Email is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. You must use it effectively. If the tone of your message is not in sync with the reader, they will hit the delete button and move on to the next message in their inbox. Make sure your opening sentences grab the attention of the reader and gradually draw them in to the rest of your message. The importance of your Subject message â€“ couldnâ€™t be more critical! But, before you send out emails to prospects and clients, you must build your very own â€œmailing listâ€.
Setting up an opt-in list on your website
In an effort to build a mailing list of prospects and clients – you must attempt to collect the name and email of everyone visiting your site, even if they donâ€™t buy a thing. As long as they are interested in your content and your website, these are potential customers and can form the basis of email campaigns, newsletters, special offers and announcements you can carry out on a regular basis.
Here are a few sample email collection text box areas that you can put on your website in a prominent location –
Want to be alerted when we have our 50% sale?
Sign up Here!
Your Name : [_________] Your Email : [_________]
Once people sign up – thank them, and take them back to the homepage.
You could also incentivize them to sign up. For example – by giving away 10 Free Gemstones or any other object or services that has perceived value to them.
Example: Sign up and get a chance to win a Gemstone and NO COST.
Your Name : [_________] Your Email : [_________]
And then the submit button says — â€œSend Me My Gift!â€
Everyone loves freebies!
Tip: If you are offering a 100% Quality Satisfaction Guarantee â€“ state it on the homepage. Let people know that you are serious when it comes to guarantees. Gain their confidence trust with this. Giving them a lifetime Guarantee if possible is great. It changes things. People will buy more easily if there is a lifetime guarantee. Generally not more than a small percentage of people (if any) will actually return this. But the lifetime guarantee and seal of quality certificate (if you have one)â€¦ will make all the difference in creating that trust. It works much better than a 2 month return policyâ€¦ if you think about it you will realize. Both things create two entirely different images of products and companies in the visitors mindâ€¦. One beams 100% trust and confidence the other creates a small feeling of comfort â€“ but not 100%.
Tip: Get your developer to turn the logging/statistics on, on your website. This can give us very good feedback. You will immediately know which products are being viewed more and which less. You can then accordingly list those products on the homepage directly and expect better results. With this we can track clicks and see what is happening on your site and if need be we can modify things and focus on products that are popular. (Tracking also allows you to see where (which sites) visitors are coming to your site from).
By keeping in touch with your website visitors you can inform them of new product releases, and other site updates or anything new offered on your website, from time to time.
Setting up your Subscription List
To collect opt-in email addresses you will need to get your webmaster or website, developer to install a simple â€œform scriptâ€ into your website. Whether your website is running on Unix-Perl-PHP or Microsoft-ASP, there are many websites from where you can download free subscription type scripts such as, www.cgi-resouces.com and www.hotscripts.com .
If you do not know how to install scripts on your own webserver, you could visit third party websites that run the script for you on their website. These are called â€œremotely hosted scriptsâ€ and are mostly free and very easy to setup. They give you some simple HTML code snippet which will have to insert into your web pages. You will also get a login ID and password so you can login at anytime to retrieve emails of your opt-in subscribers. When a visitor to your site, subscribes to your newsletter, you will be notified by email.
This is the very basic requirement that you must do.
Once you get into the groove and move on. You will find that as the size and number of your mailing list grows, it becomes more and more difficult for you to â€œmanageâ€ and â€œtrackâ€ your growing list. For example, sending out a welcome message to new subscribers, and following up with another message to them after a weekâ€¦ or then pitching a special discounted offer to new subscribers without pitching the same offer to people you have already sent it to in the past â€“ so your email doesnâ€™t classify as spam!
What you need is a sequential mailing system that sends out well timed messages to fresh people on your list â€“ without repeatedly sending out the same message to older subscribers.
