James: Well, I’m sure people would pay to be advertised in your newsletter like the solo mails, etc. I also think your format would lend itself very nicely to a daily podcast and a little bit of social media support driving people to that website. Do you ever take out ads in other people’s financial newsletters referring them to yours?
Matt: Yup. So typically with newsletters, the way to get new people to sign up is called co-registration. So when somebody signs up for another newsletter they may get an ad from my newsletter as well. There’s a network called After Offers that kind of Tim Bourquin runs that I advertise to them and I pay, say, 2.50 for every subscriber.
And then I know somebody that subscribes to that list will be worth seven bucks to me over the lifetime so I make money doing that. I have tried a few other investment-specific things and I haven’t gotten those work out quite as well.
So right now, the only thing I’m doing is the co-registration thing with After Offers. There’s another one called Investing Media Solutions or something like that that I did. That was OK but it wasn’t enough to justify throwing three grand you’re doing every month. So right now most of my traffic are just organic and that’s done pretty well for me.
James: Have you tried replacing AdSense banners with banners for your own product in those niches?
Matt: Typically, the Analyst Ratings Network website is not really the front door for the newsletter. I have a few different investment sites, one of them is www.americanbankingnews.com. They get traffic from, like, Google Finance and Bing Finance. Those would really drive traffic to the newsletter. The Analyst Ratings Network website is really the place the people that are really all already on the list.
James: Gotcha. And have you tried re-targeting or a banner marketing?
Matt: I did try re-targeting. I don’t… you know the metrics that they give you are, I think they’re kind of…some of them are kind of fishy because they’ll track somebody that looked at your ad and signed up later as a conversion and just because they looked at the ad doesn’t mean that’s what caused them to sign up.
I don’t know that I’ll entirely trust the metrics I was looking at so I just don’t see how to create results from that so I just decided to not move forward from that.
James: Cool. And have you been doing stuff like forum marketing or Facebook groups?
Matt: I have not done either of those.
James: Well, I’m sure you’re sitting on a gold mine there. So what do you think the biggest mistakes you’ve made in setting up your newsletter been so far?
Matt: I think I was probably too aggressive in promoting the premium newsletter early on. I would do, like, a campaign every month and I think that caused people to expect to always get a discount and everything. So if I were starting again, I wouldn’t do that. Probably the other big mistake I made was initially when I started the only payment method I accepted was PayPal.
And when I started with adding credit cards through Stripe, that was a pretty big increase when I turned that on. I’m sure there have been some but I can’t think of what they’ll be on the top of my head.
James: Right. Why did you even get started with this business model?
Matt: Now that is a great question. I have a website called American Banking News that was just got a ton of traffic from Google News and Google Finance and one day I tripped up for whatever there is on my website and I got removed from Google News and all of a sudden my traffic got cut overnight so my AdSense got cut overnight and I was like, well, if I’m going to succeed in this long term, I can’t be dependent on Google for every dollar I make.
So I figured, if I’m going to do this right, I need to have my own list and find a product that I own, that I can sell it to them so that I don’t need to be dependent on Google or Apple or any other company to fill my coffers every month.
James: That’s very cool. It’s nice now. I imagine with this plus your AdSense income, you’ve got a little bit of spread on your risk.
James: Tell me about the email stuff from a technical point of view. What system do you use to capture and to send your emails?
Email Delivery System
Matt: So for email delivery I use SendGrid. They have a light plan that’s 10 cents per email so it’s pretty cheap to do the email delivery. All of the code is Custom ASP.NET and C-sharp stuff I’ve written.
I’m kind of a web dropper writer so I figured I could use that knowledge and go to system networks, almost completely automated so all of the sign-ups are automated and there’s really nothing I need to do other than handle customer service email which I’ve hired a girl that lives in my town to do that for me so I can… you know if I really want to, I could step back from the business for quite awhile on now to run by itself which is kind of nice.
James: Very cool. Alright. With the emails themselves, what type of format are you sending these? Are they text-looking emails or templated html?
Matt: Sure. So I can put a link in the show notes to what I use but it’s… there’s a template but it’s pretty basic. It’s just got the logo on top. There’s a place for the ad and that’s all just content straight down. And then there’s a footer on a different color. So it’s… there’s a template but it’s pretty clean and I think that’s kind of the way to go.
I think people will see big image, heavy templates and they just think about it as an ad and archive them or delete them right away. So I try to avoid that. My marketing emails, those are just plain text and those seem to do better than fancy templates for me.
James: Yeah, same for me as well. So, that is very interesting. What do you think will be a lesson that someone might get some value from about the email component of this? Do you do single or double opt-ins? Have you had any major hiccups with delivery or spam reports or white listing or black listing of certain words?
Matt: So right now I do single opt-in, and I’ve always done that. And then I just go through SendGrid every week where my assistant does and takes out everybody who bounced off the list so that we don’t try to keep emailing them.
