Here we are almost 20 years after Bill Gates published his famous essay, Content Is King, and he’s still right.

Blogging is now standard practice for websites for two main reasons:

  1. Search engines like sites with frequent and fresh content, and good keyword rankings = more traffic.
  2. More content to promote = more traffic opportunities.

We’re All a Bunch of Traffic Junkies

More traffic means more eyes on products, ads, affiliate links, services — all the stuff we try to convert into instant cash in hand. For the traffic that doesn’t convert into sales, we typically invite them to join a newsletter that we don’t give proper attention to.

To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake. Big. Huge!”

The problem with ignoring your email newsletter is that you’re missing out on the most important part of a good content marketing strategy — building a relationship.

Let me explain why building a relationship with your audience and gaining authority in your niche are so important if you want to make more money in the long-run, and how your newsletter helps you do that.

Scenario 1

You’re in a Nike store trying to decide which pair of basketball shoes to buy, and a random person you’ve never met and know nothing about walks over to you and offers his advice on which pair you should get and why. You half listen to what he’s saying while silently wishing he’d leave you alone so you can try on more shoes.

You buy a pair that you feel pretty good about based on your research, but are still a little uncertain whether you made the right decision or not because you’re just a casual baller.

Before you leave, the random guy offers you a ticket to a paid seminar to teach you his secrets on how you can jump higher and learn to dunk. You say no thanks, and take your chances at learning from free videos on YouTube because you have no reason to trust a word that comes out of his mouth.

Scenario 2

You’re in a Nike store trying to decide which pair of basketball shoes to buy, and LeBron James walks over to you, in the flesh, and offers you free advice on which pair you should get and why. Without question, you walk out of that store with the pair he suggested.

Before you leave, he offers you a ticket to a paid seminar to teach you his secrets on how you can jump higher and learn to dunk. Without question, you purchase a ticket to his seminar, because you trust every word that comes out of his mouth. That’s authority.

Scenario 3

You’re at a car dealership trying to decide which car to buy, and LeBron James walks over to you, in the flesh, and offers you free advice on which car you should get and why. After the initial excitement and confusion of how and why LeBron James is giving you advice on your car purchase, you decide to keep weighing your options and speak to a car salesman who knows what he’s talking about.

What Makes Scenario 2 the Ideal Scenario?

The answer can really be captured in one word — trust.

  • Trust that you are knowledgeable in your field
  • Trust that your advice is tested and sound
  • Trust that you have your audience’s best interest in mind
  • Trust that you have something to offer that is unique, specific, and valuable

Authority has nothing to do with being a celebrity (although that would be a nice plus). You can gain authority by proving yourself as knowledgeable, and newsletters help you do that.

If you can earn your audience’s trust in these areas, they will view you as an authority in your niche, and are much more likely to purchase products or services from you when they are in need of what you have to offer.

So, how do you use your email newsletter to build a relationship based on authority?

It All Starts with the Lead Magnet

This is your opportunity for a second chance at getting a sale further down the road after you’ve gained some trust. A lead magnet is something you give away for free in return for a visitor’s email address. This could be an ebook you write, a whitepaper, a pdf guide — whatever will work best for your target audience.

Place an opt-in box on your site and offer the lead magnet in exchange for an email address. It’s absolutely vital that you tailor your lead magnet(s) to appeal to your target audience. With newsletters, the quality of your list is more important than the quantity. Offer a lead magnet that provides amazing value to your visitors, and one that is genuinely useful.

I highly suggest installing SumoMe for free if you’re serious about growing your newsletter list.

Example of a SumoMe app running on our site.

SumoMe example

Be Consistent

There’s a sales statistic that says if you don’t close a deal on the first encounter, it takes an average of 12 encounters to close the sale with that person, if you ever do. An encounter can be anything from talking to you on the phone to reading a blog post from you.

The more often your potential customers encounter you, the better and better your chances of closing deals with them becomes. Why? Because they start looking to you as a resource rather than a salesman.

In order to increase your number of encounters, people have to actually open your emails. They’re more likely to do that if they know when to look for them.

Have you ever thought about why TV shows are on at the same time, on the same day every week? We’re being trained to know exactly when to watch the next episode. All of the guesswork is taken away, and it even becomes a part of people’s weekly routines. Consistency is so powerful because it teaches your audience when to look for your content.

If you aren’t already regularly sending newsletters, I recommend starting with once per week. Same day, same time.

Remember the 90/10 Rule

90% of your newsletter content should be focused on providing value, 10% should sell.

If you try to sell something to your newsletter audience the majority of the time you contact them through it, you’re going to lose customers.

They will get sick of hearing from you, then they’ll stop opening your emails, then they’ll unsubscribe like you never even existed.

You have to give them a reason to never leave you. Focus 90% or your efforts into helping them be better at whatever your topic is, and they’ll love you for it, and eventually will buy your product or at least recommend it to someone else they know.

Your newsletter is your stage to freely provide value in the form of blog content, advice, special deals and anything else that fits your audience.

Whether you’re sharing a new blog post or providing exclusive newsletter content, the best way I’ve found to keep a newsletter list engaged is to always keep the focus on providing the greatest amount of free value possible.

Don’t be afraid to sell to your newsletter list the other 10% of the time. It’s important to set the expectation that in return for the great free value the newsletter provides, you get to pitch to them here and there.

Practice Curation

Curation is the process of organizing and communicating only the information that is relevant. By running a newsletter, you have a responsibility to your subscribers to only share content with them that is relevant to your topic.

Luckily, curation will work in your favor. The more you can niche down and help solve a particular problem with your content, the better quality your audience will be, and the easier it will be to keep them on your list, sell to them, and keep them pumped about your newsletter.

Use your newsletter to build relationships with your audience by becoming a resource to help them accomplish a specific set of goals. As Zig Ziglar said, "You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."

Do you have a relationship-building success story? Share it with us in the comments.

More about Content Marketing