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Archives for August 2008

Thesis Theme – No More Reasons Not to Buy it

Thesis WordPress ThemeThesis was already a brilliant theme, I have to concede that. Thing is, I am one of those people who zags when he sees everyone zig. The theme was getting popular fast and I worried the blogosphere was going to look like the Thesisphere. No need to worry now, though, good news everyone!

Chris Pearson has just added the capability to easily change from your control panel

  • Font selection
  • Column number and size

and next week you will be able to easily change color scheme too! All without touching the code. Chris is constantly upgrading his themes and customers get those improvements completely free of charge.

Now it is not just a great theme (it always was the best for SEO and XHTML goodness), it is probably the only theme you need and it need not look like anyone else when you are done. Even better, right now you get a free magazine style theme with every Thesis purchase.

You know as one of my services I have a combined blog building and coaching package? All my blog builds from now on with be built with Chris’ Thesis and DIYThemes

Click here to grab a copy of Thesis now while the deal is still on!

Email Marketing Tips: Introduction to Email Copywriting

Email Marketing Tutorial

Email copywriting is probably the one aspect of actually doing email marketing that people either fuss over or neglect. People either doubt their abilities in this area, don’t think about it or over estimate.

Bloggers, being writers, would expect to be ahead of the game, but sadly that is not always the case.

While a couple of years ago it was common to see newsletter writers brag that they write 50 or so articles a year, a blogger today probably writes as many in a couple of months or less. So there is a practice-makes-perfect advantage in favor of bloggers, but writing a blog post is not the same as writing an email.

Email is Personal

When you are writing an email for broadcast it is best to think of it as from you to one person. It is not a Superbowl ad, it is a letter from one individual to another.

Obviously when subscribers get the RSS feed automatically delivered as email there is not much that can be done, but as my email subscribers found out this week, when you do send out an email broadcast the tone needs to be a little different to be successful.

Always keep in mind the recipient, write it to them.

AIDA for Email Marketing

In the marketing world AIDA is an acronym used as shorthand for

  • Attention – Get them to open the email
  • Interest – Introduce the email well. Give them something interesting to read so they don’t hit delete right away.
  • Desire – Build motivation in the body of the email
  • Action – Drive the reader to click your link

Priority Number One – Email Subject Lines

The first order of business is to get the recipient to open the email. That means your email subject lines have to rock.

Yes, you need great content to your email, but it will never be seen if you don’t get that email opened.

Obviously, as we saw in the previous article in this email marketing tips series, great open rates do not necessarily translate into better sales, so we are not looking to gimmicks, or to make a sale using only 5 words, but ways to invite the recipient to read.

Interest and Desire

Rather than launching into a sales message, make the email about them.

Instead of your products and all the fantastic things you can sell, write about your list members problems and how to solve them. Your products and services can be introduced as part of that solution.

Just as the subject line is there to get the email open, your intro needs to do one job; get them to read the rest of the email!

The introduction is a landing strip that leads to the body of the email. Tell a story, capture some interest, build a mystery, whatever it takes to make your reader stop thinking about what is for lunch and take notice of what you have to say.

It does not need to be pushy, conversational works best.

If you do a good job, the next bit is easy.

Action!

Your email has a goal, and that is to get people to do something; take action.

The Action part confuses people. This might sound strange in a series about email marketing but I do NOT suggest you try to sell directly from the email message. That is asking too much. Just get them to click through to the landing page is probably sufficient. While people do manage to sell in their emails and drop people straight onto a credit card page, I think you will have much more success just getting people interested in reading more about your offer.

Action does not necessarily mean “sale”. It could be a click, or could be hitting “reply”. My email subscribers will have seen this when I wrote about what my email list is about and asked for some specific replies. That email, about 24 hours later, is looking to have about a 5% response rate, which considering people have to make an effort, write an actual reply, and send it, is doing pretty well.

Bottom Line

  1. Consider what your most wanted response will be.
  2. Create a compelling subject line that invites opening.
  3. Write your email content to build up motivation.
  4. Make your call to action clear and easy.
  5. Track response.

In the next article I will give you some compelling subject line formulas that will give you the best chances of having your emails opened rather than thrown in the junk pile.

