E-mail Marketing (3)
Let’s get one thing straight. People are not going to sign up to your mailing list just because. It is not like they don’t have anything else better to do. You have to give them a compelling reason to sign up for your mailing list. There has to be something in it for them.
This is where incentives come in. You’re going to give away something for free, which adds value to your potential list members’ lives. They would look at these incentives as “ethical bribes”. You’re bribing them to join your mailing list. It’s not enough to promise that you’re going to give them great information regarding the niche they are interested in. Anybody can make that claim. To create the perception of value in the minds of your potential list members, you have to step up and give them a very powerful incentive.
Now the question becomes: what kind of incentive should you offer? The bad news is that it depends. I wish I could tell you that there is some sort of one-size-fits-all or universal answer to this question. There isn’t. The winning incentive varies from niche to niche. It also varies based on the sources of traffic that you have.
Accordingly, you have to play it by ear. Ideally, you should offer the 10 common types of incentives that I’m going to lay out below. You should offer them in sequence. Once you’ve gone through all 10, look through your conversion records and pick the incentives that got the most signups. That’s the best way to know.
Anybody could tell you that you should give away booklets or simply update people, but that’s assuming too much. People who are interested in your niche might prefer something else. The best way to find the right incentive is to simply go through all 10 common incentives and pick the best performing type. Once you found the highest converting type, then you can optimize as to which specific giveaway of that type works the best.
I hope we’re clear here. You have to go through this list. There are 10 common types of incentives you can offer. Here they are;
Topic-based email series
This incentive spoon-feeds list members answers to the common problems they may have. The value add is the content they receive in their emails. People who sign up for this type of mailing list incentive expect that you would be sending them pre-programmed emails that would step them through common problems associated with the niche they’re interested in. You would start at the beginning, then teach them a few things. After which, you then send another email which teaches the recipient another set of solutions, so on and so forth.This incentive gives you a tremendous opportunity to build expertise. You’re not laying out all your expertise at once. Instead, you are sharing to the recipient certain solutions, which gives them enough time to implement until the next set of solutions come.
A cheat sheet is just one simple document. It may be a one-page item or it can run several pages. Whatever form it takes, it is topic-based. A cheat sheet just focuses on one specific topic and breaks it down. Cheat sheets are very popular because they tend to highlight easy-to-know or easy-to-overlook information. People are constantly looking for “stripped down” info. They don’t have time. They just want to scan something that would give them the right answers as quickly as possible. They are also looking for something that spells out the answer in the simplest terms. It’s easy to see the value of cheat sheets. It’s no surprise that this form of mailing list incentive is quite popular.
Templates are very popular because people do not want to screw around with solving problems from scratch. They’d rather work with an existing template that they can just plug in specific information into. Of course, template giveaways don’t work across the board. While you can probably get a lot of subscribers for resume templates, you probably won’t get as many takers if the template addresses something that is so specific or so abstract that it is not really all that relevant. Templates can work, but it all depends on your mailing list’s niche.
Complete starter kit
You can compile all the solutions to a specific problem and give people access via an email link. Typically, this would involve people signing up to your squeeze page and being redirected to an online resource or PDF file that compiles all the content the reader needs to solve a problem.
This content can take many different forms. It can be a series of videos, audio files or links to PDF’s or even other websites. The big value-add here is the fact that you are compiling all these answers and putting them in one place. It solves the problem the user has in a very comprehensive way.
Oftentimes, when people are faced with a problem they simply do not know where to start. Even if they have a fairly general idea of the solution, they don’t have a plan to attack the problem in a comprehensive and clear way. A step-by-step plan enables you to guide the reader to solve the problem effectively.
Everybody likes a good story. If anything, most people would like to see stories involving changes to other people’s lives before and after something happened. These personal stories draw people in. They are able to connect on a person-to-person basis.
You can use these case studies to not only to build up your mailing list but also to upsell whatever service or product your company is promoting. You can even upsell members who sign up to your mailing list for case studies to other mailing lists. The possibilities are endless. Case studies work in most niches but this is not a slam dunk across the board. Keep that in mind.
Latest and Greatest News
This is my personal favorite. You have to understand that when you’re giving away some sort of “bribe” for somebody to join your mailing list, you run the risk of attracting people who only sign up for the bribe. It doesn’t matter whether you’re giving out software, cheat sheets, booklets, books, templates, or whatnot. There’s a chance that your mailing list might be filled with list squatters. This is the kind of risk you run. On the other hand, if you promote the updates that people would get by signing up to your list, there’s a strong chance that the people ending up on your list would actually read your emails. They will not be list squatters who ignore the updates that you send. As you probably already know, you will only make money off your mailing list when people actually bother to open and read them.
