Some Affiliates and Bloggers think that putting up a Newsletter is more than enough for their sites. Newsletters and email databases are some of the most easy things to install and are dirt cheap thanks to services like Aweber (Yes this is my Affiliate link). The problem is that many Affiliates and Bloggers don’t think about how they can better use their Newsletters. You can test them, split test the sign ups, segment your database without having to program it or even add in extra fields, etc… In this post I’m going to go through things you can split test; before you even send a newsletter, ways to collect and segment data; without having to program your database or add in extra collection fields, and a few things to remember to include in the newsletters.
Things you can split test; before you even send a newsletter.
What I love about newsletters is that unlike email marketing and customer opt in lists, you can start your split testing on your traffic earlier. Because newsletter subscribers are coming off of your website, you get to learn a lot about your traffic and what gets them to react to things. You don’t even have to wait until they are buying something since they are signing up directly on your site or through a lightbox (those floating fields and sign up boxes that are annoying but work.). Because of this you can start to learn what will cause your readers or visitors to react based on colors, shapes, images or a lack of images and then you can start to use that to tweak your own website to help get it to convert better or generate more activity.
If you find out that your readers and visitors pay more attention to a certain color sign up box, try tweaking your ads or add area to have that same color border or lettering on the text ads. If your readers end up signing up more on a newsletter sign up that is plain and simple or with images and complex, you can then start to figure out if you should try ads or even a design that has more of an image focus or a simple color focus. You’ll also know what you may want to start testing with your actual newsletter. Knowing what colors and what shapes or images start to make your audience react is a great way to start to know how to not only tweak your own pages and ads to get more reactions, but it also helps you to know how to start your first newsletters, before you start split testing for delivery, open rates and conversion rates.
Ways to collect and segment your data, without having to program or add in extra collection fields.
Many people are nervous when they add in extra fields like address, interests, etc… to their newsletter sign ups because they don’t want to make it to difficult or time consuming. Usually they wait until the checkout process so they have that info and don’t even bother with a separate non customer email list. Unfortunately Affiliates don’t have access to that information since we don’t have the sale taking place on our sites. Instead we can be a bit more creative and not have to rely on checkout data or adding in a ton of fields to find out what our readers are interested in. By interested in I don’t mean that they like blue widgets because they came to my site about blue widgets, I am talking about being more specific like 1/2 inch mini blue widgets with rechargeable batteries vs. the person who is interested in 1 inch pink solar powered widgets. It may take you an extra step to segment without purchasing data, but to be able to segment and send a targeted instead of a general newsletter is more than worth it.
There are two basic options and a lot more advanced ones.
If you’re site is set up with different sections for pink or blue widgets. Create two separate lists in your email collection system. Call one pink and one blue. Then all you have to do is install the pink newsletter sign up box in the pink section and the blue newsletter sign up boxes in the blue section. You can also do this with lightboxes as well. Then you can export and de-dupe this list to create a larger general list.
The second option is to look at which keywords drive specific traffic to specific pages. You can then install a unique newsletter list and database on those pages and name it after the keywords and types of traffic so you know what page they signed up on and what keywords more than likely brought your visitors to those pages. You can then export and de-dupe your newsletter list into your general email list. So why is this important or how can it benefit you?
Since you are able to collect the person’s information based on which section of your site they came in on, or were interested in, you now don’t have to add in radial buttons or extra fields to find out what they are interested in. You can also split out your product based newsletters and send them based on what types of products the person may have been looking for. This isn’t always true because the person on your site was there for a blue widget but was curious about pink widgets and that’s when they signed up, but it is a bit more targeted and gives you a better idea without having to add in extra fields. If you also export your targeted lists into your main database and site list, you can then send a more general newsletter with a larger product mix and articles or news about widgets in general. (You can also install analytics to see if your blue widget list really likes blue widgets or if your pink widget buyers actually prefer pink widgets to blue ones. Analytics and actual sales are the only real way to tell. Some merchants also allow you to see what was bought and to pass tracking codes to each sale for you. I get email addresses passed back as a tracking parameter for one dating site I work with.)
A few things to remember to include in your newsletters and confirmations.
Most people think that getting the sign up is enough. There are many other opportunities with your newsletters though. If you sign up for my newsletter here on AdamRiemer.me, you’ll see that in my confirmation newsletter I add in other things. I include a follow me on Twitter link to hope that since they like the content on the site, they may also want to follow me on Twitter. Another thing that you may want to include is the question, what would you like to hear about?
By asking your readers what they want to hear about, you give them the opportunity to tell you what is interesting to them. More importantly though it helps to give you ideas of things to write about that may also be of interest to your readers when you get writer’s block. This is a great question to ask because you get a better insight into what at least a few of your readers want to know about.
Newsletters are an amazing tool to be able to use. Because of services like Aweber they are also affordable, easy to install and use. The one thing that Affiliates and Bloggers have to do differently than merchant’s though is get creative if they don’t want to have a form that has 10 or more fields. By placing your sign up boxes on pages where you know how the traffic got there and by testing sign up boxes with different colors, shapes and sizes you can also get a better idea of how your audience is going to react to things on your site and start to test and maximize your audience reactions based on that. One of the most important things about a newsletter though is that if you don’t abuse it, you can almost always rely on it for traffic and sales.