Email Newsletter Marketing

by Dave Curtis on 07/25/2010

In direct marketing the most important thing is the list. The list is of course (for those of you who are not familiar) the names, email addresses, zip codes and whatever other information is deemed necessary for you to build a pre-qualified prospective client base of people already interested in your services or products. When you create a sign up form you’re primarily capturing valuable information about good solid future prospects.

When you write and send your e-newsletters on whatever regularly scheduled basis you have decided to write and send them, your sign ups are receiving what they hope will be something of value to them. Therefore your focus should be on delivering information that they will believe is useful. At the same time, your e-newsletter needs to position you as an authority on the subject. Your e-newsletter can also, from time to time, contain bits of public relations information to position you and your business as trustworthy and good. Mentioning the volunteer work you or your business regularly engage in related to charity events you run or participate in (and have run for the past 20 years if this is true) is always a good thing for your P.R. image. Everybody advertises, so one reason to buy from you and not somebody else might just be because you’re perceived as one of the good guys.

Another one of your main reasons for writing an e-newsletter and building a client base is to be able to experiment with your copy writing. What is “copy writing”? Simply put, copy writing is what changes your web site, your advertising, or your e-newsletter from something that potential prospects simply visit or read (or delete), into something that converts people into real customers who buy… and since you have a list that mostly only pre-qualified potential prospects have signed up for, your conversion rates will be greater by focusing your time and effort on measuring the results of your e-newsletters on them.

There are many ways to do this. One way is to solve a problem, to “relieve somebody’s pain”, as they say, and then show them the rosy side of life with the benefits of your product or service. They’ll be richer, taller, better looking, more sexy, free from debt, skin problems, financially on their way to independence, healthier or whatever “benefits” you describe and promise your products or services will deliver. Keep your e-newsletters up-beat and positive and your potential prospects will look forward to receiving them. Keep them on a personal level remember you’re writing to each person individually, even if you don’t address them each by name.

Getting back to the reasons why you’ll want to write e-newsletters, and getting back to measuring your results – here’s how you’ll do just that.

Measuring results relies in using three or four different similar e-newsletters. That’s right, you’re going to make a few versions, and always with a plan in mind for each. At first you may not have a whole lot of sign-ups, so it won’t be possible to do much useful measuring in the very beginning. But after a while you’ll have hundreds and even thousands of people signed up and you can vary your e-newsletters in order to find out what works best for increasing your sales by dividing your prospect list into four or five smaller lists, holding back the largest list for last, and not doing anything with it until the very end.

There are multiple parts to an e-newsletter, and each of them is important.

The first thing you have to work with is your Subject line. You know that thing in all emails that announces what the email is about. Avoid “free” and “great offer” and other spam look-a-like turn offs that get you deleted. “Back to school tips for busy mothers” might work or something helpful like “20 amazing, amusing and alarming facts about…” or “10 things to love (or hate) about…” promising quick, useful and interesting information.

Then you go to the actual e-newsletter itself, or more properly, the headlines in the e-newsletter. You have to have a headline of some sort, and some sub headlines to make it easier for people to skip to sections they like, gloss over less interesting ones, and generally let them quickly focus in on what’s most interesting to them. Again, you can play with these headlines and use slightly different ones in two or three versions of your e-newsletter. By doing so, you’ll find that some headlines work better than others. Headlines can focus on a product or service benefit, they can focus on an offer, or they can focus on a problem to be solved. Your reason is to be able to measure reaction to contrasting offers and benefits.

The trick to an e-newsletter is not to make it a self contained bundle that lands in someone’s email in-box and just disappears. The way to insure that is to only give them some of the message.

Your e-newsletter is not going to contain all of the information you promise in your subject line right within the e-newsletter itself. Remember you want to track your progress to test what works best, so you add a link to a page on your web site with the actual list or problem solution promised in your e-newsletter. Here too, on your web site landing page, you create multiple versions of your offer by creating multiple versions of your landing pages. There are many ways to divide up your list to determine who goes where. It could be that group “A” is the first 50 people who signed up, group “B” the second 50, or some other way. Another more involved way could be to divide your prospects up by demographics based on their zip codes supplied to you in the sign up process. If you have a dozen from Alabama, and Alabama was recently struck by a hurricane, you may want to include some additional perceived benefit to your product involving hurricane preparedness, for instance or if you have clients from the Minnesota area just snowed under by 10 feet of snow, again, a “hidden” benefit to make them warm, cozy and comfortable in amongst all of the other benefits of your product or service features.

Make the web landing pages different from one another, varying your focus more on one benefit feature over another benefit in one e-newsletter, and use a different benefit as the focus on another landing page. Also switch emphasis on your offer – free shipping, or 15% off, or buy two, get the third one at half price – and make the offer valid only with a coupon code or some other thing that will add value to your e-newsletters so recipients won’t just delete them, but save them as things of value for later – or forward them to friends or family to help them solve a problem.

To do this right, you’ll need to have your site-meter code on each of your target landing pages. Each one of your different links supplied in the various versions of your e-newsletters will go to different pages you’ve created on your site. These pages are not linked to from your main site menu, but only from the e-newsletters themselves. You’ll be able to see just how many people from group “A” e-newsletter have visited their particular page, and for just how long, and be able to see how many from group “A” have converted and made a purchase. You’ll be able to do that exact same thing from group “B” and “C” and “D”.

At this point you’ll have figures on which e-newsletter group’s Subject line and Headlines got clicked on most, and which landing page combinations of benefits and offers resulted in the greatest percentage of conversion to purchase.

Finally – and this is really the fun part, you take the best combination of results (best subject line, e-newsletter and headlines, best landing page combination of benefits and offers) and combine them into one final well researched e-newsletter and send them off to the final largest group who has not yet received one.

So, to recap what has just happened, what you’ve done is use a percentage of your prospects divided up into small test groups, and then taken the most promising results and combined them and sent them off to everyone else on your list. If the offer really clicks you can even go ahead and make it a part of your regular web site so people who visit in the future for the first time can go for the deal immediately.

By doing this repeatedly, and over time, you’ll learn how to write better advertising copy that works. You’ll be better able to gauge quickly what is most likely to work, and what won’t. Your overall ability to present benefits strongly in ways that prospects see as having value to them personally will grow keener, and in general your marketing skills will grow in multiple ways enabling you to apply this strength to other areas of merchandising such as signage and print advertising.