The facts are clear: it’s hard to convert a browser on a website into a paying customer. In fact, online conversion rates have been cut in half — only about 4% of people on a website actually buy something.
Email marketing, on the other hand, provides a lot better ROI:
Email is bringing in $40.56 for every dollar spent on it in 2011, compared to catalogs’ ROI of $7.30, search’s return of $22.24, Internet display advertising’s return of $19.72 and mobile’s return of $10.51. - Direct Marketing Association “Power of Direct” (2011) (from EmailStatCenter)
The idea here is simple: people who choose to receive your emails are one step closer to actually working with you. Giving an email address and showing an openness to receive your materials means prospects are actively participating in the learn-try-buy cycle that characterizes how people purchase financial services.
My experience with a newsletter
I send out a weekly newsletter to thousands of people (you can see a version of it here).
People have literally emailed me, called me, Skyped me — thanking me profusely for the newsletter. I’ve had people tell me that my newsletter is the only one they subscribe to — they don’t subscribe to any blogs. No newsletters.
It hasn’t come easy — it’s taken me 1 year of trial and error to find a format that works for me and my readers and I’d like to share it with you.
Quick, easy-peasy way to build a following with a weekly newsletter
Format: I’ve chosen the format of a weekly newsletter that’s essentially a summary of news that I believe is important for my audience (on Tradestreaming, I cover tools and technologies investors use to make better investment decisions). This works easy because most people follow news that’s important to them — it’s probably also engaging for your audience.
I use MailChimp (that’s an affiliate link 0r use this without) to manage my email list and to send out the emails because it’s just so darn easy to use. It’s actually enjoyable to send out these emails. Many people use Aweber which is more powerful but I found it a little overwhelming for a beginner. I get people to sign up on my website using an email input box or by giving away a free ebook.
Really important time saving tip: I tweet during the week. Once the week is over (say, on Sunday), I merely take everything I’ve tweeted out and put it into email form. If you don’t tweet, make a document of links to news you find yourself reading during the week that will serve as the content for your newsletter.
So, essentially, I use this format:
HEADLINE THAT”S IMPORTANT TO READER (Source of headline) <– FYI, I hyperlink the title.
Published: Date article was published
This is where I write a sentence or two describing the news and why it’s important to my readers.
That’s it. Each entry takes me about 1-2 minutes to put together but the truth is, I could outsource this or have someone on my staff do it for me. My twitter stream has all the entries already populated in it.
Frequency: 1 x week. I could do more but I feel at this volume, people are happy to see the email from me. They read it (over 50% actually open it) and they click on the links. It’s a very useful email for my readers and I’m not bombarding them with useless filler. I get almost 0 people unsubscribing at this point.
Timing: I like to send my newsletter out Sunday morning. It gives me the weekend to compose it and I can set the exact time I’d like to deliver it. I chose Sunday specifically because it isn’t a work day — the email has a greater chance of getting read. I’ve tried sending during the week but it doesn’t perform as well.
This weekly summary (curated, in marketing terms) of news I’m reading during the week resonates with my readers because they get
- a nice summary of engaging news in one location
- my interpretation of what the news might mean
- all in an easy to digest form delivered to their mail boxes
For me it works because I’m merely creating an email that summarizes the news I’m reading during the week.
It’s like getting paid to surf the web.
Not really, but you get my point.
Are you publishing a newsletter? What’s the format and how often?