For example: A welcome message at the time of signing up followed by a â€œdid you know we offer this?â€ message after 3 days
How you can use the power of a mini-course sent by email
You should definitely consider creating and setting up a small free email mini-course educating the subscriber about an area that interests them, and is connected to the product yourself. This will immediately establish your credibility in your area of expertise. You donâ€™t need to reveal all the tricks â€“ just reveal a few teasers and good insights.
The course could be set to span over a period of say 4 weeks as a series of 10 emails automatically sent out every 3 days or so. This is marketing on â€œauto-pilotâ€. You will not need to be around to actually execute this. Simply spend time to write good content that educates the user and setup your system â€“ and then let it do the work on auto-pilot.
Remember you need to first gain the readers confidence and trust.
Do not attempt to sell anything to them during the period of the course. This will only get them to put their guard up. Offer free advice and information that has â€œvalueâ€ for the reader, and the reader starts listening to you more and more as the stuff you say makes sense.
Once you have gained their trust and confidence â€“ they will pay attention to what you say. By reading your mini-course, they will know that you are well versed in your field.
After, and only after, the course is complete â€“ should you make a pitch! But, remember – do not over-sell. Nothing can be worse. Be subtle and write your email clearly – spelling out the benefits they will get with your product or service.
You can start your pitch by a general informative message and then connect to your product . For exampleâ€¦ did you know, I had a product that could help you cut down on blah blah blah.. (spell the benefits). Then name the product, what it does briefly and a â€œcall-to-actionâ€ â€“ in this case a URL they need to click on to learn more about the product.
If you want to see how the pros are using mailing lists and these â€œautoresponderâ€ systems â€“ sign up for my mini-course! Over the next few weeks, you will see exactly how I run my system!
To setup your own system – I strongly suggest you try one of the mailing list managers and autoresponder systems below that are remotely hosted by third parties. What this means is that you sign up and create your account and simply cut-and-paste HTML code into your site pages to create your sign-up forms. Everytime you want to configure your account to send out a newsletter or to setup your mini-course, all you need to do is login to your account on these websites and configure it. Its not too difficult to understand and can be done easily if you have understood what I have said so far 🙂
www.aweber.com â€“ Currently being used by thousands of website operators. Its simple and within minutes you can have a very effective â€œemail sign up and subscription systemâ€ up and running. You will get auto-responders, ability to send out regular email newsletters to your subscribers, and a host of other features.
www.getrepsonse.com â€“ As good as the above system. It may be cheaper if you have a large list that you want to manage as they donâ€™t seem to charge more once your list grows and the number of mailings you send out starts increasing significantly in size.
Both the above systems charge you a monthly subscription fees to operate your mailing list.
If you are from the technical background (or know a webmaster) who can setup perl or php scripts on your own website, you might consider the option of purchasing a ready-to-go mailing list and autoresponder script. I recommend the following â€“
http://myuam.com – ulitmate affiliate manager script for $97. has autoresponder plus other features. best of lot.
http://www.activecampaign.com/12all/ – best script purchase. good for $89.
http://www.sellwide.com/followup_lite.shtml – $55 looks good
http://www.interspire.com/sendstudio – mailing list manager. too expensive … $250+
The above solutions are good to collect email addresses via an online form and then to send out regular emails to your subscribers using a web-based system through which you login and do the sending and tracking of mails.
If you want a desktop solution, by which you install a software on your desktop and fire it up every time you need to send out mails then you could download and install any of the softwares below. This approach is needed for example â€“ if you collect emails offline (eg. Say you run a local pub-restaurant, or brick-and-mortar local sports boutique, and you need to keep in touch with your clients).
My favorites are WorldMerge and Group Mail. Group mail is for the more advanced and heavy users.
