One thing I learned in my PR training years ago never burn bridges, because everyone cycles back into your life at some point—and usually you’ll need something from them—advice, a job, or a recommendation. Recently, I was reminded of that lesson. When getting ready to launch Poptimistic, I needed help figuring out how to let my Rolodex of contacts know about my exciting new adventure. While ABCityblog readership had grown organically because of the press around my book tour, Poptimistic would need a little more grass roots help. The gal to help? Someone I had worked with years ago on crazy projects like the Kentucky Fried Chicken Oscar dresses (see Alphabet City’s Episode 9). We’d gone our separate ways, but occasionally connected over the years, knowing that at some point our paths would intersect again. Lucky for me, Carin Galetta, a social media wizard at InkFoundry, is someone who doesn’t mind helping out a friend in need.
After just one quick email begging for help, Carin sent through a slew of advice about marketing blog content through electronic newsletters. We all get them nowadays, but I hadn’t realized what sophisticated tools they’d become for managing contacts and staying in touch with readers. I want to share with you Carin’s advice about using newsletters to become a Biz Savvy Blogger, along with my own comments about I chose to proceed.
1. make sure people have opted-in to receive your newsletter. If you get marked as a “spammer” all hell will break loose.
JPB: to Carin’s point, I went through every contact in my address book, one by one, choosing which ones I had some type of relationship with, be it past colleague, friend, editor or business contact I’d met on book tour. Still worried about if someone will be offended to be on your newsletter list? See Carin’s last tip.
2. email newsletters will spike traffic for about 24 – 36 hours after the send and then it will drop. to give your newsletter content some longevity consider adding social sharing to your sends. Campaign Monitor has a great, easy to integrate, social sharing option.
JPB: My own experience plays this out—I get an immediate spike in traffic 24 hours after delivering. I’ve added social media sharing tools, and am able to track if people forward through Facebook or Twitter, and then what actions they take.
3. there is a ton of disagreement on when the best time to send is. We’ve played around with sends all across the week and weekend. One of the best responses we had, and I’m not sure if it was a fluke (we need to do more testing) was a send on a Sunday afternoon. It was some how to content and the click through rate was through the roof. However, many people swear by Tuesdays at 10:00 am. I think it’s way too busy; and we are seeing some popular email newsletter like UrbanDaddy spread their sends around. Testing is key. Also, test your headlines; send 1/2 with one headline and 1/2 with another.
JPB: I’m still learning and playing with this. My “open rate”—the percentage of contacts that open the email—is consistently above average. The announcement of Poptimistic was sent out on a Thursday at 5pm, and got a 45% open rate, and 40% click through rate. Those numbers are terrific, but I chalked them up to the “newness” of the announcement. Later emails tended to get a 30% open rate and 20% click through rate—regardless of sending it on a Sunday afternoon or Tuesday morning. I even played with headlines using “Check Out” in the opening line—something I’d heard worked for other social media sites. I’m still playing with headlines seeing if “Poptimistic” pops anymore than my own name does.
4. Consistency is key for email newsletters. What can happen if you don’t send at about the same time (weekly, monthly), people will forget about you. A content challenge.
JPB: I’m still challenged by this. At first I sent out weekly when new content was posted to Poptimistic, but then I moved to a bi-weekly model plugging both new and old content. My open or click through numbers didn’t really shift either way. So I’m still evaluating the time and effort devoted to a weekly send vs. the results.
5. Make sure the email newsletter content is also repurposed across the web – Facebook, twitter, etc. And make sure that your RSS feed button is easy to find. People like to consume content in many different ways.
JPB: Heard this before? That’s because Will at Kern+Lead basically said the same thing. I’ve been working so hard on the blog that I’ve neglected the Facebook page and am starting to figure out what I could do different there than on the blog. So more to come on that. But I definitely have sharing tools built in.
6. Speaking of different ways to consume content, make sure that your newsletter is mobile friendly.
JPB: Hmm…I’m just now focusing on this. Need to check!
7. Love the idea of favorite posts. We use this when I’m out of time and ideas for new content. I will do a “the top 5 articles for restaurants…” whatever with links and a summary of each. Works like a charm.
JPB: This was in response to me saying I would highlight what my favorite posts are in the content of the newsletter. Again, I’ve been playing with my style. At first, it exactly mirrored the site with “Coming Up” and teasers. Lately, I’ve been playing with a more personalized feel—almost like a “letter from the editor.”
8. If people get sick of the content, they will unsubscribe.
JPB: And here’s a fun tip—you get to know who unsubscribes. At first, I had to steel myself for another level of rejection. Why did that PR contact for a major hotel company not want to receive my newsletter? She doesn’t care about Green Globe Trekker column? Oh, move on, JP. There’s a lot of other fish out there in the sea.
A few great email marketing resources:
1. Marketing Sherpa – http://www.marketingsherpa.com
- love them!
2. Blue Sky Factory – http://www.blueskyfactory.com
many people swear by this service. We don’t use them, just because their agency program doesn’t work for us, but their information on email marketing is fantastic.
3. Campaign Monitor – http://www.campaignmonitor.com
we use this company, but I don’t think it’s consumer friendly. We have a designer & programmer, otherwise we would probably go with:
4. Constant Contact – http://www.constantcontact.com
A great solid service, easy to use, inexpensive and they have lots of great tips for email marketing success.
JPB: I ended up going with Constant Contact, based upon Carin’s recommendation and I also get a regular newsletter from my friend Mark at Mark Stephen Design and Production using that service, and I just liked the easy look and feel of it. So far, I enjoy using Constant Contact, and find their marketing tips useful.
Email marketing has definitely helped me boost Poptimistic traffic. But like all things in this social media world, you just have to jump in and start doing it. There’s really no such thing as failure in the process of becoming a Biz Savvy Blogger, just a lot of learned lessons. Lucky for me, one of them is that your path crosses again with generous people like Carin.
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