List Engagement: What to Mail

Enticing your readers to join your list is just a small part of your overall list-building goal. The larger component is keeping them engaged. Do that right, and they’ll reward you with more sales—not only of your products and services, but those of your JV and affiliate partners as well.

That said, here’s the number one thing your readers are looking for: solutions to their problem. It’s ultimately why they’ve joined your list in the first place. Your opt-in incentive solved a problem they were having and now they’re counting on you to continue to provide the solutions they need.

These solutions can take many different forms, including:

Straight Information

This is similar to a blog post or article. It answers a question (much like this blog does) your readers have and gives them the info they need to move to the next step.

Maybe you’ve discovered an easier way to track conversions on Facebook ads, or gathered some interesting stats on content marketing for coaches, or learned a new method for promoting Kindle books.

Share with your readers. Don’t ask for anything in return; just send them the info they need. By offering these information only emails, you’ll show your list members that you’re not just another marketer trying to sell them something. Instead, you’ll be seen as a valuable source of information (and your open rates will improve, too).

Offers

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t ever sell anything to your list. You’d be shooting yourself in the foot if you did that. Not to mention you’d go broke pretty quickly!

In fact, since your readers have trusted you to provide them with the very best information available in your niche, it’s important that you DO create and send them offers. They need your:

  • Coaching programs
  • Self-study training
  • eBooks and guides
  • Private coaching and mentoring

So be sure to include these offers in your mailings from time to time.

Tools and Training from Others

As we’ve already said, your audience is depending on you to find and share the best information in your niche. Sometimes, that will take the form of an affiliate offer for a new tool, specialized training, free webinar, or other offers.

If you’re new to list building, it might be helpful for you to remember that these offers are meant to help your audience, not sell to them. Even though you might earn a small commission, it’s likely not your primary goal. When you approach your email from the standpoint of being helpful rather than being a salesperson, it’s much easier to get past that “what should I mail” question.

Improve Your Conversions: Split-Testing Simplified

Email marketing truly is a numbers game. The higher your conversion rates, the larger your list will be. The larger your list, the more sales you will make.

But there’s more to improving conversions and growing your list than just creating better offers and attracting more traffic. Each piece of your email list building and marketing effort has a job to do, and it’s up to you to make sure it’s performing as well as possible.

That’s where split-testing will come in handy. By tracking the results you get, then making incremental changes and comparing the numbers, you’ll begin to see the patterns that make a difference in your efforts.

And that’s the basis of split testing: tracking, tweaking, and testing with the goal of continuous improvement.

What Can You Split-Test?

A better question might be, “What can’t you split-test?” Because frankly, you can test just about everything, including:

  • Subject lines
  • Calls to action
  • Button colors
  • Fonts and text colors
  • Opt-in incentives
  • Landing page layout

But here’s the trick to a good split-test: Only test one single change at a time.

You might be tempted to rewrite your headline and your call to action and your button text, but don’t. While it may seem more efficient, the problem with this approach is that you’ll have no way of knowing which change had an effect on your conversions.

Did they go up because of the call to action? Or drop because of the subject line? Who knows?

Instead, make systematic changes to your landing pages and carefully track results. That’s the only way to know for sure what’s working—and what’s not.

Most landing page tools such as LeadPages and ClickFunnels have built-in tools for split-testing. If you’re not using these tools, you can also set up split tests using your Google Webmaster tools account.

Testing Open and Click Rates

Your email list manager should provide a way to split-test your emails as well. Open rates are critical when it comes to email marketing and list engagement. After all, if your audience isn’t opening your mail, they’re not reading it either!

You can easily improve your open rates by split-testing subject lines to determine the format and style most likely to get your readers’ attention.

To improve your click rates, test your email’s call to action. Set up two identical emails—same subject line and same content—but change the call to action to see which gets the best response from your list. You’ll be able to use this information in later campaigns to improve click-throughs on all your emails.

Just like list-building, it’s never too early to begin split-testing. There’s no magical number of opt-ins you must have to get started. There’s no amount of traffic that’s too small. So don’t wait—start split testing your opt-in forms and emails now so you can enjoy the best conversion rates possible.

Price vs. Power: How to Choose a Mailing List Provider

Aside from time and location freedom, the biggest benefit to starting an online business is the lack of start-up capital required. You don’t have to buy inventory to stock a store. You don’t have to spend a lot on equipment. And you don’t have to shell out cash for employees and insurance and all those other costs associated with offline businesses.

But that low-cost mentality can cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture, too.

While it is possible to start a business without spending any money at all, it’s truly not a good idea. That free hosting account will no doubt have downtime issues (not to mention the ads they’ll serve up to your visitors). Free word processors will have compatibility issues with other, more common solutions. Free WordPress themes and plugins can have support issues.

So while bootstrapping is a good thing, making business decisions based solely on cost is not. And nowhere is that more true than when it comes to choosing an email list manager.

Deliverability Issues

Here’s the biggest problem we see with low-cost providers, including those you install and manage yourself: deliverability. Email services such as Yahoo, Gmail, and others vigorously defend their users’ accounts against spam, and will often mark your legitimate email as spam, simply based on the IP address it originates from.

