One of the great things about blogging is that it has such a strong personal aspect. Most effective (and popular) bloggers are that way because their subscribers are able to identify with their personalities.
The more you blog, and the better you get at it, the more people subscribe to your blog and newsletter (hopefully). People want to follow people who are interesting, and who they can learn a lot from about topics they are interested in.
Here’s the thing – the more subscribers you have, the harder it is to communicate with each person individually.
The potential problem this poses has to do with the reason most people come to your blog – the fact that they can identify with your personality. The question is – how in the world are you going to communicate effectively with a thousand, ten thousand, or even ONE BILLION SUBSCRIBERS (Austin Powers voice).
The answer to that question is simple – Automation.
With services like Aweber, automation becomes a cinch, and if used effectively, you’d be surprised to see how much value you can add to the relationship between you and that individual subscriber.
Ok, I know what you are thinking. How can automation make me more personal? Great question! And there are several answers to that question. What follows are five tips for doing so, and examples of how I’ve applied them to my business.
Tip #1: Speak To One Person, Not Everyone
When someone subscribes to your mailing list, they are most likely doing so to receive communication from you. However, there are so many mailing lists out there that bulk people together with statements like “Hi guys”. This tells the individual that you are communicating to a group and, at some level, makes them feel they aren’t important.
My recommendation is this. Whenever you write a followup email, or broadcast email, think of what you would say if you were writing to a friend that asked you about the topic you are going to write about. Keep it simple, but personal. Here’s an example of an email that I’ve sent out to my subscribers:
I just finished writing an article on my blog, and I thought that you would find value in it. It really questions what most people think about starting an online business and says something that most people won’t say. You should check it out.
Here’s the link!
Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment.
Leslie – The Freebie Guy
Short, sweet and to the point, but the important thing is that you don’t feel as if that’s going out to thousands of other people, even though it most likely is. When I send an email like that, I’ve clearly noticed that my clickthrough rates are SIGNIFICANTLY higher than when I don’t have the personal element in there.
Tip #2: Reveal Who You Are And What You’ve Done
The more people get an insight into who you are, the more they grow to trust you (if you deserve their trust). This is a great thing for both parties. Great for you because you get a stronger following that can grow quickly, and great for them because if you are providing value (which you should be), they can benefit by learning things to help them reach their goal.
One of the things people identify with is other people who also make mistakes. There are so many so-called gurus out there that appear to never make a mistake that when people see individuals on the path to success that share their mistakes and lessons they’ve learned, those individuals really stand out, and are more interesting to the average Joe (like myself).
In one of my followup sequences, soon after someone subscribes to my list, I send them a link to a video, where I talk about how difficult it was for me to get started online, how I invested college tuition money and money that was supposed to go towards my wedding to start my online business, and how I lost it ALL in the process.
I know what you are thinking – “Wow, that was stupid!”. Well, that’s exactly how I felt, and that’s exactly what I shared. Then I told them the lessons I learned and how that contributed to making me a better (and hopefully smarter) entrepreneur.
Here’s one of the comments that illustrates the kind of feedback that was left on that video:
Leslie, first off thanks for opening up and sharing your story. I too have made some silly decisions with everything that I have done… Just listening to your story lets me know that there’s a light at the end of this dark tunnel.
Is it likely that the person who left that comment (along with the others) are going to open my next email? I’d like to think so
Tip #3: Provide Value Before Asking For Anything
Let’s be real – there are a ton of blogs out there that are competing for attention. Many of them try to get people to buy something from them, but don’t contribute much in terms of value.
I’m a strong believer that growing a successful online business is not about what you can get, but what you can give. Everything you do should be because you are trying to provide value. With every email you send out ask yourself the following question – “What am I saying in this email that will help Bob or Sue (the individual) move towards reaching their goal?”
When you sell something, are you selling it just to make money or is it because you know that buying that product will help someone reach their goal? If it’s just for the purpose of making money, you might want to re-evaluate what you are doing.
I’ve done this in my business by providing lots of video training, where I teach specific concepts in a way that attempts to make it easy for anyone to understand. They receive all of this valuable training before I even sell them anything.
I’ve gotten tremendous feedback from these training videos and I strongly believe they have contributed to making my relationships with my subscribers much stronger.
Tip #4: Ask For Input
Have you ever been in a relationship with a talker? You know the kind of person I’m talking about. The kind of individual that doesn’t need anyone around to have a conversation. I’ve been in that situation before and let me tell you – it didn’t last long AT ALL.
A effective relationship is a two way street. It’s not all about you sharing. It’s also about them sharing. When there’s that “give and take” situation, both parties feel as though they are valued, and the likelihood of the relationship lasting goes up significantly.
People are more likely to stay connected to something or someone if they have a vested interest in that thing or person. When you get someone’s opinion on what direction you should take, they are more likely to feel like they are a part of the process.
I’ve seen this firsthand in a very strong way when I ran a forum. When making a number of key decisions, we opened those decisions up to suggestions from the community. Whenever we did that, the members were more supportive of the changes we’ve made.
I’ve also done this by conducting surveys among my subscribers, asking them to help me make certain decisions. The fact is that every decision I make about my business will affect my subscribers in some way. I might as well get their input on some of these things.
Tip #5: Communicate Regularly
Way too often, when you sign up to a mailinglist, you get what you signed up for, and then don’t hear from the individual again for a very long time. In the last two weeks, I’ve received emails from two marketers saying something like:
“Hey, remember me. I’m the guy whose list you signed up to a few months back. I just wanted to let you know that . . .”
At that point, I went back to their website and couldn’t even remember who they were and what I signed up for. This is BAD business. No, this is TERRIBLE business. Yes, it takes time to develop content for your newsletter, but it is definitely worth the investment. You always want your subscribers to have you in their minds. You can do this by communicating with them on a regular basis.
In the past, I’ve done this by doing regular broadcasts. However, it is much more efficient to work on setting up a weekly follow up sequence so that every person who signs up to your list a year from now get the benefit of going through your content in a predetermined sequence, and you get the benefit of not having to do any additional work in that process.
There are some people out there that believe that automation is a terrible thing. They would prefer to deal with every person individually. I used to share the same sentiment, until I was spending COUNTLESS hours attached to my computer, trying to deal with the demands of a growing following.
When I reached to the point where I didn’t have enough hours in my day to keep up, I was super stressed, and my wife started complaining about the time that I WASN’T spending with her, I knew that something had to change. However, I never wanted to loose that personal touch.
That is why I did it in the way I outlined above. My followers started receiving better support than they had received before, and my business continued growing in a way that didn’t mean more stress for me, or for my wife.
(Side note: They say that if you can keep your wife happy, you will be happy too )
I know there are varying opinions on automation out there. What do you think? Is it good or not? Do you use it? Let me know in the comments below.