Showcase the latest and greatest news in your niche. Make the value of this information clear to potential list members. Unfortunately, this is not a strong value proposition for all niches. If you run a news website for a very specific niche, a newsletter would be a great way to build up your mailing list.
If you are in a niche where developments tend to come very slowly or people have a fixed idea as to what their problems are and these don’t seem to change, you might not get many takers for your newsletter. Offering the latest and greatest news works best for niches that have constant developments.
Webinars are video-based seminars. You can upload these on YouTube and spoon feed the URLs of these videos via email. You should also include a quick cheat sheet or a summary of the information contained in the video seminars with each of your emails. Let’s face it. People don’t really want to read a ton of text to learn something new. When given a choice, most people would rather watch a short video to learn a specific solution. This is why not surprisingly, a lot of people love video-based seminars. As long as these seminars deliver solutions that people are actively searching for, these make for great mailing list incentives.
While the internet is filled with free software, it seems that people can’t get enough apps, macros, or other software products. As long as they solve a specific problem people face, you can bet that offering this free software in exchange for emails will help you build up your mailing list fairly quickly. The secret to offering software as a list incentive revolves around specificity. The more specific the software is to a problem related to people interested in your niche, the higher the chance your squeeze page will convert.
However, if you’re offering some sort of a generic software that people can get elsewhere or a software that addresses a vague problem that may seem to be related to your niche, you might have a tougher time. Keep that in mind. Also, please note that software is not exactly cheap to code. You can build your own software or more likely, you’re going to have to hire somebody to code it for you. This might cost you quite a bit of money.
Depending on your niche, people might be interested in downloading a free package of icons, badges, photos or other graphical materials. While this makes for a great incentive for niches that involve online promotions, web design, web development, it doesn’t apply across the board. For example, if you are targeting the weight loss niche, few people would be interested in seeing photos of fit people. They know they need to lose weight. They don’t need photos of slim people to remind them of that problem. Instead, they’re looking for other types of content to address their issue.
If you really want to turbocharge the number of people joining your list, you might want to consider giving out custom consultations. These involve people contacting you via Skype and you stepping them through a problem. You have to tightly define the kind of consultation you have with people. Otherwise, you might sink into a time blackhole. Seriously. There are people out there that just love to talk. They would chat your ear off if you let them. Your consultation must be focused on a very targeted problem so as to minimize the amount of time you spend with a list member.
Remember, there will be people who would sign up for your mailing list just to consult with you and then once the consultation is over, they would unsubscribe from your list. Factor this in to the amount of time you spend on custom consultations. Personally, I would research the most frequently asked questions so I would basically just copy and paste this material into the custom consultation, tweak it a little bit and get that consultation down to as close to one minute as possible. You don’t want to spend too much time on custom consultations. Ideally, you should outsource this to somebody who could copy and paste specific answers to common questions.
Key Takeaway For Incentives
The key takeaway here should be obvious. Giving away a book or booklet for people to sign up to your mailing list is simply not enough. You have to figure out the industry standard giveaway for your niche and try to outdo the stuff that other people are giving away. Ideally, you should go through all 10 incentives above and pick out the most effective one. It all boils down to coming up with something better or something that has a greater perception of value.
Avoid This Problem!
As I have mentioned earlier, there are going to be people who would join your list just for the freebie. These are list squatters. To some extent, you really can’t avoid these people. You basically have to accept the fact that a certain percentage of your list will be squatters. Your job is to minimize that percentage to as close to zero as possible.
One way to nip this problem in the bud is to sell people on the value of your list. While your squeeze page should do a good job selling the value of your incentive, you should also talk about what they would get in that email updates you’ll be sending them. You should be clear that once they join, they will be receiving emails. Highlight the value those emails contain. Otherwise, when people start receiving emails, they would either unsubscribe or worse yet, they won’t unsubscribe. They would just take up space on your email roster. Depending on the email service provider you go with, you might get charged for the amount of list squatters you have. It may well turn out that only 1% of your mailing list of 100,000 people actually engage with your emails. These are people who actually open and read and click through your email. 99,000 people, on the other hand, are simply squatting on your list. Depending on your list provider, you might have to pay for those people.
Avoid this unnecessary drama by spelling out the value of list membership in addition to the freebie you’re handing out. Also, when people download the freebie, highlight the value of the email on the confirmation or freebie download page. The key here is to prevent people from being “surprised” by your email updates after they have downloaded your incentive. You really can’t blame people for ignoring your emails if you focus so much of your time on the incentive and people don’t get a clear idea that they will actually be receiving email updates from you.