The Importance of the Opt In or Squeeze Page

If you’re new to email marketing then you’ll probably need to learn some new terms and concepts. One important concept is that of the “squeeze page,” also known as an “opt-in page”.

Squeeze Page

A squeeze page is a page on your website that exists for the specific purpose of getting a reader to give you their email address so that you can send certain information or information products to them. This opt-in process can be for a new subscription to something that you offer on your site, for the purpose of receiving a particular item from you (such as an ebook), or to join your mailing list to receive future offers, or some combination of these.

Why do Squeeze Pages Matter?

Why Squeeze Pages are ImportantSqueeze pages are important because building your mailing list is an essential part of doing business online. In fact, building your list of email contacts could be the single most important element of your online marketing success. And one of the best methods for getting new prospects to give you their email addresses is through the use of well-designed and well-implemented squeeze pages.


What Should Your Squeeze Pages Include?

Email spam continues to be a significant problem, so be clear on what you’re offering, and what you’re going to do with the prospect’s email address once they give it to you. You don’t need to include your entire privacy policy, but you should at least include a summary of the most important points. How are you going to use their email address? Do you plan to send special offers or anything else beyond what they’re specifically signing up to receive?

Also be clear on what the next step is. Are you going to send them a confirmation email that they need to open and click on before they’re subscribed? If you’re going to send them an ebook, or start an autoresponder series, when can they expect to hear from you – right away or within a couple days? Setting your prospect’s expectations is key to your success.

What Should Your Squeeze Pages Not Include?

Each squeeze page has one and only one purpose – to get someone to agree to give you their email address. This means that the page shouldn’t contain anything that doesn’t further that goal, or require the reader to click to another page to learn more. Your squeeze page therefore shouldn’t have any links to other pages of your site – just a “Submit” or “Sign Up” button if they decide to accept your offer, and a “Close Window” or “X” button if they decide not to. These should be the only methods of navigating away from the Squeeze Page.

Sign Up

Furthermore, you should only request the minimum of information – chances are this is just going to be the prospect’s email address. and first name. If you don’t need to know their last name, how they found your site, or any other extra information, then don’t ask for it on your squeeze page. The more information someone has to provide, the more likely it is that they’ll click away without giving you anything at all.

In the next post we’ll discuss some sure-fire ways for you to build up that mailing list, but all of that is much easier once you’ve set up your squeeze or opt-in page.


First Steps to Setting up a Mailing List

For many businesses, their email marketing lists can be the single most valuable asset they own. Here are some tips for helping you get your first mailing list up and running.

Select Your Service Provider

Step 1The first step in setting up a new mailing list is to make sure you have the infrastructure in place to handle it. This will almost always mean that you’ve selected a service provider (such as the ones we previously discussed) to help you manage and administer your list. Consider the various different features offered by a service, its pricing structure, and its ability to meet any particular needs you have in order to find the best fit.

Decide How You Want to Target Prospective Contacts

Step 2How are you going to target your prospects? It’s not enough to tell people you have a mailing list and tell them to sign up. You have to give them a reason why. One common method is to provide something valuable (usually a downloadable informational product) in exchange for someone giving you their e-mail address. Depending on your niche, this could be an e-book that introduces basic concepts to someone who is unfamiliar with your niche, a checklist to help them accomplish a specific project or goal, or transcripts of interviews you may have available on your website.

Enable and Review Your Analytics

Step 3Regardless of the email service provider you’re working with, you’re likely to have a number of different options for how and when you can collect data relating to your email marketing activities. Make sure you’re collecting as much as possible, and start reviewing this information as soon as possible. Obviously it’s going to become more valuable as time goes on and you have more data to analyze, but it’s still worth getting in the habit of using it as part of your decision making process from the very beginning.

Plan and Prepare Your Messages Beforehand

Step 4If you’re only sending out a weekly broadcast for example, prepare that email at least a day or two before you plan to send it out, so that you have the opportunity to take a fresh look at it one last time before it actually goes out.

If you plan to send a series of emails, then draft all of them before you load them up. It might seem like a big task, but it’s almost always best to approach your autoresponder series this way. If you instead draft each email only after the last one goes out, you might find that you’ve overlooked certain points that you should have made in earlier emails, or that the autoresponder series as a whole doesn’t have a good flow. Review all of your emails, in order, before you start sending any of them out.

