Email marketing is one of the most lucrative ways for the bloggers to monetize their blog, but building your own email list can be a tricky process. Two bloggers, using the same strategies to increase the number of their subscribers, can have very different results depending on their niches, their level of authority and, of course, the audience. One of the most famous techniques is offering a freebie in exchange for the email address, but it doesn’t fit every blogger’s style.
If you’re thinking about offering something valuable for free to your future subscribers, here’s some food for thought.
What is a “freebie”
An e-book guide, or a series of video tutorials that you’ll create in order to get more people to subscribe to your blog – these are the most common forms of incentives used for that – are commonly used to encourage people who have come to your blog to leave their email address. It works very well if they’re already thinking about subscribing (which has a lot to do with whether they’re already perceiving you as an author and expert), or if you’ve made an exceptional material and presented it in such a way that they simply can’t resist it.
The goal of giving such content away is simple: once they leave their email address, they’re in your“database” of people willing to receive further emails from you; then you can send them, apart from the “freebie” that they have signed up for, other emails in which you will try to connect with them and get them to know you and to trust you, from where you can do all sorts of things: send them various offers that you’re promoting (if you want to directly monetize your list), or turn them into loyal followers who will help you build your online reputation (if your primary goal is to became the authority in your industry).
The mistakes and the downsides of freebies
The mistake that most bloggers make is that they either pay some cheap writer to create an ebook (so called), or do that themselves without thoroughly researching whether there’s a real need for such content. Just think about how many blogs you have come across that are offering a “complete guide to blogging for beginners” or “blogging your way from rags to riches”. These are the kinds of content that every single new blogger wants to read – and if you have given your email address in exchange for some of them, how many of those “guides” have actually given you something valuable, something that you haven’t already read elsewhere? Probably not many (unless you’re very lucky); what people usually do when they see that the “guide” is crap and that the blogger is just trying to sell them stuff without providing any real value to them – is to unsubscribe. And you better don’t forget that, unsubscribing takes only one click, as well as subscribing
Another downside of offering freebies as an incentive is that, well, you’ll end up with a lot of people subscribing only to get the free content, and then either unsubscribing, or never opening your emails again (there are a lot of people who filter the emails from specific senders, or those who will give the email address that they aren’t actually using – and there are those who are collecting all kinds of content on the Internet, and never read it). You have to count on the fact that a big number of your new subscribers will fall into one of these categories, and closely monitor the behavior of the people on your list; every subscriber costs you (just check the price plans on any major auto responder service), and you want to make sure that your money is well spent.
If you want to increase the number of people on your list by offering them the free content – then make that content stand out from the beginning: the heading and the call to action have to be different than what they are used to see, and they have to understand right away that the content they’re about to get will really be useful to them. The content itself has to be created with the end users in mind, and if you want them to stay on your list and get involved, it has to be cleverly made, so that they do get the feeling of tremendous value, but also to understand that there’s a lot more (of knowledge, tips and tricks) where that came from.
So, if you’re in it for the long run, think about whether you’re able to create that kind of content as a freebie. If not, then don’t be afraid to pay a good and reliable writer to do it for you. Especially if you’re a new blogger and no one knows about you yet – the investment should pay for itself shortly if you do everything else right.
Andrew is a content manager for a small business website in New York.