by Paul Myers
One of the things you hear a lot of the gurus commenting on recently is that smaller newsletter lists tend to bring higher response rates to ads and offers. I, of course, have an opinion on that. (Anyone who knows me will not be surprised.)
When you first start a newsletter, you’re excited. You get traffic and subscribers from places where you’re a known commodity. You’re sincere and focused. You answer your email, promptly and in depth. You have a real relationship with your subscribers.
They know you, they like you, and they trust you. You’re having fun.
At some point, if your list is growing like it should, it gets hard to maintain that level of involvement. I mean, how many people can handle continual email from 20,000 close personal friends?
You can’t. Fortunately, you don’t have to.
Here are 7 things you _can_ do, right now, to develop and maintain the trust and feeling of connection that will help to get your subscribers more active, involved, and likely to buy.
1. It All Starts With Your Welcome Message
You want to establish your personality with the reader, and what they can expect from you, right at the beginning. Write your welcome message with the same tone and attitude that you use when writing your regular issues.
Ask for feedback, make offers, and do just as you always do. Set their expectations for later issues.
Establish a pattern of consistency, which is one of the most important characteristics leading to trust.
2. Communicate With Them One-To-One, Via Email
Sometimes your subscribers will send you unsolicited feedback on your newsletter. While it’s not always possible because of volume, you should try to answer as much of this email as possible. Make it personal. Talk with them the way you would with a friend.
You can also get them to email you by simply asking them questions. The key to this, in both word and “voice,” is to always remain approachable.
Allan Gardyne (of http://www.associateprograms.com) is a master of this. It’s his nature to treat people with respect and personal attention. And believe it, he’s got a VERY responsive group of people.
3. Ask Their Opinions – And Act On Them!
Take surveys of what your subscribers want. What types of articles, products, reviews, and editorials? What issues concern them? What features would they like to see added? What types of products are they looking for?
Obviously there will be some requests that you can’t fulfill and keep your business working. (“Everything for nothing” is a good example…) Within those constraints, try to give them as much of what they want as you can, while still making a profit.
With just a little imagination, you should be able to find ways to make a profit BY giving them what they want.
Ryan Deiss (of http://www.sitesightings.com) turned this into a nice business. He started an ezine called “Webs Worth Watching,” and built the subscriber base. THEN he asked them what they wanted. He gave it to them, started making good money, and turned his story into a commercial product called “The Great Ezine Experiment.” (http://www.ezineexperiment.com)
4. Give Them Relevant Information
Relevant information is anything that solves problems or improves their life in some way that’s related to what you promised when they subscribed.
If your newsletter is about autoresponder marketing, stick to that. People who subscribe to niche publications want something related to that niche. Anything else undermines their trust in you.
If you run a publication that covers a broader topic, make sure the info you give people is new, related to the topic, and useful to the majority of your subscribers.
My own newsletter (http://www.talkbiz.com) covers a rather broad topic range. (“Using the Internet for business.”) My subscribers comment most on the fact that I don’t cover the “same old stuff.” By treating a broad subject in a unique way, I’ve created my own little “meta-niche.”
5. Publish Their Comments
Ask for reader feedback, and publish it. Whether it’s comments on your newsletter, tips and tricks of their own, answering reader questions in a separate column, or guest editorials on hot topics in your area of expertise.
Bob Burg (http://www.burg.com) puts out a newsletter called “Winning Without Intimidation,” in which he publishes success stories from readers, along with explanations of how others can get the same results.
If his newsletter isn’t there waiting for them on Tuesday morning, he gets lots of emails asking where it is.
Don’t just tell them you’re listening. Show them.
6. Consider Your Subscribers As Partners
Think of things you can do WITH your subscribers, that benefit you both.
Run brainstorming chat sessions on topics they suggest. Edit and add to the transcript, and you have the beginnings of a new product.
Create a directory for them to network and set up joint ventures. Join in. Do business with them.
Create a way for them to make special “Subscriber Only” offers to each other. The people making the offers get great advertising, and the rest get good deals.
If you think of your subscribers simply as prospects for your products, you’re seriously limiting your options.
Every really good publisher I know understands this.
7. Say “Thank You”
Let them know, in tangible ways, that you appreciate them. Give them something occasionally as a thank you. Perhaps a special article in PDF format, which they can give away to their visitors. Or maybe a free ebook that you bought reprint rights to. Or a piece of software that you had developed that fits your theme. (You can get a lot of very cool stuff created through http://www.elance.com very cheaply.)
8. I know. I said there’d be 7. Think of it as a bonus:
Always try to give more than you promise. If that sounds tough, figure out what you really intend to deliver and then underpromise. (Like I did just now. 😉
Allen Says, of the Warriors, does this every time. He created a low cost product (http://www.talkbiznews.com/special) that includes membership in the Warriors. He delivers great articles on a regular basis, and constantly adds to the “bonuses” that go along with it.
He has 30,000 of the most loyal and influential people on the net in his group. That’s a powerful position to be in.
Don’t get me wrong. None of these techniques will make you a better copywriter. They’re not substitutes for good marketing. You’re still going to have to learn how to sell.
What they will do is make your marketing efforts pay off much more handsomely. For you _and_ your subscribers.
And that’s a Good Thing.
Paul is the author of what is considered by many to be the definitive book on the strategies of list building, “The Amazing List Machine.” If you haven’t picked it up yet… get it.