You can download my power point presentation for tonight’s Leadership Institute training. Comments and questions are welcome.
I found this while doing research for tonight’s LI presentation. I took out two of them that I didn’t think where relevant to non-profits or political organizations, but Chase’s summary really does give an overview of things to watch for when developing your email publishing.
Here is the inside track on what to pay attention to when publishing your email newsletter, and what to stay away from.
#1: What’s Your Agenda? Before your content, before your subscriber acquisition strategy, you must think long and hard about who your target audience is and what your agenda is with them. Is this a customer retention strategy for your existing clients? Is it a thought leadership gambit? Or is your newsletter designed to generate sales?
#2. What can you give them that they don’t already have? The trouble with most email newsletters nowadays is they blur together. Very few distinguish themselves. Look at what’s already out there and resolve not to reinvent the wheel. Do something fresh. If your core business isn’t publishing, you would do well to hire an outsider to help you ascertain what information you have that the rest of the world wants to know about.
You may be best served by acquiring content from outside sources. If so, make sure it isn’t the “same old, same old” content that your target audience already sees somewhere else.
#3. Shop Around for an Email Service Bureau: Make sure they are solvent. Price is not the determining factor here. Yes, I know everyone thinks this is a commoditized service, but I don’t care. What good is it if you get the best price and the bureau goes out of business or lays off much or all of its tech support staff? Which brings me to another point.
Before signing on with an email service provider, get at least three recommendations from that bureau. Remember, they’re going to give you referrals that give glowing reports. So do try to locate some users or former users who will give it to you straight. Also keep in mind the email service bureau business is fraught with complexity, with more being added all the time due to authentication systems coming online. The point is, be tough-minded, but be reasonable. Put calls into their tech support lines to see how responsive they are. If you’re paying $9.95 a month to send one million emails out, don’t be shocked if there’s no tech support on Sunday evening.
#4. Pay Attention to Reputation: It’s imperative you protect your domain name reputation. Publish your SPF records and look into a reputation service like Habeas. Such a service is quite likely to increase your email deliverability, open rates, clickthrough rates and so on.
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#5. Develop a Subscriber Acquisition Strategy: You need one. Why? Because people unsubscribe from email newsletters at the drop of a hat. People leave their jobs and change their email addresses, too. So unless you have a plan for getting new subscribers, you’ll find the size of your list shrinking before too long. The average churn rate nowadays can easily be higher than 30%. Hereunder are a few sub-tips for boosting your subscriber registration numbers.
1. Put your subscription box near the top of your home page. Seems obvious, right? But then why do so many miss this one?
2. Offer a juicy incentive. Over 20,000 people have downloaded my “Essential Search Engine Resource Guide.” This guide also gets passed along and serves as my emissary, which causes more people to subscribe.
3. Only ask for the email address at first. If you want more information about your subscribers, offer additional incentives within the newsletter down the road. Remember, each additional piece of information you ask for up front severely cuts down on your acquisition rate. On the other hand, some newsletter publishers will ignore this sub-tip, since more information makes for a more qualified list.
5. Display a sample issue. People like to see what they’re signing up for before they hand over their email address. I do. Don’t you?
#6. Subject Lines Are Critical: Everyone is trying to get their inboxes down to whatever magic number makes them comfortable. Your subject line needs to stop the reader from the repetitive motion of hitting that delete key that gets them to that very short-term goal. Keep you subject lines short.
Many people (specifically in B2B) are using the Internet to find something out or learn how to do something. No wonder I see “How to” subject headers blow the doors off response rates. Real news works, too. The more specific, the better. In short, tell me something I don’t already know. Don’t try to fill me up with a bunch of self-serving corporate pap.
#7. Look & Feel: Make it easy for the reader to skim your newsletter. Let’s face it, most people skim email. If they really do slow down and read your newsletter, good for you. But assume your readers are pressed for time every bit as much as you are. The more control you give them, the more they’ll appreciate it, whether consciously or unconsciously. My Web Digest For Marketers is designed in short info chunks. You can helicopter around to your heart’s content without losing continuity. People love that control. If you force the reader into clicking too many times or filling out too many forms to get at what he or she wants, you will be dropped like a hot potato. It’s similar to being routed around and around on one of those annoying phone systems.
