Increase online revenue with better promotion timing

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A huge number of direct marketers who sell online have a regularly published online newsletter they distribute to their online list.

But the most profitable e-mails you can send are your solo e-mails, those marketing messages that promote specific products.

Those who generate direct sales by sending e-mail marketing messages to our house file know that the more solo e-mails we send the more money we make.

So why don't we send e-mails all the time? Because too-frequent e-mailing can produce a spike in our opt-out rate, which in turn causes our most valuable asset, our online list, to evaporate.

As a rule of thumb, the frequency of solo e-mail marketing blasts to your e-list depends, to a large extent, on how often you distribute the online newsletter they subscribed to.

A marketer with a daily online newsletter can probably send a solo e-mail to his list at least daily. But if a marketer with a quarterly e-zine starts bombarding his list with daily e-mail sales pitches, they'll jump ship fast.

The best way to find the optimal schedule of online newsletters and solo e-mail blasts, of course, is to do some testing.

"There is a point of sending too much, yes, but it varies based on the niche, the relationship and the content of the dedicated mailings," said Andrew Palmer, an online marketing consultant. "If the offer is relevant to the list, and can be seen as helpful, and a good relationship exists already with the subscribers, then you can be more aggressive.

"But if the e-newsletter is monthly, the relationship is not as strong, so sending a solo sales e-mail every day is out," he said. "Even once a week might be a bit too aggressive. Twice a month is more reasonable."

To create more slots for solo e-mails each month, Palmer advises clients to publish their online newsletter weekly rather than monthly.

Online newsletter frequency, of course, depends on two factors. First, can you do it? Do you have the time and resources to write two, four or more issues per month instead of the single issue you do now?

Second, does your topic merit increased frequency? A daily newsletter on precious metals prices makes sense. But do you really want daily e-mails on leadership or time management?

"You can e-mail information in the form of a newsletter every day, as long as the content can support this frequency," said Dwayne Jewarski of Strategic Profits. He said that to increase readership you should avoid e-mailing to your list for a few days before sending out your monthly newsletter.

Jewarski lets opt-out rates tell him whether he is e-mailing too frequently. If the opt-out rate spikes above 30 unsubscribe requests per 1,000, he knows he's e-mailing too much.

"There should always be a call to action, or a reward for receiving the e-mail," he added. "The recipient should always see value in the message, and every message should have a purpose."

Michelle Feit of e-list broker ePost Direct said you can e-mail your list daily if you can provide them with must-have information. If your purpose is to maintain contact or generate sales, then five to six times a month is plenty.

"The monthly newsletters I manage vary from 800 to 4,600 opt-in subscribers," said Bob Martel of JMB Marketing Group. "We usually send private-offer, limited-time solo e-mails for various products or services, with some seasonal, some inventory sales and some cross-selling efforts."

Martel added: "You have to poke at it to find the point of annoyance and ineffectiveness, then back off a few turns. If it's an opt-in e-list, and the solo piece has a high perceived value, as evidenced by the subject line and the history of past value-building solo e-mails, then I think there is a higher tolerance."

"Frequency of e-mail-marketing messages is the million-dollar question," said Katie Yeakle of American Writers and Artists Inc. She said that some subscribers would prefer that you never e-mail them sales messages and others appreciate you more for keeping them informed about things that are of interest to them.

"The more offers we send out, the more profitable we are," she added. "We haven't crossed the line à and we keep testing to see where that line is."

Copywriter Nick Usborne said, "If your e-list is accustomed to receiving a newsletter once a month, it is hard to suddenly start e-mailing them a few times a week. You'd get a lot of unsubscribe requests."

He suggested that if you want to maximize frequency of e-mail sales messages, clearly explain up front - when users first subscribe - how many e-mail messages they can expect each week or month.

Here are a few ways to optimize online- newsletter and e-mail-marketing distribution schedules for maximum revenues:

If you have a monthly online newsletter, you can send a solo e-mail-marketing message once a week. If people complain and unsubscribe, cut back to every other week. If they seem receptive, you might consider testing twice weekly.

If you have a weekly online newsletter, you can safely send a second, sales-oriented e-mail, in addition to the newsletter, to your subscribers each week.

If you have a daily online newsletter, you can send subscribers at least two e-mails every day, the newsletter plus a second e-mail with a marketing message.

Another strategy that works: Say you want to increase e-mail revenues but your e-list complains when you increase the frequency of sales messages. Alternate your straight e-mail sales messages with "editorial" e-mails. These are e-mails that ostensibly contain content. But here the content in the e-mail relates to, and leads to the sale of, a specific product.

For example, you write an opinion piece on how many entrepreneurs waste time and give them a few time-management tips. At the close of the e-mail, you mention your new time-management seminar on DVD and place a link to the product page.

You can, in the subject line, position the editorial e-mail as a "supplement" to the subscriber's regular magazine subscription. The regular issues look and read like a content-driven newsletter. The editorial supplement can read more like a personal communication from the editor to his or her readers.

This works well if the regular issues focus on your regular content, such as news, tips and advice, with the editorial supplement being more in the nature of opinion and advice from the guru to the subscriber.

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