An email newsletter is a great communication and marketing tool that further strengthens a relationship with customers and prospects, and can lead to more sales. By regularly sending interesting and relevant content to subscribers, you’re also sending a reminder about your business, products, services and expertise directly to your customers’ and prospects’ inboxes.
Those important groups may be interested in your offerings, but are likely to be too busy to remember to check your company blog or website to read up on the latest content. Sending information directly to the consumer offers a powerful way to establish or improve a relationship.
Focus on the Reader
The key to a successful email newsletter is making sure that the content is interesting and relevant to the reader. By providing useful advice related to your company or industry you can educate the reader and also promote the company, brand or service. For example, an accounting firm can provide general tax advice (with the appropriate disclaimers), or a nursery can give advice on how to properly take care of plants.
Sharing helpful advice offers a number of direct and indirect benefits to a company. Establishing the business as an authority, and fostering a two-way relationship that makes customers and prospects more willing to do business with you are just two benefits of an e-newsletter.
You can also supplement helpful information with a deal, discount, coupon or other offer specifically reserved for e-newsletter subscribers.
What Do I Say?
One of the first (and most important) challenges business owners face when they think about launching an email newsletter campaign is coming up with the content to fill it. There are a number of ways to come up with relevant ideas for interesting and practical newsletters without worrying about becoming a full-time publisher. Here are a few tips:
- Balance between Promotion and Content - Ideally an e-newsletter should contain 90 percent educational material and only be 10 percent promotional. Without providing relevant content, many readers won’t get past the introduction of the e-newsletter before deleting it from their inbox or completely unsubscribing.
- Leverage the Company Blog - If your company is blogging (and it should be), you can summarize or republish those posts in the email newsletter. Many customers will appreciate the idea of having content sent directly to them, and will often forward interesting information to their friends and colleagues. This boosts the power and value of your blog as well as the e-newsletter.
- Industry News - You can pass along short summaries of industry news, and add a few sentences saying why you think it’s interesting or important. This approach helps you share the latest news with customers and shows that you’re monitoring the industry’s latest developments.
- Check the Calendar - Almost every business or industry goes through seasonal cycles that can provide interesting e-newsletter content. Landscapers, for example, can talk about the arrival of spring or fall, or accountants can offer end-of-year tips to help clients prepare for tax season. The idea is that you want to identify opportunities when clients are likely to be thinking about the services or products you provide and remind them about your availability.
- Learn More About What Your Competitors Are Doing - If other providers in the industry are offering blogs and email newsletters, subscribing to them can provide ideas you may have overlooked. The idea isn’t to plagiarize their content, but rather to look for ideas that you can expand and use to help your customers.
Permission is Critical
A critical factor in making sure your email newsletter isn’t regarded as spam is getting permission from your subscribers to send it to them. If you’re using an outside company to manage lists and distribute your newsletter, their software will handle the initial request and send a confirmation request to make sure the reader is subscribing to your email newsletter intentionally. The software will also allow for a subscriber to unsubscribe from the list should they choose to.
As with your website, a variety of templates are available to provide an easily customizable, professional appearance to your email newsletter. Most companies design their e-newsletter to complement their website, by choosing the same color schemes and placing logos and other graphics in similar locations. Ideally, your readers should see your e-newsletter and instantly recognize that it came from your company.
Using attention-grabbing headlines, clear call-to-actions and innovative copy can all help in getting an e-newsletter opened and read. Depending on what email newsletter solution you choose there may or may not be full reports that show the overall audience engagement with each email marketing piece. Common metrics reported are the number of opens, click through rate to website links, and forwards. MailChimp and Constant Contact are just a few of the many email marketing solutions available today.