First, I want to thank all of you who took your valuable time to
answer the reader survey in my last issue of Hints & Tips. I very
much appreciate your responses and insightful comments. I will be
incorporating your feedback and including some of the more
interesting survey results in each issue of Hints & Tips - starting
today. Just take a look in the box on the right side of this page. I
hope you will find these tidbits as helpful as I did. And now, for
today's topic: your email newsletter and tips on how to get more
subscribers by sharing relevant information up front. Our friend and
newsletter expert, Michael Katz, tells us how.
I Hear You Knocking, But You Can't Come In
Sending too many emails, too often is enough to make some of your
subscribers downright sick, so make sure time is on your side when
you hit the send button. Both the frequency and timing of email
marketing communications will be different for every business. But,
by considering and testing alternatives and then monitoring your
subscriber feedback (e.g. email replies, survey responses,
unsubscribes and spam complaints) you can establish the email
prescription that is ideal for your audience. And that means better
Let me ask you a question. Suppose a new restaurant opened in
your town, and immediately took out an ad in the local paper with
the following offer: "Send us $20 and we'll send you some food."
Would you take them up on this proposition?
Although my actual on the job restaurant experience is limited to
a couple of summers as night cook at the International House of
Pancakes in Manhasset, New York, even a food service novice like me
knows that this is not an effective way to bring in restaurant
Without knowing more about what kind of food they serve; what
other patrons think of the restaurant; or at the very least when the
food will be delivered, it's likely that only an extremely hungry
person with no other food options available would jump at this
And yet, this is exactly the type of offer you are making when
you invite visitors on your web site to, "Enter your email address
to receive our E-Newsletter." As a potential subscriber - unless I'm
very hungry and without any other options - I'm going to first want
more data about what I'm getting into.
Consequently, when it comes to getting potential subscribers to
sign up on your web site, the single most effective thing you can do
is to create a separate, stand alone, E-Newsletter-specific sign up
In other words, rather than asking people to simply enter their
email address in a little box on your home page (which requires a
big leap of faith on their part), create a link to another page, and
fill that with relevant newsletter information
What exactly do we mean by, "relevant newsletter information?"
- Tell them what your newsletter is all about. You (and
possibly your mother) may think it thrilling to receive the
E-Newsletter of XYZ company just because. But for us non-blood
relatives, the hook is the content that you provide, not the
fact that you provide it. Give visitors to this page a one or
two sentence description of what to expect, including how often
and on what day you'll be publishing.
- Archive past newsletters on your site and provide a link to
that archive. My kids think it's so funny that the
the-Earth supermarket we go to gives out so many free samples in
the store. My daughter has gone so far as to suggest that, "if
you could find a place to hide here at night," you could live
free forever on the stuff they just give away.
Why do they give away so much for free? Is it because
management has lost its edge after years of eating nothing but
boneless, skinless, low salt, free range chicken nuggets? Of
course not! It's because they know that if they let you taste
some of this stuff, your kids will force you to buy 10 times
more (and this time with real money).
A newsletter archive accomplishes the same thing:
Potential subscribers get a taste for your newsletter before
committing, thereby reducing their perceived risk of signing up.
- Include testimonials. It's one thing for you to talk about
how great you are, but when others do it, it has much more
impact. As you publish each month, you'll undoubtedly receive
some positive feedback about your E-Newsletter. When that
happens, immediately zing back a thank you email and a request
to "use your name and words on the testimonial page of our web
site." In my experience, 9 out of 10 of these people will say
- Assure visitors that you'll protect their privacy. Either by
simply inserting a few words that promise not to share personal
information outside your company, you want to in some way
guarantee potential subscribers that they have nothing to fear
by signing up. Nobody wants more unsolicited email, and your end
of the bargain involves managing that risk for them.
You go to a lot of
trouble to produce a great newsletter and drive people to your web site
in the hope that they sign up for it. Don't forget to leave the door
wide open when they finally come knocking!
Michael J. Katz is founder and Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin
Development, Inc., a Reading, Massachusetts consulting firm that helps
clients generate effective E-Newsletters; to generate leads, increase
sales and retain customers. Contact Michael at
michael@BluePenguinDevelopment.com. Click here to buy Michael's new
"E-Newsletters That Work."