This is a guest post from Jonathan Beebe from MMO Work. [Editor's note: This site is no longer active.]
You've learned the benefits of starting an email newsletter and how to get started in “The Beginner's Guide to Starting a Newsletter“, so today I'm going to share with you even more strategies to literally supercharge your subscriber opt-in rate, as well as some techniques—or “best practices”—on what to do after you've gotten their email address—because getting them to subscribe is only the first step.
Why Focus on Retaining Your Subscribers?
No matter what your goal is for your website, repeat traffic (those who have been to your website before) will always be more valuable than your first-time visitors—especially the “one-hit-wonders” who are bouncing around.
And here's why…
- If your goal is to produce more sales (or affiliate commissions), it has been said that on average, a visitor needs to see your offer about seven times before making a purchase. So with that being said, repeat visitors are essential when it comes to producing as many sales as you possibly can.
- If your goal is more ad-clicks, it's obvious why repeat visitors would benefit you: the more opportunities they have to see your ads, the more likely they'll click on them.
- If your goal is more blog comments and community interaction, repeat visitors who are your loyal fans are much more likely to post a comment than someone who's getting their first impression. Think about it, on the blogs you've commented on, how many of them have you visited in the past? (probably most of them)
- Even if your goal has nothing to do with money and it is only to HELP as many people as you can in your niche, then YES, repeat visitors are still a better fit for you. The more times someone sees you, the more likely they will trust you and actually take your advice. Would you be more likely to take advice from someone you know and trust, or from a complete stranger you've never seen/heard of before?
And in case you haven't figured it out yet, the BEST way to get repeat visitors is to get them to subscribe; the most responsive method being your permission-based email list.
How to Boost Your Subscriber Rate Ten Fold
Breaking News: “Most Internet Surfers Are Downright LAZY!”
Oh wait, that's old news! But it's the truth, so therefore, a simple reminder to “Subscribe to Email Updates” or “Subscribe to my RSS Feed” (if they even know what that is) usually isn't enough of a push to get them to go through the HASSLE of entering their name and email address (I know, it's hard isn't it? Especially for us lazy folks).
So if you want to “squeeze” as many subscribers as you can out of your daily visitor total, you need to offer some kind of incentive to subscribe. As you can see, Pat does it here on Smart Passive Income with his Ebooks the $mart Way guide, and I guarantee it has increased his opt-in rate (as opposed to just offering “Email Updates”).
And the easiest way to offer an incentive is to once again, do exactly what Pat does: offer an informative report. Many people get overwhelmed at the prospect of this, but it's really nothing to be afraid of. You're already providing value on your blog, so simply come up with something useful and create a short PDF report. It doesn't matter how long it is, as long as it is both useful and convenient.
You can use OpenOffice.org to write your report and export it to PDF at absolutely no cost.
Another tip to boost your subscriber-rate is by using an eCover (aka “Boxshot”) to grab your visitors' attention and increase your report's “shiny” factor.
Where to “Advertise” Your Free Report?
I recommend putting your free offer (in exchange for their name and email address) in your blog's sidebar, at the bottom of each post (see the Add Post Footer Plugin), and also on a separate “squeeze page”.
Pat's article I mentioned earlier goes over how to add your opt-in form to your sidebar using Aweber, and you can also apply that advice to putting it at the bottom of each post (using the plugin I mentioned).
Another technique I recommend is to create a separate page on your domain that is dedicated solely to outlining the main benefits (not features, but benefits) of your free report, and then ask them for their name and email address. This is otherwise known as a “squeeze page”.
To get traffic to your squeeze page, you can go through your past posts and whenever you see a sentence that matches any of the benefits of your free report, link that text to your squeeze page. Be sure to keep this in mind for future posts as well.
For example, if you wrote a free report on “How to Change Your Motor Oil”, and you had a blog post describing the things to check for before a long road trip, you can then take the sentence from that article that reads, “Be sure to check your oil before leaving home.” and link the words “check your oil” to your squeeze page.
You can also use article marketing as an effective way to drive traffic to your squeeze page to get more email subscribers. If you feel guilty for driving traffic to your squeeze page over your blog, just remember that the responsive folks who join your email list will always end up on your blog eventually, which takes me to my next point…
“I've Got Their Email, Now What?”
As I mentioned earlier, getting your visitors to subscribe is only the first step. Just because they entered their name and email address doesn't automatically mean Presto! You've got a repeat visitor! You have to actually get them to come back to your website.
The good news is, there's an easy way of accomplishing just that.
The best way to do this is to offer a simple newsletter subscription, but it's not as hard as you think. You can leverage the existing, high quality content already on your blog and the work is done for you!
Here's my simple strategy for running a hassle-free newsletter subscription that produces repeat visitors, loyal subscribers, and SALES:
- Every six days I send an email to my list.
- Two out of every three emails, I send send them a link to a high-quality article that I posted to my blog. I simply provide a short description of the article, and give them the link. Or, I might give them another free report I found that I think they could benefit from—the point is, I give them something that's not only valuable, but free.
- Every THIRD email I send to my list is some kind of promotion in the form of a product recommendation, or a review. However, it is ALWAYS a high quality product that is sure to deliver (it's best to test the product out for yourself).
Simple as that! I'm never scraping to find information for my newsletter, because I simply leverage the high quality articles that I'm already posting to my blog on a regular basis. Following a six-day mailing schedule will keep your name in the forefront of your subscribers' minds, but it's not too often that they're going to get annoyed at you. It's perfect.
The reason why I send a promotion every third mailer is to not only make sales on my “promotion days”, but to keep my list “conditioned” so I that a good percentage of my list remain buyers. The fact that two out of every three emails is providing them pure value (and no offers) let's them know that you've got their best interest in mind, and will get them used to clicking the links in YOUR emails.
In fact, do things that way and your subscribers will actually look forward to your periodic emails. It's a sure-fire strategy for building trust and producing RESULTS.
But Don't Take My Word For It…
I could keep explaining the benefits of retaining your visitors, and even more reasons why you should be building your list, but the best way to find out is to see for yourself. After all, testing is important to incorporate into ANY business (be it online or offline), so I encourage you to do your own testing (you won't be sorry, trust me).
Create a free report, advertise it on your blog (as well as a “squeeze” page), and follow an effective (but very “do-able”) mailing schedule like I described above and see what it does for your online business in a very short amount of time.
I guarantee that after a few months of putting more effort towards retaining your visitors, the only thing you'll regret is not doing it sooner. 🙂
Jonathan Beebe is an online entrepreneur who writes at MMO Work. Visit his blog for more information on how to make money online, and to download a FREE report that takes you step-by-step through the exact method he used to liberate himself from his day job FOR GOOD. He also has a great Online Income Formula Ebook you should also check out. [Editor's note: Jonathan's site is no longer active.]