Better stay subscribed nowso you don’t miss it! :)

First Northern UK Blogging Meet-Up – Success

Jamie talks Woopra

Photo by strawbleu

The first Northern UK Bloggers Meet-up took place last friday at the Old Broadcasting House, Leeds. Well, half of it, the other half was in the Dry Dock pub (see a picture of the Dry Dock in daylight) – great venues, both!

Post Northern Blogger's Meet-upI think it is fair to say a good time was had by all.

Jamie did an excellent talk about Woopra and gave out beta invites (which it seems we might not be able to legally use due to some UK/European privacy and data protection regulations, but I don’t think that is going to stop anyone).

After we ooh’ed and aah’ed over Woopra and debated the utility of it, we all did a short show-and-tell about our blogs, giving handy tips and learning more about each other in the process.

The first reports I have seen are here and here – please add your links to blog posts, video or pics in the comments if you were there :)

If you want to see pictures of what went on, check out the following locations:

It seems everyone is up for another, so if you live in or around northern UK, watch this space and join the discussion list.

Email Marketing Tips: Email Testing

Email Marketing Tutorial

Testing, experimenting and tweaking are essential if you are going to be effective in your email efforts.

In the previous entry of this Email Marketing Tips for Bloggers series we looked at email effectiveness tracking metrics. While looking at the stats tells you a lot, it is not going to give you the whole story and they will not make the improvements for you. You need to actively pursue and encourage the results you hope for.

Our last look at emails was to work out which worked best and how. This article is all about trying to work out why.

Before we get in to exactly how you do that, I need to fill you in on a “metric” that I intentionally missed last time.

ROI

ROI stands for “Return on Investment”. It’s probably the most important item to track of the lot.

I know, some of you are wondering if it is so important why miss it out?

That’s because it is not a standard reporting metric that you get from your email service. While Aweber and the other better email marketing tools will give you a wealth of statistics about your emails, only you can decide on your Return on Investment.

Essentially, you work out what it is you want your email recipients to do and how much that is worth to you, taking into account your costs. Normally this will take the form of special code you place on your purchase confirmation pages so the transaction can be traced from initial email contact all the way through to checkout.

It’s very important to think in ROI terms. An email with a high success rate on the face of it, well opened, good CTR, could fall flat when it comes to actually getting people to buy or whatever it is you want them to do. Always keep in mind that chasing any other metric without taking into account of ROI is pure vanity.

When you have a good fix on your numbers, and have a good idea what kind of reaction you expect to get, you can start to predict what your return will be for any campaign. So as well as being able to compare two campaigns after the fact, you also approach the possibility of being able to decide before you launch.

If you are not looking to sell, where is your ROI? In the case of my email newsletters and the email feed for this blog, I am looking at retention as my main goal. I try to attract an appropriate audience and keep you interested with relevant and valuable content. As my list continues to grow steadily I can see there is a return on my time investment.

ROI is not always that easy to figure out, so if you do not know the outcome you are looking for, take some time now to think about it.

Now we have looked at ROI we can now discuss how you achieve it!

Ready, Fire, Aim

Most people focus on building a big list then simply send off their emails and hope for the best. The bigger their list, the less incentive they have to make their emailing work. That’s fine, but inefficient and wasteful. I know a marketer making millions out of a list of only 5 figures, it can be done if you work at it.

As we saw in the previous article, the main principle of email marketing improvement is that you should learn from every email you send. Learnings from past emails are used to make the next ones better. This is a long process though, what we really need to do is find ways to scientifically narrow the gap between ok and awesome :)

Beat the control

A concept that will be familiar to anyone who has read or performed direct marketing in the last 100 years will be “beating the control”.

What is beating the control?

You set up an email and send it out. Whatever results that email gets becomes the baseline, the control. Each email you send out following that should then be an attempt to beat those results. If you do manage to improve then your new email becomes the control.

In the offline world there are companies who have kept their control for decades, simply because it has worked so well nobody has been able to beat it.

If you have an autoresponder sequence then you have an opportunity to test this yourself. Take a message in the sequence where you ask your reader to do something, make a purchase, opt to segment, take a survey, whatever. See if you can improve the results by tweaking and waiting for a good number of people to go through. Perhaps it will be your subject line, or your call to action.

