Building Your Website, Step-By-Step

“How can you keep your website from being like a lonely girl in a foreign port, wondering if her sailor will ever return?”

Your guest "found your website today," and then they "went away, never to come back." Yikes!

Even if they bookmark your website, it's unlikely your guest will return. There are too many websites out there.

If, during their visit, your website's guest can become interested in your information and begin to create a relationship with you, they will want more. That's where your newsletter pays off.

You make the offer, they sign up and now you have permission to email them regularly (at least as long as they continue to find you interesting). In your email, you'll include links to bring them back. Without the newsletter, your website will be like a lonely girl in a foreign port, wondering if her sailor will ever return.

An effective email campaign consists of a lot more than just sending out email.

15 Tips for More Effective Email Marketing

  1. Simplicity Pays.

    Folks, people get a lot of email. There's not time to read a lot of text. Newsletters need to be short and designed to facilitate scanning. It's your job to convince guests that your newsletter will be simple, useful, and easy to read.

    The good news here is that you don't have to write a newsletter. It's more like writing a newsy letter to a friend.

  2. Publish on a Regular Schecule.

    A reasonably predictable publication frequency is best, unless you report breaking news.

  3. Grab your readers by their shoulders and pull them into your computer.

    Subject lines are important, to encourage users to open the newsletter and to make it clear it's not spam.

    Include some content from the individual issue in each subject line. This might be a trick... Keeping it to 50 characters or so, but it makes it possible to deliver on the promise of the Subjectline.

  4. Avoiding the Spam Filters

    The majority of large Internet service providers now use rigerous spam protection mechanisms to trap unsolicited email before it gets into their customers inboxes. Spam filters generally "rank" each email by a number of different criteria, and, if that email rates above a certain level (such as 10 spam points), then it is flagged as spam and deleted. To make sure your emails don't get flagged as spam -- and deleted before they even get to your subscribers -- avoid using words such as 'Free', '$$$', 'Save', 'Discount', etc in both the subject line and the content of your email.

  5. Maximizing Click-Thru Rates

    Both web pages and emails can contain alot of text and graphics, and this sometimes makes it harder to get your subscribers to perform a certain task, such as clicking on a link to see your special offers. Numerous research papers tell us that the majority of Internet users respond better to a plain, bold, blue text link -- such as this -- as opposed to a banner or button. So, if you're going to include links in your emails, make sure they are bold, blue and underlined. This will mean that more subscribers click through, meaning more conversionssales for you.

  6. The Power of Personalization

    If you were standing in a crowded mall, which of these would get your attention: "HEY, YOU!" or "HEY JOHN" (assuming your name is John). The power of personalization can and should be used in your emails. In-fact, by simply starting your email with "Hi [subscriber_name]" instead of the boring "Hi there", you can increase both your reading and click-thru rates by up to 650%. Why? Put simply, it's because your subscribers feel like they already have a relationship with you as you've addressed them by their first name.

  7. One-Click Unsubscription

    If you want to grow your mailing list, then there's 2 things that you absolutely must have: a double opt-in process, and a quick way to unsubscribe. In some countries, it's actually mandatory by law that every email has an unsubscribe link in it. The unsubscribe link should take the recipient directly to a page where they are then removed -- courteously -- from your mailing list.

  8. Signup Confirmation

    Don't get accused of spamming -- always, and I mean always use a double opt-in confirmation process. Double opt-in means that after your visitor initially enters their email address to subscribe to your list, you should then send them a "confirmation" email. This email should contain a special link back to your email marketing program, which will then verify that this visitor did indeed sign up to your mailing list.

    Avoid "opt-out," which forces the recipient to receive messages until he says no. Using opt-out only discourages e-commerce. A 2001 survey by Millward Brown IntelliQuest found 63% of Web users agreed with the statement, "If I buy online, I'll end up getting junk e-mail."

  9. Tuesday Wednesday = Increased Response

    Studies conducted by online research analysts have shown that the best days to perform a mail-out to your list are Tuesday and Wednesday, as this is when people are more receptive to communication. This means that they are more likely to read your content and click on links, meaning more sales.

    On Mondays, everyone is still recovering from a hectic weekend. On Thursday and Friday, people are already too busy looking forward to the weekend. We've actually experimented with this, and received the best results by sending out emails at around 2-3pm (American Pacific Time) on a Wednesday.

  10. Repeat Email Communication

    An autoresponder is an email that is scheduled to be sent at a certain time interval after someone subscribes to your mailing list. Autoresponders are a great way to automatically follow up with your subscribers or provide them with more information on your productsservices. For example, if you provide a free newsletter, you could setup 3 autoresponders for new subscribers: the first is sent 1 hour after they subscribe. It contains a thankyou message and a link to get 10% off your newly released eBook. The second is sent 24 hours after they subscribe, telling them about your community message boards, and the third is sent 72 hours after they subscribe, in which you can offer them a special deal on becomming a paid member of your site. Autoresponders help your subscribers build trust in both your company and your brand, and this can help make it easier when trying to close sales in the future.

