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How to Cultivate Subscribers for Life

By: Azriel Winnett

Azriel Winnett is senior staff writer at Sling Shot Media LLC, which offers a wide range of hosting solutions for email lists of all types and sizes, as well as many other services for email marketers and list owners. Visit our site at: or e-mail us at:

Before, competing corporations would vie with one another in frenzied attempts to grab for themselves a bigger and bigger share of the market.

Today, especially on the  Internet, what turns many companies on is the prospect of - not a bigger share of the market, but a bigger share of the customer!

This means that the companies don't focus on a single product and try to sell it to as many customers as  possible. Just the reverse: they'll concentrate on  individual customers and try to sell them as much product  as possible! Whereas they used to look at a single customer as the source of a one-time transaction, they now look on  him or her as a potential life-time client who can be sold  to over and over again.

Instead of searching for new customers, these companies will look for more products to sell to existing customers. They will measure customers by their Lifetime Value (LTV), which is the profit they expect to earn from all future sales to a certain customer, less the customer-specific service costs.

Of course, the philosophy behind all is this simple: a bird in the hand's worth two in the bush! Easier and less costly to do business with people  already in your grasp, than to wear yourself out trying to attract new blood, day after day.

Easier, yes - but it still takes a lot of hard, hard work to retain the loyalty of your people. You want them to be there when YOU need THEM, but in order to ensure this, you have to convince them that THEY need YOU.

As list owners and as savvy entrepreneurs, we already know the power of newsletters, discussion groups and the like in maintaining  customer loyalty. And we already know - or we SHOULD know - that valuable, instructive, interesting or original content is the sure way to ensure that THEY need US.

But what if your newsletter isn't connected to a business, or if the newsletter IS your business?  I haven't the slightest doubt that the "Lifetime Value" model is equally applicable here.

You've worked hard to get your list to the size it is now. And yes, you'd love to double and triple it still. Continue to work hard, and maybe you'll succeed. But save some - if not most - of your energy for your "birds in the hand."

Having already shown their mettle, as it were, by sticking around up to now, these are the folks most likely to remain loyal for life. If your ezine's making money for you through the sale of ads, affiliate programs or whatever other way, then these subscribers, if they do remain loyal, are YOUR customers for life!

Of course, it won't happen automatically. You have to work to keep them, just as any business must work to retain its own customers-for-life.

But look at the benefits! Whatever revenue-earning goals you have for your list, you have a captive audience right in your lap. People already on the alert to hear your message, again and again - and again!

So how do you go about cultivating subscribers with life-time value. It's a big subject, of course, and we merely include a few pointers here.
  • It goes without saying that "Content is King." If this holds true for web sites, it does even more so for newsletters and ezines. No need to elaborate here, except to make one point. Clearly, you must give your subscribers what they want to receive. One way of ensuring this is to encourage them to send comments and feedback.

    But there's another side to this as well. Your readers are looking to YOU for YOUR leadership. If you give them what you believe is good for them, and you do it professionally, consistently and with sincere conviction, most people will gladly fall in.
  • At the same time, if you promise something, make sure to deliver. When an unforeseen mishap upsets your plans, at least offer a timeous and plausible explanation. Lack of credibility can break you, but focus on the positive: build up confidence and you're made!
  • Which brings us to the next point. Email publications differ from most of their print counterparts in various ways, one of them being that the majority of e-pubs are run as "one-man shows." Put this to your advantage and try hard to give your publication the imprint of your own personality. Creating a bond with your readers will increase  confidence like few other things will.
  • Another related point. If some things you do build trust, credibility or confidence, other things are sure to break it. The best way to protect yourself against the latter eventuality is to put yourself in your subscribers' shoes. Always think - and think again - before you act!

    Just one example to make this point clearer: A large service company, which has been distributing a print newsletter to its clientele for some time, recently decided to send it out by email. That they did so at all without first getting the OK of their subscribers, is in itself a somewhat questionable act. But worse, they sent it out as a PDF attachment. The size? All of 4MB! This kind of encroachment on other people's time, money and resources is not easily forgiven - all the more so when they are pressured business people!
"Email publishing is the wave of the future."  People in the know have said this so often it's almost a cliche. But to reap the rewards of the future, one has to prepare oneself in the present.

Right now is the time to groom that list that will be yours for life, if you want the future to be yours.

© Copyright 2000, Azriel Winnett, Sling Shot Media, LLC

Other Articles by Azriel Winnett

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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