Change Only One Thing

I’m not going to get into more advanced testing right here. For now, when you are testing and tweaking, make only one change at a time. If you make a bunch of large changes then how will you know which change brought the new results? So change just one item at a time and see if your results improve or get worse. Then make another change and see what you get again.

Split Testing Email Lists

One of the great things about Aweber is it makes split testing easy. Split testing is where you take two or more slices of your list and send variations of the same email. When I emailed out the previous article in this series I used two different subject lines. You can see below the results.

Email Split Testing

What conclusion can we draw? You could think that the more benefit-lead subject line produced more opens (and more spam complaints). Don’t be too quick to decide …

Statistical Significance

One benefit of a huge list that can not be denied is large numbers allow for greater confidence in your results. With only a small sample it is difficult to tell if your results are misleading because a single person can skew the percentages.

Statistical Significance Calculator- PRC

Before you draw conclusions, see if the results are really telling you anything accurate. There are many calculators online that will tell you if your results are reliable. The one I used just happens to be the first Google result.

Creating Email Swipe files

It’s not just about learning from your own emails. I keep what is called a “Swipe File”.

A Swipe File is a collection of emails you have been sent that you can learn from. It could be a text document, an email folder, print-outs, whatever works for you.

Even spam can be a good source of learning!

sumo-reading

Here I am taking a coffee break and going through selected print-outs drawn from my email lists while sat on my fantastic Sumo bean bag. I print off in bulk then go through highlighting key sections with my pink pen. After I will create a document from these notes.

What should you look out for?

  • Subject lines that catch your eye
  • Compelling introduction styles that force you to read the whole email
  • Call to action lines and link anchor text that get you to click
  • Intriguing approaches that you haven’t thought of
  • Layouts that appeal

Basically, anything that makes you say “I wish I thought of that”.

Summary

You have two choices, fire and forget or incremental improvement. If you opt to make your emails more and more effective then it is worth investing the time and effort to work out why some emails perform better.

Now we have all the tools we need to bring together, but there is another piece of the puzzle missing; effective email copywriting, and we will look at that next.

Subscribe now so you do not miss it!

Email Marketing Tips: Email Tracking

Email Marketing Tutorial

Email Marketing advice usually targets attracting more new email subscribers and email copywriting, but there is an aspect of email marketing that is just as powerful but much overlooked.

Email Marketing Metrics!

Any decent email service like Aweber will give you a wealth of email metric reports. This is valuable information because it tells you how well you are doing, the health of your list.

I know why it is overlooked, it feels like math, and not many of us are good at math. Good news though, it’s not really, in fact I can deal with these numbers without getting any nose bleeds at all, and if I can, you can!

What are email metrics? They are the numbers that tell you useful information about the last email you just sent out, or all of the emails you have delivered.

Plugging Leaks

First metric you need to keep track of, again, is much overlooked.

email metrics

It’s your UNsubscribes. While most people obsess on how many people they are attracting, that is like filling a leaky bucket. You will make much more progress if you plug your holes!

You will always have a certain amount of churn, but you want to limit the number. Find out why people leave and adjust your behavior accordingly when you see important patterns. Normally you will have an option to get an email when someone unsubscribes and supplies a reason, keep track of those reasons.

Reports

Unfortunately there is always someone who can’t be bothered using your clearly marked unsubscribe link, or worse has a strange opinion of what spam is.

email complaints

These come out as “complaints”. All you can do is make sure you spell out that the person opted-in (and confirmed) to receive the information and that there is an easy way to leave should they want to. If they still mark it as spam after that then they are being malicious and there is nothing you could do.

Tracking Email Marketing Effectiveness

As you can see in the image above, as well as complaints there are also bounces (emails that didn’t arrive for whatever reason), opens and clicks.

Opens can only be tracked if you send HTML emails because they use a tiny one pixel image to see if the email has been read. Clicks require the URLs to be changed to go to a redirect script. Obviously if someone clicks you can infer they opened the email too!

When people ask me what good open and click through rates (CTR) are, I always tell people that just like the gym you should measure against yourself, not against other people. Your list, audience, precise niche and style are unique to you.

Obviously you want the opens and CTR to be as high as possible, but sometimes you don’t need the reader to do anything but read, and sometimes readers prefer plain text emails so you can not track opens.

The main thing to keep in mind is if you work on boosting these numbers then you can be way more effective without trying to attract any more people to your list.

