Today’s marketing heavily revolves around inbound tactics, which imply wooing your potential customers and clients, rather than pushing them into buying. This way, you’re looking to earn people’s interest and make them engage with your brand and then slowly work towards converting them into customers.
The digital era we live in has brought us this relationship-based marketing, along with a new power shift where customers are the decision-makers in control. New generations that make up the key spenders turned marketing into a delicate and never-stopping job. Everyone wants to be treated as a special snowflake and it’s the marketer’s job to make it happen.
Email is one of the most powerful tools in this context. According to eMarketer, email marketing outperforms all other tactics when it comes to customer acquisition and retention. In addition, it is incredibly cost-efficient: a survey conducted by the Direct Marketing Association showed that email has a median ROI of a stunning 122 percent! Don’t forget the fact that all relevant research shows a tendency of growth when it comes to the number of email users. There are even those predicting the number will hit 3.7 billion by the end of 2017 (Radicati Group).
So, it’s incredibly effective, budget-friendly, and it is expanding. The question is – how do you get the most of it?
If you have managed to build a solid email list with contacts of people who are actually interested in your content and sale offers, it means you’ve already done a praise-worthy job of attracting relevant prospects.
Your opt-in list is an incredibly valuable source of contacts as it includes those who willingly gave their consent for receiving emails from you, usually by subscribing or by giving you their email in exchange for something (e.g. whitepaper or eBook). You’re dealing with a narrowed down audience who is relevant and wants to interact with your brand, which turns email into a precious channel of communication.
Wondering how to get to the next level and monetize your opt-in list? Read on.
Generate More Revenue With Segmentation
There is a popular misconception that attempting to monetize your opt-in list leads to higher unsubscribe rates. However, trying to sell something via email is not the same as spam. You just have to know how to do it right. It depends on the communication tone you set, how you design your offer, and to whom you distribute the offer.
That’s where email segmentation steps in.
Let’s face it – sending mass emails never gave mind-blowing results. This practice actually backfires through low open rates and click-through rates.
Why is that? Simply put, one size does not fit all. Your opt-in list consists of many different contacts and they only have one certain thing in common: they want to hear from you. However, the type of content they enjoy and their expectations vary depending on a number of factors.
Email segmentation helps you put relevant content directly in front of those who are interested in it, which significantly increases the chance of conversions. And there are many creative ways to do that.
Depending on the niche you’re operating in (and the tool you’re using for email automation), you can split your contacts based on their location, age, gender, industry, education level, etc. It’s not a bad idea to organize the list according to the contacts’ purchase behavior (e.g. past purchases, purchase interests, buying frequency) in order to identify upsell opportunities and expose them to exact products or services they might be interested in purchasing. This is basically a gentle push towards the decision phase.
Email segmentation, however; is not an easy task and it will probably take some time before you get it right. According to MailChimp’s research, segmented campaigns get significantly better results compared to non-segmented campaigns, which is encouraging enough to start analyzing your opt-in list and craft a few creative and meaningful campaigns.
Incorporating Affiliate Links and Sponsored Ads
If you decide to become an affiliate and turn to smart marketing practices in this field, you can expect to gradually reach solid, passive income. Email can amplify your efforts in that sense, you just have to be cautious of how you incorporate links into the body of the message you send to your opt-in list. Emails, which are sent solely for promotional offers or as a way of distributing affiliate links, could get marked as spam.
If you provide additional value (besides promoting a certain website, product, or service), chances are your campaign won’t get stopped when it contains an affiliate link. It’s best if you think through the segmentation strategy too, so your email gets put in front of those who are likely to convert.
However, your campaign can be stopped if the URL provided is blacklisted. This triggers the spam filter to block your message and may alter your entire campaign, i.e. affect the delivery to other contacts from the list. Spammy behaviour might even lead towards getting your domain labeled as spam, so mind your manners online.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is not to over promote; the contacts on your opt-in list will start to feel overwhelmed and you can expect a higher number of people who unsubscribe. Instead, provide value and diversity to your subscribers. Mix up the type of content, rotate the type of products and services you’re promoting, and hit the right dose of promotion.
Here are a few things to have in mind:
- It’s always better to sign up for an affiliate marketing program that’s in a similar niche as your current business. This means all the promotional offers you display in your emails won’t look like spam, but as an honest recommendation.
- It’s okay to be transparent about receiving commision for promoting a certain brand or website. However, try to incorporate value in everything you do. Avoid collaborating with poor quality brands.
