Posted Monday, January 17, 2005
My name is Lynn Terry, 29yo single mother to two cool kids - ages 6 & 11 - and I work from home full time in web development & e-publishing.
I have been in business since late '96 but now work *full-time* from my home office & *soley* working online versus both offline and online. I started out with the traditional ideas of business, had a storefront on town square in the city, catered to local businesses, etc... I have to say that the transition has proven to be a much more enjoyable way of doing business!
I recently increased my conversion rate - from site visitor to newsletter subscriber - by over 600%! This is not some hype-talk, because I honestly have nothing to sell you (shucks!), but I thought sharing the working model might help others out there that are struggling with gaining subscribers, buyers, recruits, etc.
I originally published my newsletter (Self-Starters Weekly Tips) as a spin-off of my business website (Web Service Network). My content was decent, I got great feedback from my subscribers, and I only had *two* unsubscribers in over a year - one of which has resubscribed :-) So all was going pretty well, honestly. However, I only got 20-30 new subscribers each month... No big deal, I thought, since I havent really promoted it that heavily (hadnt submitted articles for others to publish, hadnt submitted it to the newsletter directories, etc).
But then one day I was looking at my stats, and I noticed that the archives of each issue that I post online were getting MORE HITS than any other section of my site!! I started investigating further... where were these visitors coming from? The majority of them were coming from three places:
1) From the links within my website to direct visitors to my newsletter archives (in hopes of compelling them to subscribe)
2) From my signature file used on groups/boards/forums where I network often online.
3) FROM GOOGLE.COM! Each of my archived issues were showing up in search results because of the key words used in my content. Hmm... went digging to look into that one a little further. Using my stats program that comes preinstalled by my web host (I love my web host!), I was able to pull up the exact search that a visitor plugged in to the Google search engine, and see exactly where I placed (in the top 10 for almost all of them!! Yay!) - and which page it showed, and how it was listed (Google pulls the content from your web page dynamically to create your listing in search results).
Now from this research I learned two very important lessons!
First - I *absolutely* have to make sure that my archived issues contain a link back to my website *AND* a compelling blurb at the very top that entices them to subscribe! (along with a subscribe form or link, of course). It never occurred to me before that I should include subscription info at the top... assuming everyone that was reading it was already a subscriber (oops!).
Second - I realized that MY TOPICS were extremely important. I started thinking of ways I could really focus in on small niche markets with few results in the search engine - you know, taking advantage of that Word Tracker service and the Google Tool and the likes. So that was my first step - really optimizing my archives for the non-subscriber and putting a little SEO & targeted keyword action in place.
It was still a HUGE gap between visitors and subscribers... and my mind kept reeling... I knew that offering all of my issues, archived by date and in full, made it entirely too easy for a person to visit at their leisure instead of subscribing to receive SSWT by email each week - and thats obviously what they were doing.
SO... I got this really exciting idea one day - just popped into my head out of the blue - and I started penciling out a plan: I would separate WSN & SSWT into two individual sites (still interlinked of course) and allow SSWT to be a stand-alone product/service. So I did just that - I designed a website around the newsletter, including an article archive still (of individual articles, not whole issues), a "meet the editor" page, and a Subscribers Forum. The front page of the website changes every week to reflect the *previous* week's issue (one week behind the email version) - so if a subscriber wants to refer back to something mentioned before, they can visit online, and I can offer my published content to the public at the same time. There's actually a lot more in the email version than I can fit on the front page of the site, plus its received a week prior to it being on the site, which are the benefits to subscribing (as well as timely updates & announcements, events, etc not being missed).
I announced it in my newsletter when it went live, and of course in a few choice networking communities that I frequent... and BAM - my subscription rate went up by 600% THE FIRST WEEK (and growing)! I was super excited And I have yet to implement all the really *good* newsletter promotion tactics! Its not like I have a ton of "brand new traffic" all of a sudden - just that I am converting the mass of traffic I've always had to those pages to subscribers now
I did keep all of my archived issues from before on my web server... simply because they rank so darn well in Google and I dont want to lose that placing - but I included the new site's navigation to those pages... much more compelling for them to subscribe and join the interactive site now And of course I refreshed the old page on my WSN site to the new SSWT site (since so many people are linked to that page all over the web).
There's a lot of talk among the internet marketers about how publishing a newsletter or ezine (or free ebook, report, e-course, etc) can turn visitors into repeat visitors, and repeat visitors into buyers... So once you implement all of the factors to set up the *perfect* publication for your e-business - Then what? Make sure you have something on the back-end to offer them, somewhere to point them...
It's *also* a great way to branch out and reach the various niches within your targeted market! As an example, I own Web Service Network - a web development company. I realize that not everyone can afford my services, and that there is a (huge!) growing group of do-it-yourself'ers out there... So in order to cover more of the market, I started publishing "Self-Starters Weekly Tips". Now this came about for two reasons: 1) to capture that other big market of people online, and 2) because sharing resources, giving advice and helping others achieve their goals is actually my number one passion in life! You'll often find me frequenting the boards & forums and helping people by offering links, resources, advice and the likes - actually telling them exactly how to do something that I offer as a service and could have potentially made a profit from (had they hired me to carry out the task). So it suited me to start publishing Self-Starters Weekly Tips. One central location where I could give away all my trade secrets
I often describe my two sites as:
Web Service Network
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