Our recent SmartGroup, covering everything ‘newsletter,’ became a helpful reminder that marketing online through this method can prove a worthy tactic. Compared to traditional media, 79% of adults visit a website because of newsletters, versus 65% from radio, 83% from TV and 89% from print (Source: ThirdAge.com Baby Boomer Survey, 2007). Given that the newsletter follows some simple instructions and has a backbone of support, it could very well be an inexpensive format for getting your unique message out.
1)Decide who’s responsible.
If newsletters fail, they most often fail due to lack of commitment. The commitment may be likely less frequent then a blog; however, the information infrastructure is something to consider when you’re first starting. Gather troops, create deadlines and follow through to make sure that when you announce to your audience that you’ll be releasing a monthly newsletter that it’s actually, well…monthly.
2)Keep the signup simple.
Providing a simple call to action and simple signup is the key to inviting subscribers to join your newsletter. We recommend you ask for Name and Email…and that’s it. Some of our clients only have a field for email…that’s okay too. Although qualifying your leads and getting information from your audience is helpful, asking for too much just turns them off. The KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) method applies here.
You are allowed by ICANN spam policy to have a list where you may send one (I repeat, ONE) welcome newsletter to invite your audience to opt-in and sign up to receive future newsletters. We are not in the business of spamming those that do not sign up or are interested. Keep your subjects relevant, content informative and comply with those who sign up and then later may choose to unsubscribe.
4)Follow the ICANN rules and regulations. (i.e. there’s fines and prison sentences, folks)
Most of this is common sense but due to the outcomes, it’s worth noting. You are not allowed to falsify header information. You must have an unsubscribe link on every email. You are not allowed to use deceptive or misleading subjects. You may NOT harvest or buy emails lists; the subscriber must initiate a request to receive information.
5)Information vs. Sales Content.
Although it’s fun to receive coupons and promo codes in your e-blasts (or newsletters), the retention and long-term benefit goes down if sales content is the overwhelming point of interest in your newsletter. Informative content, content that benefits your audience—teaches them something valuable—is the best for long-term retention. Promotions are great but be sure to balance informative content and sales pitches through the duration of your newsletter schedule.
6)Frequency and Send Dates.
We often get the question, “How often should I send a newsletter out?” This question is entirely dependent on your industry and audience. For some, it’s appropriate to send out announcements a few times a week, others it’s monthly, and even others it’s quarterly. The key is to let your audience tell you when is too much! Follow your analytics data to best understand what frequency is best.
In terms of the best days to send newsletters, statistics have shown that Tuesdays and Thursdays are best. Mondays and Fridays are worth avoiding if possible. Mondays we’re catching up on emails and could easily miss it; Friday is too close to the weekend where our minds are already wandering….
Here’s another popular way to miss the mark on the newsletter. We’ve had clients be so enthusiastic about publishing that they literally publish a BOOK. Posting full articles and many of them dilutes the purpose of the marketing piece. Here’s the trick: Treat it like an newspaper headline and abstract—create a grab-worthy headline, a paragraph or two of informative content and then a CALL TO ACTION! The call to action is the most important step. A link to a full article, a link to a promotional product, a survey form completed…whatever the content, make the link trackable. Chunking information is the best policy. Oh, the other point of links is that driving traffic to your site, where your audience can expand upon their knowledge of your services, is always helpful!
Just like understanding trends in your website visitors, understanding what your audience responds to in your newsletter is imperative. Gauging what links (or topics) are popular is a helpful way of understanding the needs of your audience and likely what’s great to continue writing for. Track your baseline and success by understanding your bounces, your subscriber list growth and boosting traffic due to newsletter popularity.
Happy writing everyone! For a recap and samples, visit the Smartz Forum (https://www.smartz.com/forum)