Building a Magic Mailing List (Part Three)

Honoré_Daumier,_Le_Charivari_-_Advice_to_Subscribers,_1840In this series, I have revealed how to setup your mailing list and described what sort of newsletters to send. Now I would like to discuss how to get more magicians to subscribe to your list.

In Gerald Kirchner’s article on this blog, “How Many Licks Does it Take for a Review,” he discussed the ratio of traffic to conversion for a particular response, and how to alter that ratio in your favor using incentives. The same rules apply to subscribers.

Here are a few tweaks and ideas to maximize your subscription volume…

Make Subscribing Easy

Display a simple submission form prominently on your website(s).

About Those Incentives

Use phrases like, “Get special ‘Magicians Only’ discounts delivered to your inbox, free!” Or license the rights to a DVD and give it away, “Enter your email address and receive a downloadable, full-length DVD, FREE!” These method convert best, but you can offer other incentives too, such as valuable advise, feature content, or sweepstakes.

Handle Unsubscribes with Honor

To reduce spam filtering, you want to offer One-Click Unsubscribe. But it’s also a good practice to make it easy to unsubscribe and to actually honor the request. Do not create a separate list of unsubscribes and market to them uniquely or sell the addresses to a third-party.

Check Your Blacklists

Occasionally search for “email server blacklists,” and enter the IP address for your mail server to see if you are on any blacklists. If so, click the removal instructions for that blacklist and request exemption. Everyone ends up on blacklists at some point, even if they observe all the rules.

Keep Your Servers Separate

If you are sending your email campaigns through your own server or directly through the same company that hosts your site, setup another account just for mass emails, otherwise you run the risk of decreased deliverability of customer service messages—this is known as “reputation.”

Retain Subscribers

Always do what you promise when you entice people to subscribe to your newsletter—provide the content, giveaways, etc. Maintain a consistent schedule based on response so readers know when and what to expect. Keep the subject relevant and stay focussed on business—people don’t want to hear about your personal life before a discount promotion; that’s what blogs are for.

Surplus of Subscriber Potential

Your newsletter will always convert higher than social media, or at least it ought to if you manage your messages and lists properly. Offer specific incentives to convert social media followers into newsletter subscribers, then market to them directly without the noise of the social media environment.

Building a Magic Mailing List (Part One)

feedburner-feed-setupSocial media, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and even MagicDealers make it easy to communicate with customers throughout the day, throughout the week. But these venues are a room full of people. Yelling, “SAVE 30% OFF TODAY ONLY!” into a room of people, isn’t just rude, it’s not very effective.

You can and should promote your special offers through social media, you just have to take a different tact. Email, on the other hand, is the perfect venue for shouting, showing, and converting.

For an email to be effective, you must have email subscribers. Step one: decide how you want to collect these email addresses. If you are going to use an email delivery service such as MailChimp or ConstantContact, then those companies will have tutorials on their site for collecting and maintaining your subscriber list. For the most part, you just add a form to your website that customers fill out and submit.

As your list gets bigger, those services cost more and more money. A large magic shop may have 50-70,000 magicians on their mailing list, which can cost hundreds of dollars a month to send reliably. Be prepared for your list to grow and always check the prices of the service you plan to use long term.

But there is a free alternative to paid service providers that’s quickly becoming the preferred solution among marketers of all sizes, and that’s FeedBurner. It’s an email delivery service offered by Google. It’s free and easy to use, but it is a bit confusing in the beginning.

FeedBurner turns any RSS feed into an email and delivers it to your customers from Google’s servers, which have amazing deliverability when it’s not gmail.

Want to see a FeedBurner newsletter in action? Sign up to this blog’s newsletter—Free Magic News & Insider Secrets!—at the bottom of this article or on the right hand side of this page. You should receive our newsletter with 48 hours after confirmation.

There are two components to FeedBurner:

First, you need a FeedBurner account. Set it up and make sure you have email as a delivery option. I recommend a dynamic subject line. The options look confusing, but read through them and it will make sense after a few minutes.

Then you need an RSS feed. The easiest method is a blog. If you run your own server or have server space, install WordPress. If not, WordPress offers a hosted option too. Find your RSS URL and enter it in FeedBurner. Set your site to automatically signup customers to FeedBurner (they still have to confirm, so it is Opt-In all the way), and have an option to subscribe to your newsletter on your blog and the main sections of your website.

When you are ready, post a special offer in your blog in the form of an article, and once a day, Google will check your RSS feed and deliver your newsletter to your list of subscribers. If you decide you want to change programs later, just download your list from FeedBurner and upload it to the next provider.

