email newsletterNo matter how enamored you may be with social media, email still outpunches just about every tool out there when it comes to cost effective lead conversion.

Now, done correctly, what this really means is effectively using email communication in conjunction with efforts to produce educational content, amplify content throughout social media channels and turn Twitter followers into email subscribers.

It’s integration as much as anything that makes email work, but there are a handful of things that you need to do to get the most out of the email component of the mix.

Grab Attention

It’s not enough to have an email subscribe form tucked into the sidebar of your home page. If you’ve got a great offer to put in front of your visitors you need to make it impossible to ignore, without being obnoxious.

A new breed of popups makes grabbing visitor attention and turning it into email list subscribing almost pleasing. I’ve been experimenting with a rather new WordPress plugin called Pippity.

Once installed and configured this tool will note when you have a visitor that has not been offered your email subscription and briefly take over the screen to make them an offer. The visitor still has lots of control over the screen, but this tool positions your list in a way that’s hard to ignore.

I know there are some that don’t like this tactic, but Pippity gives you so much control, including A/B testing, that you can fine tune the tool’s use to make it work for you. Like it or not, with the right offer, most people see 300-400% jumps in subscribers using this kind of approach. (One tip: Turn it off for mobile browsers, as there’s no way to make it a pleasant experience on a mobile.)

Exchange Value

Giving people a reason to subscribe is even more important than simply grabbing their attention. In order to get willing subscribers these days you must sell the value of what you have to offer and most likely exchange something like a free ebook or report that sounds too good to miss right at the point of subscription.

The act of giving an email address comes with a price these days because all of our email inboxes are jammed. Your free stuff better sound as good as most people’s paid stuff if you want to get subscribers.

Of course, this also means that you need to keep the value exchange high if you expect to keep subscribers. Turning email subscribers into paying customers is not a one-time event; it’s accomplished through a process of building trust over time.

No matter what time frame you choose to offer your email newsletter, once a week or once a month, each issue should be something that people look forward to. It’s great to have a large list, but if less than 10% actually open your emails then you won’t get much return on your efforts.

Serve Snacks

I’ve been producing a weekly email newsletter just about every week since some time in 2002 and I’ve played with different formats, different content, and different ways to present information.

A great deal of what I’ve always tried to do is evolve with overall communication trends and my best advice is that you subscribe to lots of newsletters and pay attention to how others present information and how they change their presentation over time.

Currently, my newsletter format is designed to offer several compelling article abstracts grouped into a set of topics that I believe my readers expect from me. I author about 50% of the content and then hand select a couple blog posts from blogs I read that related.

When I switched to this snack sized, scannable format, I immediately noted that my response and engagement increased dramatically.

Be Sharable

Smart marketers have always employed tools that made it easier for people to share their email newsletter with friends, but these days that means making your content easy to share in social media as well.

Most email service providers have added social media sharing options that you can embed in your content so that a reader could tweet that they just read your article.

The content itself must exist online in order to use this most effectively. Most service providers also allow you to create an online archive version of your newsletter and I recommend you use this approach to socialize your content sent via email.

Go Solo

Once your readers come to appreciate your valuable newsletter content you may earn the right to send them offers. This is something that takes a little bit of experimentation and you can certainly erode trust by sending too many offers or sending offers that just don’t make sense.

While you can mix an offer or two into your regular email newsletter format, I’ve found that sending the occasional offer for a product, program or even joint venture with a product or service you truly believe in, using what is called a solo email is the best approach.

A solo email is designed to do only one thing, deliver the story and make a case for your offer. This can be a straight out offer to buy something or even an announcement for a free online seminar where you intend to make an offer, but it must be about one thing and one thing only.

Let me repeat, sending offers is something you earn, just like earning the subscriber in the first place. You must take care that you treat this trust with respect or you will lose it. Keep the value of your offers as high as the value of your content and your readers will appreciate getting both.

My recommended list of email service providers. (Each allows you to accomplish the things mentioned in this article)

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • John,

    My newsletter subscribers are the most valuable online community I have.  I treat them like my children in that I am so aware of what I’m sending them.  You can make mistakes with Blog Posts… But you can’t with your Newsletter… It’s too personal.

    Thanks! and great stuff.

    Ryan H.

    • Thanks Ryan and I’m guessing they know it too!

      • Kevin

        As a Marketing coach I’m still amazed that I have to spend so much time convincing small business owners that a eNewsleter is a cost-effective way to market their products and services.