Make Use of All Available Resources

The actual technical and administrative steps to setting up a new mailing list will vary depending on the service you use. Fortunately, most service providers have tutorials, videos and other educational materials that can make this process much easier. Be sure to make full use of all the resources that are available to you. You may even wish to consider these resources as a factor when deciding between which autoresponder service to use.

Now, it’s time to get to work and start setting up your lists. In the next couple of posts, we’ll be talking about effective ways to grow your mailing list. So make sure you’re ready to get started!

Should You Use Single or Double Opt In?

Confirmed or Single Opt-in?It should be fairly apparent that your approach to email marketing should only involve sending e-mails to individuals who have signed up to receive them. This might be done as a sign up on your website to receive your newsletter, an autoresponder series, or some other type of information. Avoid any temptation to send unsolicited emails under any circumstances. I know I probably don’t have to say that, but just in case.

The process of getting people to sign up to receive your emails can be accomplished in different ways. The simplest way is known as “opt in” or “single opt in.” This is where you add the e-mail address to your list after someone enters their address on your sign-up form. You may decide to send a “welcome” or “thank you” e-mail to that person as soon as they sign up. This e-mail will likely contain instructions and a link for unsubscribing, and the subscriber will begin receiving your e-mails without having to take any additional action.

The other common technique is known as a “confirmed” or “double opt in” sign up. With this method, as soon as an individual submits their e-mail address in your form, you send back an automated response that asks them to click a link to confirm their subscription. If the individual does not click the confirmation link, then they will not be added to your e-mail list.

Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Yes or NoSingle Opt-In

Pros:
• This is by far the simplest for prospective subscribers; they provide their e-mail address once and then they’re done.
• You can begin sending your messages to new subscribers right away; there’s no need to wait for them to click a link in a confirmation e-mail.


Cons:
• This method does not confirm that a particular email address was actually submitted by the person who owns it. Sometimes people make mistakes or write in bad addresses and you definitely don’t want to email those addresses.
• A competitor or someone else who wants to harm your business can submit third party email addresses, and those individuals could complain that they never signed up for your mailings – and get you blacklisted with spam services.

Confirmed or Double Opt-In

Pros:
• An individual who takes the extra step of clicking the confirmation or double opt in link is likely to be more interested in your marketing message than someone who fails to make the confirmation.
• It protects you from sending email to the wrong addresses or addresses that simply do not exist.

Cons:
• If you’ve never sent e-mail to a particular individual before, your confirmation or double opt in follow-up could easily be routed to their junk folder. Unless they happen to check it and notice your e-mail, they may never get the opportunity to confirm their scripture.
• Some people might simply be too lazy to actually click on your confirmation link.

What’s the Right Way?

AnalyzeIn summary, it’s far from a clear choice on whether you should use a double opt-in method to build your mailing list. The best approach may be to analyze the sign-up, confirmation and conversion rates for whatever method you’re currently using, and use those numbers to help you decide whether a different approach may be more effective.

The same considerations apply even if you’re setting up your very first mailing list, which we’ll discuss in the next post. We’ll go through the first steps you need to do, so you’re well on your way to using the power of email marketing.


What’s the Difference Between Autoresponders and Broadcast Emails?

In our previous article we discussed the autoresponder services that can help you become significantly more efficient with your e-mail marketing efforts. It gets confusing when we use the phrase “autoresponder services” and then talk about “autoresponder messages” and “broadcast messages”, but an autoresponder service can generally send both types of messages. So don’t worry, once you have chosen an autoresponder service, you’re ready to use both of these different techniques.

Comparing Broadcasts to Autoresponders

Let’s discuss some of the differences between autoresponders and broadcast emails, so that you know what type of communication is likely to be better suited to each of your promotional campaigns.

Autoresponder Messages

Autoresponder MessagesAutoresponder e-mails are a series of messages that are sent to a subscriber at predetermined intervals once they sign up for your mailing list. The interval term is generally somewhere between a few days and a week or two, depending on the nature of your content. This allows you to build a relationship with each subscriber over time, and position yourself as a trusted source of information.

