02 April 2009

Blogging Tips : How to Get the Best of Both Worlds

Blogs and Email

Today Hendry Lee from BlogBuildingU explores the power of combining blogging with email.

Most people think email is dead, at least for marketing. A few years ago when blogging was just reaching mainstream, some aggressive marketers claimed that blog would replace email in its marketing role.

But that never happens.

I don’t know what it is about such news, but every time someone claims that an older technology is about to descend in replacement of something shinier, people flock to it as if their businesses are going no where without it.

Regarding blog versus email, obviously the dust has settled down. Now it is time to look carefully what you could do with them to get the most out of your business.

It is true that email comes with its own problems. Bounce back, phishing, spam filters, authentication and reputation are just a small list of the issues.

Still the fact that email leads all other channels by a wide margin in terms of performance is something every blogger should not overlook. Just as a comparison, 80.4 percent of more than 3,000 survey participants chose email as a strong advertising performer, compared to 56.8 percent who chose search.

How Email Can Help

Consider this scenario. First time visitor arrives at your site. Usually she knows very little about you, if at all. The current page, or perhaps the homepage, is your chance to make the first impression. It is obvious that you should make every possible entry page counts.

Once she’s done with the first page, perhaps she is going to view a few others before quitting. Unless you find a way to keep in touch with her, most likely she is not going to come back.

Just face it. How many times do you come back to a site after visiting it once? For me, it happens rarely and I know I’m not the only one. Unless, of course, the site is extremely good.

Both RSS and email are tools to help you get those readers back to you. Although RSS is reaching the mainstream, email is still “the” communication channel. All Internet users are familiar with it.

There are always subscribers who prefer RSS to email, but others would like to receive updates via email only or both.

Don’t believe that email is still effective? Just ask Darren. He had passed 100,000 subscribers for the DPS weekly newsletter.

Here’s the rule of thumb. Reach your readers whenever they want and via content distribution channels and formats they prefer. There are other channels like audio podcast, video and so on, but let’s start with email because it is the most common one.

Whether you are just getting started or have been blogging for some time, you are leaving money on the table if you don’t integrate email into your marketing mix.

From Recognition to Interaction

Email allows you to get in touch with your subscribers and build awareness of your brand. In a nutshell, here’s the process:

  • Delivery of content on a regular basis promotes recognition. Each email is an opportunity to reach your subscribers with your message. Make sure the message brings an impact.
  • Content creates interest. It’s not just any content. Every message has to be particularly good for the readers to stay on the list. You can’t be boring with your content, although subscribers are also forgiving if you do it occasionally.
  • Interest encourages interaction. If the subscribers can relate to your content, sooner or later they will write back and start the interaction. It doesn’t matter if it is just a blog comment or email, what matters is your relationships with your audience. Email just makes it easier because this medium is designed for communication from the start.

At this stage, you may continue the nurturing process to build trust. Each of the process above moves a subscriber closer to the buying decision.

That certainly sounds pretty much like a blog or other marketing channels, because there is indeed a pattern. After all, the end goal is to turn strangers to prospects and prospects to customers.

This applies as well to bloggers who only generate revenue from selling ad spaces. You need to build relationships to get more traffic and convert visitors to advertisers. Repeat readers also mean more pageviews. Best of all, this interaction may lead you to more opportunities.

Again when it comes to a reader’s favorite content consumption channel, you just can’t shove one thing or another down anyone’s throat.

Either you also communicate via email or you miss a segment of your audience.

Email Marketing for Bloggers

Without a doubt, the most obvious application of email marketing for bloggers is an e-newsletter.

With an email newsletter, not only you can drive traffic back to your blog, but also generate more advertising revenue through pageviews, increase sales and do virtually anything that is possible with communication. The latter means almost every marketing activity, right?

If you are interested about starting an email newsletter, Darren has written a few interesting articles in the past. You can also find a few tips for bloggers here.

Email newsletter is just one example though. The following are a few other ideas. With emails, you can do the following in additional to the benefits you get through your blog:

  • Create a series of lessons for an e-course. Queue those lessons in a sequence autoresponder. It will follows up with your subscribers on your behalf. You can create content-laden articles and deliver them one at a time at a predetermined interval. It is like relationship building on autopilot.
  • Use email as customer retention tool. Reduce chargeback by reminding customers about their purchase. Offer additional bonuses. Suggest a few ways to use your product. This is where email is still the most appropriate communication tool.
  • Recover abandoned shopping carts. It is possible to follow up 24 hours after someone abandons your shopping cart to recover sales. Such emails have higher open and click-through rate and may reclaim back your otherwise lost revenue.
  • Generate sales and extras. This is not just for e-commerce sites. Email can help close deals for a consulting work, among others.
  • Build buzz. You can see this example in most product launch emails. Using email and blog, the product owners build buzz around the product so even before launch date, the subscribers are already anticipating it.

Especially for service professionals, a lead can potentially worth a few thousand dollars. Using email to follow up with them, even if it is to a few people at a time, is a strategy worth considering.

Email follow up and broadcast technology is now very affordable. At $20 or less per month, there’s no reason you can’t start today. Have fun reclaiming the otherwise lost traffic and revenues back.

Hendry Lee helps people overcome strategic and technological challenges in starting and growing their web businesses.

Visit Blog Building University if you need more ideas for blog promotion. While you are there, download your free blogging eBook and subscribe to his blogging e-course where he reveals his secrets about blogging and content writing!


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Simon said...

Very informative article, thanks!

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