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Mailing List/psychology Question
Posted 08 November 2005 - 08:42 PM
I have a question that may relate more to psychology than strategy, but perhaps those here can offer some insight.
I recently started a mailing list/newsletter, for which people are signing up on a fairly regular basis. To avoid having an HTML newsletter filtered, I send out a teaser paragraph in plain text with a link to the rest of the newsletter on my site. The location is different each time, and readers can get there only by clicking the link, which I can track.
Problem is, very few actually do that--maybe 3-4%. They sign up for it, but then they don't even bother to read it.
Is this common? Anyone else encounter this?
Posted 08 November 2005 - 09:17 PM
Just my 2 cents,
Posted 08 November 2005 - 11:57 PM
Most banner advertisements now get less than .1% click-throughs.
Appreciate what you're getting, which is pre-qualified traffic, and keep building your subscriber base.
But you can try experimenting, too. Lengthen your snippets. Shorten them. Use a different style.
Vary the contents and maybe provide some in-depth articles. Until you've tried everything, you won't know what really works best. And, of course, you cannot try everything, but you can still be innovative.
Posted 09 November 2005 - 12:16 AM
Lise, I'd assume that if they signed up on my site, the email is from my site, and the link goes to my site, they wouldn't worry about a virus. I could be wrong. It's not something I've ever thought about with newsletters I get--I have no hesitation about clicking a link in them.
I'd also assume that even though it requires the extra step of clicking the link, they'd do it to get the newsletter in HTML. (It's the kind of thing that lends itself to that and would be kind of flat in plain text.) I do include more than a few words--it's usually a paragraph.
Mike, my impression is that newsletters generally have better than a 3-4% readership rate. Also, I often include a link to an original article I've written, also posted on the site, not fluff, no attempt to sell in it, and the clickthrough for those is even lower--maybe 1%.
Posted 09 November 2005 - 09:24 AM
You say your "click through" rate is only 3-4%. What's the "open rate"? That would be a more valid comparison with other newsletters, I think.
There are plenty of newsletters I get that include the full article; if the publisher is lucky, I skim them, and only pause to read the full thing if it manages to stop me in my tracks in some way. For most, I might read (at best) the first paragraph or so. If they haven't sucked me in by then, I'm deleting and moving on. I don't have time to spend absorbing something that doesn't offer me new, compelling, useful information.
If you think about it, that's pretty much what's apparently happening with your newsletter. The difference is, your readers can't even skim the rest of the article to see if there's something in there that jumps out at them and grabs their attention. They have to go through the extra step of clicking a link, which doesn't sound like much, but if you haven't "made the case" with that first paragraph, they aren't going to go through even that much effort.
Which, I believe, is why Michael says you've got to look at your "teaser" paragraphs as advertisements. It's not simply a matter of putting the first paragraph of the article in there with a "click to read more" link -- unless the first paragraphs of these articles are typically enormously riveting.
Those teasers are, in effect, advertisements for the full article. The "price" of receiving the article is the effort of a click, and you need to make the case for people who probably already receive more newsletters than they have time to read that yours is the one that's worth their time.
I'd suggest you approach writing your "teasers" the same way you'd approach writing a PPC ad. You've got a limited amount of space (more than AdWords gives you, to be sure, but still not much), and you need to grab their attention and virtually compel them to click through. Don't just use the article's first paragraph -- write an advertisement for that article (an "executive summary" if it makes you feel better to call it something other than an ad) that makes the case for the reader of why they would benefit from clicking through to read the whole thing.
You may find copywriting books or courses, particularly those aimed toward direct marketing copywriting, helpful to learn various writing and formatting techniques for advertisements that "compel" response.
Posted 09 November 2005 - 05:53 PM
Thanks. That's what I've tried to do, but evidently it's not working.
I don't know what the open rate for the newsletter is, because it's in plain text. You get open-rate stats only with HTML, which I wanted to avoid because of the higher likelihood of being intercepted by spam filters.
Posted 09 November 2005 - 06:37 PM
That said, it comes down to your goals with teh newsletter. IF you want to achieve lets say sales, your approach may be brilliant, as people most likely to clickthrough are obviously interested.
However, if branding as a guru is your goal, you may be failing miserably!
So, think about what you want to achieve, and decide if getting more interested eyeballs (which are from actual clickthroughs) is better than just getting eyballs.