WorldMerge â€“ This mass mailer gives you the ability to send broadcast (non-personalized) messages and mail-merge (personalized) messages. Messages can be sent in HTML or TXT format. You can also decide the size of your broadcast (it will go as BCC) to be anywhere between 5 to 50 addresses. The learning curve to understand this software is not difficult. While setting up this software, you should setup a dummy email list and check on that first to see that you have everything setup ok. You will need your ISPs SMTP server. ( They give this to you with your Internet account.) Give them a call or visit their website if you donâ€™t know what it is. The software is available as a free download at http://www.coloradosoft.com The free version will have a small message at the end of each mail, saying “this mail has been sent by WorldMerge”. Fair enough. If you want to remove this, you will have to purchase a licensed copy , which costs $49.
GroupMail â€“ This is more advanced than WorldMerge and I would highly recommend it if you are confident and would like to spend a little more time in learning a lot of extra features that this software provides. Download it from http://www.infacta.com/
Handling bounced mail: While sending your email to your list make sure you send it from an address where you can collect any bounced emails. Later you should remove these bounced email addresses from your master list.
Cleaning mail lists: People change email addresses very often. You will have to clean your list so you minimize the bounce rate. Clean lists will lead to a more efficient mailing – since your software will not waste time and resources sending the email to an invalid email address. To check the validity of email addresses, you should setup and use email verifier softwares that are available – like Beijing Advanced Mail Verifier. With this software you simply feed in your list and start the process. The software uses its built in algorithm to query (ping) each email accounts mail server. It ask the server if email@example.com is a valid email ID. If it is, it moves on to the next email in the list. If it isnâ€™t valid it deletes the email from the list.
Single and double opt-in mailing lists
An opt-in list is a list of email addresses of persons who have subscribed to your service by submitting their email addresses to you. A double opt-in occurs when a person subscribes to your service, but in order to verify the authenticity of their email address, you send an automated email to their address and ask them to click on a link to complete and confirm their subscription. Understandably, double opt-in lists are much cleaner than the regular opt-in email lists. If you are looking to monetize your email newsletters that you send out to subscribers, some advertisers will ask you if your list is a double opt-in or not, and will base their decision to advertise with you on that. More and more advertisers are looking to advertise only with double opt-in lists.
Mail your customers regularly
Once you have the email addresses of your subscribers, you need to keep in touch with them on a regular basis. How often you send them a message depends on your service or product. Some businesses keep in touch on a weekly basis, by sending weekly newsletters and product updates. Others keep in touch once a month. On rare occasions some services send out daily emails – an example would be a news website, or a “daily joke” website, or a daily email mini-course.
Keep in mind the following key points while writing content that goes out to your subscribers –
1. Donâ€™t bore your reader. Send stuff that they will find interesting, or they will “channel out” and stop opening or reading your email, and in Seth Godin’s words – they will not give you “permission” into their mindset.
2. Keep your emails short, and try not repeating what you say more than once, unless absolutely required.
3. Provide a â€œstarterâ€ summary and concise paragraph of stories you would like them to read, and then link these summaries to the full story on your website. This way, they can quickly read what you want to say and decide if they want to read more on a particular subject or story.
4. A point to note â€“ most readers browse quickly through emails. Keep your email neat, bulleted, and divided it into clear and well formatted sections if required. Keep sentences short, and paragraphs not too large. Try to wrap your text around half the horizontal screen length.
5. Maintain a similar structure and theme for all your emails, so readers easily â€œadaptâ€ to it after getting a few emails from you.
6. Spell-check your emails!
7. You may send your email in plain text or HTML format. This is something you will have to decide. If you need to send pictures and have nice images, then you need HTML.
8. Give them a chance to opt-out of your list, by inserting an opt-out link and message at the end of all of your emails. There are two ways this can be done.
Example 1 â€“ You can insert a message like this at the end of your mails â€“
To cancel your subscription or to unsubscribe, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject of your message â€“ â€˜unsubscribe meâ€™
Example 2 â€“ You can automate the un-subscription / opt-out feature, if your mailing list manager system allows it by simply inserting the message and URL at the end that says â€“ â€œClick here to unsubscribe,
9. Remember, if your email is rich in content and has stuff that the subscriber waits to read every day or every week – you can be sure that the opt-out rate will be very low, and your emails are read AND you can drive regular traffic to your website – in turn selling them more products and services.