  11. Consistency is the Key

    If you're running a newsletter or frequent email publication, make sure you keep the look and feel consistent from issue to issue. By keeping the look and feel consistent, you help to maintain and strengthen your brand and your image to your subscribers, which again will make it easier to close sales when you need to. Create a template for your newsletter and whenever you need to create a new issue, use that template as the basis for each issue.

  12. On Time, Every Time

    When sending a regular email to your subscribers, always make sure that it's sent on the same day, at the same time. For example, every Wednesday at 3pm. Your subscribers will come to "expect" your email to arrive in their inbox on the same day at the same time every week, meaning that they want to read your content and are generally more receptive to any special offers or promotions you may include.

  13. The Half-a-Second Subject Line

    When your email arrives in your subscribers inbox, you generally have about half a second to catch their attention with the subject line of your email. After this, they will either delete your email or ignore it. In your subject line, try and specify a benefit that the subscriber can expect by reading your email. For example, instead of using 'OurSite Newsletter Issue #1', use 'OurSite Newsletter: 10 Tips for Financial Freedom'.

  14. The Free Bonus Hook-In

    Free is overused these days, especially on the Internet. However, if you're looking to grow your subscriber list, then create or source a product of value to your visitors (such as an eBook or discount coupon) and offer it to them for free when they signup for your newsletter. It could be information, a free gift, a coupon or a chance to win a sweepstakes. To make sure they don't simply type any email address into your subscription form, setup an autoresponder to send them the free bonus 1 hour after they subscribe to your newsletter.

    Folks don't give you their e-mail address and other personal information out of altruism. They do it in exchange for something of value. Be creative, but also follow through by delivering real value to the recipient with every message.

  15. The Preview Pane

    Popular email clients such as MS Outlook show a preview of an email when it's selected in your inbox. Always have some interesting content at the very top of your email, as this is the part that will show in the preview window of your subscribers email program. If it's interesting enough, then your subscriber will open your email and continue on reading.

  16. Link-Click Testing

    When creating marketing emails, try using different text for both content and links. Also try re-positioning images such as logos and buttons. After sending about 3 different emails, compare the click-thru stats and see which one worked best. Now, when you need to send marketing emails in the future, you know that you will be sending the right mix of content and images that will attract the most click-thrus, and ultimately the most sales.

  17. Email-Based Learning

    Add value to your website, build trust in your visitors, establish your credibility and collect more subscriptions to your mailing list by setting up an email-based learning course. To do this, simply create a series of autoresponders (for example, 5) containing unique content. Then, schedule the first one to be sent after 24 hours, the second after 48 hours, etc..

  18. Always Sign on the Dotted Line

    Always include a signature at the bottom of your emails, as it's one of the easiest ways to attract more traffic to your website. This signature should include your personal details, your company details, and an unsubscribe link. You can use your signature to link back to your website, and even to other products. Here's a sample signature:

    Regards,
    John Doe.
    President - Company XYZ
    Visit our website at http://www.companyxyz.com
    Unsubscribe from this newsletter at
    http://www.companyxyz.com/unsubscribe...

  19. Always, always honor user requests to opt-out.

    Make it a simple process and include a Web site URL in every message that allows the user to opt-out. (A simple "reply to unsubscribe" does not always work if the user has multiple e-mail accounts, which can be extremely frustrating for the end user.)

  20. Your list is your asset. Only you can use it; don't sell or rent it.

    To earn more, let your subscribers opt-in to receive offers from your partners. Make sure you control the mailings, and that your company "introduces" the other brand or company: "Because you chose to receive offers from our partners, we are pleased to share this special offer for our readers from Acme Corp."

  21. Don't use rented lists.

    The only exception is when you do a "joint venture" like the one above... and they mail your offer to their subscribers.

  22. Respond to customer e-mail inquiries promptly.

    This should be obvious. But lots of companies fail here. Once I ordered something online, and didn't hear anything for a couple of weeks. I called the company, and their response? "Oops, I haven't checked the email this week."

    "This week!" More like a couple of weeks, I think. They should be checking several times a day!

  23. Bad news travels instantly online.

    An angry customer can tell millions by emailing friends, posting on message boards, or even creating an "I hate your company" website. Even if you don't do business online, your bad news will still move at the speed of electricity.

  24. It's better to under-promise and over-deliver.

    Ahh, the last of the 15 email marketing tips.

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