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5 Fundamentals for Profitable Email Newsletter Marketing

August 11, 2008

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Global-Z is pleased to introduce Grace Epperson, Managing Director of DM360° Inc., to GZ News subscribers. With over eight years of international marketing strategy, business and project management experience, Grace will be contributing future articles to GZ News. Stay tuned to learn more from Grace’s expertise in online marketing and an integrated multi-channel approach to complement direct mail campaigns.

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~by Grace Epperson

With continually rising print, postage and other direct mail related costs, email is a viable alternative or counterpart for direct marketers looking to acquire new customers, deliver content, fulfill product, and more…

Arguably, email makes the biggest impact to your bottom line through the successful execution of a profitable email newsletter, where the focuses are cultivating a relationship with the reader, converting prospects into paid customers, and monetizing the value of the entire readership. Email newsletter marketing is particularly attractive to international marketers, who typically spend more to acquire a single customer, as it allows you to fully maximize that customer’s lifetime value.

In addition to best practices, like adhering to legislation and regulations governing your marketing territory, following are five fundamentals for developing, launching and managing a successful email newsletter program.

1. Strategic List Building

It all starts with the acquisition of email subscribers – the ones who convert and continually purchase. To achieve a mix of quality and quantity with regard to list building, paid search (pay-per click or PPC) is a most effective method. PPC campaigns that focus solely on promoting a free sign-up to an email service, perhaps through offering a free report as a premium, are a rapid way to grow your list. Even if the goal of your marketing efforts (online or offline) is always a sale, be sure to offer the free sign-up, as it gives your ‘maybes’ an opportunity to convert down the road.

Search engine optimization (SEO), which increases the volume of traffic to your Web site is also a practical means for increasing your list size. By featuring regular, relevant and fresh content on our Web site, you’ll continue to rank high in organic search results, driving qualified traffic to your Web site. Be sure to feature the sign-up to your free email service prominently on your homepage.

Co-Registration, or co-reg, is another way to quickly build your list. Co-reg is a process where you offer prospects the opportunity to sign up to your email service while they are registering for or purchasing a complementary product or service. You do this by providing pre-checked or unchecked boxes that allow them to opt into or opt out of your service. For more qualified leads, unchecked boxes are the way to go. You can find co-reg sources by seeking out sites and email services that are non-competitive but share your same prospective customer.  As you can imagine, these names can individually be less valuable, however, when list building there’s an important balance to be struck between value and volume.

2. Value-Adding Editorial

To build a large readership, your email newsletter should be a free service, but just because it’s free, doesn’t mean it should be cheap. The content should be valuable, fresh, relevant, timely and engaging. Depending on your subject matter, the tone may be personal, where the reader connects with the editor in a very one-on-one manner. Or, you may choose more of a magazine-style approach, where readers can easily navigate and pick what information they want to digest. With either format, when applicable, construct your editorial to support your advertising efforts. For instance, if you’re launching a new product, have your editor(s) start to casually mention it in the weeks, potentially even months, leading up to the big debut.

3. Dollar-per-Name Focused Advertising

Base your ad planning on which products generate the most revenue, even if other metrics like open rates and click through rates indicate otherwise. You want to have the right mix of products, including ones at different price points, and an influx of new products.

The quantity of editorial content is a good dictator of how much advertising you should offer. Emails dedicated solely to promoting a product should be used more sparingly and for offers that are truly special. Advertising that appears near the top of an email broadcast generates the most sales, so reserve those premium spots for the best products.

The Golden Rule: If something performs strongly, run it again, and very soon! The same people who opened it the first time may not necessarily be the ones who open the resend, so more of your file will be exposed to the strong offer. Plus, the resend may convince those who were on the fence the first time around.

4. Disciplined Testing

Email is an excellent testing ground, as it’s easy to segment and track. Spend the majority of your efforts testing factors that are known to affect response – such as, subject line, overall design, headline and lead, length of copy, and of course, the offer.

You should also use email to test new promotional creative to see if it’s direct mail worthy.  In the current mailing climate where testing, especially in small volume, is outrageously expensive an email test is both cost effective and the results are immediate.

5. Welcome Series

Since most unsubscribe requests occur within weeks, in some cases even days or hours of the initial sign up, creating a series of emails that welcome new subscribers is critical for successful retention. The fact is, most people are inundated with email, and you must give them a reason to stick around. Sending a welcome series is an opportunity to explain who you are, what they can expect, and provide a sample of your best content.

At this point, you may also want to introduce your products and services, but definitely with a “soft sell” approach. The welcome series is also a great time to send a message from your customer service manager, letting the reader know what your anti-SPAM and privacy policies are, as well as, who to contact for help and support.

Finally, every broadcast in the welcome series should directly ask subscribers to “white list” you, which put simply is, the reader adding your ‘from’ email address to a list of approved senders to ensure uninterrupted delivery.

In closing, email newsletters are everywhere these days. You want yours to stand out among the crowd. In addition to these tips, subscribe to as many as possible. Then, watch and learn. Two of my favorites are The Daily Reckoning and Early to Rise.

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