How I Use Email Marketing

This post is part of a creative marketing series sponsored by HP

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With the advent of social media, email marketing has taken a bit of a back seat in terms of buzz – but not with marketers that understand the power this tool has for long term trust building and short term conversion.

I’ve been an advocate of this tool throughout the rise of social media and find it telling that many bloggers and social media types that have built followings online are now turning to email marketing to cash in. I don’t mean cash in as a bad thing, I mean that they have found email marketing to be a way to generate customers in this more commercially acceptable avenue.

Email marketing is a central tool I still employ for building trust, doing research, announcing new products, selling products and services, educating customers, and expanding the awareness of my web presence beyond my web site.

While there are many ways to use email marketing I thought today I would share a little about how I do it so you could have one simple and practical road map.

My email marketing routine

List building – Obviously for email marketing to be an effective play, you’ve got to possess a list. Don’t ever, ever buy one! You must build your list and you must do it by offering value, that’s it.

You should, however, employ some tools that make it easy for people to subscribe. I place a sign-up form on most pages (it’s over there in the left sidebar if you’re reading this on my blog) and I use a drop down script from dynamic drive to offer the newsletter to site visitors. I know some folks don’t like these in your face forms, but there’s no denying how much more effective they are.

I offer people a free report for signing up in addition to the offer of the newsletter and this definitely drives sign-ups. I also make a special offer to buy my books through a thank you page once someone does subscribe. This is a low cost product that I add lots of valuable bonuses to and it often starts the relationship deepening very quickly.

I also promote my list when I speak and encourage you to consider ways to build your list from your other offline activities as well.

email marketing

Image: RambergMediaImages

Getting started – I use an autorepsonder to reply once someone subscribes. I send an evergreen issue of my newsletter so they get a taste of the value right away. A few days after they subscribe I also send what feels like a much more personal thank you note from me. This is a text email that is very simple and tells them I am glad they subscribed. I get constant feedback from people that, while they may know it’s not really a personal note, love the personal feel. I suggest you adopt this tactic. (The content of the note is on page 215 of Duct Tape Marketing, you know in case you want to buy the book.)

Content – Your readership will grow and spread only if they find your content valuable. While I do send occasional product pitches, I choose to do these in solo emails (a tactic that makes the offer stand out) and choose to fill my weekly newsletter with content that I think readers have come to value. Increasingly this is snack size tips that lead them to other great resources.

Format – I send my weekly newsletter in HTML format as reading and engaging with the content is much more enjoyable in the visual format. I do also send a text version for those that don’t allow HTML and as a further tool to help get through some spam filters.

I have moved to a format where I point out a lot of great content that I’ve written or that others have written. I used to include the full content in the email, but have found over the years that people have grown very comfortable with the digest format that allows them to click through to the full content online. One word of advice, as so many people now read email online through Gmail and Yahoo make your links open in a new window so they don’t have to keep coming back to find the email. (You simply add target=”_blank” after your link in HTML code to do this.)

As stated above I use text only email when I am doing a straight pitch for a product or service offering or promoting an event. I don’t include anything extra in these emails as I’ve found that total focus on one topic, in this format, generates the highest response. (A/B testing of your emails is a standard offering in most email services.)

ESP – ESP is the acronym for email service provider. If your list is more than a dozen names you need to use a service to send your emails. There are many great, low cost solutions for this that allow you to easily create, send and archive your email newsletters, offers and campaigns. These services also help you build and maintain your list and comply with CAN-SPAM laws.

I use Infusionsoft as part it’s part of my CRM and shopping cart set-up, but I’ve also experienced good things over the years from Constant Contact, Vertical Response, AWeber, MailChimp and iContact. In my opinion any of these services will meet your needs.

MailChimp wins the award for education. Take a look at their list of email marketing ebooks.

Integration – Email is a great way to expand beyond the newsletter communication to build deeper engagement in your community. Certainly it’s become very standard to include all of the ways for people to connect with you online in your email communications. You should add Twitter and Facebook links to your emails, but also cross promote your blog content, archive your newsletter issues as web pages on your site, and promote your new issues in Facebook status updates as well. (Here’s an example of an issue of my newsletter online.)

