You work hard to persuade people to join your subscriber list. You might have created a free product that they can download in return for their email address. You might swear blind that you’ll never share addresses with anyone who looks remotely spammy — or anyone at all. And you’ll have played with the text around the subscription box to make sure that you’re capturing the addresses of as many visitors as possible.
Whatever you do, the assumption is always that the lead doesn’t really want a newsletter, will worry that you’re going to bother him with spam and has to be battled with in order to land the address.
But supposing that your newsletter wasn’t just an easy sell but an asset that you can actually exchange for money. Imagine that instead of paying for subscribers with the use of a free ebook, your leads were willing to pay you an annual fee to read your newsletter.
That happens. It doesn’t happen often for businesses but it does happen for non-profits. When campaigning groups like PETA try to sell an annual membership, one of the products they offer in return is their newsletter.
So what’s the difference between a newsletter that people will pay to read and one that you have to pay them to read?
Join the In Crowd
The content will be slightly different, of course. Non-profit newsletters tend to be much longer than commercial newsletters. They’re often printed too, an easy way for the group to demonstrate the value of the information it’s offering. But there’s really one fundamental difference between a newsletter sold by non-profits and one pushed by companies…
…the brand loyalty.
People pay for a PETA membership because receiving the newsletter says something about who they are. It lets them feel that they’re key participants in the cause of animal rights, a member of a club of people who are just like them. The information contained in the newsletter is interesting and informative but it also lets the reader feel that he knows more about a cause with which he identifies than people who aren’t members of this club.
The newsletter is like an identity card for someone who wants to be a part of something important.
That sense of belonging is harder for businesses to replicate but it’s not impossible. Readers of popular blogs like Cult of Mac or AppleInsider are also expressing a similar degree of kinship, but this time with a commercial brand. The information they find on those pages lets them feel that they know more than most about something that many people find cool and desirable. It lets them feel more informed, more “geeky,” more “in” than someone who doesn’t read those blogs.
The “cool” has to come first, of course. But once you’ve done enough with your products, your design and your brand to build a following, you should find that a newsletter that offers tips, news and behind-the-scenes previews becomes an easy sell.
You might not be able to sell it for money but you should find that the services and products you include for money in your newsletter sell much easier too.