A guideline for seasoned digital publishers and for those in the making
Digital publishing has become a lucrative business. In the early days, no one would have predicted the E-Force with which badly designed newsletters and spammy e-zines would explode into what it is today: The very foundation of content marketing.
The ability to create an electronic product from scratch and release it to (don’t we wish) millions of people have made more and more people jump on the runaway train that is digital publishing. Anyone can write an ebook and link it to a splash page with a sexy conversion rate, or get an autoresponder and compile their own newsletters and e-courses to their subscribers at the cost of pennies. LinkedIn itself has joined forces with the world of digital publishing by purchasing SlideShare, the largest document sharing site on the net.
However, as with any moon-walkin’ endeavour, mistakes made by newbies are rife. These include unsolicited e-mailing (eek!) and not focusing on their core business. If you’ve been wanting to start a newsletter – or transform your existing one – and have bigger plans for your profits than swim-coaching them down the drain, read on.
Death Sentence #1: Sending newsletters (or anything else) from your Gmail or Yahoo! account
Part of the temptation for newbies is to collect a group of e-mails and start mailing out from their own personal e-mails. Resist it. Then resist it some more.
At first, this may seem quite harmless when you have less than 20 people in your list, but once your subscriber count exceeds 50 people, you’re going to have a very big problem on your hands.
Firstly, you’ll have to handle people who newly sign up for your list manually. Then, unsubscribers will need to be manually removed as well – causing you massive administration problems. And if you can’t even read a 10-point LinkedIn post in one sitting, why bite off more than what’s needed for the stew, email list-wise?
The worst thing is most Internet service providers refuse to let you send bulk e-mails to many people at once. Of course, this is – for any of us with an email account – a very wonderfully fantastic thing: It prevents spammers from preying on the unsuspecting through their networks. Chances are, if you’re bulk-sending from your ISP email account, your email will be on the road to SpamBox as quick as you can press ‘Send’.
Make sure you get a good and reliable autoresponder to handle all the work for you. Be smart like that.
Death Sentence #2: Signing people up without getting them to opt-in
One of the biggest newbie mistakes when it comes to newsletters is signing people up on (other) mailing lists without their permission. You might think just because
a) you have someone’s email address, or
b) they’re on another of your email lists,
it automatically gives you permission to sign them up. Prepare to
A certain percentage of LinkedIn users are notorious for doing this. The fact that you’ve connected has given them the green light to endlessly update you on their latest and greatest business propaganda. If you’re tempted, go take a cold shower, instead.
Take it from a digital marketer who’s been on the ‘Can I kill you already?’ side of things too many times herself: Unsolicited signups is a big no-no on the Net, and will get you in deep trouble! Worst-cast scenario, you’ll be accused of spamming and you’ll get your IP blacklisted on the ISPs. Not to mention what it’ll do to the business brand you’re trying to build.
You must do things the proper way.
If you already have a list and have
Death Sentence #3: Not giving good or useful content
Some publishers are so obsessed with getting traffic and making a profit that all they ever do in their newsletters is sell products or services and talk about themselves. They use their newsletters to boast about how great they are and how good their business is doing, to
Another common mistake is loading a newsletter with so many ads or affiliate links
Content is king. Never diverge from that. But even more important than said industry mantra
Provide useful content for roughly 80% of your newsletter and leave the rest for business news and/or ads. It is a healthy balance.
Death Sentence #4: Not focusing on your business
On the other side of the coin, there are many publishers who talk about everything under the sun by serving up
Ultimately, publishing a business newsletter is about making money. You can hardly do it without promoting yourself or your business. It’d likely be a great big waste of time, energy and resources unless there ends up being an R.O.I. in the long run somehow. In any business, branding is key, and a newsletter is all about creating that awareness while
Learn to use strategically placed sales links so that your prospects don’t feel as though they are being ‘sold to’. Talk about the problem first, then introduce
Death Sentence #5: Publishing whenever you feel like it
Did you know that you should keep in touch with your subscribers as regularly as possible?
There are more people on the Internet than you could ever imagine. Many (i.e. hundreds of millions) of them are signing up for digital communications with online and offline businesses alike. And the number of businesses offering these digital publications are climbing steadily every single day. If you don’t keep in touch with your subscribers, they’ll most likely forget all about you and your newsletter
Publishing regularly suggests to your readers
You must learn to set aside some time for your publishing schedule. (I have a sneaky suspicion most good things in life can
To add value to your communications, take a few hours and construct an
Even if you don’t have any special content for your subscribers, try to stay in touch with them as regularly as possible. Even a simple “Hi” followed by a link to an industry breakthrough that could impact them will do the job just fine!
