. With the advent of pop-up blockers, many of the pop-up boxes don’t work any more because they are blocked and visitors never see them.
Hover ads run the gamut of complexity. Some are very simple; others are more elaborate. In many cases, you still need to sell visitors on the notion of giving you their email address, and a hover ad is an opportunity to describe all of the benefits of being on your newsletter list.
Pop-up boxes can be either on entry or on exit. Many times, you will see websites with both. The pop-up on exit is an invitation; the exit pop has the tone of “one last chance” or “are you sure you want to leave without ……..”
Special contests – often you can run a contest, offering a special prize, and all they need do is enter their email address to enter.
Run a survey – you can run a survey on your home page and collect email addresses while you collect information about your visitors. Maybe you are gathering demographic information – where they live, how old they are, income level, etc. Or, possibly you are getting information in order to develop a product.
The question – “What is your biggest challenge in ___________” is a great one to figure out a product that will offer the solution to the problem. This also gives you great information about what your prospective customers are thinking so you can create your sales materials around their thoughts.
Give free e-books – it is generally a good idea to offer something right away to someone when they give you their email address. E-books are great, as long as they can be delivered electronically using your autoresponder or shopping cart system. The e-book could be a special report on a hot topic in your niche, or it could be a guide showing how to do something.
Advertise in other newsletters – this is an indirect way to get email addresses. The visitors still need to come to your site and enter their information.
Advertise in pay-per-click search engines – this is also a traffic generating strategy. These are Google ads and Yahoo ads that you pay for, and will drive traffic to your site. The visitors you get should be very qualified buyers, and the page you send them to should have an offer for something they really want.
The Value of a Newsletter
Newsletters improve credibility and rapport with your subscribers. Many people are skeptical about online businesses, and will not make a purchase until they feel very comfortable with you. This relationship can be developed through a newsletter by including some personal information as well as content about the niche or subject area.
Newsletters also increase sales and therefore the lifetime value of your customers. By letting your subscribers know about things that are happening on your site, they are likely to visit and find something they are interested in purchasing. It seems to work that whenever I send an email, whether is just a quilting tip or information about a product, my sales increase during that day and the follow 2 or 3.
Newsletters do take some time to produce, and they can be done as either electronic only, printed only, or some combination.
The least expensive way to go is with an electronic newsletter. There is no cost to deliver it. If you post the content on your website and you are building content at the same time as you are communicating with your subscribers.
There are a couple of thoughts about sending your e-newsletter to your subscribers. You could send the entire newsletter via email; or you could send a short version via email with a link to a page on your site.
Since email is getting more difficult to deliver, you want to set up yours so that it will get blocked by the fewest email services possible. Therefore, I suggest that you send relatively short emails. When I started sending an overview of the newsletter via email, my bounce rate was cut in half. Keep in mind, that if you leave your newsletter information online, you are building content on your site – which the search engines love.
In addition, by sending a shortened version of your newsletter, you are driving your subscribers to your website where they may find something to purchase, even though you haven’t specifically sent them there for that.
One strategy that works for many marketers is to include a special ad or offer about a product in their newsletter. If the offer is attractive, again, this will increase sales.
At some point, you may want to add a printed newsletter that goes through the mail. My printed newsletter is sent to all members of TheQuiltingCoach.com and those who pay separately for the newsletter.
Every communication you send represents you and your business, and you never know where an email is going to land. Often you are encouraging your subscribers to forward your email to their friends, and you want to be sure that whoever receives your email will have a positive impression of you and your company.
Format – email is easier to read if you don’t have to scroll across the page – same as reading a web page. Some email systems format it so it is easy to read, but you can’t count on it. So, for ease, format all email at no more than 60 characters per line, using a hard return at the end of each line.
And limit your paragraphs to 4-5 lines each, double spacing after each paragraph. You don’t need to follow the English teacher’s rules here. Email is easier to read, therefore more folks are likely to read it, if the paragraphs are short.
Html or text – that is always the question. And the answer seems to be to test. You can do some fancy things with html email – you can include images, change fonts and colors to highlight special items, etc. And if you want to track your open rate, you will need to send the email in html.
However, there are still some email systems that don’t read html email correctly, and your email won’t get read if it’s too hard to read. You are always safe with text, although it is a little more boring. You could use an email service that allows you to create and send in both html and text, and then the receiver decides which she will use to read it.
