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Email Your Way To Success
By
James D. Brausch -- May 1, 2002
You’ve heard that email is one of your best marketing tools, but you are afraid of spam complaints and you are discouraged about how long it takes to build an opt-in newsletter list. Let’s dispel that fear and discouragement.  There are actually dozens of channels you may not have considered to send spam-free emails and dramatically boost your traffic, sales and improve your communication with those who help make you successful. 

James D. Brausc

Opt-In Newsletter
This is where folks often start.  That’s great.

I’ll repeat what everyone else has already said.  You need to have an opt-in newsletter.  You need to have the signup box prominently displayed on your site and you need to publish a helpful newsletter about the topic of your market often (preferably weekly).  This will help you build long-term return traffic to your site.  It will also build a sense of community with your visitors.  You will eventually cease to be just a website and become a person that your visitors respect and get to know.

Yes; it is discouraging when you only have a handful of subscribers at the end of your first month.  Hang in there.  It’s all worth it.  Do you think it takes too much time to write articles for your newsletter?  Use articles submitted by others.  More on that later...

Customers
Is it OK to email your customers?  Absolutely.  Is it OK to email them your newsletter?  No; not without permission.   Is it OK to email them an advertisement for your latest product/service.  Yes; it probably is...  But hold on just a minute.  You have a relationship with this customer.  It’s far better if you recognize and respect that relationship.  They purchased something from you.  Why not drop them a personal note every once in awhile and ask them about your product/service.  Ask them if they are happy with what they received.  Ask them if there is any way you can improve your product/service.  Go ahead and let them know about your newsletter.  It’s OK to mention your product/service.  Tell them where they can find more information if you think it might help them.

These are your customers.  Treat them with the respect they deserve and they will likely become repeat customers.  Blast email advertisements at them and they might or might not buy that product, but you will have missed a chance to build a relationship with them.

Inquiries/Prospects
You need to have contact information on your site.  This needs to include either an email address or a form to submit questions and other inquiries.  People who email you are prospects.  Is it OK to email your prospects?  Absolutely.  In fact, I recommend that you email them a response IMMEDIATELY upon receiving their inquiry.  I always return prospect email the same day.

Is it OK to sign them up for an auto-responder that blasts product information at them for the next several weeks.  Yes; it probably is...   But I think you are really blowing another opportunity if you do.  Instead, why don’t you spend some time and honestly answer their question.  Once again, you have removed the illusion of the faceless website and replaced it with a one-on-one discussion.

Feel free to send them a follow-up email in a couple of day if you don’t receive an order or another question from them.  Ask them if they have any other questions.   It’s OK to send them yet another email in a week or two.  Be helpful and shoot for solving their problem or answering their question.

Link Requests
Having a resource directory of sites in your market is a great idea.  It’s a great way to build traffic (by trading links with other sites in your market) and a great way to provide a free resource to your own visitors.  If you have a link directory, you need to have a simple form to request a listing in your link directory.  That form should have an email address.

You can have a checkbox on your form to signup for your newsletter.  This will increase your opt-in subscribers.  You should also promptly add the listing and send them an email to tell them about it.  Is it OK to try to sell your product/service in your email?  Probably; but I don’t recommend it.  You have so many more valuable things to talk about.  This is a webmaster in your topic area.  They may or may not be interested in your product.  They WILL be interested in their listing in your directory.  Remind them of the URL to your links page.  They may also be interested in your affiliate program.  Feel free to tell them about that.

Then, make the bold step to treating them like an equal.  Invite them to suggest any other ways you might partner.  Webmasters are a creative bunch.  Reach out and make some real connections with those who request a listing in your directory.

Article Submissions
Remember that opt-in newsletter?  Remember how discouraging it was to write articles for it when you only had a handful of subscribers?  Take a break.  Add a form to your site allowing visitors to submit articles.  Promise them that you’ll be sure to give credit.  Many will be willing to submit an article just to see their name in your newsletter.  If your newsletter has a really small subscriber list, offer to post articles on your site as well.  Offer a free link to webmasters who submit articles.  This will give you a chance to take a break from writing everything for your own newsletter.

It also gives you someone else to email.  You should ask for an email address on your article submission form.  The same rules apply here.  If you can use the article, send them an email and tell them when you plan to use it.  In this case, you can feel more than comfortable to ask them to sign-up for your newsletter.  They will want to see their own article; right?

Newsletter Publishers In Your Market
Speaking of your newsletter, let’s strike out a little bit.  So far we’ve been emailing people who have come to our site for some reason or another.  That’s great.  Everything have been 100% opt-in and only by invitation.

Let’s take the next step.  Let’s send someone an email who has never filled out a form on our site, nor sent us an email.  Wait!  Isn’t that spam?   Isn’t it wrong to sent unsolicited email?  No; what I am about to discuss is NOT spam, nor is it unsolicited.  Let’s turn the tables around.  In the last section, we talked about sending email to people who submit articles to your newsletter.  That’s OK, because we were responding to an email.

Was it spam when they sent you the article submission?  No; of course not.  You invited them to submit an article to your newsletter.  Guess what?  You aren’t alone.  There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of other newsletters out there who want article submissions.  Remember those articles you wrote for your own newsletter?  Share them.  You will be sending an email to the newsletter publisher (which could lead to other possibilities).  You will also have the potential of being published in their newsletter.  Now you have reached a whole new group of people.

Websites In Your Market With Link Directories
It doesn’t stop there.  If there are dozens or hundreds of newsletter publishers in your market, there are even more websites with link directories.  They are easy to find.  Search for your topic along with the words “submit”, “add url”, “links” and other similar words.  So if you have a site about “horses”, do a search on your favorite search engine for:

Horses submit ... Horses add url ... Horses links

Then either fill out their form (if they have one) or send them an email proposing a link trade.  Either way, they will respond to your email.  This is the time to send a “thank you” note.  Remember all of the above tips about not being pushy and leaping for the sale.  Instead, remember that they are a fellow webmaster in your market.  After thanking them for the link exchange, mention the same things you would mention to a webmaster who filled out your own form for a link exchange.

Affiliates
Don’t have an affiliate program yet?  You need to start one.  This is where you pay other webmasters for selling your product/service.  You need to have a form where they can signup.

You know the rest.  Ask them for their email address.  When they make a sale, send them an email and tell them about it.  I guarantee you that no affiliate will resent that email.  Most affiliates will also be grateful for an occasional email offering tips on improving their sales.

Others
I think you have the idea.  There are literally dozens of groups of people you can and should email regularly.  When you receive an email from anyone, you should be asking yourself how you can help that person.  Then do it.  If you can help that person by answering a question... do it.  If you can help them by adding a link to their site...  do that.  Then drop them an email and let them know you did it.  You never need to be afraid of spam complaints if you keep these tips in mind.  You never need to be discouraged about not having enough opt-in subscribers for your newsletter either.  There are plenty of people who want to hear from you.  Reach out and help them.

Copyright 2002
All Rights Reserved
James D. Brausch

About the Author

James D. Brausch is the owner and coach of QuitThatJob.com, a step-by-step coaching membership site to help you build your Internet business.

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