Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Power of the Opt-In Newsletter (Article)

I do not care if you are an affiliate marketer, a wholesaler, a dropshipper, or even selling a product, if you do not have an opt-in sign-up on your website, I think you are missing out on a whole lot of sales! In most cases, this is an expense. But in the world that we live in, it sometimes takes money to make money. The $15 per month is very trivial in the whole scheme of things. If you are satisfied with $10-$20 per day in sales, then may not want to spend the money and that is fine. I assume, though, that if you are doing any of the above money making programs, you intentions are probably to make more than this. Believe it or not, $15 per month is probably a cheaper and more effective than spending $15 on PPC’s, classified ads, etc.

Why are opt-in’s so important? The average number of times a person will look into a product to purchase it online is roughly 6 times. Let’s assume that you were interested on making money online and entered “make money online” into a search engine (something most of us have done at one point or another). You see an ad on the right that says “Make $500/day Easy”. You click it and there are 3 reviews of different affiliate marketing programs. If you were me, you probably did not buy the first thing you saw. You decide at this point to look up: “what is affiliate marketing”, “is affiliate marketing a scam”, “Rick Jerk Review”, etc. etc. etc. So if you were the first, second, third… site this person visited, they probably just passed right over the affiliate link for your sale. Now you may be that 6th site and just happen to be the prompting force to cause the sale, but you just missed 5 other opportunities with others. The opt-in, in this case, keeps the customer interested in your site. And usually, people don’t buy products on the first day. It may be a week or month later. The opt-in provides an invited reminder to the customer that you exist and that they should go through your website to make the purchase.

And this is not SPAM, either! The point of the opt-in is that the customer chooses (“opt’s in”) to receive your emails. When I first starting affiliate marketing, someone recommended spamming to me so I tried it and what a disaster! I become very hated and I spent months rebuilding my image. Remember, spamming is un-invited solicitation. Opt-ins are invited solicitations.

How do you make an opt-in successful?

1) First, you need to convince people that by joining your newsletter or opt-in, they will receive something in return. Offering free eCourses, free eBooks, free software or free exclusive accesses are just few ideas to do this. If you do plan on offering free services, be sure to follow through on your promise.
2) I mention above that the point of an opt-in is for solicitation. In reality, this is true, but you should hide this fact as much as possible. Offer your subscribers good content, but subtly blend in your products or websites. If you email looks like a big advertisement or spam, they will immediately opt-out of your newsletter.
3) Allow your subscribers to opt-out of your newsletters very easily. Also, do not sell your lists to anyone (and be sure to place a note on your opt-in sign that states will not sell them either). The opt-in letter is more than sales, it is developing trust.
4) Don’t overwhelm your subscribers with emails. I once joined a newsletter that sent me an email twice a day for two months. At first, I was annoyed, but I was curious to see how long it would go on for. Further, this person started repeating the same letters once every two weeks. A few letters in the first few days in fine with a weekly or monthly follow-up. But again, your content should be related to what they signed of for. Once you start advertising un-related products, the newsletter starts approaching spam.

Adding an opt-in to your website these days is very trivial. There are programs called autoresponders (both browser based as well as server based) that makes running an opt-in letter virtually no work. They provide the code to create the web form. Then all you do is create the content and newsletters and when each subscriber will receive them. The emails are automatically sent out for you. Once the initial set-up is complete, the program essential runs on auto-pilot. You may get hundreds of subscribers per day that are self-managed.

Because opt-in letters are critical to sales, affordable and so easy to use, there are no excuses for anyone who is even moderately serious about making money online not to use one today.

- Matthew Bredel
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