But what do you post to get the best results? What do you write about to entice magicians to buy magic from you? Get your FeedBurner account setup and your blog installed, and I’ll answer these questions in Part Two next week.

The “MAGIC” of Advertising and Why it’s Hard to Find a URL

Magic_AdvertisingIn Arthur C. Clarke’s Three Laws, the Third Law states, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

And since almost everything worth advertising is, at least in the mind of its creator, a “sufficiently advanced technology,” the marketing of such products benefits by borrowing from the magic industry.

In fact, experts call words such as amazing, magical, and astounding, “stop words.” These are terms and phrases that when included in headlines and headers, cause potential customers to stop [flipping through the magazine or changing channels] and pay attention to the sufficiently advanced technology being advertised.

This is why it is difficult, near impossible, to find an available URL for your magic business that incorporates these stop words; those websites are already being used by the mainstream market.

Porsche’s recent slogan (circa 2011), “Engineered for Magic,” both takes advantage of our industry’s core term and gives credibility to the idea that men only drive a Porsche due to a “wand” complex.

Even non-technological products take from the magic industry’s precious limited vocabulary. Spider-Man is, after all, only “amazing.” The same term used to describe turn-of-the-century baking apparatus.

Magicians have struck back over the years. Magic creators parody the occasional well-known summer blockbuster for their trick’s title or they incorporate popular mainstream products, from playing cards to iPhones, in their routines.

I remember Steve Fearson performing a trick for me while we were hanging out at a magic convention more than a decade ago, when the Internet was still finding its place among the general public. He had me select a card and then go to Oprah’s website, which revealed my card right next to her picture!

Today, there is a constant supply of innovative technology advertised as magic. It is important magicians develop new magic tricks just as quickly, setting the bar for what is magic and what is “like” magic.

In the past, a young kid might say, “I know how you did that, you used one of those fake thu***.” Now days, he will say, “You know, there’s an app for that. And it’s amazing!”

Staggered Newsletters – Public Service and Competitive Edge

Sometimes it pays to follow the leader. For a while! (image by material)

Sometimes it pays to follow the leader. For a while! (image by material)

No matter who you are and how unique your unique sales point is, you still share some degree of customer overlap with at least one competitor. There are online magic shops thousands of miles apart from each other that report upwards of 20% overlap, and brick and mortar stores might share 80-90% overlap with their local competitors.

If you realize with whom you share the most overlap, there are crafty ways you can be more competitive in a way that helps you both and the magic community as a whole.

The typical relationship between two competitive magic stores, especially online retailers, is one of “monkey see monkey do.” If one magic store runs a special promotion every Monday, before long, the other store will do the same—usually the smaller entity mimicking the larger one. Over time, the discounts get steeper and steeper, and conversion declines.

Instead of falling into this trap—a situation where overlap customers might not purchase from either company—exploit the paradigm. On Mondays, when your competitor launches their weekly discount, announce a new product from one of your vendors that your competitor doesn’t stock. Choose an item you believe in strongly and hype it up.

Choose an item you believe in strongly and hype it up!

Specific item enticement will prevail over broad-range discounts, particularly after those discounts become commonplace. Once your competitor’s discount expires, announce your own discount offer and mention the item from your previous newsletter is still available.

Some online retailers run the same specials so often on the same days—with the same artwork—it’s easy to anticipate their moves and exploit the overlap. Surprisingly, both of you should see an increase in conversion. Chances are, your competitor gets your newsletter just like you get theirs. If they see the direct competition, their first instinct is to react by copying you. In which case, you revert to the old schedule and you will have, at least in this way, changed places with that competitor in the minds of the overlap.

If you have difficulty finding a new item your competitor doesn’t have on their site, contact Wholesale Magic and ask for an item that was once trendy but has faded out of popularity. We can even provide you with a bulk discount. Stores call us almost everyday for this exact purpose.

When you get the item, refresh the write-up and create a new graphic. Announce it in your newsletter, on your social media, forums, and make it a big deal on the front of your website. Now it’s the hottest item of the week and you have the exclusive. Some retailers buy all of our stock so that other stores will have to purchase the item from them. A small investment with a big return.

Staggering your newsletters in direct response to a competitor with high overlap has a positive impact on the industry. Your company’s demand for exclusive items refreshes old stock, which provides magicians with good magic at a competitive price, and rewards [often] forgotten manufacturers. Under optimal conditions, you will create higher conversion for you and your competitor as these actions result in contrast, which by default has a higher yield.

Note: if you receive your competitor’s newsletter on a Monday, they might have sent it on a Sunday, which is the first day of the retail buying week in the magic industry. It can easily take 24 hours for a newsletter to reach all of a large subscriber list.