Email newsletters are a great marketing tool for small businesses. Want proof?
In 2007, MarketingSherpa published a ConAgra Foods case study illustrating 34.25 percent more product sales from consumers who subscribed to email newsletters vs. non-subscribers.
Email is still an incredibly popular form of communication, even in the age of social media. Using an email newsletter to get consistent brand exposure to quality prospects and current customers is a proven way to bring in more revenue for your company.
During my 20 years in marketing, I have learned there are great marketing newsletters … and there are bad marketing newsletters. If you want to create a great one (of course you do), you have to ask yourself eight questions …
1. Are You Sending Your Newsletter on a Consistent Schedule?
The idea of a newsletter is to send it out repeatedly. Now, how frequently you send your newsletters is up to you; it will depend on your industry. Some industries need a weekly newsletter to keep prospects and customers up to speed on what they offer. Some will be fine with monthly or quarterly newsletters. That's a choice you need to make based on your situation. However, no matter how frequently you send out your e-newsletter, it needs to be sent on a consistent schedule.
The average American gets right around 100 emails a day. That's kind of a lot. If your newsletter is coming in every now and then, and subscribers don't have an expectation of when it's arriving, there's a good chance it will get lost in their flooded inboxes. If you choose a monthly schedule, send it out on the first Friday of every month, or the last Monday of every month, etc. Just make it consistent. Your subscribers need to be able to predict when your emails will come in. That way they can keep an eye out for them, and the newsletters can do what they are designed to do.
2. Do You Know Exactly Who You Are Targeting With Your Newsletter?
You need to know who is going to be seeing your newsletter. If you don't know, you can't give them relevant information. It will all be generalized and diluted, which subscribers won't stick around long enough to read. When you target a specific group, like "new prospects" or "current customers," you can tailor your newsletter to give them the information that is most compelling to them. You can also choose relevant special offers, which will be more effective at generating monetary results from your newsletter.
3. Is Your Newsletter Content Subscriber-Focused and Filled with Information to Help Them in Their Everyday Lives?
When you know whom you are targeting, you can provide them with the right content. What kind of content is that exactly? The answer is any content that offers real, actionable information geared toward helping readers improve their lives. Give them industry insights or tips from your particular expertise. Landscapers can teach subscribers the difference between seasonal and perennial flowers. Dentists should tell subscribers about the safest tooth-whitening techniques. This is the kind of content that makes subscribers anxious to see your next newsletter. They'll read them more thoroughly, and they'll share them with others, which brings you even more leads and revenue-generating opportunities.
Here are a few examples of great email newsletter content:
- Jewelers: "Maintaining the Shine on Your Gold and Silver Jewelry"
- Landscapers: "Why Are All My Flowers Dying? How to Balance Seasonal and Perennial Flowers to Keep Your Garden in Bloom Year-Round"
- Dentists: "America's Most-Wanted Teeth Staining Culprits"
4. Are You Continually Adding New Subscribers?
Targeting a specific group of people isn't the same as targeting a small number of people. The more subscribers you have, the better your results will be. You should be constantly adding new subscribers to your "new prospects" newsletter, and the same goes for adding new customers to your in-house customer newsletter. Create an email database for each targeted newsletter group. First, you have to take all of the prospects and leads you already have and put them into your prospective customer email database. Then, move your client list into your current customer email database. Each new customer you get goes right in that database. Then, you can generate new prospects by adding a newsletter subscription form to your website. If website visitors like what they see, they can subscribe to your newsletter to learn more. This is the best way to continually expand your marketing reach and turn more prospects into customers.
5. Do You Include a 'Company News and Updates' Section in Your Newsletter?
It's a good idea to create a section in your newsletter for company news, announcements, updates, etc. According to a study by the Nielsen Norman group, 60 percent of email newsletter users rate a company news section as "valuable content." That means 60 percent of newsletter users are making more money when they include this section than they do when it is absent. I don't know about you, but I like to come down on the side of more money. This section keeps subscribers connected to your company. They know the latest news. They hear about new products and services. You can promote upcoming events. When prospects and customers feel connected to a company, they are more likely to buy from them—plain and simple.
6. Does Your Newsletter Have Special Offers and Incentives in It?
Subscribers love discounts and special offers. People in general like discounts and special offers. Give the people what they want. Offering "exclusive discounts" and "subscriber-only special offers" gives prospects a reason to subscribe and gives subscribers a reason to keep reading each new email you send them. Email newsletters produce results by providing repeated brand exposure and pointing subscribers to your website. You can accomplish both of these goals more effectively by including special incentives to your newsletter subscribers.
7. Are You Including Links to Your Website in Each Newsletter?
As I just mentioned briefly, your email newsletter is trying to accomplish two goals:
- Offering valuable content to encourage brand exposure through loyal reading.
- Driving traffic to your website.
You want to send your subscribers to your website as often as possible, because that's where they can schedule appointments, get estimates, fill out contact forms, etc. That's where you can turn prospects into customers or generate more sales from your current customers. All you have to do is look through the topic you are discussing in each newsletter, and find opportunities to add a link to a specific product page or a custom-made landing page. The more opportunities you give your subscribers to visit your website, the more chances you have to generate revenue. So make it happen.
8. Do Your Newsletters Have Ample Contact Information to Give Subscribers Opportunities to Connect With Your Company?
You need lots of links to generate online leads and sales. You also need to include as much contact information as possible to give your subscribers opportunities to connect in other ways. Provide your phone number, mailing address (if you have one), email address, website, social media links, etc. There are so many ways to connect with your prospects and customers these days. Make them work for you, so your e-newsletter can produce real, tangible results for your company. You don't have to put focus on all of your contact options, but having them there is a good idea.
Are you answering "yes" to all eight of these questions? If not, you're email newsletter could be generating better results for your company.
Here's an action plan to maximize your email newsletter:
- Set a schedule you can stick to consistently with your email newsletter.
- Define your target audience (unconverted prospects, current customer, prospects who would be interested in a particular product or service, etc.)
- Brainstorm a list of content ideas to write about in your upcoming newsletters.
- Add all leads into your newsletter email database.
- Make sure your newsletters include the important components we discussed (Company News, Contact Info, Website Links, etc.)