Death Sentence #6: Neglecting the older archived issues
Part and parcel of the process of newsletter publishing involve moving from one issue to another. As you progress, you’ll have many back issues at your disposal, something most businesses
Unless your information is
Note: See why it’s important to offer quality content in your newsletter? It takes ya places!
You can also make your archived newsletters available on your website or blog. People
Plus, it comes up in search results. Even if the word SEO brings up no other meaning than some boy band your teenager probably listens to, know that a newsletter is
Death Sentence #7: Forgetting to publish your newsletter in RSS
RSS is one of the many ways people use to access your content without having to visit your website or blog directly. Most of the time, newsletter publishers want their subscribers to subscribe directly through their e-mails or autoresponders because they can keep track of the size of their list.
However, neglecting RSS is silly. Would you rather have four imperfect eggs for a scrambled egg breakfast and leave the table with a full tummy, or one perfect specimen, only to fantasise about lunch for the next few hours? Although you can’t cater to every single subscriber’s needs, enabling RSS is a way to reach your readership across many different platforms. There are people who would rather read everything through their feeds. Try your best to meet their needs.
Another advantage of publishing on RSS is that you’ll increase your readership and sales through bypassing all the email filters. If your e-mail for your newsletter contains a trigger word that alerts the SPAM filters, you can be sure that word would be captured and thrown into the SPAM or Bulk folder as fast as you can say the word ‘spam magnet’! Of course, best is to not use those trigger words at all.
Death Sentence #8: Neglecting the ‘subscriber only’ privilege
Businesses have the tendency to treat a subscriber just like any other person on their database.
However, newsletter subscribers are some of the most important people in your arsenal, especially for your marketing strategy. They are people who are genuinely interested in your work and spend time reading it. You should pamper them and treat them with care because that is probably where the money is!
Since they usually follow you from the beginning to the end, you should give them a reward. For example, if you are a promoting a product or service, consider giving your loyal subscribers a discount. Not only will it get you more sales, but they’ll appreciate it and will gladly refer others to subscribe to your list or even start promoting as your affiliate (if you open up that avenue) because they’ve been given the special treatment. Ultimately, loyalty is as loyalty does. Your newsletter is a fast track to making you get lots of it.
Death Sentence #9: Neglecting the personal touch
One of the problems of bulk mailing to many people at once is that we forget to be human. People aren’t stupid, and we all receive enough emails on a daily basis to be considered mini mail-experts. As much as you can tell when someone’s written you an email personally versus the generic email everyone gets and, usually, ignores, one glance at your e-mail is all your list needs to tell whether it is from you personally, and whether you’re sending it out to a large group.
If you don’t know how to add the personal touch to your e-mail headlines, you’re missing out on a lot of engagement with your newsletters. And that’s the whole point of mailing your list in the first place.
Always talk in a personal tone rather than selling to your subscribers all the time. Otherwise, they will think you are just trying to grab their money (and you’re not, are you?) Be their ally; be someone they want to open emails from. That’s the kind of thing that gets you the leads and the business and the loyalty.
Death sentence #10: Never offering any bonuses
Sometimes, businesses forget to offer bonuses to their subscribers. They forget that, once in a while, they should offer free gifts to entice them to stay on. You can also use bonuses to entice people to join as new subscribers and in so doing grow your email list.
Try writing a free report about the latest developments in your industry, and offer this as a bonus. Tell them how much the report would be worth if you were to charge for it. This increases the value your visitors place on your bonus. (Just ensure that the report really is of top quality and worth the monetary value you place on its head!)
“We’d normally charge $27 for this special report, but we’re giving it away for free to our loyal subscribers…”
You’ll increase the perceived value of your bonus, as well as make your subscribers feel pampered and appreciated.
Never neglect this powerful method!
There are many mistakes committed by newbies, but the worst mistake you could ever make is to repeat your mistakes over and over again. This is where the dramatic title of this post series truly comes in. If you keep committing small but crucial mistakes like the ones listed, you’ll end up losing credibility in the eyes of your subscribers (even if you are a seasoned digital newsletter publisher).
Always be vigilant and keep an eye out for blind spots you might’ve missed. Keep on refining your work – digital marketing changes its spots on a daily basis. Stay current and updated. Consider outsourcing to a freelance digital marketer to make sure that what is delivered to your audience is on par with the most up-to-date best practices.