Pros:
• Autoresponder messages are relatively easy to administer. Once you’ve prepared a series of e-mails, you can use an autoresponder service to have them sent out at predetermined intervals to each new subscriber who signs up.
• Autoresponders can strengthen the relationship with your readers because they allow you to communicate with those individuals over an extended period of time.

Cons:
• Autoresponder messages may grow stale. Even though your messages can be reused for multiple subscribers over time, you still need to periodically assess whether the text of those messages needs to be revised in light of developments within your niche or industry.
• Autoresponder messages, if not drafted properly, can come off as impersonal and perhaps even having too strong of a sales message.

Broadcast Messages

Broadcast MessageBroadcast messages are those that occur outside of an autoresponder series of e-mails. One of the key features of a broadcast e-mail is that it can be highly topical and relate to “breaking news” type events. Broadcast e-mails can also make your mailing list aware of a new item or new promotion that you may be running.

Pros:
• Broadcast messages can be highly specific and targeted to some or all of the individuals on your email list.
• Broadcast messages don’t require the reader to commit to reading a series of emails over time; each message is a self-contained marketing message.

Cons:
• In contrast to autoresponder messages – where your subscribers have signed up specifically to receive them – you don’t always know when your subscribers will find a broadcast message interesting or valuable.
• It can sometimes be difficult to determine “how much is too much” when it comes to broadcast e-mails. The last thing you want to do is have one of your broadcast e-mails cause someone to unsubscribe from your list.

Now that you have a better idea of when to use an autoresponder series and when to use a broadcast message, you can decide what techniques you should use to build your mailing list and that’s exactly what we’ll talk about next time.


Choosing an Autoresponder Service or Software

Autoresponder DecisionAh technology. It’s such a great thing, but sometimes can be frustrating to figure out what exactly we need and then how to use it. Let’s explore some of your options when it comes to email marketing and hopefully things will become a bit clearer.

As your mailing list grows, it should quickly become apparent to that you don’t want to try to manage it manually. Not only will it become a significant administrative burden, but sending emails with more than a dozen or so recipients can greatly increase the likelihood that your autoresponder messages will be marked as spam, and never reach your intended audience.

An autoresponder service can help accomplish the dual goals of freeing you up to work on other important tasks within your company, and making sure your email messages reach their targets. Here is a summary of a few of the leading services, and the pros and cons of each.

Aweber

Aweber is one of the leading services for automating the process of building your mailing lists, and sending emails to everyone on your list.

Aweber

Pros:
• Aweber has a very reliable delivery mechanism.
• Aweber offers strong support for autoresponder series, including conditional moving of subscribers from one list to another. For example, if someone buys the product you’re promoting with a particular autoresponder series, you can configure Aweber to move them from that autoresponder series to a different one immediately after their purchase (after all, you don’t want to continue promoting the product after they’ve already purchased it).

Cons:
• Aweber does not offer a free trial (although it does offer the first month of service for just $1, with a money back guarantee).
• They have changed their interface a lot recently and many complain that it has become more difficult to

arpReach

arpReach, formerly known as AutoresponsePlus, takes a somewhat different approach to the other major services in that it offers downloadable software that you pay for once, rather than an online service that you pay for each month.

arpReach

Pros:
• One-time cost; there are no monthly fees, and your initial license fee is not tied to the number of addresses on your list or the number of messages you send.
• Full control over your list with the ability to import subscribers as you’d like.

Cons:
• The arpReach software must be installed on your web server, but you can pay one of their recommended installers to install it for you.
• arpReach is currently not compatible with GoDaddy hosting services.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact has rapidly become one of the most recognizable services for email marketing, and has a strong customer base that includes some very large companies.

Constant Contact

Pros:
• Constant Contact allows you to run social media campaigns to supplement your email marketing efforts.
• A free 60 day trial is available for a mailing list of up to 100 names.

Cons:
• Potentially more expensive than other services as your list grows.

iContact

iContact, formerly known as Intellicontact, provides email marketing support services as well as higher value advisory and strategy services.

iContact

Pros:
• A large number of highly stylized email templates.
• The ability to create custom messages with the proprietary MessageBuilder and MessageCoder applications.

