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January 6, 2010

What one tool gives you the greatest online marketing leverage?

Undoubtedly it has to be email marketing using something like Aweber or Constant Contact.

Just before the turn of the century I built and ran an online marketing company for engineering in Latin America. (No, I'm an Australian - but thats another story)

The results were phenomenal, the revenues were great, and I ultimately sold it for a fraction of what it was really worth. (Because I was stupid)

I have known two other online entrepreneurs who have also used this medium as the backbone for their own enterprises. And these are still running a decade after they started! And a decade after the bubble burst also!

Our bi-weekly newsletter is also part of the backbone of our community, particularly since we started the acclaimed Street Smart consulting series. The subscription box is at the let of this post.

In my experience, the following are good techniques for running a continuous online newsletter:

  • I chose HTML over text because it looks better. Does it get blocked more often? No idea. But it looks better and we still run with an above 80% open rate. 

  • Double opt-in is no longer courtesy, it is the standard and in some countries it is the law! You will get far more opens, clicks and revenues if you build a newsletter based on subscriptions than by other black hat style techniques. 

  • Keep it fresh. I generally fill the newsletter with four different types of content..
    • A short advice piece that is different to what is on the blog. 
    • A summary of some of the high traffic / popular posts over the last two weeks
    • A summary of what is going on in the LinkedIn forum which some are members of
    • A short summary of some of the commercial activities I am up to. Normally this revolves around speaking about my upcoming mentoring program, or books I have published. No hard sell stuff. 
  • Always use smart headlines. Even a permission based audience is hard pressed to find the time to do everything. You still need to capture their attention and be extra-ordinary when you have it. 
  • Write smart, concise and punchy stuff. Nothing long and winding - nobody has the time. 
  • Do not, under any circumstances:
    • Use it to spam people with hard sell tactics
    • Continually market to them. teaching is far more influential than screaming at people to Buy! Buy! Buy!
    • If they want out, let them go. Unsubscribe options are a key element of every newsletter subscription service
    • Do not use their email addresses for any purpose aside from what they have given their direct permission for. This is a surefire way to lose readers. 

Not rocket science, nothing out of the ordinary. Just well written, consistent and of high value. Good luck.

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