Posted 09 November 2005 - 07:51 PM
If I had to click on a link in order to read the contents then I'd never read any of it. I'm simply too busy, I have enough browser windows open already on my desktop and I don't even know if it's going to be interesting/appropriate to what I need or not. A skim-read of a full newletter tells me at least that.
Posted 10 November 2005 - 02:00 AM
However things depend on what your objective is and your call to action.
Posted 10 November 2005 - 10:14 AM
To leverage all the effort that goes into creating a solid newsletter, create a printer friendly version, print some off and mail them out to people who may not be on the Internet bandwagon YET but would find the information relevant to their life/their business/whatever.
Put the URL to your subscription page or to the latest edition in the sig line of all of your emails. Tell everyone and anyone about your newsletter and why it's worth signing up for. Generate a buzz.
Because of the nature of my practice, my focus is to build a very targeted subscriber base which will take longer to achieve but have greater payoffs in the long run. Even if only a small % of my subscribers become clients or refer my services, the newsletter has more than paid for itself. A well done newsletter also makes a great addition to your media kit and portfolio if prospects want to know a little more about you. So, be sure to let your personality shine through in those mail outs.
Posted 10 November 2005 - 01:11 PM
There is a certain SEO newsletter (that you are forced to receive if you register for a certain directory) that does a poor job of delivering what they build up.
I've taken the time to click through to read articles where the title promised to give the answer to some SEO mystery or give a controversial view on a subject, only to find a rehash of the same information that's been out there for a while.
Even when their titles catch my eye, I don't bother to read because they've fooled me in the past.
Posted 10 November 2005 - 01:18 PM
Posted 12 November 2005 - 01:20 AM
The TOC is a good idea, and I may do that if I don't drop the newsletter. Thing is, the format is the same every time, so if they read the first one, they'll know what's in it. But the link to the first one goes out as an autoresponder welcome message when they sign up, and I find they don't even click on that!
Posted 12 November 2005 - 01:22 PM
You simply have to go to where your market is--they won't come to you. At least not until they feel what you are offering is worth the extra effort (and yep, even a few clicks is "extra effort" for most busy people I know, including me).
Posted 12 November 2005 - 02:28 PM
do the whole newsletter in a text version. use a summary in the text newsletter. Use a spam filter checker to make sure you have the highest chances of getting through.
Here are two free ones - www.onautopilot.com/email-analyzer and www.lyris.com/resources/contentchecker/
I prefer the first becasue Lyris asks too many questions. The former will also format line length. I use 65 characters. (the line length tends to remove PS and bullet numbers so you'll need to glace over the email before sending it out.)
3-4 days AFTER you send out the newsletter send out a short email with only the summary and a link to the web page the newsletter is posted on. A simple messages like in case you missed the issue I sent out a few days ago. . .
Do not make the mistake of thinking your newsletter is read as a series. Each issue is seperate.
Do use foreshadowing and bridging between issues. Tell the reader what the next issue will be about or tease them with promises of information to come.
No matter what you are writing about, you MUST follow standard copywriting techniques. This means using bridge phrases between paragraphs and other simple techniques to keep the reader reading.
I've found the best metric for judging newsletters is $/subscriber. If you are doing everything you can to get through the filters, watching the dollars/subscriber allows you to quickly compare different offers and language.
Don't worry TOO MUCH about spelling and grammar. I did a split test on Monday. The same article sent to the same list in an A:B split. The article with mispelled words and poor grammar was resposible for 75% of the sales.
Don't worry about loosing subscribers. Your goal is to sell, not have a large list. Remember, you cannot buy groceries with subscribers. Fry's only takes dollars.
Read that again. In all the promotions I have done over the years, the publishers who brag about the size of their lists always do much poorer in any metric. (I think this is because they are afraid to sell and cause people to unsubscribe.) In my newsletters there is a direct correlation between unsubscribes and sales. (sales run 3-4 times unsubscribes.)
Be yourself. Find a groove that fits you and results in sales then stick with it. Continue to test, but don't stray too far.
I have also found a direct correlation between the length of the newsletter and the amount of dollars it brings in. Longer is better as long as it's a single topic newsletter.
Here's a way to generate income from a list constantly and consistantly. Use an introductory series and put your best selling issues into the early slots. When you send out a newsletter that is productive, put it into the series.
This acomplishes two things - money, and it teaches your readers to take your advice and buy things.
That's some things to think about.
PS one thing almost no one does that is very productive is offer a cheap - under $10 - product now and then. Find a product that vastly overdelivers and hard sell it. You won't make a lot of money from it, but your readers will start buying other things because they add more weight to your opinion.
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