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Next Steps – 150th Edition

Next Steps

If you are pondering using an ezine or blog to connect with your database, let me share with you the lessons I’ve learned from publishing 150 editions of my monthly ezine, Next Steps.

1. You have to Add Value

I suspect you are like me and ignore emails, tweets and other social media content that is just a hard sell. I will only click on, or read something I feel will interest me, or be of practical benefit. For this reason, the content of my ezine is focused on adding value. Tips, insights, people’s stories and book reviews populate Next Steps each month. I respect the fact that people have given me their email address and their permission for me to send them a monthly email into their inbox. Respect is always the antidote to spam.

Respect is always the antidote to spam. Click To Tweet

2. Consistency

Consistency and reliability are cornerstones of any successful brand. In my opinion the same is true for azines and blogs. For many years I distributed Next Steps the first Tuesday of every month. However, Sunday evenings are the new Tuesday mornings when it comes to digital marketing (who knew!) so late last year I changed the distribution time to Sunday evening and immediately noticed a sizeable hike in open rates. The important factor is that if you are planning an ezine or even writing a blog, decide how frequently you will publish and stick with it.

3. The practicalities

Since November 2016 I’ve used MailChimp to distribute my ezine. Prior to that, for many years I used Vertical Response. Whilst I was reluctant to change, I’m delighted with the ease of navigation, the reporting and the cost effectiveness of Mail Chimp.

4. Monitoring hit rates

To manage anything effectively you have to be able to measure it, so monitoring statistics is important. I use Google Analytics and MailChimp to monitor my hit rates, the articles that are being opened, forwarded etc. as well of course as unsubscribers, invalid email addresses and people who don’t read my ezine. This lets me know what my readers find interesting and it also helps me keep my database up to date.

5. Content

Business and personal development are broad topics, so there is always something for me to say and share. My ideas for content come from two main sources – what I’m reading (books, magazines, ezines) and from my clients (their challenges, their feedback, what they would find useful and interesting.)
For many years now I have a number of word documents into which I note ideas for articles. It means that when the time comes to write something new, I’m not staring at a blank screen. I have similar word documents in which I collect questions (a coach’s tool of trade) and another for quotes, currently running to 120 pages containing thousands of quotes.

6. Authentic

Some of the best advice I was given when I embarked on my first book back in 2006 was to be authentic. I hope I’ve brought this sentiment into my articles as well. For me being authentic means writing from the heart and when you communicate from the heart it goes to other people’s hearts.
In recent months I’ve begun to share more of my own personal experiences, challenges and learning in Next Steps and I know from feedback that these articles resonate with readers.

7. Constantly evolving

The first seven editions of Next Steps were produced in hard copy, but with the advances in technology my monthly newsletter evolved into an ezine and then into a cover for my blog. In recent years, the expansion of social media means articles can be easily shared, liked and commented upon. Last year, in addition to the monthly edition of Next Steps, I also started a monthly FaceBook Live event, a new and very effective way to connect with people interested in my content.

8. Do I get business from it?

I’m often asked this question. Obviously I do, but it is not a linear correlation. I write my articles and distribute my ezine because I’m a writer and it is no chore for me to produce articles each month. I share that content because I believe people will find it useful. If people book 1-2-1 coaching sessions, contact me to organise a workshop, or speak at a conference as a result of receiving my ezine, then that is an added bonus.

The next steps for Next Steps

Over the last fifteen years technology has revolutionised how we communicate. As I say on my communication skills workshops, it is not just what you say, but how you say it, when you say it and where you say that is vital if your message is to be received and understood.
Complacency is the death knell of any business and just as Next Steps has evolved over the last twelve and a half years it will continue to evolve, it has to.

You might also enjoy – Get Findable, How to stand out in a noisy marketplace