In my last post, The Beginner's Guide to Starting a Newsletter, I detailed the why and how to get started with a newsletter for your blog or online business. I'll have to admit that I'm quite proud of that post (with 5 hours and 4000 words invested into it). However, there's one thing that I did not touch on that is probably the most important element to understand when it comes to your newsletter: what to put in it.
That's what I'm here to discuss today.
Specifically, I'll be going over what to include in your follow-up/autoresponder series – not your broadcasts. Broadcasts are one-time emails that get sent to your entire list at the same time. Your follow-up series are the emails that you write that get sent one after the other, in a time interval that you determine, immediately after someone new subscribes to your newsletter.
The beauty of the autoresponder is that you can write any number of emails once, and they'll be sent to new subscribers as if they were brand new. A person who signs up for your newsletter today and a person who signs up a year from now will be taken through the exact same series of emails.
But the question still stands: what do you include in your newsletter?
Below are some thoughts and ideas that I use for myself. Feel free to borrow them as you wish.
You should do your best to make sure the primary content of your newsletter is exclusive to the newsletter itself. If the content isn't unique, then there's no point in staying a subscriber.
It might will be hard, at first, to determine exactly what you want to write about because you'll think that you're wasting valuable content that could be potential blog posts or articles for your website – but, you have to remember those famous words: “The money is in the list.” And even though you may not be using your newsletter to generate an income, you are using it to do something useful – aren't you? Either way, the list is a powerful tool for your blog or online business and you should not discount the content of your newsletter. If anything, the content should be just as good, if not better than the normal content that you produce.
A “Filter” Email
The number of people on my list is not as important as the quality of the people who sign up. That's why my first follow-up message after the welcome email is what I like to call a “filter email”, where I actually encourage people who I do not want on my list to unsubscribe. It may sound like a weird tactic, but having a filter email helps me in several ways:
- It makes the people who are still on my list after the filter exactly who I want to help.
- It makes the people who are still on my list after the filter feel like they are invested in continuing to read my emails and listen to what I have to say, because they were given the choice to unsubscribe and they did not.
- I don't waste people's time with content they don't want to receive.
- It makes my subscriber numbers more realistic. My open rates, click-throughs rates and all other statistics become more honest.
- It tells people right away that I mean business, and at the same time it tells me that my continuing subscribers mean business too.
Filters are used in business all of the time. Zappos.com, for example, offers $2000.00 to potential employees during training to just get up and leave and never work for the company. This makes sure that the employees who do stay on board are in fact the ones that really want to work there. This tactic seems to be working because I hear that the company culture at Zappos.com is awesome, not to mention the rapid success of the company as a whole.
If you're interested in exactly what my filter email says, feel free to subscribe to my list by entering your name and email in the sidebar of this blog if you haven't done so already. After a confirmation email and the initial email with a free copy of Ebooks the Smart Way, you'll see the filter email a day later.
What you write in your filter email obviously depends on your niche and exactly who you want subscribing to your newsletter. You don't have to have a filter email in your follow-up sequence, but I hope you can see why I like to use one.
Over-Deliver On Your First Real Followup
Filter email or not, when you finally get around to writing your first real email with real content on it, you'll want to really impress your subscribers. I mean really impress them. Like, blow their minds!
Under-deliver, and you give people an opportunity to feel the need to unsubscribe. They might think to themselves, “Is this really what I have to look forward to in each newsletter? No thanks.” [Click]
Over-deliver, and you will never have to worry about people unsubscribing. They might think to themselves, “Wow! This is awesome, I can't wait for the next one!” [Drool]
One thing to remember is that the content you're providing in your followups will be read via email, which is different than content that is read on a website. Try not to go overboard with the length of your email, since most people are used to reading and replying to emails that are only a few sentences long. If you write an entire novel, it won't be read.
If you don't mind getting a number of high-quality replies from your subscribers, then feel free to (sparingly) ask your subscribers a question in your autoresponder series. They are probably your most dedicated followers who may have the best insight on whatever it is you're trying to find out.
Here's a secret that I use:
One question you'll see from me in my followup series is “What would you like me to write a blog post about?”
Instead of asking this question in a single blog post to everyone at one moment in time, I can get a number of high-quality responses from my most dedicated followers in the same time interval that people subscribe to my newsletter. So, I will never run out of new blog post ideas, since they keep coming in as long as new people keep subscribing.
How awesome is that?
So What Do You Think?
If you're subscribed to any newsletters, what kinds of emails make the most impact on you? What kinds of things do you like to read about?
Does exclusivity matter to you?
Also, am I crazy for using a filter email? I think I may be the only one at the moment who does has one. I'm interested in what you have to say.
Thanks for your support everyone! SPI is growing so fast, thanks to you! Cheers!