Newsletters and Mailing lists have become quite the trend for bloggers, and certainly for a good reason, since a well-built list offers an array of benefits:
- Communicate immediately and directly with people who you know are interested in your content or products.
- Know that people are seeing your content. Social networks often filter content (think Facebook), or at the very best show posts according time-posted (Instagram & Twitter).
- It can foster further interaction by driving readers back to your blog, website, or social media.
- It’s a great way to stay at the top of people’s minds.
- Mailing lists can provide valuable metrics that measure people’s’ responses to products and messages.
- And the list goes on…
But does that mean every creative needs to start a mailing list? The next seven items are not only great points to think through before getting started, but also in determining whether creating and sustaining a mailing list is for you.
Just because others are doing it (and maybe with great results), does not mean that it’s best for you.
Here are seven things to consider before getting started:
Does it have purpose?
Be sure to have content and information that will serve your audience. Why are you doing this, and what do you expect to get out of it? Bottom line: how will this tangibly enhance your business?
Offer Quality Content fo’ FREE.
The best newsletters offer their subscribers something in return for their readership. Even major product lines generally offer discounts or a first-look into a new line of products. Try offering a free e-book, template, or guide for anyone who signs-up. Why? Because it immediately sets the tone by establishing that your business has something to offer. Warning: If what you offer is not quality, expect people to unsubscribe quickly.
Bonus warning: People tend to hit the “Spam” button instead of “Unsubscribe” because it’s easier and requires less work–at least, I often do this. This can cause your newsletter to be suspended or deleted, especially if you’re using an email marketing software like MailChimp.
Is this something you can commit to once a week, month, or quarter? If not, it’s probably not for you–save yourself time and energy, and devote it to another project.
If you answered yes, pick an interval of time that you can consistently deliver quality content. The sweet spot for most small businesses is at minimum once-a-month (or quarter), and at most once-a-week. The only newsletter I receive everyday is TheSkimm, which contains an overview yesterday’s top news–it’s awesome, so you should sign-up here.
Of course, these are only general guidelines. One of the many advantages of a newsletter is the ability to communicate quickly. If you have something big to announce, there’s no reason to wait!
Deliver at Appropriate Times.
Ultimately this is something that will vary from business to business (and can easily be A/B tested!–more coming on that in the coming weeks), but have a general sense of what time of day people are most likely to click-through your newsletter. Blasting a newsletter at 11:30 a.m. may not receive as many click-throughs or reads as something blasted early in the morning.
For example, TheSkimm sends their newsletter every morning around 6:30 a.m., which is perfect because I will read it as I’m waking up in the morning. If they sent it later, say around noon, I’d be much less likely to read the newsletter. Why? Because by that time I’m in the midst of the workday and much busier. Also, their content is yesterday’s top news, which is already “old news” by the end of today.
Collect E-mails Diligently–just not annoyingly.
Always make sure you have permission to add people to your mailing list, but take advantage of all the tools that will help you build your list faster.
Make signing up easy! Try creating sidebar sign-ups and using pop-ups. Pop-ups work, just don’t be annoying with them. There are some great, easy-to-use tools out there that can help you get started:
- Bloom (Premium Service) & SumoMe (free, but has a Premium service) are WordPress plugin that gives users tools such as pop-up boxes and forms for their website so that readers can easily sign-up to receive newsletters.
- MailChimp (and other email marketing softwares) plugins to make it easy to collect e-mails through online forms.
Permission is vital.
Email marketing softwares like Mailchimp may suspend your account if they see that your list was collected improperly. And those suspensions aren’t just a threat. Even a small percentage of people hitting “spam” or unsubscribing to your newsletter can trigger your account as a spammer. It use to happen often when I worked for a large non-profit and going through the process of re-activating your account isn’t exactly the best way to spend an afternoon.
They suggest to use the “double opt-in” process to gather e-mails. This is when users sign-up using an online form, then confirm through a confirmation e-mail. It’s simply good form to have a person’s permission before adding them to your mailing list, even if it’s a friend.
You can build your email list with double opt-in’s, send mailings weekly and have a beautifully designed template, but if you don’t interact with your audience, it’s a lot more likely that they hit that dreaded “spam” or “unsubscribe” button. Pay attention to which emails have the biggest open rate and don’t be afraid to ask your audience what they want to hear about. You may find that they’re more interested in deals and discounts than your latest travels – and that’s okay! Because ultimately this list should exist to benefit them.
Have advice, tip, or a question? Please leave in the comments below!