#8. Read Your Newsletter Out Loud: Sounds silly, right? But unless you’re comfortable actually speaking the words you write, your newsletter “voice” will come across as phony. In fact, try to have your newsletter come from somebody in your organization, instead of just your company name. Look, the Internet is a pretty impersonal place. One good way to get above this intense clutter is to be human, and to talk like one.
#9. Keep It Fresh: Each year, I usually introduce something new. Here’s an example. Time was when an issue of Web Digest contained the latest and greatest marketing websites that we found for you that week. In house, we called those issues, “Surf ‘n’ Turf.” But now each issue is focused on one thing and one thing only. It may be PPC, or Email Deliverability, or SEO, or Increasing Response Rates, et al. Both advertisers and readers alike love this editorial approach.
Summation: The Internet is not one medium. It’s a bundle of media. Email newsletters are one strand in that bundle. They’re an extraordinarily cost-effective way of decimating information because just about anybody you want to reach now has an email inbox.
When done right, publishing an email newsletter is absolutely one of the most efficient allocations of your online media budget. The trick is to do it right. If you need help doing it right, get in touch with me and I’ll work with you on a consulting basis to get your newsletter launched on a solid and profitable trajectory.
Townhall.com columnist Rob Bluey has his a new piece on the radical changes the internet, blogging, and YouTube is bringing to war news coverage. You can read the full article and reader’s comments right here.
After four years in Iraq, the U.S. military has redefined how it communicates in a war zone. From action-packed videos on YouTube to blogger conference calls with key commanders, the military is providing more access to whatâ€™s going on in Iraq than during any other war before it.
He writes about the growing number of bloggers who are putting themselves in danger’s way to get a first-hand look at the situation in Iraq. He also mentions my favorite independent journalist covering the war in Iraq, Michael Yon.
Some bloggers canâ€™t seem to stay away. One of them is Michael Yon, a Special Forces veteran who went to Iraq in December 2004 as a writer who knew little about blogging. Yon embedded with a British unit after being shunned by the Pentagon. At first, he avoided the blogger label. But as blogging became more accepted, so too did his work.
But like Bluey points out, its not just about getting bloggers on the ground in Iraq.
These days, the Pentagon hosts a weekly conference call for bloggers that has recently featured Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey J. Mellinger and Ambassador Daniel Speckhard. All of the calls are recorded and posted online — making the militaryâ€™s interaction with bloggers completely transparent and accessible to anyone who wants to listen.
Earlier this week, a friend who works on the Missile Defense System pointed me to a new press release on the successful Missile Defense Intercept test that took place off the coast of Hawaii. The cool thing is that I discovered an FTP address at the end of the document that pointed to where I could find actual video footage of the test launch! I posted the video on my Townhall.com political blog and the full press release text. It was then featured on the CHBN.com home page for a day or so.
The point: its a whole new world when it comes to communication, and information distribution. America is a hungry media-consumer, and organizations that want to get their stories out have to take a more direct approach. Any of the lessons the Pentagon has had to learn are easily applicable to any corporate crisis-management.
Jacob, a blogger at Silas Notes and staff member at Silas Partners highlights a blog post that “discusses the need for a Chief Digital Officer, someone who is concerned with all the digital communication of your organization.”
These are considerable responsibilities. Itâ€™s a bigger job than â€œwebmaster.â€ It requires both broad vision and technical insight. Itâ€™s a role that must challenge existing silos and old habits. It requires interaction with all other parts of your organization. Itâ€™s a role for a champion. As such, itâ€™s a senior position, reporting to the top.
Having worked in the online world since 1999, it amazes me that this is the first time I see this so well articulated! I’m seeing a growth of professionals who know how to walk in both worlds, but at the same, I still see so-called “internet experts” who are technology neophyte. Ignoring the importance of this role can be costly to a company and to a non-profit.
