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How to Extract More Value from Your Email List

Part of your job is to get a bigger bang out of every buck you spend. You now do the work that two people used to do. Your media budget has been cut and is now frozen. So, what can you do to squeeze more value out of what you've already spent money on?

Revitalizing your email house list is a capital place to start. While email isn't as hot as mobile or Social Media Marketing, it works. It's a warhorse that delivers results if you nourish your list.

My 7 tips below cost little or no money and can make you look like a hero to your boss or retainer client. Enjoy.

1. Say Yes to Twitter, but Don't Go Crazy

I use Twitter as a sort of extension to Web Digest For Marketers. We tweet about features coming out in the next issue of the newsletter. We retweet others who tweet us in return, which puts my newsletter on the radar screen of Internet Marketers who don't know of us. Now, a noticeable percentage of monthly web traffic comes from Twitter.

Twitter is also good for sales lead gen. I noticed last week that a prospective advertiser started following me.

We are careful not to link to ourselves too much, or else the feed appears way too self-serving and smarmy. The "LarryChaseWDFM" Twitter feed points back to my site only 2 in every 10 tweets on average.

When we post a new issue of the newsletter, we tweet the link to the online version. If it is a hot topic, that tweet can be seen by tens or hundreds of thousands of followers on other people's Twitter streams. That's a type of endorsement. Those followers often click on the Twitter link, read the issue for themselves and subscribe right then and there. Try it.

2. Keep Subscribers on Their Toes

Most email lists blast out offers or content in the "same ole-same ole" format. You can set your clock by it; it's that predictable. One firm has sent me nearly the same offer for months now. So I can now delete it with confidence and without opening it.

Try shocking your audience by offering something they'd otherwise pay for. Do something so out of the ordinary that the reader pulls his/her hand back from the "delete" key and gets really interested.

Test and improve your newsletter layout and your landing page. The reader doesn't have to be conscious that changes have been made, just sort of vaguely aware that something's different. Keep making changes. Don't get stale.

3. Offer an Immediate Bonus to Prospective Subscribers

It took me 6 years to discover this tactic. The first bonus I offered was a Search Marketing Guide. It tripled subscriber rates overnight. More recently, I offer my Social Media Marketing Guide: 12 Key Tools which also is quite popular. In fact, I notice people coming back multiple times to get the guide. Maybe they lost the first one?

4. Feature Other Voices

You may be the most interesting person in the world. But it's possible, just possible, that recipients of your emails might be interested in hearing from other people. The salutary effects of featuring other people are manifold.

Until recently, my newsletter mostly featured site reviews of useful Internet Marketing tools. Then, I started interviewing industry gurus like Jim Sterne, Mike Grehan and Tim Ash. They, of course, tweeted to their minions about being interviewed. Still others blogged about it and chatted it up within their own company. I know that because I can see their co-workers subscribe.

I insist on interviewing people live by phone so that spontaneous and unexpected things come out of the encounter. Those unexpected interludes are often very memorable.

I don't like interviewing by email; it's too "cut and paste-y." The responses are too programmed. Our phone interviews last 30 to 40 minutes, although some have stretched to an hour. Sr. Editor Janet Roberts transcribes them, and together we trim them down to 1,200 words or less. We leave some meat on the floor but ensure that what's left is all prime content and worth the reader's time.

Doing phone interviews, transcribing them and severely editing them thereafter is comparatively more expensive than interviews by email. But, judging by user response and click-throughs, it's well worth it.

5. Pass-Along Promotes New Subscriptions

People are programmed to share valuable information and offers. When mapping out our editorial schedule for each year, we look for topics that will make subscribers so enthusiastic that they'd:

  • Pass the newsletter along to someone else. (The day our newsletter publishes is always our highest new subscriber acquisition day.)
  • Hold onto it for future reference. (I know subscribers do this because I can see click-throughs on the newsletter's ads and editorial increase for up to a year after publication.)

6. No-Brainer Subscription Process

You'd think after 15+ years of Internet Marketing, it would be standard operating procedure for firms to prominently feature a subscription form on their site. But no. I often find myself crawling all over websites just so I can subscribe and move on quickly. Very frustrating for the user. No doubt this practice leaves untold amounts of revenue on the table.

7. Be Edgy

In addition to changing the newsletter layout by degrees and featuring other voices, why not address some topics that are in their infancy?

Early on, we published "iPhone Apps for Internet Marketers." Many firms had apps in development but hadn't released them. Was "Internet Marketing Apps for the iPhone" a hot topic at Google Trends? No. Techmeme? No.

Still, that newsletter was one of our most popular issues. Even people who didn't have an iPhone wanted to know what was available.

Leading with a given topic early can be a little risky, but if you lead successfully by featuring something no one else is writing about, you'll stand out and avoid the dreaded "Delete, delete, delete" syndrome.