How to track the effectiveness of an email campaign?
Firstly we need to define what exactly we mean by “effectiveness”. It could mean several things –
1. Effectiveness can be measured in terms of “how many people have read the email?”
There is no 100% sure way of finding out how many people actually â€œread your emailâ€. But you can get a very good approximation by using the following method. You will have to send your email in HTML format for this technique to work. You simply need to insert a 1 pixel by 1 pixel blank image inside the HTML of the email. Preferably, put it right at the bottom of your email – so it loads right at the end. You can then check your server log files to see how many times the 1 pixel by 1 pixel image was “called” or â€œaccessedâ€ – or how many “hits” this image got. This number will be the number of people who opened your email. There is not way you can track if they actually read it or not after opening it. But if you insert a link right at the end saying “click here to read more”, then you can be 100% sure that everyone who clicks on that link has read your email, is interested, and would like to know more.
Instead of inserting a 1 pixel by 1 pixel blank image, you could alternatively insert an invisible counter tag at the end of the email. The counter increases by one every time the email is opened. You can get a free counter from thecounter.com – the script is on their server, you simply insert an HTML tag into your email, and their server will track the number of “hits” / emails opened.
Alternatively, you can use services of eweber.com or getresponse.com â€“ who have inbuilt tracking services to accomplish this for you.
2. Effectiveness can also be measured in terms of “how many people have visited your webpage / website by clicking on the link(s) in the email”
Using freely available methods or paid third party services, you can easily track the number of clicks made by people who read your email. You can have several sub-topics in your email which have a link in the end, saying “click here to read more…”, or the title itself can be a link to the full story found on your website. You could also have a simple message at the end of your email saying â€œclick here to visit yoursite.comâ€
The frequency at which people click on a link in your email is called the “Click Through Rate” or CTR. ( we will talk more about this later )
3. Effectiveness can also be measured in terms of “how many people have visited your site after reading your email, and then making a purchase â€“ of your product or a third party product that you are an affiliate of.”
This figure will always be slightly lower than the actual amount because people, who have not purchased anything in their first visit, could potentially come back later to buy something, or people who have made a purchase could come back later and buy more stuff.
There is no way of tracking this with 100% accuracy â€“ (since people may use different computers to return at a later date, but the closest way is by using â€œcookiesâ€. If you sell third party products, make sure that your affiliate merchant has a cookie system â€“ so you get paid if a visitor to his site from your site â€“ returns to his site at a later date directly to make a purchase.
Using email to send Press Releases
If you are launching a new product or service, you should consider writing a press release. You may use the professional services of sites like InternetNewsBureau.com , or prnewswire.com to send your press release by fax and email to a very comprehensive list of reporters, newspapers and periodicals. They charge quite a bit, so if you are tight on funds, you could consider using the free services of prweb.com â€“ or even directly approach editors of various online websites. Make sure you send the mail to a targeted group of editors â€“ that is, donâ€™t just go berserk sending a mail to each and every portal. Identify portals that would like to report your piece of news and that are focused websites that provide news and information that is focused on your industry.
Alternatively, you could send an email to various editors of all major newspapers, periodicals and Radio stations. For more information on how to write and send press releases please refer to the chapter “Public Relations” later in this book.
Give free content to other newsletters
If you have content that you have written, that could be of use to subscribers of another websiteâ€™s opt-in list – you should offer it for free to the list owner so he can send it to his list. In exchange you could ask him to place a link to your site at the end of your article. List owners are always on the lookout for valuable free content to keep their readers interested. Your article must provide value to the readers â€“ be it information, or free tips, or free advice, or a free e-download.
Your signature file
Make sure you have a catchy signature file which appears at the bottom of all your business and personal mails. You can include – Company Name, Website URL, Contact Email , phone number, fax and address, and also a catchy slogan or phrase. This signature file will appear at the bottom of each email you send out from your email client.
