Why have an e-mail newsletter?
You’ve invested in your brand, both offline and online. You’ve created a website. You do some print advertising here and there. Why publish an e-mail newsletter, too?
- E-newsletters or e-zines (pronounced ee-zeens) are a great way to build trust. On average, it takes seven impressions (exposures to your brand) for people to take the plunge and purchase your product or service. How do you ensure that exposure keeps happening? Publish an e-zine to smooth the way.
- E-zines connect you with people who’ve expressed a positive interest in your product or service. In other words, these are warm leads or recent customers. Don’t lose them through inattention.
- Your e-newsletter establishes you as an expert in the field if you publish high-value information. It gives you a leg up on your competition if you use your e-zine to promote special sales on products. And it creates another brand touchpoint that you can use to build a relationship with your customers.
- E-zines are far less expensive to produce than direct mail, are read by a far higher percentage of recipients, and are completely trackable. While direct mail is still a powerful part of your marketing toolkit, e-zines can often deliver more bang for your buck.
- You can take the same content you create for your e-newsletter and re-purpose it for print. This reinforces your message and, with a link to your website at the bottom of printed articles, creates a continual loop for customers to interact with you.
- Your e-newsletter drives people to your website! You can link to one page or several. You can promote product offerings, informational articles, or even (ahem) games and contests. The more interactions people have with your brand touchpoints, the more likely they are to build trust. This translates into higher sales and greater customer loyalty.
- You can reach potential outside your immediate geographic area. They do call it the World Wide Web, after all. An e-newsletter may open new business channels for you as you gain greater exposure.
For people to go to the trouble of even glancing at your email, they need a strong motivator.
Service industries often use e-newsletters to share information. Brief articles, news, links to handy resources, a calendar of events, and Q & A columns are all options for service businesses. These e-zines establish your business as an expert in the field by offering tips and advice that are of high value to your target market.
Businesses that sell products often use e-newsletters to promote specials, give away coupons, preview new products, and get customer feedback on existing or beta versions. If your primary business is selling products, you can boost sales by offering exclusive deals or simply reminding people of your offerings.
Of course, many businesses blend these two approaches. A service business sending a weekly article will close with a brief advertisement for related books, CDs, or online seminars. A product business will include a helpful hint or link to a resource article along with its monthly coupon.
The goal is to find the right combination of high-value content to serve both your business’ and your target market’s needs.
As for length, shorten it. Then shorten it again. People will only glance through your newsletter unless you’re an exceptionally witty writer or you Make Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse. Include bold headings and bullet points to make it easier to get the gist of your message quickly. And use the same format each time. While it may bore you, your subscribers will find it easier to use.
How often you publish is basically up to you. You’ll want a schedule that you can sustain indefinitely and also meets subscribers’ needs. Technology businesses, for instance, often publish on a weekly basis because the field is constantly changing and its customers are information junkies! Horticultural businesses may publish quarterly to promote seasonal topics.
Accepted wisdom is to publish no fewer than four times a year. Where timeliness is critical (stock market tips, for instance), daily publishing is critical. Most small businesses will be most effective publishing once a month. This is frequently enough to keep your business name in front of customers without contributing to information overload. Small businesses may also consider quarterly publishing of a main e-newsletter along with occasional super-short mailings to highlight a current promotion.
Regardless of what schedule you choose, once you start, do not waver. If you say you publish monthly, publish monthly. Your e-zine is another facet of your brand. Communicate clearly, consistently, and truthfully in order to build brand recognition and trust.