Cons:
• Only larger customers with Premier Accounts can use Google Analytics and split testing features.

If you’re looking for your first autoresponder service or software, the best approach is to try a few of the ones on this list before making a commitment.

Next up, we’ll be talking about the difference between autoresponder and broadcast messages. Both have their benefits, so let’s take a closer look at that.


Why Email Marketing is Important for Businesses

Why Email Marketing is Important for Businesses

Why Email Marketing is ImportantI promised to be back and here we are, with possibly the most important discussion about why email marketing is important for business. Let’s get right into that.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets have certainly become important avenues for online marketing campaigns, but good old fashioned email marketing still holds a great deal of value for organizations and businesses of all sizes.

In fact, email marketing even has a number of advantages over some of the more “cutting edge” marketing techniques that some tend to focus on. Here are a few of the top reasons why email marketing is important for businesses today.

Email Marketing is PersonalEmail Marketing is Personal

Email is a personal and direct way of initiating a “one to one” conversation with prospects and existing customers.

Based on the information you request on a sign-up page in addition to the email address, you may be able to make sure you’re targeting that individual most appropriately.

For example, you might ask a prospect to check boxes indicating their areas of interest while signing up, and then use this information to decide what types of email messages to send to them later.

Email Marketing is Trusted

Since reputable businesses only engage in email marketing to individuals who have signed up to receive emails, this marketing channel is inherently trusted by the recipient. The individuals you’re marketing to have already decided that your business is one they’re interested in hearing more from – that’s why they signed up for your email list. (Don’t be tempted to send unsolicited emails to people who haven’t signed up with you; you may find yourself on a spam list, and getting off that list can be very difficult.)

Email Marketing is Measurable

Measure Email Marketing

Because the action items in each email generally consist of links back to your website (or to your Facebook page), you can set up special landing pages in order to measure the “click through” rates for each of your communications. On average, click through rates are generally in the 4%-5% range, so being able to measure your response rates and improve performance even slightly can have a significant benefit to your bottom line.

Email Marketing Works

This is perhaps the most important factor for a business to consider when deciding whether to use email marketing is its effectiveness. Industry surveys continue to confirm that email marketing generally has the highest return on investment of all other marketing tactics. Simply put, email marketing works.

Email Marketing is Affordable

Email Marketing is AffordableIn relation to the benefits you’re likely to receive back, email marketing is one of the most affordable methods for marketing your business. If you have a very small list you can consider administering it manually. However, once your list grows to a certain size you may wish to take advantage of a professional email list management service. Most of these services are quite affordable, and provide you with a variety of pricing options.

In the next post we’ll take a closer look at some of the leading services, and the pros and cons of each. It’s not always easy picking the right service (hint: there probably isn’t a perfect autoresponder unless you code it yourself), but at least we’ll cover some of those details so you can make an informed decision.

Meet Andy Johnston, Our New Guest Blogger

Meet Andy Johnston, Our New Guest Blogger

If there’s one thing for certain, email still makes the online world go around. Despite the doom and gloom many have predicted for email with innovations like RSS and social media, email still rules the day. It’s a crucial marketing medium for the success of any online business (or any business at all), so I’ve brought in our guest blogger, Andy Johnston, to take you through all the important aspects of email marketing.

I’ll let Andy tell you a little more about it…

Email MarketingHello to all and thanks for the welcome. I am looking forward to sharing a whole lot about email marketing in the coming weeks. I plan to cover everything from why email is important to all the nuts and bolts stuff you need to know to make email marketing successful for you business.

Here are the topics I’ll be covering for you:

– Why email marketing is important for business
– Choosing an autoresponder service or software
– Understanding the difference between autoresponder and broadcast emails
– Should you use confirmed / double opt-in?
– Your first steps to setting up a mailing list
– The importance of the opt-in / squeeze page
– Surefire ways of growing your list
– Engaging your readers and delivering exactly what they want
– Email conversion tips

If any of that terminology isn’t familiar with you, don’t worry, I’ll explain everything. We’re going to cover a lot in the next few posts, so make sure you sign up for the blog’s RSS feed or mailing list, if you’re not on already. I look forward to helping you turn your email marketing into an important profit source for your business.