Some witty and catchy quotation optionally here
34 East Street, Some Address Here, Pincode 1234, USA
Ph +011-1212.1212.1212 Fx +011-1212.1212.1212
Message of confidentiality at end of business mail.
At the end of every mail you could include a small message about the confidentiality of the contents of the email. This could be something like –
The information in this email is confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended solely for the addressee. Access to this email by anyone else is unauthorized. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.
Viral marketing with email
Viral marketing is a system whereby a message or product awareness automatically and quickly spreads to many people in a very short period of time. Classic examples of websites that benefited with a viral system are – Hotmail.com , BlueMountainArts.com , Geocities.com and ValuePay.com . I have dedicated a separate chapter to Viral Marketing, because it is a very powerful tool if used effectively, and could get your message or product out to millions of people without spending a dime on marketing.
Email groups are groups of individuals who are all interested in the same subject. They regularly share information pertaining to the group topic. There is generally a “Group Moderator” who controls the content of the email that goes out regularly to all group members. Active members can send their message to all others by sending it first to the group Moderator, who decides if the message is appropriate to be circulated â€“ and then sends it out to everyone using a â€œlist serverâ€ of sorts.
There are countless groups on all sorts of topics. A good place to start looking for them is at Yahoo Groups at groups.yahoo.com or Google Groups at groups.google.com
Many groups are bubbly with a lot of discussion going on. Initially, before making a posting, it is strongly advised that you â€œlurkâ€ around a egroup. This means that you watch it for a few days and see how people are communicating and if it is indeed a place where you would like to converse with the other participating members. Donâ€™tâ€™ just jump in and start babbling. Watch it for a while, before you decide to step in. You will also need to follow certain manners while posting or conversing on these groups (called â€œnetiquetteâ€). Read the FAQs of the group or message for newbies posted by the Group Moderator first to learn more about these. For example â€“ donâ€™t blatantly spam groups with your advertising message. If you feel you have a resource that may be useful for group members find a more interesting way to talk about it. One way is to contribute to the group by posting your reply / viewpoint to other posts, and maybe then include your website link in your signature file at the bottom of your post.
Email Spiders, Email Harvesters
Email spiders are programs that automatically browse the web, jumping from link to link and scanning each page for email addresses. If they find an email address, it is automatically added to the database. There is no way websites can stop them. The people who run email spiders, collect huge volumes of email address (in the millions) and later sell them for a price, or use them to send spam.
If you ever use a Newsgroup and need to post your email address in order to get a response, you should not use the format “email@example.com” but rather use something like “myname (at) mysite dot com”. This is easily understood by a human who reads it, but goes undetected by a email spider. You can use this method even while including your email on your website, or alternatively make an image file of your email and upload it.
Virus through email
Most viruses that spread, spread through email because of carelessness or lack of knowledge by email users. Microsoft’s Outlook Express is known to have many “holes” in the past which can be exploited by email viruses to spread further and faster.
The simple rules are –
1. Never open an email attachment with an extension you donâ€™t know!
Extensions .doc or .txt are safe, but make sure the file name is not jim.doc.exe
2. Never open an email attachment file sent by a stranger.
3. Even if a friend sends you a mail with an attachment â€“ you should check with him before opening the attachment. Its very easy to spoof via email â€“ and pretend to be someone you know and make sure that the senders email address that you see is indeed your friends â€“ when in reality it is coming from someone else!
Notorious email viruses like Mellissa Virus and the I Love You virus have known to have caused losses in millions of dollars. Luckily though, they have not been very malicious, and have at worst brought down the email network of companies. These viruses did not format hard disks – which they could have done easily, had they been programmed to do so.
And finally… There is a book called THE E-CODE “33 Internet Superstarts Reveal 43 Ways to Make Money Online Almost Instantly – Using Only Email!”. I will be posting the jist of what these online moguls are saying in this book in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!