Should You Offer Your E-Zine Subscribers a “No-Advertising” Edition?

On more than one occasion, one of my readers has suggested to me that I publish two versions of my e-newsletter. The first would be the regular edition I offer now – a monthly online newsletter with pure content, supplemented by twice-weekly e-mails mixing content and product offers. The second would be an “advertising-free” edition. You’d get the monthly content e-newsletter, but none of the e-mail marketing messages between monthly issues.

Well, I’m never going to offer an option to get the e-zine only – advertising-free and without the supplemental e-mail marketing messages. And if you’re an Internet marketer, neither should you.

Why not?

Think of it this way …

As an online information marketer – a “micro publisher” – you spend time and energy creating your content. Your time, ideas, and information are valuable to others. Or at least they should be. If your content isn’t valuable, why would you bother creating it … and why would your subscribers read it?

As with everyone else who works for a living, you – a content creator – need to earn money by charging for what you produce. Electricians get paid to splice wires together. Plumbers bill you for fixing leaky pipes. Why does the world seem to think content creators and owners of intellectual property should give away their creations for free?

As for me, I charge for my e-zine. Not money, mind you. But I do charge a fee. And the “fee” I charge is that the subscribers agree to receive my e-mails. All my e-mails.

Usually, there are two e-mails a week – one sales message and one content message. But even the sales messages offer ideas, solutions, and resources that I believe my readers will benefit from.

No one is forced to buy the information products I am recommending. You can go years without spending a dime with me, and still get my e-zine at no cost.

No one is forced to open or read my e-mails. If you are a subscriber to my e-zine, you can simply delete any or all of them.

No one is forced to receive my e-mails. I am not abusing anyone by sending them against their will.

The right to send my subscribers e-mail marketing messages is simply the price I charge for my publication.

If you wish to stop paying that subscription fee, you can unsubscribe with a single mouse click in about three seconds. No need to make a phone call or waste a stamp on a letter.

When you unsubscribe, you will no longer receive my e-mails. But you won’t get my free e-zine, either. You take all or none. That’s the deal. Non-negotiable.

I recently signed up for the e-list of an entertainer I like. After I got three e-mails the first day, I decided his arrangement was not for me, and I opted out with a single click. But I did not send him an e-mail with obscenities in it. I did not petition him to put me on a special e-list … or change his publishing model. I simply unsubscribed.

Amazingly, online subscribers argue with us Internet marketers about this issue from time to time – something they rarely do with traditional publishers. After all, if you called Newsweek and told them, “Send me the magazine, but take out the ads first,” what do you think they would do?

Yes, I could offer an “advertising-free” edition of my e-newsletter, but what would be the point? Or, as we copywriters say, “What’s in it for me?”

It’s true that, as an Internet marketer, you can send too many e-mails … or have a disproportionately high ratio of sales to content. But your subscribers will tell you what they consider to be too much or just right.

How do you know when you are sending too many e-mail marketing messages to your e-list? Just pay attention to the opt-out rate – the percentage of subscribers who opt out after you distribute an e-mail message to them.

Each time you distribute your e-newsletter or an e-mail message to your subscriber list, a few will opt out. That’s okay. But if too many are unsubscribing per e-mail – say, more than two out of every 1,000 subscribers on the list – you may be selling to your list too much, too hard, and too often.

Solution: Cut back on frequency … make the content more educational, less hard-sell … add more content and do less selling … until the opt-out rate drops to about 0.2 percent or less.

[Ed. Note: Now’s your chance to pick the brain of copywriting master and experienced info-marketer Bob Bly in person. Bob is coming out of his self-imposed speaking retirement to present at ETR’s 2008 Info-Marketing Bootcamp. He – along with 11 other business-building and marketing experts – will reveal a proven technique that can help you make at least $100,000 in 2009.

For expert insights into the world of direct marketing, be sure to sign up for Bob’s free monthly newsletter, The Direct Response Letter. Do so today and get over $100 in free bonuses.]

Bob Bly

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has been hired as a consultant by such companies as Sony, Chemical Bank, J. Walter Thompson, Westinghouse, and Prentice-Hall. Bob is also the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), Targeted Public Relations, Selling Your Services, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Keeping Clients Satisfied. A phenomenal public speaker, Bob will share with you how easy it is to start your own business. Whether you’re ready to quit your job or are just looking to make a little money on the side, you’ll want to hear Bob’s advice.