Recently many — especially — small business owners asked me how to chose a good provider or software for email marketing. A good reason to write a blog post about this topic. Read below what I have told them.
A permission based list of email subscribers is the most valuable asset you should build with your online marketing efforts. So what are the right tools to get started with. Technically you have three choices:
(1) Sending your email promotions yourself with desktop software.
(2) Sending your emails with server based software from your servers.
(3) Outsourcing to a trusted email marketing tools service provider.
When using (1) or (2) you will find yourself quickly involved with technical issues and you will run into all sorts of restrictions and limitations due to various anti-spam measures. Getting your emails delivered is not only a technical issue anymore. It has become a matter of trust between email service and Internet service providers. (Thanks to all those reckless email spammers.) Sending your email campaigns using a reputable service provider increases the chances that your emails are delivered and protects you from having your own email server or domain blocked as a result of false spam complaints.
It might look more inexpensive to make a one-time purchase for software that handles all your future email campaign needs compared to choosing a service that charges $30 a month. But in reality you will pay a very heavy price for trying to be cheap.
Any good email marketing service provider will take care of the issues that ensure your messages get delivered into the inbox of your subscribers. They also will make sure that their service is up-to-date technically and follows legal requirements like the CAN-SPAM act.
Yesterday some members of my newsletter received a message with a broken link in it. That message was not supposed to be sent out. Instead of apologizing with another email, I write this blog post and explain, how you can avoid a similar faux pas.
Don't mess with your autoresponder follow-up series
Autoresponder follow-up messages are sent in defined intervals to someone, who has just joined your email list. Such a feature as provided by a sophisticated email marketing service tool provider like AWeber is used for various purposes. Some series are scheduled with a daily email for a week others with a weekly email for a year. For example:
A 7 day, 30 day, 4 week email course
A series of affiliate promotions
Pointing readers to older, but valuable blog posts or other resources
Before starting to change your existing series of messages that is already in use, beware that there are 2 types of operations:
Just in case you don't know, Bob Parsons, is the founder and CEO of GoDaddy.com, proud Ex-Marine, self-made multi-millionaire and responsible for building and growing his small domain business startup into a world leading registrar. Bob wrote on BobParsons.com (his personal Blog, which was actually much more personal in the early days) that it was not easy, and he blew away a fortune, before GoDaddy became profitable.
Having the Blogrush widget displayed on your blog can mean two things:
You are getting thousands of additional visitors a week.
You are loosing visitors, because they find the headlines as advertised on Blogrush more compelling than yours.
Looks like nothing to gain, you get more visitors, but you also might loose visitors. Well, that's not exactly what happens. You could be afraid of loosing visitors with any form of monetization. Be it AdSense (that I just wrote about in the last post), banner ads, affiliate links and banners, …, etc.
“Keep your headlines ‘hot’ and your content valuable!”
That's the best and only medicine that should be prescribed to keep and extend your readership.
Every once in a while I click on a title (in the Blogrush widget) myself that seems to be kind of interesting, but most often I get disappointed.
“A title alone is not enough of an indicator to signal, if a post or a blog is worthwhile visiting. In the majority of cases it is not.”
The review based listings of Digg, Stumble, Propeller, and Co. are much more useful.
That's why I don't blame my readers for not clicking themselves away from my Blog via Blogrush.
To answer the above question: Blogrush does not lead my readers away. So it does not hurt me, as well as I don't really benefit from it. I actually should start looking for a better use of that screen real-estate.
Some major A-Blogs still show Blogrush, probably because they got a huge referral network that works better for them.
It was a hype, it's days are counted and if you look at John Reese's Blog. Not much going on there. Didn't he promise a promotion network for “hot topics”? I think he did.
The classic theorem of physics seems to withstand the test of time in the Internet Age, too.
“No output, without any input!”
Displaying someone's widget — the Blogrush widget — doesn't solve your traffic problems. There must be more action going on.
How many times have you watched an Internet marketing video online that promised “great, special info”, but did not deliver? That's really a big turn off.
“A bad video steals you up to 20 times more time than a bad PDF document”
Unfortunately you cannot always tell in advance, if a video will deliver on its promises or not.
I have seen poorly produced, short and long videos that contained more than expected and
I have seen studio production quality kind of videos that didn't tell you anything, except that it must have been expensive to produce.
Too many videos just waste so much time with introductions and typical “Let me tell you my / his / her / their story …” phrases. Too many videos show just faces or other static information. Could be an MP3 audio, and just a piece of written text instead.
I am absolutely tired of this and simply prefer written material, since I can quickly scan through it. Most people also can read faster than those video guys and gals do speak. It's just a waste of time and not to forget a waste of bandwidth.
Of course, there is room for video. The visual aspects can add tremendous value, but not everything needs to be in video. Shooting a video from lame content does not make the content better, it just gets thrown into a different package.
Some folks claim that it takes less time to make a great video than it takes to provide good quality written material. Well, that's true. But only for the producers, who actually have the ability to write good quality content at first place.
All others are just showing their stupid faces into the camera and that is definitely not worthwhile watching. And furthermore they are showing that it is not even worth their own time to create quality content for others. “To hell with them.”
Now, let's talk about some absolutely positive aspects of online videos.
Good reasons for use of video
Showing onscreen actions that would be hard to describe otherwise. Videos are great for tutorials, but should be accompanied with a written add-on, like a cheat sheet.
Another excellent example are the recent StomperNet Going Natural 2.0 Videos (↑) about SEO, conversion, … facts that help you increase your sales. For my personal taste the intros are too long. However the content is very valuable.
Adding artistic, humorous, graphic, … value
or just adding a moving pictures to otherwise great content
Since not everybody is following quality gidelines, how can you protect yourself from wasting time with bad, empty, or hype only videos?
Tips for saving your time
Watch only videos that have been referred to you by a trusted person.
Build a list of trusted, good quality sources.
Watch a video only one time and take notes (if it is worthwhile).
If the video doesn't capture your full attention during the first 30 seconds. Click away.
Prefer material that will give you transcripts of the video content as well. Especially, if you have to pay for a course or something similar.
What additional tips do you have to share?
Leave a comment, let me know.