How to make your email newsletter a must-read for your customers
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur the contributors are theirs.
At first, the decision to publish a newsletter seems easy: “My competitors have newsletters, so I need them.” Theirs come out monthly, so yours must be monthly. Theirs is HTML-based, so yours should look the same.
Many newbie newsletter publishers make this mistake. But launching a newsletter because your competitors have one is not the right reason to publish one.
It takes time, money and energy to produce a newsletter that people can’t wait to read, enjoy and are ready to pass on to their friends and colleagues. Before committing, you should have a mission for the newsletter and a plan to create it regularly.
A newsletter can be promotional or marketing, informative or relational. Whatever mission you choose, you should let the reader know your intentions for the direction of the post and stick to that plan. Consistency is important. If you promise news and information, don’t bore the reader with promotions. If, on the other hand, the plan is to send out a relationship-building newsletter 11 months out of the year and then publish a promotional newsletter in the spring, let readers know that’s happening.
Readers are looking for timely, practical and useful information. If a company has increased its profits by 320% compared to the same period last year, that’s news! News can also be promotional. Do you have a new service or product coming to market, or a seasonal item? Then it makes sense to publish the newsletter at the right time.
You can also use the newsletter to build relationships with customers. For example, if calls come in about specific issues with a product, discuss the issue and the solution in the next newsletter. It’s a win-win situation. Customers are grateful that someone is looking out for their best interests and the number of support calls is sure to go down.
Related: Making Email Newsletters More Social
Your newsletter can be informative. You can discuss how a new technology may affect the activities of your customers or prospects. Give them honest feedback on how this improvement helps them provide better service or generate more revenue.
Another way to pique readers’ interest is to write two- or three-part stories. It’s a great way to keep people coming back for more, and sometimes the information just can’t be crammed into a single issue. Don’t be restrictive. Give information the space it deserves.
Now that you’ve determined that you have enough news and information to share, decide how often to post. Newsletters should be released on a specific schedule so that people can anticipate their receipt. If you post too often, the reader’s interest will decrease or they will start to consider you spam, even if they have voluntarily signed up for the newsletter. Newsletters can also drain resources. Writing articles can take enormous energy, and sometimes newsletter editors find themselves trapped in a format that they need to “feed”. Keep it simple and newsworthy.
A good approach is to start slowly. Make sure there is time allocated to produce the newsletter and it is a good read. Maybe start quarterly then move to bimonthly. People rarely complain that they receive useful news too often.
One of the best advantages of email newsletters over their print counterparts is metrics. When you mail a paper newsletter, you can’t tell if it went straight to the trash or if the recipient liked it so much they photocopied it and forwarded it to many friends. Email newsletter services, however, offer many useful metrics.
Financial Calculator: Determine Your Email Marketing ROI
You can find out how many people received the email, how many “bounced” because of a wrong email address, how many people opened the newsletter, how many forwarded it to friends, and more. These services also manage your unsubscribe requests, ensuring that you follow the law when people ask to unsubscribe from your newsletter.
Related: Do You Know What Clicks With Your Email Newsletter Readers?
And because of the importance of these metrics and the unsubscribe process, finding a good email service provider — Constant Contact and iContact are two popular choices — is a crucial step in creating your email newsletter.
Serve the reader
Finally, know your reader base. Don’t take them for granted. Find out what they are interested in knowing or learning. Invite readers to respond. Ask for their opinion. Let the reader get to know the newsletter editor. A person should let their personality shine through through the writing. It is much easier to build a relationship if each party shares information about themselves.
Respect their time: If a newsletter can’t be read within five minutes, it’s destined for the trash. It hurts, but it’s the truth. Busy people segment their time with five minutes for this and 10 minutes for that. A good newsletter fits into this window.
Related: The Unwritten Rules for Online Publishers