Start Your Email Newsletter Without an Opt-In List

email list opt insCatherine on LinkedIn asks:

I need advice on what email newsletter service to use. Mail Chimp and Constant Contact require me to have email addresses that already have opted in. This is my first newsletter so I don’t have this. I have a list of emails from all my business cards. How do I do this?

If you’re starting your first newsletter, like Catherine, it can be a bit daunting. Most email providers want you to have opt-in names for your list, but you’ve got no list, and no permission, so how can you email? You do have a stack of business cards though. Is that OK?

Email list opt ins and opt outs

While CAN-SPAM technically requires opt-out, rather than opt-in, the top email service providers require that you get explicit permission first. It reduces their (and your) spam complaints and improves email deliverability. Plus, while it’s not legally necessary, it’s much more considerate and helpful to ask first (rather than just starting to shout at people).

How to get email list opt ins

For clients, or prospects you’re already talking to, send a personal email (don’t do it en masse, and don’t let them see each other’s info), telling them you’re starting a newsletter.

Ask them to opt-in to your email list.  Include a few points about the types of topics you’ll be covering, how often you’ll be sending it, and how it will help them.

If they are people you met recently, send a personal email saying it was nice to meet you at X, I enjoyed talking about Y, and including the opportunity for an email list opt-in (again with info about what they’ll receive).  Include a link to opt-in to your newsletter.

Then add an email list opt-in form to your blog or website, repeating the bullet points, and asking readers to sign up. Send the people you’ve contacted to that page.

You can also encourage the opt-in by offering a special bonus to the first X number of people to sign-up.


Friday Fun: End of Year Holiday Party

Champagne and pate on Thanksgiving.

Image via Wikipedia

Get our your champagne glasses and your funny hats.  It’s time for the end of year holiday party.  Last year, I had a roundup of posts by topic. Here’s the list:

Five Free Ways to Market Your Business

What Every Marketer Ought to Know in the New Year

Creative Ways to Write Great Headlines

Get More From Your Email Marketing

Do You Make These Common Marketing Mistakes?

This year, I’m going to do something different. A countdown of my five best posts (ever). Stay tuned for number five on Monday, counting down to number one next Friday. (Hey, why should Casey Kasem – sorry Ryan Seacrest doesn’t count) have all the fun?

Meanwhile, happy, merry, and joyful to all of you.

Free Gift: Email Made Easy E-book

email marketing made easy
It’s a mini-ebook called “Email Marketing Made Easy.” It’s full of tips to help you get more people to open, read, and respond to your emails.

It’s absolutely free. No sign-up or registration required. I released it to my newsletter readers a few days ago, and I’m now making it public. There will be more to come.

Feel free to read it, share it, and pass it along. Just don’t sell it or change it.

Here’s the link:

Email Marketing Made Easy

Freebie Friday: 653 Free Email Templates


Continuing with the email marketing theme this week, today’s Freebie Friday features free email templates.

A good layout can get more attention and speed your message past the spam filters, but creating your own can be a pain (especially if you’re not an HTML whiz).

Don’t forget to send a plain text version too (since some images get stuck in spam filters).

600 free email templates:  customizable, and adaptable to your customers’ preferred form factor (e.g., tablets, rather than cell phones). Gotta love the “Hari Seldon” welcome.

7 LItmus -tested email templates: these have been checked to make sure they work properly on major email clients, both desktop and mobile platforms, are visible to people who are color-blind, and work in plain text.

Free responsive email templates: 28 templates designed to work well on mobile, some of these are single design, others have multiple options. If you’re technically inclined, you can change them; if not, use them as is.

MailChimp Templates:  You can use these 16 free templates out of the box, or adapt them. You will need a MailChimp account, but that’s free so it still counts.




Email Marketing Gone Flat? 10 Ways to Fix It

improve email marketingHas your email marketing stopped working? Or never really taken off at all?

The right, or wrong, elements can make a big difference in whether your marketing emails drive sales, or even get opened. Here are 10 things that can help improve email marketing campaigns.

They can make the difference between a campaign that works, and one that flops.

1. Choose your list wisely

The most critical part of any email marketing campaign is the list.  The list accounts for 40% of your return. If you send it to the “wrong” people, it will fail, no matter how great the subject line, the product, or the offer. Don’t send everything to everyone, unless your list is very small or the people on it are very similar to each other.

Getting the list right will improve your email marketing more than anything else you do.

2. Write a great subject line

Once you’ve got a good list, the next critical factor to look at is the subject line. The subject line works like a headline in an ad. It has to grab the attention of the people receiving the email; otherwise they won’t open it. Make a big promise, set up a contradiction, or ask a question. Experiment, if you can, with different subject lines for the same email (by splitting up your list).  See which one works best.

3. Have an irresistible offer

This doesn’t have to be a sale. It’s simply what readers will get by responding. It’s got to be something people want (badly), that solves a troubling problem. Make it something people want, at a price that makes it easy to buy. Don’t make it cheap, make it great value for the money with bonuses, extra access, or greater speed.

4. Make a promise and paint a picture of the results

Create a vivid picture of what the customer gets. The customer has to be the hero (not you). Make the details all about how much money or time they’ll save, the problem they’ll solve, etc.

5. Call to action

If you don’t ask for a response, you won’t get one. Ask for the click, the sale, or the order straight out. Don’t be shy about it. Make the link stand out and the “order now” buttons a bright color.

6. Personalize the text

Use the recipient’s name. Everyone likes to see their own name in print. I had several lenses (little web sites) on Squidoo. Each time I logged in, the site greeted me by name and said something cheerful (Hey there, Jodi, good fortune awaits you at the end of the day). It’s silly, and I *know* that it does the same thing to everybody else, but it still made me smile).

7. Clear instructions on how to buy

Make it obvious what the reader has to do, and exactly how she should do it. Describe what will happen when she clicks or calls. Check to make sure everything is working properly (no broken links, missing information, or disconnected telephone extensions).

8. Limited offer

Give a compelling reason to act right away (a deadline, a limited number of registrations or appointments available, or extra bonuses).

9. Prove that your solution works

Don’t just make claims, prove them. Include testimonials from satisfied customers showing how happy they are. Include a free “sample,” such as pictures of exhibits you built, case studies of real-world projects, or before and after videos.

10. Use a landing page

A landing page is a single web page, or online sales letter created specifically for each campaign. The landing page tells your story, fills out the details of your offer, and makes the final sale. Never, ever send people to your home page.

Photo: crazy tales

Tomorrow is Freebie Friday, stay tuned for free email templates.