I recently had a lot of fun (and frustration!) in launching our new website. Blood, sweat and nearly tears went into the website refresh, and I’ve been researching how to use a newsletter to efficiently market your business.
First, let’s consider why you would want to send out a newsletter. There are two main purposes to sending out a newsletter on behalf of your business: to establish yourself as a trustworthy expert in your readers opinion, and to keep your business and yourself top of your reader’s mind. Therefore, when a reader of yours wants to hire the services of something you offer, they are more likely to get in touch with you.
1. Make it short and snappy
In today’s information-rich world, people don’t have time to read a long, lengthy newsletter. Keep your newsletter’s length to a maximum of a screen depth. If you want to write a long article, provide an extract and link to where your article is held on your site. The width of your newsletter should not be bigger than the default “reading” panel in Outlook.
2. Start at the beginning
Before you start writing a regular newsletter, identify why you’re going to write it and what your your target market is for the newsletter. Then identify topics that your target market would be interested in reading about. So, for example, if your target market is pig and dairy farmers, you may want to write about trends of prices for pork and dairy at the farm gate, or how to increase your herd’s milk yield… You get the idea.
3. Give yourself or your business a starring role
You’re not writing a newsletter to promote someone else’s business, are you? To firmly establish you or your business as an expert in the eyes of your readership, make sure that at least 25 per cent of the newsletter space is about you: what’s you’ve done, your products and services, client testimonials, recent client case studies, awards, etc. When you’re talking about a specific subject, aim to highlight recent successes that you’ve had with clients (or customers).
4. Make it personal
As the saying goes, people buy from people. Have your own picture, or a picture of your team, in the newsletter. Drop in a few personal anecdotes about what you’ve been doing or are looking forward to doing.
5. Put a time-limited special offer in
People are more likely to take you up on an offer, e.g. 10 per cent off, if you make it for a limited time (a few days or weeks). And don’t forget to state that the offer is exclusively for readers of your newsletter.
6. Consider the legalities
In the US, it’s illegal to sign someone up for a newsletter without their consent. In the UK, we’re not subject to the same laws – however, it’s generally more polite to get someone’s consent before signing them up to your business’s newsletter, for example for someone that you’ve met at a networking event.
7. Switch it off!
Do tell people how they can unsubscribe on your newsletter. Set up a new e-mail address, i.e. email@example.com for people to send an e-mail if they want to unsubscribe. Many people don’t like having to publicly email you to ask to be unsubscribed.
8. See things differently
The compatibility of email clients and over-zealous spam filters is a problem for newsletter writers. Specifically ask your mailing list to “white-list” the email account that your newsletter comes from. Give your readers the option of reading a plain text version, or viewing it in a web browser. After all, for good business efficiency you want your readers to actually receive and be able to read your newsletter.
9. Don’t send it on a Friday
Many people get to the end of the week and then send out their business newsletter. If you think about yourself on a Friday, how much time or motivation do you have to read newsletters? I would suggest very little. You’re certainly not going to be motivated to do anything after reading the newsletter. I recommend that you send out your newsletter on a Monday or Tuesday when people are generally planning their weekly tasks.
10. Do spend money on an email marketing client
If you’re sending out a newsletter, your recipients don’t want their email address visible to the whole of the mailing list. If you start regularly sending out emails to a large volume of people, your ISP may label your newsletter as spam… not good. A good email client will prevent all these problems and automate some of the common tasks, e.g. sign-up, unsubscribe requests, etc.
11. And finally…
Don’t forget to include a call to action from your readership in your newsletter!
Heather Townsend, Britain’s queen of networking, is the founder of The Efficiency Coach, a company that helps professionals achieve better business results for less effort. Follow her Joined Up Networking blog for more useful tips and tricks.
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