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If you’ve been involved with online marketing I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘the money is in the list.’
The reason that marketers rave about the virtues of creating your own list is simply because it works.
Basically a list is simply a bunch of contacts who have, by supplying you with their email address, given you permission to send them messages.
Not so long ago, when the only way to communicate with your subscribers was through snail-mail, it cost a bundle to send out your message. At least $1 per person was the rule of thumb back then and now it would be far higher. Sending out to even a relatively small list of 1,000 could be a serious investment and so you had to sell very hard to get a return.
Now, with Email Newsletters, things are very different. You can send out to 10,000 people in a few clicks and it will cost you almost nothing. Email marketing is close to being free. In fact, with certain email marketing services, it is absolutely free — I recommend MadMimi.
That means that you need a far lower response rate, compared to snail-mail, to make a profit! It is not unusual to make thousands of dollars from a single mailing that takes you just a few minutes to write.
With your permission-based list there is nothing to stop you sending out to your list again and again.
But there is a catch.
People may willingly give you permission to email them, but you need to be able to catch their attention with quality content. And having caught their attention, you need to have established a trust between you so that your readers will happily follow your recommendations to buy the things you promote.
The old days of mail order selling to a list entailed sending out long, professionally written sales letters. Long sales letters definitely do not work in an email newsletter. Email newsletters, or e-zines, are not about hard selling, they are about entertaining, educating and pre-selling.
Pre-selling is the art of warming an audience up – making them desire the product you are recommending – so that they will take your advice and follow the link you provide to the product’s sales page. That’s where the selling takes place, not in your email newsletter. The link you use to send them to the sales page will be coded with your affiliate link and so when they do buy the product, you will get a commission credited to you. In Internet marketing, that commission is usually between 50% to 100%.
But as I said, your ability to get your readers to click on a link depends on the rapport you have built with them and the level of trust they have in you. People buy from people they know, like and trust.
Learn how to write an email newsletter the right way and online profits will come your way as fast as you can click on the send button in your auto-responder!
Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) is set to take effect on July 1, 2014. After years of preparation and consultation, Canada will get a modern, but very strict, anti-spam law.
One of the requirements for CASL will impose on any entity doing business in Canada is the proof of consent. Up until now, many Canadian businesses relied on so-called negative consent, or giving subscribers an option to opt-out from future mailings. The new law will force businesses to obtain permission first, and also continue to provide an easy-to-use mechanism for subscribers to remove themselves from a list.
The easiest way to handle consent (or “opt-in”), unsubscribes and other list-management tasks is to open an account with an Email Service Provider or ESP, such as Aweber, MadMimi or GetResponse. These services all provide basic and advanced list-management features, but they differ greatly in additional features, such as auto-responders, RSS-to-email, etc.
Most ESPs also offer Social Media integration, and some offer features that may not necessarily be considered as email-related, such as surveys, GetResponse offers surveys included in the basic package, other ESPs rely on 3rd party integration, such as SurveyMonkey.
In case you’re interested in sending simple email newsletters, MadMimi offers a free option, and you can have up to 2,500 subscribers in your lists. If you need to send more than 6 emails per month, you can upgrade to any of their paid packages.
Even with the added hassle of making sure you’re CASL-compliant, email marketing should still be one of the staples of your overall marketing strategy.
In case you need help in setting up your email marketing system please contact me.
Boris Mahovac RGD
Email Marketing Consultant
Email marketing is still one of the best ways to grow your business. In fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association latest statistics, email marketing still has the highest rate of return on investment (ROI) among all other marketing channels.
The trouble is, most solo professionals and small business owners don’t bother to learn how to do email marketing properly. The best solution is to use an online email marketing tool, such as Aweber. This is a service that helps you create an attractive email newsletter or flyer, manage your list, and what’s very important, your email marketing campaign will be following the law. If you’re in Canada, for example, very soon a bill will become law that will require senders to allow their subscriber to remove themselves from a list by clicking a link. Using email marketing software, such as Aweber, will make your life easier.