I liked how Jacob used the post to sell his employer’s services. I have to agree with him. If you can’t afford your own full-time staff, outsourcing is the way to go. If you don’t know who to hire, outsource. There are plenty of “experts” out there that don’t know what they are doing, and will waste you money. Sometimes, when in doubt, outsourcing can provide you with the hands-on experience to better grasp the needs, before you go out and bring right person on staff.
The most striking part of this position is how it moves among the silos that many organizations create. I see us doing that more and more with our clients. We are â€œhiredâ€ by the marketing department, but by the end of the project we have helped to put together and lead a number of cross-functional teams.
The part that is often missing is the â€œreporting to the top.â€ Often we are one or two levels removed from the ultimate and/or strategic decision makers and that is frustrating.
Overall Iâ€™m hopeful that more organizations realize the digital communication is not just a way to do what we used to do faster and with more bells and whistles, but a new way of doing things that requires specialized knowledge and management.
I have worked with TriNet Internet Solutions — the company that recently bought Silas Partners. They have a solid team of experts, and did an AMAZING job of helping Focus on the Family — a larger ministry — navigate through the process of getting a cutting edge media distribution platform developed and launched. It was the most enjoyable project I got to work on while working at Focus on the Family. (Note: last sentence edited for clarification)
This article about YouTube on the Washington Post goes to show that in today’s fast changing competitive marketplace, no Goliath is safe from it’s David.
YouTube is at a critical juncture. Since it launched in December 2005, it has ridden a wave of popularity that led Google to buy it in a $1.65 billion deal last year. But now the site must figure out its relationship with major traditional media companies while also forging its business, which to date has relied on advertising posted alongside videos.
The partnership announced yesterday by NBC, News Corp., AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft creates a first-of-its-kind alternative to some of YouTube’s most popular content: TV and movie clips and music videos that were often posted there without permission. Unlike YouTube, the new competitor — which says it will launch its Web site this summer — has proposed a wide offering of videos, borrowing the iTunes model of offering some files for free and others, in this case movies and TV shows, for a fee.
Industry experts aren’t ready to announce YouTube’s demise but say the company needs to revamp its strategy quickly.
According to Eric Garland, chief executive of BigChampagne, an entertainment market research firm, YouTube is not about watching TV, but about connecting and social networking. Considering how fickly the social network audiences seem to be, how effective of a strategy is that?
YouTube has never been a destination site for watching television on the Internet but instead is more like a social network, he said. “People go to YouTube to be seen and to see other people and to be a part of this community environment,” Garland said.
It has indead.
This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed.
In case you haven’t followed the story, here is part of it.
The video was posted on YouTube on March 5th under the usernameParkRidge47 (Hillary Clinton was born in Park Ridge, Illinois in 1947)
In an email to techpresident.com, ParkRidge47 explained his reason for making the video:
What would the MSM be saying if the ad had come out of a shop working for one of the GOP’s big three?
Ok, for those non-political readers, I’m a conservative, so I do feel like the media has a bias. he’s got a point–the media would be all over this.
Conservative Tech Consultant, David All, was going in the right direction with his post.
Weâ€™re clearly not dealing with an amateur. This is very much aprofessional – likely someone who I would consider my counterpart onthe Left – and they have a budget behind them.
Based on the evidence above, Iâ€™m convinced that anonymous user, ParkRidge47, is a skilled liberal operative.
His reaction to the outing and Phil’s firing from Blue State Digital:
Typical over-reaction from Blue State Digital. â€œLetâ€™s fire the most effective person on our team.â€ Back to being normal.
Its a new world out there, and this is how it’s looking like from the trenches inside the beltway. I know most of you readers from outside the beltway could probably care less.
But, if you are a business professional, you should read this and ask yourself “what lessons can I glean from this.” Do you know what your employees are doing? What if one made a YouTube video of your company? You need to be asking yourself some tough questions, and waking up to the reality of a new level of transparency and accountability thanks to citizen journalism, and websites like YouTube.