Business Reality: Email Newsletter Delivery and Economies of Scale

Recently, I’ve had a couple of clients express a desire to purchase/create their own email newsletter delivery software to run on their own hosting account. I’ve also had more than one client pass through my practice having pursued that path previously, with disastrous results.

In college, I picked up a second major in economics because I discovered that I had taken most of the courses required for a major without trying. I just really loved both micro and macro economics and what I learned in those courses have served me well, even two decades later.

In my course of study, one of the concepts covered was that of economies of scale. According to Investopedia:

Economies of Scale: The increase in efficiency of production as the number of goods being produced increases. Typically, a company that achieves economies of scale lowers the average cost per unit through increased production since fixed costs are shared over an increased number of goods.

It’s this economic principle that comes to mind when solo entrepreneurs decide to launch their own newsletter delivery/email broadcast service.

Quite simply, Marketer’s Choice (a.k.a. 1 Shopping Cart/Professional Cart Solutions/Kickstart Cart, etc.) is able to leverage economies of scale in their favor. For only $29 per month, you can subscribe to their service AND let them handle all the headaches that come with managing your own email newsletter list.

OR you can pay several hundred or even thousands of dollars (one client reported a quote of $3000) to have a custom application built for you.

The problem, as one client of mine discovered, is that the initial creation/launch of the software is just the tip of the iceberg.  Today’s effective email newsletter software is tomorrow’s invitation to hackers to find the security holes in your system.

Some of the biggest names in the internet marketing use either a version of 1Shopping Cart or Aweber to deliver their email newsletters.  Hopefully, some day, newsletter email will be a thing of the past thanks to RSS feeds.  Until then,  most web site owners would be better served to use the above mentioned services than try to develop their own.

Fast Track to Blog/Newsletter Launch

A blog + a newsletter are foundation building blocks for ANY BUSINESS that wants to use the internet to marketing or promote their business.

I’ve already written a "primer" on newsletter basics.

Once you have your blog launched with a sign up for your newsletter, it’s time to get to work getting people to sign up for your newsletter.

The second toughest trick is to get people to sign up for the list.  (The toughest one is to create a newsletter that readers will actually READ!) 

The obvious first place to "fish" for subscribers is your own email contacts list. 

WARNING: I do NOT advise that you send out a mass email using Outlook or some other email client to 50, 100 or more people on the cc or even the BCC.

I do advise that you can send out INDIVIDUAL emails to the people (both in your email contact list AND those whose business cards you have collected)  to TELL them about your new blog and newsletter. To make CERTAIN it doesn’t get reported as spam, you need to send a each an personal email.

Here’s a sample email:

"Judy,

We met at [insert name of event] and you gave me your business card and told me to stay in touch.  If you’ll remember, we talked about [insert what you discussed at event].

I just wanted to let you know that I’m launching a newsletter to keep people just like you informed of what’s going on in the [insert activity/group/business type] community.  If you’d like to subscribe, just visit my blog [insert blog url] and you’ll see the newsletter sign up box in the right hand column.

It was great meeting you at [insert name of event].

Kathy

Another great tool is to include your blog url in your signature file so every email you send is a promotion for your web site/blog/newsletter.

With this said, I STRONGLY suggest that before you issue these individual party invitations until you’ve got a LOT of choices on your "blog buffet".   Don’t send out this invitation while your blog has fewer than 10 posts. 

I often use the word picture to encourage clients to view their blog as a party at a public park.   You pick a pavillion, decorate it with balloons and streamers… and set out an impressive spread of food to delight your guests.

As guests are enjoying the food and company, you’ve provided a discreet way for them to be notified of FUTURE parties you’re having.  You provide a sign up for where people will sign up to RECEIVE the newsletter, which will act as their invitation to future events. 

The problem is, if guests arrive before the food is set out, they’re not likely to sign up to be reminded to return.  In other words, if visitors don’t see anything of interest on the blog, then they probably won’t sign up for the newsletter.  That is UNLESS you provide a legal bribe or a gift for signing up for your newsletter.  Offering a free resource of value as a legal bribe does increase your sign up rate signficantly and will help you grow your newsletter even more quickly.

Remember, visitors who subscribe to your newsletter want to know more about your products and services.  These are HOT prospects.  The more information you provide on your blog, the more subscribers you’ll find you get.  (Seems counter intuitive, but it’s true.)

A Primer on Email Newsletters

This past week I’ve responded to a very similar question from FOUR different clients.  When I get asked ANY question more than once in a 7 day period, well it’s a sign that it’s an issue I need to address on my blog.  Here we go.

The issue of newsletter mailing lists is a popular one.  An email newsletter is a powerful tool you can use to stay in touch with clients/customers and potential clients/customers.  I highly recommend that clients develop helpful and informative newsletters to stay in touch with both potential clients and current clients.

However, the sending of unsolicited email is a HUGE issue these days.  When you mass email a message to people who haven’t give you PERMISSION to email them, it’s called SPAM!  Amazingly, many nice, respectable business people want to do just that.  They want to take a stack of business cards that they’ve collected over the years and input the information into a database and begin emailing those people without first obtaining their prior consent.  Again, it’s called SPAM or UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email) 

Sending SPAM is a HUGE no-no in the world of the internet.  It hurts your credibility with your unsuspecting "victims" and, if they’re wise in the ways of the internet, they can get your IP blacklisted.  If your domain name is registered with Godaddy and they complain to them, you’ll find yourself with a nice hefty fine levied by them as well.

So your job is to make sure your messages do NOT get reported as SPAM and the way to do that is through a double opt in list.

A double opt in is where a subscriber signs up for your newsletter via a form on your web site or blog.  Once the subscription request is made, the system automatically sends a second message to confirm that the email address owner WANTS to be added to the list.  To confirm this, the email address owner clicks on a special link which CONFIRMS that yes, he/she/it does want their email address added to this list.  The email address owner is giving the list owner PERMISSION to send email to them.

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