If you host seminars, workshops or attend trade shows, these are great venues for collecting email addresses to build your list. Recently, there was a question on Linkedin about the proper use of double opt-in in such cases.
Perhaps in this case double opt-in is not required. Attendees will probably be given a form to fill out at the event. This form should clearly state that by giving their email address, they will be added to a list named “XYZ” owned by “Name”
If you choose double opt-in (also called confirmed opt-in), then make sure the FROM address is readily recognizable to the recipients, and that the subject line includes a reference to the event. Don’t use the typical subject line: “[firstname] please confirm your subscription,” instead, try something like: “[event-name]: your free bonus material” and then deliver the bonus material on the confirmation “thank you” page or by delivering it via auto-responder once the recipient confirms the subscription.
Don’t be afraid to use the word “free” and certainly do not try to obfuscate it like this: fre-e, f.r.e.e as that will certainly trigger spam filters more so than using the word in the open.
One key element of any successful email marketing campaign is content. If the follow up emails contain only advertising for your books, courses, etc. then most of the recipients will mark the emails as spam — even if you use double opt-in. It’s all about delivering what’s expected: if you say “monthly enewsletter on subject” then don’t send 27 other messages in a month that are purely promotional.
A recent Marketing Sherpa article about average open rates published this interesting chart.
The research was compiled based on data from nearly 1,500 marketers. The chart compares the performance of B2B email newsletters to the performance of B2C e-newsletters in open rate, clickthrough rate and conversion rate.
The open rate is usually defined as the ratio between the number of registered opens to the number of emails sent. Some email service providers, as well as some marketers, take it to the next step and count only the number of emails delivered in the ratio. (See this post on email bounce rates)
The clickthrough rate (or CTR) is usually defined as the ratio between the number of clicks to the number of emails opened. For example, if an email was opened by 100 subscribers to an ezine, and 30 of those subscribers clicked on a link, then the CTR would be 30%.
The conversion rate is usually defined as the ratio between the number of conversions to the number of clicks. A conversion can be anything, such as a sale, request for more information, additional subscription, or anything that you may ask your subscribers to do. For example, if, of those 30 subscribers that clicked on a link, 3 purchased something, then the conversion rate would be 10%. (Some marketers would say it’s 3%)
Clickthrough and conversion rates are important indicators of email newsletter performance. As newsletter publishers we should track these statistics, making sure we always apply the same metrics.
The research shows that B2C newsletters perform slightly better than B2B. How do your own results compare to these averages? Please comment and share your insights.
One of the benefits of using a dedicated email service provider (ESP) to send out your business email newsletter are the various statistics they will be able to provide to you. One of those you should pay particular attention to are
Your particular ESP may define these two slightly differently, but in essence, a bounce is an email address to which delivery of your email campaign was attempted but was unsuccessful.
Similarly the bounce rate is usually expressed as a percentage of undeliverable email addresses compared to the total number of emails in your list(s).
Hard Bounces: These are email addresses that are obsolete, expired, incorrect and will never be delivered to the intended recipient. Take a look at these as they may include obvious typos like email@example.com (instead of .com), which you can easily update and correct. Others are most likely expired and should be removed from your list, either manually, or, most likely, automatically by your ESP.
Soft Bounces: These are email accounts that bounce because of full mailboxes, their domain is temporarily down, or for some other technical reason they’re currently not able to receive email. Most ESPs will retry delivery to these accounts within 24-48 hours from the time of the original broadcast. Some ESPs will remove email accounts from your active list after 5 consecutive soft bounces.
General Bounces: The most common reason for this type of bounce is a firewall that prevents these accounts from receiving email from outside their network, such as in the case of corporations that block email from unknown sources. Again, most ESPs will retry delivery to these accounts.
