Email is powerful.
We all understand that, right?
If you want to get your message in front of your audience, there’s no faster way.
Email has just the right balance of credibility, speed and reach. And it’s much harder to ignore an email staring from you inbox than it is to see a tweet or FB post float away in your stream.
Just look at Facebook and twitter. What do they do when you get a new comment or a follower?
They don’t tweet or DM you – they email, right?
Every successful blogger (ie. those who make a living) uses email as an integral facet of their marketing polygon.
And the really smart guys are putting email front and center in the blogging equation, with exclusive content, premium guides and members-only content for email subscribers. Derek Halpern sculpted an entire business out of this concept and Gary Vaynerchuk even switched his entire publishing model for WLTV to email based subscriptions. He even started charging – but that’s another discussion for a different day.
Another kickass blog strategist is Martyn Chamberlin. His pages are crafted specifically to attract email subscribers and (like Silicon Shovel) there’s no RSS link. (those who demand it will know how to find it).
And it was actually a conversation I had in the comments at 2 Hour blogger that spawned this article. Martyn’s tribe was built using guest posts and his site attracts dozens of comments within minutes of hitting publish.
Not a massive surprise. He’s landed some high-hitting gigs and I guess you already know all about the tremendous might of Guest Posting.
… High authority backlinks, SEO juice, a personal endorsement, and a bunch of new visitors to your site to convert to loyal subscribers. A guest post on Smashing Magazine or Copyblogger can send enough visitors to make your servers squeal in pain. And if you’re capturing email addresses, you’ll quickly outgrow your forever free MailChimp account.
But there’s an unwritten code of conduct that bloggers are altruists and that marketing is spammy and uncool. Links from guest posts usually lead to ‘content pages’ and unless you have a shit-hot blog structure to funnel your visitors towards you option forms, getting a ton of email subscribers is pretty unlikely.
On the flip-side of the equation, the die hard marketing crowd are using direct marketing email tactics to grow their lists every single day and earn a bit o’ cashola along the way.
But their tactics are often too aggressive. And always self-serving.
Which got me thinking…
There’s gotta be a perfect middle-ground that harnesses the reach and power of email combined with the kudos and credibility of guest blogging.
Back to two hour blogger, and I realized that email ad-swaps and solo ads are totally foreign to most bloggers. It’s a totally untapped resource that would have far more power in the right hands. Compared to the pushy yellow highlighters of the hard-core marketers, bloggers have the gift of making something special.
Bloggers know the art of weaving compelling stories that deliver true value to their audience.
Email Advertising for Bloggers
I already wrote about email ad-swaps but a year down the line and I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my experiences so it’s worth an update.
I’ve also flipped this so that it’s more relevant to you if you’re more interested in creating something that’ll make your mother proud of than making a quick buck.
There are 2 types of Email Advertising…
A solo ad is a way to ‘rent’ somebody else’s attention and authority. Say Justin has a list of 1000 subscribers and he agrees to send an email containing your message. Usually a link to a free offer that requires an email optin. He might charge around $300-$500 for the message but you should capture 400-600 new subscribers to your list.
I’ve even had pages convert at 83.1%.
You can add a paid option on the thank you page and you might get 50 sales if you offer a real no-brainer deal to help offset the cost of the ad.
An ad-swap is basically the same as a solo, but instead of paying cash, you return the favour by sending a reciprocal email recommending Justin’s free offer to your customers.
Having somebody else send their visitors to you is one thing, but there’s a different set of rules that you must follow when you’re sending to YOUR list.
And that’s where 99% of marketers get it wrong.
They screw it up and burn out their list.
They end up with a huge database of trash-can email addresses and faceless subscribers that do nothing more than increase your Aweber fees (Aweber is the email software I use).
And that’s where the wheels start to wobble.
The dark side of email ad-swaps.
There’s a big dark secret lurking in the industry and it’s ruining 99% of email marketing campaigns for those who use ad-swaps and solo ads.
Here’s a typical scenario:
Mike has a massive list of email subscribers.
He decides to start selling solo-ads to other marketers and has a bunch of them take up his offer.
He mails out for 5 different marketers. They have great converting landing pages and capture 50% of the visitors Mike sends.
Those 5 marketers then decide to partner up and start mailing out for each other. No money changes hands, they just send reciprocal emails to their subscribers and swap some of their community members with each other.
Their lists seem to grow rather well using ad-swaps and soon enough, they’re able to charge $300 to send 1000 clicks to other marketers via solo ads.
For the marketeers building a list and moving subscribers around, everything appears to be sweet and rosy. Their lists grow and they might even make a few bucks. Especially if they’re renting out their list for solo ads.
But let’s view this through the customers lens:
Peter started out on Mike’s list after opting in for some lame PLR report on how to turn Facebook into an ATM. It had to be good right, I mean the graphics had $100 dollars bills flying out of a computer screen.
But what the heck, it was free so who really cares anyway?
Next day, Peter gets an email from Mike recommending he download Frank’s report on Google Adwords.
And every day for ever more, Peter receives emails recommending another guys list. Sometimes even twice a day.
After just a month, Peter has subscribed to 30 different marketers and every day and gets emails from ALL of them, touting more reports and more emails.
Peter grinds to a complete standstill. He’s got a hard drive full of shallow , outdated PLR ‘lessons’ that he never even stops to read. He does’t know who to trust for advice because everybody just seems to recommend another product from SOMEBODY ESLE in the in-crowd.
And when he does eventually get around to digesting some of the info I downloaded, it all just seems to conflict with what the other guys are saying.
From the marketers point of view, it’s just crazy to inflict this type of information overload onto your subscribers and customers.
The whole industry is screwing this up and there’s an amazing opportunity for the ethical and savvy amongst us to turn this around.
It’s not the strategy that’s screwed – it’s the tactics.
But in the right hands, email advertising is a kickass tool to attract engaged customers to the core of your email strategy. It’s not an alternative to Guest Blogging, it’s an add-on.
… Aimed squarely at fostering your email tribe.
But a word of caution
You’ll quickly start to build your email database and it’s easy to get excited and make the same mistakes as the other guys. I fell into this trap and managed to stem the problem before it got out of hand.
(I still had to delete 2381 email addresses because I’d pissed them off so much that they ran to the hills.) It’s a mistake I’ll never make again.
Anyway, I wrote a short 4-pager to help you get it right.
It teaches you how to avoid the 5 biggest mistakes 99% of people make with email advertising.
I seriously advise you read this before you get started so you can keep your subscribers and avoid having to ‘clean up’ your list just because you screwed it up.