Large email list providers have the resources to fight these false spam reports and keep their deliverability rates high. That’s what their users pay for. But when you choose a free or low-cost provider (or manage your own server), this might not happen. Over time, you’ll see your deliverability rates plummet.

Limited Features

Deliverability aside, many low-priced providers can afford to charge lower rates because they limit the features. For example, you might only be able to collect 500 addresses, or you may only be able to send a few emails each month. Even worse, you may not be able to segment your list or automate your emails.

Before you make the choice to use a low-priced or free email provider, be sure you fully understand the limitations of the account. While some concessions might be okay with you, others might put a serious crimp in your business-building efforts.

Finally, keep in mind that changing providers later (when you’re “ready”) can be a huge undertaking. You’ll have multiple landing pages and opt-in forms to edit, connections with your shopping cart, webinar host, social media accounts, and countless other integrations to deal with. And you’ll have a list of names to import to your new provider, many of which will either opt-out or be undeliverable at your new host.

Rather than go through all that trouble, the better option is to choose the right provider from the start, and if cost is an issue, create a plan to cover the expense instead of settling for the wrong service.

Anatomy of a Landing Page: How to Improve Your Conversion Rates with Three Simple Changes

Your readers have short attention spans.

I’m sure that’s no big surprise to you. In fact, you probably browse the Internet at light speed, too, scanning titles and subheads, skipping to the bottoms of sales pages, and fast-forwarding through videos just so you can get to the next thing.

The same is true for your readers, and if you want to capture their attention long enough to entice them to opt-in to your mailing list, then you have to keep that in mind.

A Tip From Newspaper Publishers

Have you ever noticed that everything you need to know about a news story is in the first paragraph? Journalists are trained to answer all the questions—who, what, where, when, why and how—in the first few sentences, just in case the story gets cut off when the paper goes to print.

In today’s online world, where column inches no longer matter, this type of story formatting isn’t quite so critical anymore, but it’s still a useful tip to use when you’re writing an opt-in page.

Think about it: If your readers are skimmers (as most of us are) then making sure you include the most important information right at the top of the page is going to greatly improve your conversion rates.

For opt-in pages, that means putting the biggest benefits in your subject line and following it up with two or three sentences that build on your headline. That’s it. Keep it short, sweet, and benefit-driven, and you’ll have greater success than you would with longer content.

Graphics Matter

Whether your opt-in incentive is an eBook, a video, or even a simple checklist, having a graphic representation of your offer is an important component of your landing page.

Typically, you’ll create (or have created) a digital book or CD cover. You can easily outsource this, but be sure you follow these strategies:

  • Bold fonts and short titles make your cover more readable.
  • Use high-contrast colors for more visibility.
  • Be true to your brand. Stick with colors and fonts your readers expect.

Crafting a Compelling Call to Action

While it seems as if you can expect readers to know what to do when they land on your opt-in page, it’s just not true. You have to invite them to take the next step. Give them specific instructions and you’ll have higher conversion rates than if you just leave it to chance.

Your call to action should tell a reader exactly what to do, like this:

  • Click here to download
  • Enter your name and email for instant access

Watch the text on your form buttons, too. After all, “Subscribe” or “Sign Up” doesn’t exactly make you feel excited, does it? Consider using a phrase that matches your call to action instead, such as:

  • Get the Checklist!
  • Send the Video!

Take a look at your opt-in pages. Do they follow these strategies? If not, consider making some changes to your copy, your images, and your calls to action, then watch your results. You’ll more than likely see a boost in conversion rates if you do.

Mailing List Management: You’re Asking the Wrong Question

Here’s the question that’s on everyone’s mind when they start thinking about mailing lists:

“Which service should I use?”

You’ve probably wondered yourself, and maybe even spent a few hours (or days, or weeks) researching your options.

Stop!

This is not the question you should be asking (yet). And it’s exactly why so many entrepreneurs get stuck in the planning stage of list building.

The First Step In List Building

Before you need to think about tools, you must ask yourself this:

“How can I best serve my market?”

Whether you’re coaching business owners, new moms, bloggers, or youth pastors, they have a need that only you can fulfill. And when you discover what that need is, you’ll have two valuable pieces of information:

  1. What incentive will be a true no-brainer for your ideal client to opt-in to your list?
  2. How can you use your mailing list to provide the best value for those who join your list?

Don’t over-think these questions, though. Your opt-in incentive can be as simple as a resource guide or a short how-to video that answers a common question. You don’t have to go overboard with dozens of downloads and a 100-page eBook. Rather than providing value, these massive downloads are more likely to overwhelm your reader than encourage her to learn more.

And when it comes to providing value to your list members, keep three things in mind:

  1. Regular communication is a must (consider an autoresponder series if you’re not good with scheduling email updates)
  2. Marketing is second to information—too much selling will cause your opt-out rates to soar.
  3. It’s your responsibility as a thought leader in your market to distill and provide the information, tools and products your audience needs.

“What is my list-building goal?”

How will you be using your list? Will you:

  • Send a weekly or monthly newsletter?
  • Create an autoresponder series that delivers content on a pre-determined schedule?
  • Use affiliate links as an income generator?
  • Promote your own services and products?

The answers to these questions will help you determine not only the right tool for your list-building needs, but will also determine the path for your ongoing mailing list content, promotions, and growth.