I have had a website for a long time, since the ‘90s in fact.
When I look at what my site looked like back then, it amazes me that anyone ever spent any time on it at all. But they did. (By the way, if you want to see how some website looked back in the day, check out The Wayback Machine. It’s entertaining).
In the ‘90s, I kept telling my assistant that I wanted to create an e-newsletter. But, for whatever reason, I never did. I knew I was missing an opportunity of some sort, although I could never quite articulate what it was.
Then, a few years later, I had the chance to interview the CEO of a major e-newsletter company. She explained what I had been missing:
“The magic of e-newsletter marketing, Steve, is the opt-in. What I mean is that when you create an e-newsletter for your site, people have to opt-in to get it. They not only agree to give you their email address, but they further agree to let you contact them. That is what ‘opting-in’ means. It is truly extraordinary. Where else do people give you actual written permission to market to them?”
All of a sudden I realized what I had been missing. I could have been building my list all of those years, communicating with people wh
o wanted to hear from me and my business. Had they liked what they saw, it could have led to additional speeches, content assignments, business opportunities, and more. Needless to say, I have an e-newsletter now and a list of more than 10,000 people who have opted-in.
So all of this begs the question, how can you create your own e-newsletter list? Here are four simple steps:
1. Decide what your e-newsletter will be about: It should probably be fairly obvious to you and it of course depends on your business. The important thing is to come up with an angle that will be seen as a benefit to your customer base.
2. Decide upon an e-newsletter hosting company: There are some big ones out there, and they are usually big for a reason – because they are good. You want a company that will let you import your current list (if you have one), give you a choice of newsletter templates, and easily allow you to create and blast out your email campaigns.
3. Create the e-mail opt-in landing page on your site: This is of the utmost importance. You need to create a page that will give people a reason for opting-in and signing up for your e-newsletter. Your landing page should have three key elements:
- The headline. As with any good ad, you need a headline that grabs their attention.
- The benefits: Why should someone sign up? What will they get out of it? Some sharp bullet points are usually necessary.
- The call to action: You need to tell people that they need to opt-in.
One more thing: You may need to further incentivize people to get them to opt-in. That may mean offering a special report, e-book, or discount, for example.
4. Create and send your newsletter: Online, the maxim is “Content is King.” If you load up your e-newsletter with lots of useful information (for example, the restaurant sends out recipes and cooking ideas), your current subscribers will get you even more subscribers when they forward your newsletter on. Content is king.
Note: Don’t forget the 80-20 rule and apply it to your newsletter. 80% of the content should be about your customers and their needs and only 20% should be about your business and what you sell.
Once you gain credibility by creating great value in your e-newsletter, you can then soft-sell your goods and services. People will be far more receptive to your pitch because you will have created goodwill in the process.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.
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