There are many ways to do e-mail marketing. If you listen to the gurus, they’ll want to enroll you in some course to teach you the many-faceted ways to do e-mail marketing their way. But I’ve learned a thing or two about gurus. Their way is not the best way for everyone. Sure, there may be a handful of people who can benefit from doing e-mail marketing the way a specific superstar does it, but there will be just as many for whom that particular superstar’s methods just won’t work, and the reason all boils down to personality.
You’ve got yours. I’ve got mine. And Snoopy, well, he’s just Snoopy.
My purpose today is not to tell you how to do e-mail marketing. I’m more interested in presenting a few strategies or techniques that have worked for me and others in the past. It’s up to you to figure out what works best for your personality. For your brand. Your goals. You decide.
E-Mail Marketing Method #1: A Simple Newsletter
Every subscriber you get to your newsletter is potential money in the bank.
While e-mail marketing itself can be time-consuming, sending out a weekly or a monthly newsletter is actually less time consuming than some other strategies. After all, you only have to produce content for that one newsletter (hopefully, you’ll produce just enough to keep your readers happy and don’t get wrapped up in writing a book each week).
Even with newsletters, there are a variety of methods you can use to present your brand’s image. Here are a few:
- Curation – A curated newsletter takes content from others and presents it in a different format. In my newsletter, The Content Letter, I present a variety of links each week on topics related to business, marketing, science, technology, culture, digital publishing, and information relevant to authors and people who want to be non-fiction authors. That includes book and e-book publishing. The amount of time I spend on curating these links involves finding suitable links to share (and since I’m already browsing the Web a significant amount of time each week, that’s not as time consuming as it sounds) and then the time it takes it produce the newsletter (usually an hour to an hour-and-a-half).
- Information Peddling – Another newsletter publishing technique, which is quite popular in some niches, is to simply publish incredible information on your topic for every issue. That’s much challenging than it sounds, and “incredible” is in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless, if you want to keep readers coming back for more, this is a sound practice. It sure beats using your newsletter to send sales and promotional messages.
- Sales & Promotion – On the other hand, if you run an e-commerce store and the name of the game is selling more product, your newsletter can be a main driver of traffic to your store and be used to pre-sell your merchandise.
- Brand Positioning – Articles in your newsletter can be used to position your brand as an authority in your niche and the voice that everyone ought to listen to.
If you’re going to publish a newsletter, you want to make it the best newsletter it can be. That means designing one that is attractive and then producing content that people actually look forward to reading every week. Producing an e-mail newsletter can be fun, but it does have its drawbacks, one of those being that most of your subscribers likely won’t open up every issue and so it can seem like it’s a lot of work for a little pay off. Still, every subscriber you get to your newsletter is potential money in the bank.
E-Mail Marketing Method #2: Autoresponders
Autoresponders are neat little tools that allow you to automatically send a message, or a series of messages, to subscribers after they have given you permission to do so. This is a powerful strategy because there is much less ongoing time commitment than managing an e-mail newsletter. However, there is a HUGE time commitment early on to set up your autoresponder series.
I’ve found the best way to use an autoresponder series is to entice your audience into downloading an initial free piece of candy. It can be an e-book, a video, a podcast–anything that your audience would value. Once you have their e-mail address secured, you can then hook them into your autoresponder series and send them messages periodically that automatically send based on when the recipient received the last message. The trick is to make each autoresponder in the series so compelling that your audience looks forward to the next one.
There really is no limit to how many autoresponders can be in a series. You can put together a short series (5-7 messages) or a long one (say, once a week for a year or more). Either way, you have to first get someone to sign up for your list. That requires some enticement.
Make sure the candy you offer (what some gurus call a “lead magnet”) is something your audience is interested in. Also, be sure it’s somehow related to the ongoing autoresponder series you’re hooking people into. Otherwise, you’ll find that people won’t stick around for the autoresponders. If you go off topic, you’ll lose subscribers.
Another thing you’ll need to think about is the platform. Several e-mail marketing management platforms exist, but they’re not all created equal. I’m most familiar with AWeber MailChimp, and Constant Contact. I like Constant Contact for e-mail newsletter management, but the last I checked, you could only have one autoresponder list. If you plan to have several lists going at once, AWeber is a much better option. But I don’t much care for AWeber for newsletter management. For me, MailChimp is the best of both worlds, and its free up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 e-mails per month. After that, it starts to get pricey.
Autoresponders are fun to play with, but you have to think through each particular series and the best way to do that is plan it backwards. Think of your goal first. What do you want subscribers to do, ultimately? If your goal is to sign them up for a paid subscription service, or you want to sell a book, etc., then your series needs to drive your audience toward that goal. Rather than send out a series of hard sell messages, think about subtle ways you can promote the end result product by enticing your audience to want it. You do that by providing value upon value until they can no longer stand to wait.
E-Mail Marketing Method #3: E-mail Blasts
Sending periodic e-mail blasts requires much less ongoing maintenance than e-mail newsletters, and there is usually much less upfront content creation than developing an autoresponder series. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy, nor does it mean it’s as effective as the other two methods. Still, there is a place for e-mail blasts.
E-mail blasts are the equivalent to direct mail campaigns in print. They’re much more effective when used periodically. In other words, you don’t want to overstay your Inbox welcome.
When you have a product that you want to promote, such as a new book or a webinar, then e-mail blasts are a great way to send out the message to everyone on your list at once. If you’re introducing a new service, you can let your entire list know with one message. It can be a quick spurt, a digital brochure, or a long sales letter. The key is to determine which format is going to be the best approach for your audience and more likely to deliver the results you are looking for. But, keep in mind, it’s a one-time blast, not an ongoing series. That would defeat the purpose.
For most marketers, a combination of these three e-mail marketing techniques is best. You don’t want to rely only on your weekly newsletter, for instance. It might be a great way to reach some people, but there will undoubtedly be members of your audience who will respond more favorably to an autoresponder series. Others might respond better to an e-mail blast. For that reason, relying simply on one of these methods will likely make your e-mail marketing less effective. You want to mix it up a bit and throw in a little of each method into your ongoing marketing mix.
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