I’ve had a SendGrid account suspended just once because I sent out like I think three email or three marketing emails in three days and apparently a lot of people noticed and didn’t take too kindly to that so that probably was a mistake and I just sent too many spam reports so had my account suspended for a day and then they turned it back on.
And one thing that I’ve done to minimize their spam reports is if you put an unsubscribe link at the top of your newsletter, people are more likely to click that than the spam report because they’ll make you know that they can get off the list for good. So I recommend doing that now.
James: I heard one shady character put a link in the top of their email and it says “Click here to report spam” and they linked it to their standard unsubscribe link .
Matt: That’s not a bad idea.
James: Pretty shady. So anyway, right. So getting the emails through is pretty important. Do you get them, is there any other way they can get it, the information other than just via email? Do you see things like RSS or SMS or social media feeds or a website portal as a possibility?
Other Ways To Share Information Aside From Email
Matt: Yup, there’s a few different ways that people can get the information. So if you’re a paid member, technically it if you’re subscribed to the premium newsletter, you can get SMS or through email or through the stocks that you follow a specifically. So you got a text whenever say, I was following Apple and I got downgraded or whatever.
So I added that in the last few months and people seem to like it. The information is on the Analyst Ratings Network website everyday. So some people like it that way and they just get it, which is fine with me because eventually they’ll click on an ad or sign up or something, I’m hoping. There is a Twitter account I do, but I haven’t gotten a lot of traction with that yet.
And then I was syndicating into StockTwits, but they didn’t like that I was doing it in an automated fashion so they kicked me out. So that’s kind of the other options right now. Maybe one thing we could talk about quick is subject lines that do really well. I’ve gotten a couple that have…
James: Yeah, tell me about subject lines that do really well.
Matt: The two that I’ve had the best luck with in kind of everything I do. The first, I stole from Dane Maxwell who does The Foundation is just have a kind of a strange question, and then a question mark. And that seems to do pretty well. And if you do an email from a woman’s name, so I use my assistant’s name sometimes. That helps open rates.
And the other one that I’ve used and I think it’s a Dan Kennedy one is “Bad News.” And then there’s one that I did that pissed a lot of people off but worked pretty well. It was from my assistant’s name, and it was “I’m sorry I have to tell you this…” So it was kind of another play on the bad news theme, and that worked surprisingly well, but I had some people that were not happy about that subject line.
James: Well, i think there’s a lot of information about tying your subject lines to tricking people into opening. You’ve got to follow through with something useful or else you can build a little bit of a trust wedge. You know, you’re sending out 50-something, 55,000 emails on these broadcasts. Are you happy with the open rates and the click-throughs?
Open Rates and Click-Throughs
Matt: Yup. So my open rates are, I think, around 15% but it’s hard to say how accurate those numbers are because it relies on the person clicking “Display Images” for that to work. So those metrics are…You know, MailChimp and Aweber and all those people do it all in the same way but just because it says 15% open rate it may actually be 20 or 25.
I never spend all that much attention on it because it’s hard to measure and you can…You know, really what you want to measure is the results that you’re getting from those emails and how many people actually sign up because of them. And that’s kind of the metrics I pay more attention to than the open rates and click-through rates.
James: Yeah. Well, ultimately profit’s where it comes, right?
Matt: Yup. Because I can tie for every marketing email I send out I can track how many conversions come from that email specifically. So I can see if somebody clicked through to the landing page, bought, and it was from that email. So that’s the big metric I pay attention to.
James: Well, Matt, this has been very interesting. Again, you’ve got plenty of exciting business models in play. I like this one because it’s more advanced than just the AdSense model. The AdSense model is really building on someone else’s publishing platform, and someone’s getting more value than the person hosting the site, generally, if someone’s prepared to pay for that.
This business, I think, gives you infinitely more control, options to scale, monetization, things. You can see what other people out there are doing, like Sovereign Man and Timothy Sykes, and get lots of clues on what could be next. So thank you for so generously sharing your stats and figures, and how it works.
And I think listeners could certainly turn their email subscription into a paid newsletter, because that is a recurring subscription model and I’m a huge fan of that. And you own the customers’ details, so there you go. Have you got any final words of wisdom for our listener, Matt?
Words of Wisdom
Matt: Yeah. I think the key is, if you’re going to succeed in the Internet business in the next five years, you really have to do something that is a) something where you own the customers, and b) something where there’s a barrier to entry and your unique skills can get you beyond that barrier. Not everyone is going to know how to do email marketing in the way that I do it, but anybody can stick up an AdSense site.
So you really have to think about how you can move up the value chain and not be just another Internet marketer with an AdSense website. If you’re going to do well in the next couple of years you have to do something unique and something that not everybody just could do if they had some time. You’ve really got to think about what your skill set is and how you can apply that to your business model that only you can do.
James: Fantastic. Well there you go folks, that’s Matt Paulson from MattPaulson.com. And Matt, if listeners have questions about this newsletter model and they ask a question right below this podcast on SuperFastBusiness.com, would you be able to pop by and answer a couple?
James: Fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing.
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