It happens all the time. I meet someone at a conference or networking event, we exchange business cards, and I end up on some email list that I didn’t agree to opt-in to.
Talk about starting a relationship off on the wrong foot.
Marketer Scott Stratten often says “following people isn’t an obligation, it’s a privilege.” Well, when it comes to email, it too is a privilege. That attention needs to be earned. You earn it by delivering utility. In other words, if it’s useful, you have my attention and I want to opt in. From there, it’s a matter of delivering value consistently so that you keep my attention and keep me engaged.
Few newsletters do this well. But the one’s that do have the most engaged email lists – Derek Halpern comes to mind.
So what’s the deal? How do you build a responsive email list?
Respecting Your Email List
- Start by defining your objective. What’s the point of your newsletter anyway? Remember, a good newsletter cuts through the clutter and delivers something useful.
- Make it easy to subscribe. In short, your email sign-up forms should be placed prominently throughout your site.
- Have something to offer. Some people for example, give away a free e-book to encourage people to subscribe. Once you’ve defined, your objective (see #1), think about how you’re going to communicate the value of your newsletter to encourage people to opt in.
- Ask before automatically subscribing someone to your newsletter (don’t assume we want to be subscribed). Better to force people to opt-in than to force them to opt-out. When you auto-subscribe us, and we’re forced to opt-out, that leaves a really bad impression.
- The tools (how you deliver) aren’t nearly as important as what you deliver (your content). (Remember point #1)
- Deliver on your promise (if you say you’re going to email once a week useful tips, do just that). Stray too far, or deliver too often, off topic, or never at all, and you’ll lose our attention. (See #1)
- It should be shareable. Some services, like Mailchimp, have social sharing options embedded in their newsletters so that they’re quick and easy to share. This is quick and easy way to let people share your content and draw more subscribers.
Some of My Favorite Newsletters
- Internet Marketing for Smart People by Copyblogger
- The Dash (your weekly social media marketing to-do list) by Laura Roeder
- Social Triggers by Derek Halpern
- Ben Settle’s daily email newsletter – it’s different and for some people it might be too much, but I always pick up something new from reading his emails.
- Blogging Case Study by Glen Allsop
- 1000 Watt Spotlight by 1000 Watt Consulting
And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to subscribe to The Real Estate Blogging Blueprint.
Over to you…
What are some of your favorite newsletters that you subscribe to? What are you doing to build your email list and keep your subscribers engaged? Any tips you can share with the rest of us?
Ben Goheen says
I love the writing style of Ben Settle. His emails are easy to read and I’m trying to incorporate that technique more into my blog posts and emails.
Ricardo Bueno says
Ben: Agreed! I always pick up a thing or two from his daily emails.
I’ve been doing that quite a bit as of late. Subscribing to various email newsletters just to get a sense of different styles, formats, delivery. You learn a thing or two here and there.
Amy Schmittauer says
I hate it when people add subscribers on their list just because they got their info. How ridiculous! The worst part is I still have clients who do it and there’s nothing I can say to make them change their minds… but their devastated when their unsub rate is through the roof. Sorry but hey.
Ricardo Bueno says
Yeah, I hear you. Some people take the “ask for forgiveness later” approach. But like I said, better to force someone to opt-in than to force them to opt-out. The latter leaves a very bad taste in your mouth (so to speak).
Sally K Witt says
Excellent info on responsible and attractive email marketing lists!
Cindy Ronzoni says
I hear ya…I can’t stand ending up on email marketing lists or suddenly receiving a phone call soliciting business from that said company. Great post and I wish every marketer would read it.
Max M. says
All very excellent tips.
DES Daughter says
All these tips are great but since I work in the charity sector I would also add that a newsletter needs to provide real feedback and offer insight.