Several months back, I wrote about my paid email newsletter called ARN Daily in a post called “How I Developed a Paid Email Newsletter to Diversify My Business’s Income.” Since that post last spring, the number of subscribers to both the free and paid newsletters has easily tripled. This business unit now brings my company close to about
$30,000 ($130,000 per year as of 6/1/2013) per year in revenue and shows no sign of slowing down.
Here are some things that I’ve learned during the last year about running a successful premium email newsletter.
Freemium Works – I have
11,500 (45,000 as of 6/1/2013) people that subscribe to my company’s free email newsletter, ARN Daily. Free subscribers get about 1/3rd of the content that paid subscribers do. It costs about $150.00 extra in SMTP delivery services to have the free list, but it’s a great source of potential customers. It’s a lot easier to win over a customer by offering them a free service and upselling them on providing them additional value down the line.
Offer a Free Trial – Last month, my company offered a free trial for the first time and picked up a net of 55 new subscribers. Approximately 75% of the people that signed up for the free trial stayed on as customers after their 30-day trial expired. I also recommend doing a $1.00 trial in lieu of a free trial, which will weed out those who are ever unlikely to pay anything.
Email Delivery Rates Matters – If you’re not using a paid service such as TinyLetter or Letter.Ly, don’t try to send out a pile of emails from your personal inbox or from your web-server. Use a dedicated SMTP provider such as SendGrid or JangoMail if you’re going to use any sort of custom-made software or any software that lives on your web server. My company sends out more than 250,000 emails a month and maintains a delivery rate of 98%.
Automate Everything – If you plan on having any serious number of subscribers, you need to automate the subscription process for new subscribers, as well as the cancellation process. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you have to manually register or cancel every subscriber that comes along. Also look for ways to automate your marketing process (using an auto-responder series, search engine friendly landing pages, etc.) and your content if that’s a possibility.
Use a Multi-Pronged Marketing Approach – My newsletter is marketed using search engine optimization (on AnalystRatings.Net), doing cross-promotional emails with other investment newsletters and through a finance news website that I run (AmericanBankingNews.com). Don’t rely on only one source of new subscribers. Use every technique to get new subscribers that you have available.
There’s no Perfect Price – You might find yourself agonizing over what to charge subscribers. There is no such thing as a perfect price because people aren’t all willing to pay the same amount for something. I’d suggest putting your base price a bit higher than what you think your newsletter is worth and offering customers deals every now and then. People love to feel like they’re getting a deal, so, give them one.
For more tips, listen to next week’s episode of the Foolish Adventure Show, where I’ll be interviewed about running a paid email newsletter.