What is the Value of A Newsletter Subscriber?

Mar 29 2010

old_School_newsletterYou see it all over the net.  “Please sign up for our newsletter” or here is something free, all you have to do is sign in with your email and you can have it.  So obviously there is value to newsletter to subscribers, but how much?  My answer is simple.  It depends.

The value of newsletter depends on a few things.

1. Did they sign up or did you harvest? The value of a person that signed up on their own is much more than someone that was forced to give up their email to get a free product.  If you scraped it from somewhere else the value comes close to 0. A domain blog I read recently decided that I was worthy of signing up for their newsletter although I didn’t actually sign up and the email was taken off my site.   This is not a great way to build a list as I am not as likely to read or value an email that I didn’t elect to receive.  A harvested email is worth pennies.

2.  Is it local? Local signups are worth much much more. It’s easier to gain the attention of locals.  You already have something in common, you both are in the area.    Our brick and mortar business cherish the email sign ups.  The users have chosen voluntarily to receive our emails and it saves us thousands of dollars that normally would be spent on advertising trying to reach them.  Now thousands of customers are just a click away.  We value a newsletter subscriber at $10 a piece based on what it costs to reach a person in town and the cost per action.  We had a trade show and had two signup areas.   One sign up was a sheet for people that wanted to receive our newsletter, the other was to sign up up for a $4000 giveaway.  Both are going to be used for a database but they will be treated separately.  The newsletter sign up sheet goes straight into the database.  The 8000 emails (yes 8000!) are going to be put into a separate database and treated a little different.  They will receive a few special messages talking up our business. Those that visit the site and don’t drop will be added to the main list. We only wanted people on our main list that want to be there.  We don’t want to be spammers.  You could say that our first list is considered spam but at least I feel comfortable they will already know our company and realize that we are not truly phishing, only trying to gather interested people.  There’s a fine line.

3. Are you providing any value to your subscribers? Are you selling yourself, products, information?  Do you just rehash what you already put on the website?  Do newsletter subscribers get something that regular readers or customers don’t?  If you don’t offer any value (and many daily emails don’t) then you are wasting your newsletter and the subscribers don’t offer much value.  In domaining, most newsletters either give out “the best of” (like domaining.com) or sell something (like Latona).  There are not a lot of successful domaining newsletters out there, mostly because there are not enough domainers out there that care to read on.  Domaining.com has the largest but it is merely an email of sponsored posts and the top 5 read posts that are the same 6 blogs 95% of the time (nothing wrong with that, they’ve earned it) .  Latona’s list is the most respected because it’s history and it has top names and solid results.  The rest are all trying but with little to no success.  I haven’t even tried because I don’t have anything to offer a subscriber……..yet.

4. Do you have anything to sell? Newsletters that actually sell products are the easiest to put value on.  It results in a rate of return per subscriber and provided that email subs are gathered in the same way every time, should scale out.  I’m not saying that newsletters are the easiest way to sell, just saying it is a very easy lead to measure.

So what is the value of your subscriber list?  If you don’t have one, how would it benefit you if you did?  These are questions you need to ask yourself.  Many people think twitter and facebook fans serve the same purpose but that’s for another story.  I’m not looking for a popularity contest.  I’m looking for people that are genuinely interested in what I have to sell.  I want to pass on information that will benefit them and save myself money that I used to have to spend to reach them.  Some weeks our newsletters contain humor and helpful hints.  Other days it may be a $5 gift certificate to apply towards a purchase.  On every purchase and every invoice, I let people know about our website and our newsletter.  Every time someone signs up it saves me 50 cents that I would have spent on a postcard 5 years ago.  5 times a year adds up to $2.50 and that doesn’t count all the other forms of media we throw money into.  I’ve always known our subs were valuable, I just didn’t realize how valuable until I took over the advertising program for our company.

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. Morgan

    Great post Shane and all very good points! I’ve had my newsletter running for a little over two years now. I find it is essential to provide fresh, unique content in your newsletter that can’t be found on your blog along with product discounts and exclusive deals.

    While I don’t mind the summary emails I feel a newsletter should always be presenting something unique that you can’t get just from a site itself.

  2. everything.tv

    Nice article Shane, I find some of the stuff very tricky. Example I am not a sign up guy. I will come to your website everyday and read, but if someone else told me that a site was giving better info or stuff away. I can honestly say I would stop coming to that website. I think we are at a place where we may get over connected. If I follow you on Twitter and read your website that should be enough IMO. Now if you state up front “Look you will get extra by signing up for our newsletter” then I probably sign up or at least continue to follow the site.

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