Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Welcome To The Machine

People always tell me that building an online business is not easy, especially when you are on a very limited budget. I believe that statement. I think it's easy to build an online business with money for marketing and name collection, but if you're a start-up with little to no budget or just a cheap skate... it's much harder.

Not impossible... just more difficult.

So as we sit here and talk about name collection, budgets and retention... ah retention, yes, the topic of the week... let's discuss something that helps all three and everyone can do...

A "Welcome Letter" for your subscribers!

Virtually inexpensive to send, starts the relationship, takes care of administrative duties, and perhaps makes some money. AND if it's done right it becomes a great retention tool by setting the expectations from day one.

I subscribe to tons of e-letters and am always disappointed when I get the default welcome letter. Most marketers don't put the same amount of time into writing this letter as they do with the converting landing page. AND that's a BIG mistake.

Remember last week when I talked about first impressions in the CVoD entitled, Spikes, But Sorry, No Mulligans? Well... the welcome letter is the first correspondence with the new sub. Now is the time to shine.

So what do you tell them at this crucial time?

I start with administration... confirm the subscription, i.e., tell the new sub what they signed up for, what they are going to get, how often, etc.

Then discuss such topics as white listing, privacy policy, customer service contact information, and fulfill any special reports or giveaways. Next up is the web site. You can describe why they need to go to your site... pushing them to archives, discussion board, or whitepapers.

Once the administration is done... tell them about your e-letter, your editor, and your philosophy. In other words...
"Here's a welcome from XXXXX, describing in his own words what you can expect as a reader."
Don't waste this opportunity. It's time to get your best writer and spend some time on this. The question is...

Are you a new friend and/or advisor to be trusted, with an e-letter that sounds exciting and is to be looked forward to... or are you an unknown spammer that should be complained about?

With The Daily Reckoning we had the great wrtier Bill Bonner and copy like this...

"...The Daily Reckoning is written to underline the point that the world is funnier than you think. And the more you think about it, the funnier it gets. Close inspection reveals the ironies, contradictions, and confusions that make life interesting, but also frustrating. A rational person could do rational things all day long, but then... how boring life would be. Fortunately, real people are only rational about things that do not matter.

"...Our approach in The Daily Reckoning is a little different from that of the typical economics tome or investment advisory. Instead, it is an exercise in what is known, derisively, as "literary economics." Although you will find statistics and facts, the metaphors and the principles that we provide are more important. Facts have a way of yielding to nuance like a jury to a trial lawyer. Under the right influence, they will go along with anything. But the metaphors remain... and continue to give useful service long after the facts have changed.

"What's more, metaphors help people understand the world and its workings. As Norman Mailer recently put it, "There is much more truth in a metaphor than in a fact." But the trouble with metaphors is that no matter how true they may be when they are fresh and clever, when the multitudes pick them up, they almost immediately become worn out and false. For the whole truth is always complex to the point of being unknowable, even to the world's greatest geniuses.

"...Finally, we do not include the typical formulas or recommendations of an investment advisory, nor the detailed expositions of a book on economics. Instead, we offer only a few simple ideas that readers may well find helpful in the years ahead."
If that doesn't tell you exactly what the DR is all about then you're not paying attention. You see the tone, the style of writing and the personality of the e-letter. The reader is told what you will get and what you won't.

But don't stop there...

You have administration and fulfillment out of the way, and you have told them what they can expect... now how about a special opportunity for new subs?

That's right... an upsell. Don't be afraid to offer a front-end low price pub. Your readers will appreciate it. Really. They are here for profitable information, free and/or paid. Don't fool around... offer them your best deal and watch if you aren't surprised with the conversion.

This is just the beginning for both the reader and you the marketer... Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.