Written by: Simon Slade, Guest Blogger
If you read my earlier post on acquiring visitors’ email addresses, you understand how important it is to build an email list, and how a newsletter can be a great way to get value from those subscribers. But how can you promote products in your newsletter series without sending your subscribers running for the “unsubscribe” button? How do you promote newsletter loyalty and, at the same time, monetize it to the max?
Let me share with you my 7 steps to a killer newsletter: How to grab readers’ attention, hook them, and sell to them. We at Affilorama employ this strategy quite regularly with our newsletter lists, and with subscribers topping 100,000… we must be doing something right!
Step 1 – Refer to it as a ‘6-day mini course’ instead of a newsletter
- Firstly: It’s more exciting than a newsletter – Essentially it’s the same thing but it sounds a lot more interesting. And, because you usually pay for a course, subscribers will feel like they’re getting something of value for free!
- Secondly: It lowers the commitment barrier – By signing up for a 6-day course, subscribers will not feel like they’re being added to a list they’ll never get away from.
- Thirdly: It builds trust – By creating a 6-part series of high quality emails, you build a good reputation with your subscribers and get them used to opening your emails.
Step 2 – Build an inviting sign-up box
You need to make it really obvious how to subscribe. A good idea is to have your sign-up box display “above the fold” and appear on every page of your site.
Your sign up box really has to pack a punch. Don’t just shove a little form in your sidebar and hope for the best. You need to sell your newsletter – almost as if it was a paid product.
We’re not saying that you have to create a huge sales letter for it; a few bulletpoints covering what people will learn in each lesson is sufficient. But don’t give too much away. Create a bit of mystery, and make it enticing!
Step 3 – Make sure your content is the very best you can offer
It’s an old saying that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and it’s true for your newsletter. If you don’t capture the attention of your readers from the start, there’s every chance they will unsubscribe and you will have lost them forever!
Conversely, if they haven’t unsubscribed within the first 10 to 15 emails, then they will probably stay on your list for good. Fantastic! Another reason to make sure that your first 10 emails are first class.
The quality of your content also sets the tone for how much readers will respect you as a source of trusted advice. If the content has obviously been copied, scraped, or lacks substance, it’s likely your readers won’t view you as an authority and your product recommendations will be far less successful.
Step 4 – Include affiliate promotions, but leave the hard sell at home
While there’s nothing wrong with including relevant affiliate links to ClickBank products in the body or signature of your emails, the focus really needs to be on valuable content. So avoid the hard-sell in your mini-course.
One technique is to just say “if you’re looking for the best guide to XYZ, I really recommend ABC. It gets right to the heart of 123 and will teach you XYZ in no time” and then return to your main content. You need to remind yourself that you are trying to build trust. A constant sales pitch will undermine that.
Step 5 – Day 7 promotional email
After the 6-day course has ended, your subscribers are ready to get a hard-sell promotional email. This could be a product review or talk of a recent product launch. Pull out all the stops and sell, sell, sell. Include limited, time-sensitive offers or create truly unique deals by adding your own bonuses that you’ve put together for this promotion.
Step 6 – Keep emailing them every 3 days
At this point you need to decide which direction your newsletter will take:
Option 1 – If you want to build loyalty and have long-term subscribers, then offer a mix of informative and promotional emails, emailing every 3 days, with every 3rd email being something promotional like a product review.
Option 2 – If you’re not interested in building up your email list as a long-term asset, you can take the option of ongoing, rapid-fire promotion. Product reviews, launch offers, YouTube reviews and affiliate links should feature heavily in all your emails. True, your subscribers will probably end up growing tired of it but hopefully by then they’ve bought from you at least once!
So, is emailing every 3 days too much? Surprisingly, our tests proved that emailing two or 3 times a week was optimal. There are reasons for this and why email frequency is a vital part of your newsletter strategy but the key is: don’t be afraid to email people frequently. Chances are they won’t be opening all your emails so in reality they aren’t actually getting 3 emails a week after all!
Step 7 – Track your newsletter performance like a bloodhound
Don’t fire and forget. Know which newsletters are helping and which are hurting.
- Check your autoresponder statistics to see which emails are generating the most unsubscribes. Look at what might be offending your subscribers in these emails. Can you fix it and keep them hanging on?
- Use ClickBank’s tracking IDs (TIDs) to see which promotional links are getting the most clicks. Create a new tracking ID for each newsletter. If nobody is clicking the links in a particular email, can you see why that is?
- Don’t forget to use redirects or other link-rewriting services to make those nasty affiliate links look pretty and inoffensive to click on!
Hold up just one minute – Is your niche newsletter-worthy?
Before you even start down the road of building a newsletter and getting sign-ups, you need to determine if a newsletter would be helpful or appropriate for your niche. Not every niche works well with a newsletter series. Dog training, World of Warcraft, and dating niches are good because people have a passion for these topics. On the contrary, I am yet to meet anyone who has an ongoing interest in yeast infections or hemorrhoids. Nobody wants to be reminded of these problems every three days!
Don’t underestimate the value of a good newsletter
Many affiliates find that a large portion of their earnings comes from their newsletter series. Sometimes they earn more from their newsletter than their actual website! Rolling out a killer newsletter strategy is one of the most profitable exercises you can undertake – you just need to make sure you do it right!
Have you used this newsletter strategy? Did you modify it to boost its converting power or did it not work for you?
If you haven’t already, I’d recommend you review the Do’s and Don’ts of Email Marketing before kicking off your next campaign!
About the author
Simon Slade is the CEO of Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training portal that offers free video training, education, and affiliate tools to both beginning and advanced affiliate marketers. You can follow them on Twitter.