Conversion Tracking

As well as your email effectiveness you also want to be looking at where your sign ups come from. I use Google Analytics “goals” for this but I have also been testing blvdstatus.

Reverse Goal Path - Google Analytics

Double Your Email Marketing Effectiveness

We are going to look at email marketing copywriting in this series, which has a huge effect on your email marketing effectiveness, but what everyone can do is look at their numbers over time and learn from them.

  • Which blog posts drew the most subscribers?
  • Which emails drove the most people to leave?
  • Are there subject lines that pulled more opens?
  • How were the links worded that achieved the most clicks?
  • Do you know the type of messages that got noticed more than others?
  • Which words or phrases meant you got marked as spam?

It’s only by tracking your performance and learning from the numbers that you will improve. Practice and experience are the best teachers when it comes to email marketing.

In the next installment we will look at how you can accelerate this learning and boost your email marketing effectiveness even more, you will want to keep subscribed so you don’t miss it!

Email Marketing Tips: Getting More Email Subscribers

Email Marketing Tutorial

Growing an email list is a critical part of email marketing success. The more people you have to talk to, the more chance you have of getting a good number of people to do what you want them to do, be that click, comment or buy. In the previous article of this email marketing series we looked at getting started in email marketing, now we will look at how you can grow your list from a few to thousands of subscribers.

Size Is Not Everything

First a some caution is necessary. Size is not the main goal.

Aim to build a good quality relationship with people who want to hear from you rather than just focus on quantity.

Always target the best sources of motivated, interested subscribers, not just where you can grab handfuls of names.

Prepare

Have your sign up form visible, above the fold, but also have a subscribe page that effectively describes the benefits of signing up and that you and other people can link to. Especially if you followed the advice in the previous article and have an incentive to sign up. This is important as you will see.

Optimize

You should be continuously looking at what you are doing to see if you are being effective in attracting people to your list and if you are attracting only the right people. Unsubscribes, and the reasons for them, will tell you a great deal. Do more of what works.

10 Best Sources of Email Subscribers

OK, here is the bit you really wanted to read. Where to get lots of eager subscribers:

  1. You! – Common sense? Probably, but people really do not take advantage of all their own potential places to reach new subscribers. Build on your own touch points such as:
    1. Your blog – Content is a fantastic way to reach subscribers. Give them great content followed by a call to action to tell them why they should subscribe. Kind of like this series you are reading, if you want to not miss the next part then you will need to subscribe, right? :)
    2. Forum postings – Many forums allow you to include links back to your own site. Instead of “here is my blog / home page”, put “get tips and news right to your inbox by signing up to my newsletter”. Think about it, the people taking part in the Walrus Polishing forum will be interested in more info on that topic, especially if your postings are good.
    3. Other lists – You might already have email newsletters. Some of the topics will overlap, while others might intersect occasionally. For example, Darren launched Digital Photography School partly through mentions on ProBlogger.
    4. Email signatures – Any email interaction is a potential for a new sign up, especially email discussion lists. Do NOT harvest email addresses, put the subscribe URL in your signature with a call to action and if they are interested they will opt-in.
    5. Networking – Be it online or off, there will be a chance to put your subscribe page on your profile, business card, powerpoint … now aren’t you glad you spent time creating a compelling subscribe page?
  2. Forwards – Forwarded emails are an excellent source of new subscribers because it is both an endorsement and a free sample of your good stuff. This is why you should include subscription options or obvious and compelling web links in your subscriber messages, not for existing subscribers but those you tell. If it is too hard to sign up they will just think “interesting” then move on.
  3. MGM – “Member Get Member” or “Recommend a Friend” is a common way to get your subscribers to bring friends. Rather than just ask or hope they will forward, ask or incentivise them to use a special form. This form will send a customized email to each of their submitted friends, telling the friend about this cool thing, and optionally then delivering some goodies as a thank you. Another way to do it is give additional chances of winning a prize for each member they attract. Just be careful, this can be spammy if taken too far!
  4. Incentives – I have already mentioned incentives a fair bit, because they work. There are three ways to get sign ups from free gifts:
    1. Before – Subscriber bonus that you can’t get without giving your email address, my Flagship Content ebook is one example
    2. After – Links in the document, video pages, and so on, encourage sign up but you do not need to opt-in to get the content. This is basically how blogs work and also “watch video one, opt-in to get part two”.
    3. Before AND after – The most advanced is to give free, open content, get opt-in then reinforce subscription with further permissions. You want to build a deeper relationship, from reader, to subscriber, from subscriber to customer, and so on. Consider what I have been doing moving feed subscribers to email subscription by offering benefits over and above my daily content.
  5. Virals – A viral is basically anything that gets passed around, be it a funny video, a quiz or a small game. The same before/after approaches can be used as in the “incentives” point. The advantage of a viral is people want to pass it on, so can be used as a opt-in delivery system.
  6. Bloggers – Other bloggers are a great source of subscribers:
    1. Reviews – They review your video, download, or other incentive, their readers click to get it and opt-in.
    2. Links – Make your newsletter or incentive about a focused topic and bloggers will link it when talking about your topic.
    3. Guest posts – Mention your newsletter in your attribution line “Sign up to get more tips like these …”.
  7. List owners – Referrals from other lists work very well because these people already demonstrate a willingness to subscribe! Again, your incentive or bonus might be the way in, but also through networking and getting to know list owners you can do each other the favor.
  8. Partners – Team up with other publishers to build a new list, as Darren and I did with the ProBloggerBook.
  9. Affiliates – People will want to promote you if there is something in it for them. Offer a commission on any sales, connect your affiliate cookie to newsletter signups. Affiliates send visitors to get your free subscriber bonus, when any sales happen the affiliate gets rewarded for delivering the lead.
  10. Paid – Advertising can be very effective but always test your ROI to make sure you are getting the best price per lead.
    1. Email newsletter advertising – For a price you can get space in popular email newsletters, usually in the cost per so many thousand emails. This is a better alternative than buying lists but should still be tested before spending a great deal.
    2. Web advertising – Use pay per click or banner advertising (such as Performancing Ads) to drive people to your list using your incentive as your call to action.
    3. Offline – Classifieds and print advertising can work, just do the same as above and use your incentive to drive sign ups

