by Dave Curtis on 12/20/2008

Email newsletters and online newsletters aren’t the same thing. If what you’ve written is sent only via email then it’s likely it will only be available to your signed up email account members. An online newsletter can be read by anyone. Online newsletters may wind up in Google’s queue, and bring a few more visitors to the site. The real breakthrough value of newsletters comes from being able to send a link to the newsletter through an email, and then tracking the percentage of people who click through to your site to read the rest of the newsletter or to take an action on your site that you recommended in the newsletter.

Double Opt In

Legitimate opt-in e-mail advertising isn’t spam.

Benefits of Newsletters

The first important point to remember is that people who subscribe to enewsletters are very real prospects and much more likely to convert into clients than average web site visitors. In marketing “the prospect list” is the most important list you can own, and when it’s your own list created by the sign ups themselves, it’s worth gold.

Double Blind and A/B/C Testing

Marketing is known as a science because testing can be performed and results quantified. This is done through multiple double blind tests. The more people there are who sign up for an enewsletter, the more double blind sampling can be done. In statistics it is important to deal with no fewer than 30 people at a time.

How testing starts – the ongoing process behind the scenes:

So to perform a single double blind you will need a minimum of 60 email addresses to work with, and two versions of your enewsletter offer.

You’ll begin your enewsletter in the form of an email with two carefully written titles, one to show up in the subject line of each groups email inboxes.

If your entire email database contains just 100 people, then it’s only practical to do a single test before completing the email blast to all remaining subscribers after testing and evaluating.

For the test you’ll have two different emails – one may focus more on the benefits of an offer you will eventually be making, one may focus more on the individual features as bullet points. Your email doesn’t show the entire newsletter (or possibly doesn’t show any of it) but instead has a link to one of your tracked web pages – a landing page – with your actual newsletters. One prepared for the first group of 30 recipients, and the other enewsletter prepared for the second group.

Again, you vary the copy and change around the offer and benefits to see which one converts to more sales or inquiries that could lead to sales. If you’ve done things right and all goes well a percentage will turn around and buy. But let’s look at the tracking results first.

Say that your first email with subject line one actually got clicked on by the majority of recipients, only you got no sales – whereas the second email you sent out didn’t get clicked on quite as often (you can tell by looking at your site meter results to know they were referred from an email) but you made two sales from the content of the actual enewsletter version you had waiting for them online.

The next step is to combine the best of both for the remaining 40 people on your emailing list and send subject line number one along with the link to enewsletter number two and see if your conversion rate holds true for that larger group – more clicks and more sales.

Why the SEO gets paid, What the SEO gets paid for:

As time goes by and your email database of sign ups grows into the hundreds or thousands, you can do more double blinds, and use larger samples of 50 or more to get more reliable results. You can change your page layouts, move your images, change your headlines and do any number of things to see what converts people best.

Deeper into demographics – the custom versions of the emails themselves:

If you collect zip codes you can divide recipients into different zones and make your advertising copy in your enewsletters and landing pages more personally meaningful to each group by adding a familiar theme, point of focus or regional concern to each groups enewsletter. Those in Colorado during heavy snowstorms might reflect on that. Areas of the deep south may be experiencing unusually mild weather. Some zip codes may be more affluent than others so if you run the zip codes by the census bureau and they come up richer, you can offer them more premium high ticket luxury items without as much regard to price affecting their acceptance.

SEO A/B/C Testing as your Newsletter Sales & Marketing Optimization Strategy

So by using the total strategy of enewsletters the business owner who has enough time, energy and savvy will boost sales significantly and increase sales steadily over time.

Additional incentives to buy might be used, such as increasing the immediate value of an offer by making it time sensitive. Buy before December 31st and save 20%. Make the offer transferable – so if a client receiving an email has a friend who might be interested she can send it to her friend to take advantage of the deal – and at the same time the friend just may sign up for her own enewsletter.

As you can see, this is an advanced conversion technique closely related to SEO in as much as merely getting to the top of the search engines without doing anything to increase sales is largely useless unless the percentage of sales per visitor can also be optimized and increased.

Getting Started

All of us have signed up for newsletters from time to time, and the best ones aren’t the best by accident. You can believe that big company email notifications to newsletters sent out to hundreds of thousands of recipients have been A/B/C/D… tested prior to full release to all recipients in order to maximize their effectiveness. It’s just as expensive for large companies to optimize as it is for small ones, but the cost for small to medium sized businesses experiencing decent returns isn’t prohibitive. Remember, the big companies didn’t get big and then start A/B testing their newsletters: they started small and worked their way up because they had vision enough to see the benefits of using scientific advertising marketing techniques extended to online marketing as well.


As with all companies, there are further proprietary techniques used to accurately track click-through results. These techniques are used so each click becomes the equivalent of producing a “coupon” upon clicking on the link in the email.

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