Enhance Email Marketing with Great Free Content

How good is your email marketing? You know that you have to build an email list, but if you struggle getting people to sign up, then your overall proposition might not be the problem. According to research by MarketingSherpa, 50 percent of companies report that their email lists have grown slowly over the past 12 months, with 7 percent saying that their lists have actually shrunk. What incentive do you give people to hand over their contact details?

If you answered none, then you can drastically enhance your newsletter sign-up rates with one easy tactic. It’s fundamental human nature: people like free stuff. Give them a free report or an e-course when they sign up for your newsletter, and they’ll feel an instant benefit from joining your community.

Of course, it has to be a quality incentive—not a one-page sales leaflet—or they’ll be unsubscribing again faster than you can get their details into your database. But it doesn’t have to be expensive to produce, either. Chances are you already have everything you need.

4 Steps to Great Email List Incentives

1. Use existing content

If your company hosts a blog, then you’ve already got a ton of written material. Save yourself lots of time and pull together your best content on a related theme to create a short, targeted report. Even if you don’t have a blog, you’ve probably contributed articles to the local business press or run a survey at some point; you can also turn these into a report. Alternatively, use email auto-responders to set up a short e-course, which will email an installment to the new subscriber every day.

2. Format it properly

Look out for poor spelling and grammar. Add sub-headings to give readers pointers throughout the report. Reproduce any images clearly, and be sure to provide captions and copyright attribution. Then check everything again for consistency so that the overall document hangs together. Give it an attractive cover page, add page numbers, and you’re done. If you’re producing a course, make sure that each instalment signposts what the reader received yesterday and what they’ll be getting tomorrow.

3. Include (a little) sales information

Your free report shouldn’t focus on sales. It should give readers interesting insights or useful information, but that doesn’t mean you can’t include anything about your business. Use a page at the back to highlight your services and provide contact information. For auto-responder courses, add a short promotional section at the bottom of each email.

4. Save it and link it

Save your new report as a .pdf file; most devices can read them, and people generally aren’t concerned about downloading that file type. Then set up your email marketing software to either send out the document directly for new subscribers or to send them a link so that they can download it. You can also use your email tools to set up the auto-responders required for an e-course. Then market your new freebie on your website, on your newsletter sign-up page and to your social media connections, and watch for the subscriptions to come in.

Change your free report or course offering every so often to keep your email marketing incentives fresh and timely. And don’t forget to monitor your sign-up campaign so that you can check if your new giveaway really makes a difference to subscriptions.

Elizabeth Harrin is director of The Otobos Group, a project communications consultancy. She has a decade of experience in leading IT and process improvement projects in financial services and healthcare. She also is experienced in managing business change. Elizabeth is the author of three books and blogs at www.GirlsGuideToPM.com for which she won the Computer Weekly IT Professional Blogger of the Year award in 2011.

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