This is a guest article by Timo Kiander. Want to become a regular contributor? Check out our guest blogging guidelines.
Has this ever happened to you: You found an interesting blogger that you wanted to follow, you signed up to his e-mail list and you received the free e-book he’d written.
But after that, there was a huge silence. Sure, the blogger got you inside his e-mail list, but you never heard anything from him, until one day …
You got an e-mail from someone strange. You couldn’t wrap your mind around the person’s name, so you hit the unsubscribe link in his e-mail. Later you remembered that this was the blogger whose list you once so eagerly wanted to be signed up to.
I have experienced this and it was sad for two reasons: First, I expected something truly valuable from the person, since his lead magnet was so awesome. Also, it was sad for the blogger since he just lost one potential customer.
When you think of this scenario, it’s not surprising that the cancellation will happen: If you operate below the radar and are invisible to the subscriber, there is no way he/she can recognize who the person behind these e-mails is.
When a person is subscribing to your e-mail list, you are setting expectations of what’s coming next. However, it’s obviously your job to meet the expectations so that the person stays on your list.
Having an optimized landing page is not enough, having a lead-magnet that rocks is not enough, and getting floods or traffic is not enough: You also have to provide extra value for the person who gave you his/her name and e-mail address. Otherwise that frightening event occurs: The subscriber opts out of your list.
What I’m going to present next are seven different content ideas that both give more value to your subscribers and let them engage better with you.
1. Announce exclusive information first to your list
Your subscribers are the VIPs of your audience. They entrusted their e-mail address to you and are expecting to get something valuable from you.
They also expect that they don’t have to read the important stuff “from the papers”. Rather, they’d like to hear it from you personally first and let the others get the information later.
For instance, you could have a book coming out, so you tell them first about it. Or, if there is going to be a product that you are working on, you tell them first about it (and perhaps offer them a discount).
Your subscribers come first. They expect to and you should fulfill their expectations.
2. Expand your current lead magnet
Even if you’ve wrote an excellent lead magnet, there is nothing stopping you expanding it further.
What I’m talking about is taking a parts of your e-book (or a report) and then offering actionable tips on how to implement the particular advice in practice. For instance, this is how I currently expand my e-book, “222 Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar”.
With this method, you gain two benefits:
a) You give something valuable to your subscribers (in my case, a weekly tip newsletter)
b) You can take advantage of the existing work you’ve already done
Just go through your past work and figure out if you could do the same for your audience.
3. Read a book and apply its lessons to your target audience
I’m a big fan of time management and productivity books. Before I started my (now deceased) e-mail list about blogging productivity, I was wondering what extra content I could provide for my subscribers.
Then I got an idea: I would read a book about time management and apply the lessons in blogging. This is what I did and the book I picked was Brian Tracy’s “Eat That Frog”.
You can do the same: Read a book and figure out how your target audience could benefit from the lessons in that book. In my case, writing content based on the “Eat That Frog” resulted a 21-part series of exclusive content for my e-mail list, delivered on a weekly basis.
4. Exclusive videos
Video plays a big part in blogging nowadays. Not only is it possible to drive targeted traffic to your blog or improve the conversion rates, it’s also an important way to give a personal touch of yourself to your readers.
But what if you gave access to your videos to your subscribers only? Sure, you could record a video every now and then to your blog (as teasers), but then add much more value to those videos which are only accessible to your subscribers.
This value could be:
- Topics/tips that others haven’t heard of (and that cannot be found on your blog)
- Exclusive interviews with experts
- Checklists, action steps and resources related to your video
- Transcripts of your videos
- Insider tips related to your products
Obviously, you could come up with even more ways to add more value through video, but the bullet points above are a fine start.
5. Webinar opportunities
Why not get in touch with experts in your industry and let them to teach a thing or two about a certain topic for your e-mail subscribers only? At the end of the webinar, you could then have a Q&A session where you answer the questions your subscribers have.
Naturally, there is no one stopping you hosting the webinars by yourself, by teaching a topic that your audience wants to learn more of.
You can do this by checking the post’s performance though Google Analytics (to see which posts are the most read) or for instance through social sharing statistics, provided by a tool like Social Metrics, a free plugin for WordPress:
6. Have their say
You should provide content for your blog and to your e-mail list that your audience wants. But when you don’t know what they want, what should you do?
Well, it’s nothing more complicated than just asking them. Send them an e-mail about the topics they’d like you to cover next or ask if creating an e-book or a product (that you are planning) is a good idea.
For instance, this is a very simple survey I sent to my e-mail list related to my book project:
Subject: Would you like to take a 10-second survey?
I have started working on something big right now and I need your opinion.
Please choose one of the options below and reply to this message by answering either A, B or C:
A) You are working on your business part-time while having a full-time job
B) You are working on your business full-time
C) You don’t have a business at all (you just want more info on productivity)
P.S. I’m still in the very beginning phases of this “big thing”, but you’ll be the first to know what it is.
Just give me a little bit more time and I’ll come out with the details 😉
I got plenty of results and the majority of people replied with option A. That gave me a clear indication about the topic I’m now covering in my upcoming book.
7. Give away something extra
Finally we have a strategy I just started implementing and I’ve noticed that this is the very same one that Clay Collins is using as well.
Whenever I publish a blog post, I don’t just leave it there: I try to give something extra away. The goal of doing this is twofold: Giving something additional to my subscribers and getting people to sign in to my e-mail list.
For instance, after each blog post I have a section which reads like this:
In this case I’m giving away my weekly blogging schedule for anyone who joins my e-mail list.
The incentive can be also very simple. For instance, when I wrote about 15 blog post ideas (and other types of content) that you can create based on your archives, I just gave away a PDF version of the blog post.
Other types of content you could try out are:
As with exclusive videos in item #4, you can figure out more bullet points with a little bit of brainstorming.
Handling the extra content
There is still one thing that you may be wondering: Should you be using e-mail to deliver all the goods (checklists, videos, PDFs …) or what is the preferred way of doing this?
One way to handle this (like in my case) is to create a special resource for subscribers only. For instance, Corbett Barr of Think Traffic is housing a Traffic Toolbox, a special page for his subscribers, to download extra material after they have signed up.
Anyway, announce a link to this special resource to your list and you can then include this link on every e-mail you send. This way you don’t have to send large files through e-mail, which could just slow things down.
I hope that these seven methods gave you some ideas on how to stay on your subscribers’ radar. Sure, they do take some extra work, but don’t you think that you subscribers are worth it?
They definitely are and you should not only meet their expectations, but overdeliver on them. That’s how you build more trust with your audience and you followers will be eager to hear more from you.