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E-mail Marketing In A Spam Filled World

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I dont know about you, but I get a ton of e-mail newsletters over the course of the day. A few of them I actually signed up for and look forward to getting and reading, while most just found their way into my inbox where they are deleted before ever seeing the light of day.

Im pretty sure that Im not the only one out there weeding through the spam to find those hidden gems. The fact is that e-mail newsletters can be an incredibly valuable resource for both the sender and receiver, so how do we get more people to read it and less to delete it? Whether you are just getting your feet wet with e-mail marketing or you have been using it for a while as a legitimate way to spread your message, keep reading to uncover five tips to helping make your e-mail marketing campaign a success.

Do Not Sell!
I know what you are probably thinking, how exactly am I supposed to grow my business through an e-mail newsletter if I am not selling my product or service through it? Simple. Rather than selling, you are going to create value for the reader by educating them. Rarely will someone buy your product or service based solely on an e-mail that they received in their inbox, so focusing your efforts on selling alone is really a lost cause.

Think about it, how many times have you walked into someplace like The Gap and before you could get both feet in the store, you were attacked by hovering salespeople: Can I help you find anything? We have these great new sweater vests on sale today! Would you like to sign up for a credit card and get 10% off your entire purchase? After swatting at their questions like flies, you quickly walk over to the first rack of clothes you can find, pretend to look at something as if you originally walked into the store for that specific item and then turn around and leave. Had the sales person appeared to be more interested in helping you than selling you, perhaps they would have made a sale.

Rather than trying to sell in your e-mail newsletter, focus on educating your readers and you will be adding much more value. Take a subject related to your product or service and teach your readers how to use it better, smarter, cheaper or more effective and they will begin to see you as an expert in your field. People are more likely to buy something from someone that they see as an expert.

As an example, lets say that you were a home inspector. Since people arent buying a new home every month or so, they generally dont have a need for a home inspector on a regular basis. Why would they want to receive your newsletter, especially if you are trying to sell them on a service they rarely have a need for? Suppose that rather than relentlessly promoting your services in a monthly newsletter, you sent out four newsletters a year, each one about two weeks before the start of each season. In your newsletter you included a list of everything that you need to do to weatherproof your home in preparation for the upcoming season, such as changing the batteries in your smoke detector, changing your filters, turning off outdoor hoses, etc. Now you are adding value and because of that people are not only going to read it, but they will be more likely to pass it along to their friends who in turn will sign up and your list will continue to grow! Then, the next time someone on your list is buying a new home, you can bet they will be contacting you to inspect it because you are the expert!

Link to Your Site
The goal of your newsletter should be to get your readers to visit your site where they can learn more about your company, services, products and what you have to offer. Of course you can just add simple links to the various pages on your site, but such a passive approach will not give you a very high click -through rate because there is little reason for them to actually click the links.

The best way to convert someone from reading your newsletter to browsing your website is by not giving away the entire article in your e-mail. Only give them the first two or three paragraphs in order to get them interested enough to want to read more, and then include a link to the article in its entirety on your website. With any luck, once they are done reading your article they will want to continue browsing through your site to read other articles, view your portfolio, shop in your store, etc.

Building Your List
A brilliant newsletter does you little good if you are just sending it out to yourself! Once you have finished writing your newsletter, who exactly should you send it to and how do you build a good list? There are of course plenty of people that believe in buying or borrowing a list of unsuspecting recipients, but I dont like this method because people tend to be very quick with the delete key when it comes to getting e-mail from people they dont know.

Our goal is to build a legitimate list of opt-in e-mail addresses because you will have a greater percentage of success. There are several different ways we can grow our list:

* Friends and Family: Dont underestimate the power of your Aunt Margaret! Friends and family are the easiest to get on board and you never know who they may forward it to. Plus, they can act as good critics by giving you honest feedback so you can keep improving on your newsletter!
* Clients: Make sure you have your entire existing client base on your list. It will not only help you keep in touch with your clients, but it will help them get more value from your products and services.
* Website Visitors: Have a sign-up in an easy to find place on your site and make it intriguing. Dont just say Join my newsletter because what the reader is really seeing is Hey, do you want more spam? Make them aware of the value that you are adding such as Sign up for free monthly cooking tips from our master chef!
* Sign Up in Person: Give people the opportunity to sign up in person either at trade shows, events or in your store. At networking events when you exchange business cards with someone tell them about the value you offer through your newsletter and ask them if it would be ok if you could sign them up.
* Contests and Promotions: Offer a discount or contest to people that signup such as 10% off their next purchase, free shipping or the one hundredth person to sign up gets a $50 gift card.

Be Consistent
If you are going to commit to sending out a monthly newsletter then send out a monthly newsletter. There is nothing worse than a monthly newsletter that you receive every 4 months. It gives the impression that you either dont care, you arent very organized or you dont have much to say. If you are adding value and sending it out consistently, your readers will start to expect it and look forward to it on the day that it is received. This is what we want!

Test and Measure
Without knowing the impact that your newsletter is having we have no way of knowing what to adjust from one month to the next. Knowing the percentage of people that are opening your newsletter, what links they are clicking on and who they are forwarding it to is worth its weight in gold.

Suppose you sent an e-mail out that included the first paragraph of your article with a link to the rest of the article on your website. After sending out the e-mail you notice that you have a high percentage of people opening the e-mail but a very low percentage of people actually clicking to read the rest of the article. This tells you that perhaps only one paragraph isnt enough to grab the readers interest, or maybe it is not strong enough to make someone want to read the rest. Without knowing this information, you might continue to send out your e-mails in the same fashion having no idea that it really is not working as well as it should.

Instead of using an e-mail program like Outlook, a service like Constant Contact will give you a ton of great statistical information on your newsletters for a very reasonable cost. Combine that information with your websites statistics program and you can then tell whether they browsed further into your site once they clicked through the newsletter. Its everything you need to know to fine tune your campaigns and ensure it becomes a success!!!

The fact is that 95% of all e-mail these days is considered spam. That is a lot of noise out there that you need to rise up against. Although a successful e-mail marketing campaign can be tricky, when done right it is a great tool for your arsenal. Make sure that you are offering your subscribers some value and your list will grow. Be patient! It may take a little time, but it will be well worth it!!! Happy e-mailing!
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