- Create an attention hook and offer special bonuses. For example, if you try becoming an affiliate for some of the whitelisted dating websites via Traffic Mansion, a converted email subscriber is the one who signs up for one of the program’s websites. To motivate them to do so, offer a special bonus; for instance – a product or high-quality piece of content as a sign of appreciation.
When it comes to sponsored ads and native advertising, the possibilities are endless. This type of promotion is gaining momentum in the marketing world: according to the forecast provided by Business Insider, the spending on native ads might hit $2.7 billion by 2018. A well-written native ad is mighty as hell because it sells without the readers feeling like the content is being imposed upon them. It feels natural and honest, which is why it might be a life jacket thrown at marketers at the perfect time, saving them from drowning in the marketplace flooded with ad-blockers.
Again, sponsored ads can bring you significant revenue only if your opt-in list has interest in what you’re trying to sell. Don’t advertise anything you wouldn’t use yourself. If that’s the case, you’re probably dealing with a brand of low quality, which may result in your subscribers losing trust in you, getting bored, and eventually unsubscribing from your list.
Using Your Email For Generating Traffic
This one is pretty obvious but it is often under-appreciated. If you’ve already got the hang of producing relevant and engaging content but you’re not getting the desired results, it might be because of your poor promotion (or even the lack of it). The Internet seems infinite, but it can get a bit crowded in cyberspace. Did you know there are between two and three million blog posts written on a daily basis?
In addition to social media, paid promotions, guest posting, and other ways of promotion, email can be your powerful megaphone that will help you rise above the noise. Your opt-in list is the ultimate group of prospects who are interested in what you’re saying or selling. There is no better way to engage them than via your content. It helps you build authority, work on brand awareness, and it supports your efforts of becoming a meaningful resource from a specific niche people will talk about.
Keep in mind that it takes time for your content marketing efforts to pay off. Just like going to the gym; you won’t get muscles from one workout session but eventually, with commitment and hard work – you’ll achieve the set results. It might require adjusting your strategy along the way until you arrive at your set finish line.
In any case, email is definitely a channel of communication you need to start utilizing as part of the promotion within your content marketing strategy. This way of monetizing your opt-in list is not as transparent, traceable, and direct as in the case of affiliate links where results are tangible, but it is a smart way to think about your business in the long-run.
Charge a Monthly Fee for Premium Content
In case you want to do more than just occasionally sell your service and products, you can use your existing list and ask them if they want to become a premium member and unlock exclusive content for a reasonable monthly fee.
Although consumers might react in different ways when it comes to estimating price and value ratio, there is something that triggers most of us when we see a price we can afford attached to content in which we are potentially interested.
We tend to value things that cost us more than the ones we get for free.
If you decide to offer paid subscriptions, keep in mind that the success of your promotion depends on whether or not your subscribers feel they’re getting a good deal. Here are some of the tips you might want to try out:
- Create a teaser that will intrigue your subscribers about the content they’ll receive in case they opt for a paid subscription. This way, you are making them wonder what they will miss if they choose not to pay the fee.
- Make premium content truly premium. If you offer a paid subscription to your email list, make sure they are provided with outstanding content. Don’t recycle your old blog posts or write with half a brain. In this case, the whole attempt of monetizing your opt-in list might backfire as people will notice you’re not providing them with promised value, so they might just unsubscribe.
- Use the power of 9: Set a monthly fee ending with 99 (e.g. $7.99), as it is more likely to trigger people to subscribe. That’s the secret behind the psychology of pricing, it’s just how our brains are hardwired, as studies have shown.
- Underline the time-money correlation. People love comprehensive reader’s digests that cover a certain topic from A to Z. and It’s always good to stress how paying a monthly fee saves their time. It means that meaningful content will be delivered and someone has invested a lot of time and energy on their behalf. Time is the only resource we’re constantly running out of – remind your opt-in list of this fact.
As you can see, there are numerous ways to monetize your opt-in lists, but make sure you don’t lose your leads while chasing shortcuts to instant money. Email can be a mind-blowing tool, but you have to think beyond the quality of your content. You have to think about consumers’ behavior.
For example, did you know that between 20 percent and 75 percent of emails will be opened via mobile devices? This piece of statistics comes to us from eMailmonday and the percentages vary mainly depending on the industry and the type of audience. In addition, the time of day you send emails matters and there have been various studies to prove this fact.
Having an opt-in list is an amazing achievement, but work needs to be done in order for it to grow. Embrace the trial and error approach, respect every single contact on your list, and try nurturing the type of marketing that’s based on relationships, not solely on profit. This way, you won’t be perceived as a spammer and you’re more likely to eventually cash in your efforts.