When you ask every reader to confirm that they want to receive your email newsletter (which you always should), you create both an opportunity and a challenge.
It's an opportunity because you end up with truly high-quality prospects who are much more likely to respond to your offers.
But it's a challenge to get folks to complete that final step. Your customer is a busy person, and spam makes her completely nuts. In the past, she's given her email address to other vendors who sent her irrelevant junk she didn't want. She needs something to tip the scales in your favor, or she's not likely to take the final step of approving that opt-in.
When a customer gives you permission to market to her (which is what's happening when she opts in to your email newsletter), she is giving you a valuable gift. You need to repay that obligation.
The solution: create something of value in exchange for that email address. A valuable thank-you gift tilts the balance back in your favor and puts the relationship in the right psychological space.
(This is a particular challenge for email newsletters, because everyone in the world hates spam, but it works just as well to reward any kind of subscription--to a blog, to a paid subscription site, or even to a paper newsletter delivered by good old snail mail.)
Remember the Cookie?
When your customer opts in to your email newsletter, you need to reward her with a major treat. You'll need to do a little better than a cookie--I call this the birthday cake.
A birthday cake is a free gift that you give in exchange for customers joining your email newsletter. That free gift needs to be remarkable enough to really capture her attention and imagination. It has to be something she really wants.
The free gift could be a sample of your product or a cash-off coupon. If so, this is no time to pinch pennies. Experiment with pricing, but I'd suggest $50 as the right cash value for most situations. It's enough money to get a customer's attention, but not enough to break your bank.
(Remember that some customers will forget to ever use the coupon, and many others will use the coupon but buy additional products in the same sale. Your cost per subscriber will always be somewhat lower than the cost of your coupon.)
You could also create a special limited edition of your usual product, available only to those who sign up for your newsletter.
If you go this last route, never make that special edition available to anyone else under any other circumstances. One of the key underlying messages of your newsletter must always be: You live by your word and you do what you say you will do.
Bake Your Birthday Cake Once, Deliver It 10,000 Times
There's another possibility that works extremely well for virtually any business or service imaginable--the free report.
Creating a valuable PDF report, which you then deliver for free in exchange for an email address, takes some time and attention. This is one task that can justify some help from a professional copywriter, but you will do just fine writing it yourself. You do the work once, and reap the benefits forever. For the cost of 4 or 5 coupons, you can deliver your report a thousand times or a million times--there's absolutely zero added cost.
A free report needs to benefit your customer by giving her valuable information that will improve her life. It establishes you as an authority and trusted adviser in your field. And like all free gifts, it puts your customer into a subtle psychological position of indebtedness.
Offer a 10-Part Free Online Course
There's one last offer that works well for getting people to subscribe to your newsletter--the free online class or course.
Creating a 5 or 10-part free eClass, which you then deliver in exchange for an email address is a great way to get interested subscribers opening your newsletter. As with the free report, you do the work once, and reap the benefits forever.
And like the free report, the eClass or online course you offer needs to benefit your customer by giving her valuable information that will improve her life. It establishes you as an authority and trusted adviser in your field. And like all free gifts, it puts your customer into a subtle psychological position of indebtedness.
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