As most ESPs will retry bounces (except for Hard Bounces) again within 24-48 hours, you don’t need to do much about them. Additionally, your ESP will suppress all hard bounces right away, and also those soft and general bounces which continue to fail.If the re-sending is successful, bounces will be cleared for future broadcasts
The only thing you need to do is to correct any typos in Hard Bounces, and make sure that the bounce rate is lower than 1%, as some ESPs may block your account if your email broadcasts continue to suffer from high bounce rates.
You may also be interested in reading these related articles:
Email List Maintenance – Keeping it Lean and Clean
Email Delivery: Resending an Email to Non-Openers
Over the years I’ve tried about a dozen or so Email Service Providers (ESPs), and now I regularly use iContact.
If you’re thinking of switching ESPs, or are considering getting into opt-in email marketing for your small business or solo practice, iContact is making your decision a bit easier with their June 2010 promotion: save 15% when you upgrade your account (you start with a free trial account), and save an additional 15% if you also pre-pay for a year of service, for a total of 30% savings. Use the promo code June2010 to save now!
I recommend iContact to my clients who are looking for a service that provides:
In case you’re considering switching, I offer a service that does that for you and is included in my “ESP Account Setup” service. Please see my services page for more information.
Have you noticed in Gmail that some URLs are clickable and some are not?
Recently, email marketers, and other people who are using this powerful marketing channel, started noticing that some URLs are working and some are not! What’s the mystery?
I sent a few test emails to my own Gmail account and here’s what one looks like in this screen shot:
As you can see, links which contain a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, and no “www” are not functional links.
I don’t know if this is a deliberate “feature” or a bug in the Gmail web client, but as email marketers we need to be aware of this quirk, and find a workaround, which is actually simple: if you like to use some caps in your URLs for emphasis, all you need to do is add “www.” and they will work just fine.
Alternatively, you can use ALLCAPS.COM or onlylowercase.com and they should work as well.
This is only a problem in plain text emails, which email marketers usually use in auto-responders. If you’re using HTML to format your e-newsletter or other email marketing messages, all your links will work fine in Gmail.
Thanks to Denise Wakeman for alerting me to this problem.
One of two Email Service Providers that I use and recommend is MadMimi. Apart from having the best customer service I’ve ever had the pleasure dealing with, they have the most elegant, easy-to-use and powerfully simple email editor on the market.
Ever since the initial release of their service the creative crew at MadMimi have been steadily adding new features and improving this already great product.
The latest addition is the ability to add a set of icons that link to your favourite social networking sites. This simple feature will encourage your readers to connect with you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks. Just add your social media sites URLs and Mad Mimi will place specially designed icons to the bottom of your emails — no additional coding necessary!
Here’s a set of sites that are currently supported:
MadMimi is still free to use for lists of up to 100 contacts, and prices start at only $8/month for unlimited emails to up to 500 contacts. Test drive MadMimi today!
Check out also these related articles:
Cool New Tool for MadMimi
MadMimi Brings the Fun Back to Sending Email “Blasts”
Some statistics say that as many as half of your email recipients have image display turned off. Are you sure your email campaigns still present useful information even if your ezine subscribers don’t see the images?
When designing HTML email campaigns with images it’s imperative to test your emails in different email clients, such as Apple Mail, Entourage, Eudora, Thunderbird, and online email services, such as Yahoo!, Google Mail and Hotmail, to make sure they look good with images turned off.
Sending and email composed of just images may lower the deliverability of your campaigns. Some ISPs still employ email spam filters which flag any emails with high image-to-text ratios. So talk to your designers to make sure they design your email campaigns in such a way that the message still gets across, even if the images are not displayed.
Here’s a sample from my email production portfolio: A client of mine sends me a TIFF image of their promotion, as designed by their graphic designer. I then slice and dice the image to compose a well-behaved HTML email. This second image shows you how this same email looks without images. As you can see it still shows most of the information, as well as links.
If you can use most of these tips, you should be OK. Final tip: test, test and test again, and don’t forget your best friend: your email service provider!. Some ESPs may have tools to assist you in testing your emails, so be sure to check them out.
Here’s a related articleEmail Design: 3 Easy Steps to Perfect Email Display