Summary

There are many variations of the above tactics but they are the main ways to get people on to your list. Always build on your success by monitoring, testing and tracking your subscriber sources and developing new routes to members.

I have mentioned testing and tracking quite a bit, it is vitally important, so in the next part of this series I will go through email metrics and how they are a powerful tool in building a profitable email marketing campaign.

Keep subscribed so you don’t miss it! :)

Email Marketing Tips: List Building

Email Marketing Tutorial

Welcome to part 2 of the Email Marketing Tips series. In the introduction of this we looked at what email marketing is and the benefits of email marketing. Let’s now look at building an email list.

Building your email list is perhaps the most compelling issue facing anyone looking to email marketing. It could be argued that building your list is not the most important issue, but it is certainly for most people the most pressing.

After all, with no subscribers, it doesn’t matter how good your content, copywriting or offers are.

So as I kick off this email marketing series for real, I thought I would start with what the majority of people new to email marketing want to know; how the heck do I get started? How do I get people onto my list?

Starting Your Email List

As with most things, getting started with email marketing can seem to be the hardest part, but it is simple really.

Once you decide that you want to start marketing via email you quickly realize that to do it properly, you need to spend some money on a decent email service, and you need to select the right one.

As you would expect, I have a favorite provider in Aweber. It is quickly growing to be the standard, Darren, Shoemoney, John and Yaro use Aweber too. While there are other providers, and people often start out using their standard email client and off the shelf PHP scripts, in my mind nothing beats Aweber. I think right now they even provide a free trial.

Once you have your account, all you need to do is add a new list, fill in all the details like list name, etc, then grab your sign up form HTML code to paste into your site.

Aweber Web Form Generator - Edit

This form is crucial as it is the main way you will gain subscribers through your site. You can play with the look and styling as much as you like providing you don’t break the form submission, you don’t want to be losing submissions while you wonder why nobody is signing up.

At this point you have done the basics. This is how it tends to work:

Aah, those last two points are a touch vague, eh? :)

As many people who have tried this process will tell you, just having a sign up form is not enough!

Getting People to Subscribe

The number one reason why people do not subscribe to a working and open email list is because you don’t tell them why they should.

