Monday, April 4, 2011

Earn Email Subscribers With The Right Cheese


For over a year, I have been toying with the idea of an email newsletter. Back in January 2010, I wrote an article entitled, "Why I Started an E-Mail Newsletter." In the post, I explain my reasons for getting one, which include: To connect with readers and help build a loyal reader base.

Starting out, I decided to use VerticalResponse. However, the more I read up on email marketing, the more I realized that I lacked a very important feature: autoresponders.

Since then, I have moved to iContact, which is a local company based out of Morrisville, NC. With iContact, I can automatically offer subscribers a gift for subscribing. The question is, what is the right gift?

What Is The Right Gift?
Many of the articles on email marketing recommend an ebook, white paper, podcast, webinar, or report in exchange for a reader's email address. My first offering was an ebook entitled, "Embracing Twitter...So It'll Embrace You Back," which I wrote with a number of other phenomenal authors. Unfortunately, the book didn't return very many subscriptions.

In hindsight, maybe it had something to do with my particular audience. I can only assume that half of my readers already use Twitter while the other half don't care. For whatever reason, the gift wasn't the right one.

So, how does one find the right gift? Well, I started by looking at Google Analytics.

Based upon the numbers, I noticed that "Tim Ferris Slow Carb Diet" and "slow carbs" were trending terms since December 2010. As a result, blog posts matching those topics did really well.

Then, it hit me. What if I provide new subscribers with a gift related to slow carbs? I know, how about this free cookbook?

Within the hour, I replaced all mentions of the Twitter ebook with a cookbook on slow carbs.

"How did it do?" you ask. "Wonderful!" would be my reply.

In response to the new gift, I earned six subscribers within the first day. I don't think I got six in the first month  using my Twitter ebook. Days following the change, I have continued to produce new subscribers regularly.

What's The Takeaway?
Looking back over this recent change in campaigns, the lesson I walked away with is this, "Give people what they want." The question you need to answer is, "What do your readers want?"

There many ways to secure an answer, I'll share a few ideas with you now:

  • Popular blog articles: Take a look at your most popular articles. In my case, readers are hungry for information surrounding the slow carb diet. For you and your readers it may be something else.
  • Popular keyword searches: Look at your site's analytics and identify the most searched keywords. Often, this will give you insight toward what people are looking for. 
  • Survey: Probably the easiest thing you can do is to ask your readers what they want. Consider using the new Facebook Questions or ask readers to leave responses in the comment section.
Once you know what people are looking for, give it to them. Find something that matches their interest and share generously. Remember, it doesn't have to be gigantic or long, just provide some information that will answer questions or solve problems.

Let me know how it works out for you. Good luck! 

Feedback
So, what do you think? If you're currently providing a newsletter or managing an email list, what works for you? What kinds of gifts work best? What other ways do you identify need? Let's discuss in the comment section below.

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Photo credit: navotamari

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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