A Little Known Secret of Long-Term Email Marketing Success
I’ve been involved with email list marketing since 1996, and have studied it from many different sources, learned from top experts, and read a ton of stuff about it.
Then, all this knowledge was refined and enhanced by the only thing that counts – real experience and live testing on my own email lists.
Trends in email list marketing have changed over this period, mainly to do with legislation about spam and ads, and technology (filters, ISP bans and deliverability issues related to the deluge of unsolicited spam email and shortening attention spans of most email users).
But what I’m noticing recently is a more elemental shift in dynamics of email marketing, at least in a few niche markets.
It has been my practice to act as an advisor to my email list subscribers. This means I steer readers away from what I think is dangerous or bad stuff, and point them towards what is good, useful and valuable – based on judgment and experience acquired over a decade and a half in the trenches.
To make this assessment, I would spend hours on reviewing products and services before mentioning them on my list, never hopping on bandwagons but putting my opinions and recommendations on anything that goes out to my list.
Recently, noticing this was not being appreciated (or even understood!) by my email list, I sent out a little rant about folks who complained I was always ‘pitching’ something. In my rather lengthy email, I detailed in exquisite detail the elaborate process I went through before reviewing and recommending any product or service to members of my email list.
And then I did something totally uncharacteristic.
I segmented a part of my email list (that runs on Aweber) and sent them a shocking announcement.
In it, I mentioned that in the future I would be sending out ‘generic’ messages/ads for new/hot products or services WITHOUT my personal review or endorsement. These ‘pitches’ would be subject to these disclaimers.
Here’s the surprising thing. After I sent out 2 mailings (with this disclaimer included in each of the emails), to that section of my email list audience:
- One of them made me 5 sales, at an affiliate commission of $49 each.
- The other had cookied over 300 readers for an upcoming product launch – which
pays out over $1,000 for each referred sale.
The niche to which I sent those emails, in general, has grown so used to ‘pitches’ that people respond as a knee-jerk reflex… and are placing much lesser value on genuine, in-depth reviews done by e-publishers.
- Maybe it’s due to cynicism (How many “reviews” do you see which are no more than thinly veiled affiliate promos?)
- Or confusion (Who should you trust? Who can you?)
But for e-publishers, this is information to be considered, chewed, analyzed and tested. Because if it is true, and this trend is widespread, I may just saved myself close to EIGHT HOURS a week that I currently spend reviewing stuff to recommend to my list!
Well, that experiment in email list marketing ran its course. And a few months later, when I reviewed the impact of that changed email strategy, the results were instructive.
While there was indeed an initial surge in sales and responsiveness among the segment of my email list that got a series of pitches, that very soon was replaced by total apathy among those subscribers. Not only did they stop buying or signing up to lists on my endorsement, they even stopped opening and reading my emails!
The rest of my email list, however, was doing just fine. That was the section which continued to receive informative messages, reviews, feature articles and more.
The lesson I learned from this experiment in email list marketing was clear and impressive.
Gimmicks and hustling might work in the short term – even be quite profitable.
But in the long run, true value addition is the only competitive edge you have over other marketers.
Your email list is made of human beings with a unique interest or passion in your field of interest – which is why they joined your list.
By serving their needs, catering to their best interests and providing consistently high value information and guidance, you’ll earn their trust and keep their loyalty for a long time.
That’s a powerful email list marketing lesson to keep in mind.
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