Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may be the marketing platforms that earn all the buzz, but here’s a fact: Your email list is a more valuable direct-to-consumer marketing tool than all of those social media sites put together. The power of your community exists in your list -- those people who have actively signed up to read what you write or listen to what you have to say. Let’s face it, no one loves a cluttered inbox filled with an overwhelming amount of emails, so if someone says, “Yes, I’d like to subscribe to receive your emails,” that’s a big deal. I call the people on a mailing list "super fans” because they are giving you permission to show up in their inbox. That invitation is valuable.
When was the last time you signed up for a newsletter? I bet it has been awhile. You probably only give out your email address to subscribe when you love what someone has to say or you want to be a part of their community. Your super fans are the ones who will pre-order your book, or are the first in line to buy a product you recommend. The people on our email lists are important, and we have to treat them as such.
Here are 8 tips to help publishers more effectively manage their email lists and provide greater value to their super fans.
- Grow your list. Make sure it is easy to sign up for your mailing list. Have a prominent link on every page of your website that leads to the sign-up page. And offer your subscribers valuable content for free -- a free ebook or discount -- as a thank you for signing up to your list. This is often called a lead magnet. When your freebie is enticing, it will encourage more subscribers.
- Be consistent. Don't just email your subscribers when you have something to sell. Make sure you share useful information, resources, and special offers consistently throughout the year. Talking to people on your mailing list is a privilege, so you never want to abuse it with over-promotional content.
- Use email marketing software.There are excellent email newsletter solutions out there. Some of the most popular platforms are iContact, Mailchimp, Benchmark Email, PinPointe, GetResponse, and ConstantContact. When looking for an email marketing service, it’s important to consider the size of your email database and its projected size. Typically these services charge according to the size of your list. Usability is another factor worth considering. Some programs are designed for less-technical users while others require a high level of technical knowledge and skill. Each platform lists its range of features. Do a little research and find the best fit for your needs.
- Design with mobile in mind. Many people read emails on their mobile devices, so make sure your email and website designs are mobile friendly. One way to do that is to simplify the design: use a larger font size in your emails and on your site, put contact information on the homepage where it’s easy to find, and use big, touchable buttons for your calls to action. Also, try not to go overboard on text. Most people won't read a block of text that is 1,000 words long but if the text is broken up in small bites, bullet points, or with images, it makes the content more digestible on mobile. You can also design your emails and websites to be responsive, using CSS style sheets, so that content resizes and reflows to fit the screen of any device.
- Track results. The best part about using email marketing software is that it gives you a ton of data to analyze and track the effectiveness of your emails. You can see what content and headlines work best for your list. You can look at open rate, click-through rate, when subscriber numbers jump up, and when people opt-out. Every time you do a mailing, you should assess the results a week later. Keep your stats in a spreadsheet list so you can identify trends.
- Test timing. Is there a good time to send a newsletter? GCommerce Solutions recently came out with data that indicates Monday is the best day to send email for the highest open rate and the runner up is Thursday. Since there isn’t widespread agreement on the best days and times to send emails, and it can vary according to your niche, test your market. Your email platform will give you all the data you need to adjust your send times accordingly. Look for when you get the lowest and highest open rate. Keep in mind that your subject line and the time of the year are also factors that affect your open rate.
- Include special offers. Your super fan subscribers have earned the right for a few perks. So if you want someone to get an early peak at your new product or a special deal, this is the group for it. I would also recommend a super-fan-only event. It can be a Google hangout or a Skype chat. At FSB Associates, we have given away signed copies of books and tote bags to super fans.
- Respect your super fans. The best way to keep your super fans is to respect their time, opinions, feedback, and email addresses. Always treat your super fans as you like to be treated when you give out your email address. Be honest and upfront about what subscribers will get out of your emails and how you will be using their email address.
Remember your super fans are among your biggest assets. Take great care to cultivate your relationship with them and stay engaged and connected. It’s a privilege to talk to people, don’t waste it.