When we interviewed BetterGolf.net's CFO last November and asked him how they grew their opt-in subscription list to become the "World's Largest Online Golf Publication", he hesitated for a moment as though startled, and then in an explaining-things-to-dummies tone said, "We buy them. Co-registrations, you know?"
Now a year later co-regs have finally hit the mainstream, or close enough, that other newsletter publishers are starting to rely on them. We'll discuss two kinds today -- paid and barter:A. Paid Ezine Co-Registrations
Now is a great time to buy newsletter co-registrations, because just like the rest of online ad buys, prices are at rock bottom. Aside from offers on big-time ad networks such as L90, Advertising.com and GetRelevant.com, you can also buy co-regs on newsletter-specific networks, including:
- Mailshell.com - .25 cents - "couple of dollars" per name
- EzineCentral.com - .10-20 cents per name
- NewsletterSuite.com - 15-17 cents per name
Yes, there are several other vendors out there who offer similar services, however some of them use spam-marketing or opt-out tactics, which doesn't bode well for name quality. So, be sure to really check out whomever you use in two ways. First ask to see the opt-in form names join on.
Secondly ask to run a test campaign for a few months before rolling out a full-throttle investment. Just like in direct mail, or any other media, the response you get from some lists will be worthless, while other lists will be incredibly profitable. Trouble is, you can never completely predict profitability ahead of time -- unless you're testing.
This means before you start buying co-reg names, you'll need a back end system in place to track name performance by acquisition source. Factors to track include issue open rates, click though rates, pass-alongs, and of course if they buy something from you.
The big problem for many publishers is that they either are in a tight niche or B-to-B , which precludes most co-reg buying services, or they have no cash on hand these days. Which brings us to…B. Bartering Co-Registrations
Allen Weiss, publisher MarketingProfs.com says, "For us it's been better than advertising, or putting our articles or hotlinked headlines on other sites, or using paid search engines like Sprinks." Just as with paid co-reg agreements, you can work a bartered co-reg deal with anyone online (a magazine, trade show, vendor site, etc.) who is attracting your target demographic and registers them online in some way.
The only problem you may come up against is that co-reg is so new that many of your fellow marketers have never heard of it. For example trade show marketers will try to barter hotlinked logos or banner ads instead. Since many people click on newsletter ads, and nobody clicks on banners or logos on show sites, this deal won't help you the way co-reg will.
So, you'll need to explain how it all works in ultra-clear language ("I'll run ads for you if you just add another check box to your online registration form asking if people would like to get my free newsletter. Then have your webmaster forward the email addresses of the 'yes's' to …") and be prepared for some no's because marketers outside the industry are a little dubious.
Here are a few tips for bartered co-reg success:
- Don't get too anal about counts. Some barter deals will yield loads of names, others just a few. Quality matters far more than quantity. As long as you are getting names that are making you money in terms of more house product sales, or good advertiser click throughs, you are coming out ahead. Grab them and keep on smiling.
- Don't be fearful of competitors. Marketers in the old- fashioned print newsletter world learned long ago that swapping names was their best bet to be profitable, because subscription buyers are most likely to buy other subscriptions. So, your #1 best tactic is to swap co-regs with your top competitors.
- Do fret about your creative. It seems like such a simple thing: a sentence, or at most two, offering your newsletter for free. But like haikus, free offer wording is deceptively simple. Once you get started, you'll find a thousand different ways of stating the offer, and why you are special … why the right person should check the opt-in box. Test your brains out. And, when you can, write site-specific copy for each place your co-reg appears. Little alterations to suit each site can add up to powerful results.
Here are samples of five of the very different co-reg creatives our sister-publication has used on various sites:
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- Definitely set up special welcome letters. People are incredibly forgetful in this Internet-Age. A minute after they check a co-reg box on a partner's site, they forget all about it. In order to make sure these names' lifetime value comes close to the names you collect on your own site, you need to send a special welcome letter as soon as possible.
If you want to get fancy about it, this is also a great place to begin winning their hearts by giving them a hotlink to a 'Free Welcome Special Report" such as an employment, love, moneymaking, or health-related guide.
… in Part III of this article next week we'll bring you advice how to sell co-registration ads on your site. If you missed Part I last week in which Reader's Digest revealed their co-reg advice, go to: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=22810