      • Ruth Olbrych

        So happy to see a plug in for email marketing. All for blogs etc and, like you, I believe that all is necessary to play off of each other. For people that are considering blogging, but don’t even have a reach to their audience by way of email, I suggest they start with that and then move into blogging, followed by embedding blog postings into the eblasts. 
        Been doing eblasts for my online biz since 2004 and swear by it.
        Thanks for the tips on growing one’s audience.

  • brentmkelly

    Thanks for the info John

  • John-

    I couldn’t agree more and think you make a great point when
    talking about email and social.  The key word you used here is

    Email and social are not independent marketing strategies.
    They go hand in hand.  Email works best in conjunction with social, and
    vice versa.  Social is a great way to get your message to spread, but
    email is still the best way to get that message heard.  Additionally,
    given how connected today’s consumer is, they expect you to be where they
    are.  So as a brand, you need to be using both to effectively engage with
    customers and prospects and to amplify your content.

    The proof is in the pudding too.  Over the summer we
    looked at data from our small business customers who combined their email
    marketing with social media marketing to those only using email.  Those
    that did saw faster list growth (14.43% vs. 8.96%), larger average list size
    (53% larger on average) and higher click-through rates (59.3 points
    higher).  Some interesting data that is significant for small businesses
    and  real proof that an integrated marketing effort works. 

    Great post and some great advice here.  Thanks for

    • Thanks for sharing that data Mark – I know this to be true from my own experience as well, but it’s always nice to get hard numbers like that.

  • Landed here from [email protected]:twitter  tweet. Great post! I like the idea of Pippity especially since I use CTCT in conjunction with WordPress. I don’t doubt that doing something sophisticated like that with an awesome offer will absolutely up my subscriber count. 

    I think the key here is, as you clearly emphasized, is to make your subscription bonus really compelling. I’m trying out a 5-week auto-responder series of top tips to improve sales, marketing, public speaking, and 2 more areas in which I specialize. I am optimistic that with a tool like Pippity this promo can work for me, but I’d better A/B test to be sure.

    One last point to add for all email marketers: Don’t overmail your list with special offers or invites to webinars! It’s the #1 reason I unsub from lists and I’m sure I’m not alone on that.

    • Thanks – let me know how your Pippity trial goes – and say hi to my friends at CTCT

  • Email  marketing is still so very relevant and absolutely requires trust from one’s subscribers. I’ve always believed that the most important aspect of email marketing is to build a relationship with the readers who subscribe. Without that relationship, subscribers won’t stick around very long. As with all marketing it’s all about quality over quantity.

    • Thanks Andrew – I think that last statement says it all.

  • Great email marketing tips. This would really give out strong impact to the subscribers. I love the “serve snacks” part. It caters every subscribers well and the customer engagement can become a very remarkable experience and in the long run, they would keep coming back for more.

  • Hey John.  Thanks for mentioning our product Pippity.  

    • Had no idea that was yours – let’s reconnect about some of what you’re up to – and it’s a great product by the way.

  • Thanks for the relevant advice John.  We often fall in the trap of making our website and e-marketing look nice at the expense of making it more effective conversion wise, forgetting that the latter is the ultimate –only– objective.

    Your posts keep us in check.

    • Hey thanks Luis – just really trying to keep myself in check and you’re right it is the only objective isn’t it?

  • Agreed, provide value in each e-mail, and they will read it instead of just hit the delete button.

  • In theory I love the popup signup form but after trailing it on a few client websites and our own, we found it was not effective enough to justify the decreased load speed and annoyance to visitors.

    One thing we are trailing now is delivering the pop up box to a user on the 2nd and third time they visit the site based on cookies. Our thoughts are that the first time they visit the site, they may not trust or care enough about the site to give an email address-fingers crossed!

    • Not a bad thought on the testing for sure, but the plug in I’ve been using doesn’t slow page load at all.

  • No question that my email list is the core of my community, and marketing efforts. There is no one single thing that I have done the last 10 years with more ROI than my newsletter. 

    We’ve been working hard to make it more local, connecting with issues even more relevant to our readers, and some unexpected topics too. Our last newsletter had our highest open rate and click through ever.  The topic? Holiday gift ideas. 

    Think out of the box, test small changes, and keep at it. That’s my advice.

  • Thanks for these! I hope the majority of the business email senders will read this, almost all the emails that I get resembles spam, that it ends up on a waste basket more often than not.