Hannah has almost 2000 newsletter subscribers. Her open rates are always between 80% and 85%. And yet she’s attracted just 4 paying clients since 2019, directly from her newsletter readership.
She asked me what she was doing wrong. I suggested, (with her permission), that as this is a really common problem, I’d share my answer with you.
Why accurate marketing data can cause us problems
We’re now able to test and measure our digital marketing with great precision. And it’s causing hard working small business owners to make very expensive marketing mistakes.
For example. Service providers like Hannah, often look at the open rates / clicks / shares data of their newsletters or blogs, then write certain styles of headline or content, based on what’s popular.
That seems to make sense.
Until we look at the massive difference, between what’s popular with readers… and what generates bankable income for our business.
The key point here.
- Readers are mostly just that. They’re readers. They read our stuff. That’s it.
- Only a subset of readers are prospective clients. This is usually a relatively small percentage; especially if we use the content marketing model, (which Hannah uses, I use and you should be using too).
In short: The vast majority of people who subscribe for useful, free business information have zero intention of spending a dime with us. They’re looking for free information. Period.
Oh yeah. They really mess with your marketing data
That’s because the free stuff crowd are also the people most likely to open newsletters and click links.
They especially love sensational headlines, free special reports and free white papers, etc. They are attracted to them because they dabble rather than hire expert help, so their businesses are constantly struggling. Over-hyped headlines give them hope that they’re one ‘killer free idea’ away from solving their latest problem.
It’s not a coincidence that none of the 4 readers who hired Hannah directly from her newsletter, had high open rates or click rates. They almost hired her in spite of being on her list. This is because our ‘prospective client readers’ behave very, very differently from the ‘free stuff readers’.
The same over-hyped approach that gets opens and clicks from freebie hunters, leaves our prospective clients rolling their eyes!
Allow me to explain.
Yes, our prospective clients are certainly looking for great, useful information. And that’s a fact.
The BIG difference, is that they are also looking to provide their businesses with the resources and expertise it needs. This means when they consume our newsletters, blogs (podcasts, YouTube broadcasts, whatever), they do so with a prospective need for our services and are building a picture of us.
And unlike the freebie crowd, they’re looking for clues.
- They’re looking to see how reliable we are over a period of time. If we regularly show up with ideas or go missing unexpectedly for long periods.
- They’re also looking for clues as to whether we’d work well together or not.
- They want to see if our communication style is consistently clear and easy to understand.
- And they want to see just how informed we are; the depth and breadth of our knowledge.
Plus a ton of other things they pick up on, which guides their decision to hire us or not.
The freebie crowd don’t give a rat’s ass about any of that!
In a nutshell: For a service provider, the most valuable feedback from your content marketing, is if it’s generating high quality paying clients or not. So please don’t chase the numbers that have little or no, real-world commercial value.