E-mail List Building Basics
“We’ve found that informational newsletters and e-mail flyers test well,” Goodman says. “Share your information and expertise to keep customers entertained and engaged.”
If your site sells barbecue grills, for example, write a monthly newsletter featuring guides to choosing cuts of meat, barbecue recipes and grill maintenance tips. Even if some of the intended readership recently purchased a grill from you, or are just browsing and not ready to convert, by distributing an e-mail newsletter designed to inform and entertain the reader, rather than just sell your product, recipients will remember your company’s name when they decide to buy.
“E-mail marketing in general is a viral enabler,” Goodman explains. “If people like your e-mail newsletter, those people will spread the word.” Coupons, online discounts and incentives tied to a ‘tell-a-friend’ feature allow customers to reward themselves through linking your site to other relevant sites and forwarding your e-mail to friends.
The United States Golf Association (USGA) is one organization already putting that advice in practice. The USGA, the national governing body for golf since 1894, is a nonprofit that adds value to its e-mail newsletter by including golf tips and rules of the game in its announcements and tournament results. Fiona Dolan, director of the members program for the USGA, says that the added value equals added names on the e-mail distribution list.
“We evaluated all our e-mail communications, making sure [they’re] both relevant and interesting,” she says. Golfers love tips from professionals, explains Dolan, and really take them to heart. They trade these tips with each other on the course, on the driving range and via personal e-mails. And the Tip of the Week feature in the USGA newsletter has turned out to be exceedingly popular among its 380,000 recipients.
“We position the Tip of the Week as an added benefit,” says Dolan. “And our Rules of the Game feature has a high clickthrough rate as well.” Adding those features, she says, is the result of surveys conducted by the USGA asking its e-mail recipients what they’d like to see more of in their e-newsletter. The online channel offers a great opportunity for instant feedback, but the key is to respond quickly, giving customers what they want.