In fact, you first need to tell them that they can.

  1. Tell people about your list – Don’t just say “Subscribe Here”, describe what they should expect
  2. Give reasons to subscribe – What are the benefits?
  3. Inform them that it is free and safe – You know you are not a spammer, you know there is no charge … do they?
  4. Make it easy – Don’t make your sign up form like filling out your taxes
  5. Make it obvious – Are you hiding your sign up form away? Make it stand out and refer to it in numerous locations

Seems common sense but so many people fall down just at this level. Never assume that the reader will find the benefits of your list self-evident. They won’t, and often will be deeply suspicious of it.

You at least need to reference your sign up form in your side bar, in a subscription page, under your posts, and perhaps occasionally within a post.

If you make it obvious, beneficial and easy you will get more sign ups.

List Building Short Cuts

Danger! Danger! There are people who will tell you that you don’t need to build your list the hard way. Why, you can have tens of thousands of happy, targeted subscribers over night.

When anyone tells you that be suspicious because they usually want to sell you something that could land you in spamola territory.

  • Only import lists you have grown yourself over time using double opt-in
  • Add only people to your list who have expressly given permission to do that
  • Do not purchase lists
  • Never take part in any scheme that charges you per email address or “opt-in”

I used to work for a direct marketing company. We would buy lists on behalf of customers. They never worked as well as home grown lists. The only time I would even consider it would be in a business-to-business context, and even then I would take some convincing. While they can have positive ROI, it was usually at the expense of over half thinking of you as a spammer. Reputations are too precious.

This goes for adding everyone who gives you a business card to your list too. They gave you their card, they did not say “Please rush me your sales letters now”. Have some courtesy and you will be rewarded, treat your list as captive victims and expect to pay the price.

So what can you really do to grow your list fast?

In the next part I will go in to detail on growing your list, but right now I will tell you the best thing you can do to get people on to your list …

Sell it.

Add incentives, like a free ebook, audio recording, video, auto-responder series. Provide something of real value.

Offer discounts, coupons, special deals, exclusive offers, premium content.

Make your list so compelling the readers mouth waters at the thought of it.

Yes, even free needs to be sold.

Your subscriber pays with their email address, they pay by giving you permission to talk to them, by giving up their attention. Make it worth their while. Make it obviously worth their while.

Look out for the next part of this series where I show you how to grow your list without resorting to spammy and/or expensive methods. If you haven’t already, keep subscribed so you don’t miss it :)

Table of contents for Email Marketing Tips

  1. Email Marketing Tips: What is Email Marketing?

Email Marketing Tips: What is Email Marketing?

email marketing for bloggers

Email Marketing seems to be a topic many bloggers want to know about. While promoting my recent prize draw I was asked to expand on my article explaining the benefits of providing blog email subscriptions into more email marketing tips.

I realized I wasn’t going to be able to do the subject justice in just one post, so here is the first in a series all about email marketing and how to do it well.

Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss anything :)

First, let’s clear up what exactly we are talking about …

What is Email Marketing?

Email Marketing is using email to distribute your marketing messages.

Most popular is growing your own list, for example a newsletter, and sending emails to the list containing tips along with things subscribers might be interested in buying.

As well as your own list of tip-readers and potential customers, Email Marketing can also cover advertising on email newsletters or follow-up emails to your own customers.

While you could include these other wider definitions, most people when talking about Email Marketing are mainly using the term to describe building a list with a view to growing reader loyalty and making sales.

What are the Advantages of Email Marketing?

As just mentioned, a good email list, well run, can grow your reader loyalty. Hearing from you again and again with good content reminds readers of your value, especially if they take your advice and find it works for them. That said, the obvious reason why most people try email marketing is because it is profitable. This is because of the following attributes:

