February 2, 2010
E-newsletters have emerged as the most popular of email tactics in recent years, with almost one in eight marketers regularly sending them to customers and prospects. One of the main reasons for doing this is the potential that email newsletters have for building and maintaining rewarding relationships.
However, it requires a great deal of time and thought to achieve these results. A poorly constructed or ill-thought-out e-newsletter will do more for damaging relationships than building them, potentially costing you sales in the long-run. Whereas, a campaign that is well-conceived and professionally delivered can bring excellent long-term rewards, especially when supported by other marketing tools.
A survey of email users last year found that 59% spend 20 minutes a week with permission email, while a further 27% spend an hour or more. This is valuable time that a customer or prospect could be spending with your brand.
However, e-newsletters are not a short-term strategy to driving sales. They are most effective when part of a company's long-term strategy to build its brand, by adding genuine value to its customers. This, in the long-run, should lead to a more significant rise in revenue and return on investment.
For a marketer, email newsletters are a cost-effective, convenient and timely brand tool that connects them with their customers.
Like with any other marketing activity you might invest in, you need to think about what your business objectives are before planning an email newsletter campaign. Consider carefully what the function of the newsletter will be and to whom it will be sent, then use this to determine a focus for the content. Without clarity of purpose, there's a danger that newsletters will become irrelevant to those receiving them. Niche targeted newsletters tend to be the most successful, so segmenting your contacts list and personalising the content may be a worthwhile task.
The content you provide must provide some tangible value to the recipient. Get this wrong and the number of unsubscribe requests will increase with every mail out. Get this right, however, and you'll be well on your way to building a loyal customer base who actively seek out your newsletters. So plan your content carefully and be deliberate with what you include. Any old article won't do!
Put yourself in your customer's shoes. Their thirst for content will fall into two camps - what they want to read and what they need to read. Striking a balance is no easy feat, but it is the secret to an extremely popular newsletter. The latter is obviously the most important, though. If you provide content that can genuinely help them and might help their closest rivals, you are guaranteed an avid reader.
The window that people have for reading promotional emails is slim, so avoid long blocks of text. An e-newsletter is perfect for providing small, digestible chunks of information, so be selective with what you include. Mix smaller articles with mini-features, for instance. And combine details of your products and services with industry-related content, so you're making the most of the promotional tool without bombarding the reader with sales messages.
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A good blend of articles is often the most successful, but don't mix too much. Create a content formulae and stick to it. Limit the newsletter to five types of articles and this will make your life easier as well as maintaining consistency. If your first newsletter contains useful and relevant content, the customer will want to know exactly where to head next time for more of the same. Too much disruption and they'll quickly get bored.
Once you've decided on the type of articles you'll be including, develop a calendar of content that allows you to plan out the next few newsletters. You may want to introduce particular themes, so know where your content is coming from well in advance of your deadlines. While consistency is vital, it's important to review your plan on a regular basis - especially if you're generating high levels of response to one particular item more than others. Give the customers what they want!
We've already mentioned how 'less is more' when it comes to article length, and it's important that the copy reflects this. It should be customer-centric, pithy and quick to take in, as your customers and prospects may well be reading on the go. The voice should also remain consistent throughout, even if you have more than one contributing writer.
Like other forms of email marketing, an e-newsletter should be personalised and friendly. Take advantage of any customer data you have at your disposal and make the newsletter as welcoming as possible. This is the best way to encourage interaction, which will strengthen the bonds between the customer and your brand. A welcome email to new subscribers should let them know what to expect - including the topics the newsletter will cover, how frequent they are and how to unsubscribe.
A well-planned e-newsletter can have many long-term benefits for a business, including building loyal relationships with customers. These tips are meant to clarify the level of work that goes into an email newsletter, while highlighting the benefits that are possible to achieve. If you'd like a more detailed discussion on the way e-newsletters can help you, please email us at [email protected] or call +44 (0)161 817 2929
Posted by Jenni Malley
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