Could You Sell Your Tweets

I expect a few raised eyebrows from the title of this post, but first off understand that what I’m asking is could you, not would you.

While there is a growing market for paid and sponsored tweets one thing’s for sure – You can’t sell much of anything unless it has value. What I would like to suggest is that one of the ways you make Twitter a more useful tool is to focus on making your Twitter activity and tweets more valuable.

Value is one of those hard to pin down terms, and even more so with a tool like Twitter, but services that offer paid tweeting programs can actually help you understand your Twitter value baseline. If you want to find out how much your tweets are worth today, go to Sponsored Tweets and sign up for an account.

I’m not advocating that you actually participate in the program, unless that serves your objectives, but during the sign-up process the service will suggest what you should charge for your tweets based on your current Twitter account – effectively giving some measure of value.

If your goal is to find ways to increase the value and influence of your Twitter participation I would suggest making a trip to several Twitter analytics tools to gain some real insight into your Twitter influence. Each of the services below has different ways of measuring and I like something about all of them. The goal in using these tools, however, should stretch beyond simply measuring and move squarely into strategically increasing the value of your participation on Twitter.

Klout – currently the most talked about tool and probably presents the simplest and most trusted measure of influence, a Klout score. The score is based on – True Reach, the size of your engaged audience. Amplification Score, the likelihood that your messages will generate actions. Network score, how influential your engaged audience. It’s worth noting that this is not about the pure size, it’s about what your followers do and who they are.

Klout Scores

Twitalyzer – this tool is one of my favorites because there is so much data to play with. You can really get a sense of what impact you and your tweets have through a map of about 20 metrics, including your Klout score. (Here’s an explanation of the terms and metrics on Twitalyzer)

Tweet Reach – this is the simplest of tools and not as useful for me, but they do provide a very useful feature. Tweet Reach makes is very easy for me to view the followers that are contributing the most impressions to my tweets and that’s useful knowledge for future engagement.

In all cases, these tools allow you to get a measure of where you are having impact, but also identify the current users that have influence and that are influencing your scores. I think this is essential because it allows you to see where you could get more impact by creating lists and groups of influencers and engaging them more frequently, even if only through retweeting their content.

These tools, particularly Twitalyzer, make it easy to find people of influence to follow and engage. Remember as you go out and start digging in to these tools as a way to make your Twitter experience more valuable – Engagement and influence is more than follower numbers.

I know there’s still lots of sentiment towards simply being authentic, engaging genuinely and sharing content organically, and while I don’t argue with that, why not bring a little science to the mix to make your work pay off even faster.

How to Find Part Time and Intern Help and Gigs

Marketing podcast with Cari Sommer (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Image TheNickster via Flickr

The trend towards virtual work and virtual workers has grown so large that a robust industry has developed around the location and placement of part-time, project oriented workers. Small business can and does benefit from the fact that organizations, such as Elance and Odesk or crowd sourced services such as crowdSPRING and 99Designs, can help them get some of what they need from every corner of the globe at very affordable prices.

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Short Link Branding Bliss for All

Link shortening, the act of turning a long URL into something more like 10-13 characters, has become an important online activity. So much so that tools have cropped up just to provide this service.

link shorten with pro

Image caitra via flickr

For example the URL for this specific post is, but a shortened version that would direct people to the post could be this

Tools such as, and even Google’s convert links to tidy a version, and perhaps equally as important, provide link analytics that can teach you a great deal about the traffic to clicking of a certain link.

Sharing links to content, both your own and that which you find useful, has become a very important tactic and Twitter’s 140 character limit certainly made shorter links necessary.

As this tactic of aggregating, filtering and curating content grows, brands have started to look for ways to provide shortened links as a standard branding practice. You’ll find links throughout social media to Pepsi as and C-Span as Amazon links on Twitter automatically shorten to an link.