  1. Low Cost – Communicating via email has many of the advantages of traditional direct mail but with much lower costs
  2. Speed – If you need to you can get a message out to your entire list very fast
  3. Ease (both for you and the reader) – For your marketing to be a success it has to be easy for the recipient, but it helps that email marketing is easy for you too as it means you can do it yourself
  4. Push – While websites and RSS are “pull”, in that the visitor has to come to you, with email you can send your messages out, reminding and re-engaging readers
  5. Personalized – The more information you collect, the more messages can be tailored and personalized. Email also has the particularly special ability to segment, meaning you can split people off into smaller, more focused lists.
  6. Viral – It’s so easy for people to forward your message on to others, spreading further than you could alone.
  7. Tracking – Everything from how many emails were opened, through to each individual link click can be tracked, meaning you can hone your techniques and improve performance
  8. Testing – Along with tracking, you can test different subject lines, calls to action, use of images, and so on, to further improve your results
  9. Complimentary – Email, while an excellent tactic, does not replace your other marketing activities but compliments them extremely well. Combining multiple tactics can build very profitable marketing campaigns.
  10. Opt-In – Perhaps most important, the best email lists are always opt-in, meaning you have permission to contact the person. This permission is very powerful and should not be underestimated.

Email Marketing Risks

Doing email right can be a fantastic addition to your marketing mix, but do it wrong and you might be better off not doing it at all.

The main risks are:

  • Branded a spammer – Without singling out any particular instance, even the best lists will get marked as spam occasionally because some people can’t be bothered to use the unsubscribe links. Also some people have a … strange … definition of what spam is. Darren and I were called spammers for sending messages about our book … to our ProBloggerBook.com list. So a small amount of this is to be expected. What you have to be careful of though is an accusation that sticks. Always make sure people know what they are signing up for and that they confirm their subscription so you can point to clear and fair opt-in.
  • Burning out your list – A certain amount of churn is to be expected. People leave lists all the time through no fault of yours. Too many messages, too often, or bad content to sales ratio and you could find your email list becoming used up and burned out. Be careful to always make your list valuable to your readers, not an irritation.
  • Breaking the law – Be aware that due to nasty spammers there are very strict laws around the world and it is easy to break them. For example, collecting email addresses without the owners consent, even not including your postal address in emails to USA residents. Using a reputable email service provider like Aweber will help you through most of these issues.
  • Alienating readers – It never ceases to surprise me how many people get carried away with email marketing and go way over the top. Your messages do not have to read like snake oil, and every email does not have to carry a “absolutely must buy now before ____” urgency call to action. Remember your list members are human beings and all should go well though.
  • Delivery issues – As people become more and more sensitive to spam there are more and more innocent messages landing in junk mail folders. There are techniques to help your message get through, but the main way is as mentioned above, use a reliable email provider like Aweber.

Coming Up in this Series

Hopefully this has shown that there are several advantages to email marketing and while there are risks, they are avoidable if you manage your email marketing well.

Coming up in this series I will show you:

  • How to build your list, without falling into the common traps that doom you to spam hell
  • Where to find more list subscribers and the best way to further grow your list, fast
  • Testing and tracking email so each mail out is incrementally more successful
  • … and more

Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a single article, and let me know in email, comments or contact form if there is anything in particular you would like me to cover.

Prize Draw Complete!

It turns out generating a random selection from my email subscribers was more involved than I thought. Initially I was going to use my normal method of exporting as a text file, importing into a database and using SQL. But then I thought I would use Excel, that has to be quicker and easier, right?

Well not the way I tried. Trust me to over-geek these things.

Then I found a nice formula on the intertubes, and that worked very well, once I had removed the obvious fake or disposable email addresses from my list.

So winners have been notified and I am just waiting for them to identify themselves.

If you didn’t win, don’t you worry, there are LOTS of great goodies on the way with extra special goodness just for email subscribers. Just keep watching your inbox :)

Last Chance to Join Teaching Sells for Free

A couple of people pointed out finishing my prize draw on a Monday might mean weekly readers miss out, so the draw has now been extended to Tuesday. So if you want a chance of winning these fantastic prizes, get in quick.

  • A copy of Liz Strauss’ excellent ebook now, followed by an Authority Blogger Membership when the course officially launches
  • A membership to Teaching Sells donated by Brian Clark
  • A membership to Aaron Walls SEOBook SEO training
  • A share of $1,000 of Performancing Ads advertising budget

It has also been pointed out that now Teaching Sells has closed their doors, this is pretty much the only way anyone can get into the course. Perhaps you will be the last member to get in? Doesn’t that make the prize even sweeter? :)

To enter, all you have to do is stay subscribed to this blog using your email address. That’s it!

After the prize draw there will be many more goodies to come, so keep watching your inbox …

Good luck!