Signing your email – always include your name and website address(es). Don’t count on people knowing you and your contact information. If it is forwarded, you can count on the receiver to not know about you, and may want to get to your website.
In addition, if you have a new website, this is one way to continue to communicate that. Your address should also be included. Many email services include it automatically since it is now a law that a street address be included.
Unsubscribe code – check out the email service you are using to be sure that they automatically include an unsubscribe code at the bottom of each email. This is now a legal requirement, and you don’t want to get fined or shut down for missing this script.
From field – this can be set to whatever you would like. In my shopping cart, I can change this for each email I send. When m. mouse sends an email, I put that in the From field and include my name also – since not everyone will recognize m. mouse and open the email.
Make the From field recognizable. Sometimes by just having your name, people won’t recognize it and will delete it. Most of my email comes from Penny @ How-to-Quilt.com. I have separated it, so it is easier to read, and most people recognize Penny but not my last name.
Subject line – your subject line will determine whether your email gets opened or not. If the subject line is not interesting or if it looks like it is certain to be an unwanted sales pitch, your email will get deleted.
Including the person’s name will help. That is why you want your email service to have merge fields that you can place in your email. Keep in mind, though, that not everyone includes a first name (sometimes they leave it completely blank; other times it might be an initial), so don’t make your subject line dependent on the name being there. Put it at the beginning or the end with no punctuation.
Although it won’t be grammatically correct, people won’t notice that as much as they will if there is a comma or dash with nothing before it.
Avoid special characters in your subject lines – some email servers change them to strange characters. This includes quotation marks and apostrophes – often these will become question marks, making you look like you didn’t proofread your email before you sent it out.
Subject lines of email follow similar rules as headlines for salescopy, with the exception that email subject lines need to be short so the receiver will see most of it as they glance through their inbox.
I collect email from good marketers in a separate email account. When I am looking for an idea either for a subject line or an email topic, I go into that email box and scroll down, reading the various subject lines. Often I will get a complete idea for the subject of an email as I read down the list.
Opening – make your first sentence interesting, compelling, shocking – – something that will make them continue to read. Just like a sales page, if they aren’t interested, they won’t get your message, and you won’t make the sale.
Likewise, if you are delivering just information and they don’t read the email, you may get complaints that “all you do is sell” when really it’s just that they aren’t reading any of the ‘content’ email. I guess the good news is that your sales emails are more interesting than your content email.
P.S. – the most effective emails have a P.S. Many people open the email and go straight to the PS. If it’s not there, you are missing the boat. Good content for the P.S. is the deadline with a link, or the offer with the link. Always put the link in the P.S. Some people will go to the P.S. and click the link without even reading the email.
Successful email Campaigns
By now you may have figured out that email is not limited to sending a newsletter. There are many ways you can use email – both to keep in touch with your subscribers and customers, and to generate sales.
Many internet marketers have a pattern where they send email in this sequence: information; information; testimonial; sales pitch.
There are other marketers who won’t send any email unless it has an element of sales in it. This would be a “soft sale,” where they give tips and good information and then let you know how you can purchase additional resources.
In general people on a newsletter list like to receive information that they can use in their daily lives, information about resources to improve what they are working on, and to some degree be entertained.
My successful email campaigns for my products include several elements:
- Specific quilting tips that are included in the resource – this gives them an idea of what they will learn
- Something personal – a short story or comment about why I am sending the email
- Something light and entertaining – a message from m. mouse; special personal events (kids graduating, coming home); bets or challenges (my kids bet me an ice cream cone)
- A link to find the resource
- A reason they need the resource
- A deadline
- Multiple emails for the same campaign – always at least 3 emails in a campaign
Follow-up email – if you don’t follow up, you will miss a ton of sales! Here are some ideas for follow up email:
- FAQ – “Since we sent the first announcement out, we have received several questions, and we would like to answer them.”
- Reasons why they should take action
- Other people purchased and have already made comments about how good this is – Testimonials
- Time is running out / space or quantity is running out
- “I goofed” – link was bad, date was wrong, something about the product wasn’t described correctly
- 2nd Chance – got an extra bunch in (shouldn’t do this often, otherwise you will lose your credibility); your order date was extended so you are extending it for them