You can't beat the benefits of a well-done online newsletter.
Done correctly, it can increase business turnover, increase customer loyalty, bring your website to your busy clients and prospects (rather than waiting for them to come to you), be used as a post if you blog and keep your name in front of your prospects.
I'd like to give you a few ideas and strategies to make your online newsletter (and print one, too) more valuable and more productive for you. The last thing you want to happen is lose your golden nugget called "permission". Once that person hits the unsubscribe button, or sends you an email saying "please take me off your list", you've lost him or her forever.
A "NEWS" LETTER
Don't have people sign up for a newsletter and not meet their expectations. Many companies' so-called newsletters are nothing more than advertisements or sales notices.
As the name implies, it should be news. It should be information. It must be of value to your readers. It doesn't have to be very long, or frequent. In fact I recommend a monthly frequency.
The more relevant your content is to them - not you - the more you'll find your newsletter being forwarded to friends and colleagues. You'll also get fewer unsubscribes. I can count on two hands how many unsubscribes I get each month (out of an 18,000-plus distribution) that are from people simply not wanting the newsletter any more.
It is a commitment and significant amount of work to produce an interesting newsletter that your recipients look forward to. The effort generates commensurate rewards. If you're not prepared to do a newsletter, don't mislead people. Instead, ask them to sign up for updates and prompts about any future sales and specials. Better yet, do both - have updates, prompts and your newsletter.
Put yourself in their shoes. They don't care one iota about you or your company. So phrase everything you write from the viewpoint of how it is going to make them more successful.
Add in potential benefits, from their perspective.
Go through your newsletter. Count how often you use "I", "we" and "us". Eliminate as many as you can, turning them into "you"s. For example, this month I wrote a little tip starting with "I always get a backache and sore neck from working on the computer". With my final edit, I caught my error and changed the opening to "Do you ever get a backache or sore shoulders ..."
Get enough information from individuals when they subscribe to allow you to refine your work. Don't make people read something not pertinent to them. For example, if you write about something that pertains only to New Zealand readers, then you must create regional versions of your newsletter. One version for New Zealand including that content, the second version for everyone else - with the article omitted.
That is the joy and simplicity of doing an online newsletter - how easy it is to create multiple versions of a newsletter, and the fact that it takes only minutes to break down one large email list into smaller targeted ones.
FREQUENCY AND CO-ORDINATION
Remember that email is just one part of your communication package. Ensure that it is co-ordinated with your print mailings, your other forms of email marketing and other people in your company who might be emailing the same people. Don't inundate. A communication from your company every two weeks could be too much, depending on what you have to offer and how immediate the information is.
I was asked by an executive recruitment firm to work with them on their communication strategy. We reviewed, revamped and added to what they were doing by post, fax and email.
Two days after our session I got an email from one of their consultants. Yes! I thought, how great, they're taking my advice. But then I got another and again another from different consultants. All three emails were on the same subject. All three were completely different. Two were colourful, one was in plain text. Do you want this to happen to you? If not, be sure to co-ordinate. And standardise.
VALUE = EYEBALLS = SUCCESS
By being honest, by reining in your desire to make a quick buck, and by working hard to get interesting information for your audience you'll keep your readers happy. You will spread your newsletter like wildfire and increase your overall business success.
And don't forget to include in every issue a subscribe and unsubscribe option and a privacy statement. And DO NOT ask recipients to forward your newsletter on to friends and colleagues. That is the number one red flag to spam filters. The filter will have rejected your newsletter before it ever reaches your recipient. In my newsletter I simply put: "New? Subscribe now".
Debbie Mayo-Smith (BSc Hons Econ) is an International Motivational Business Speaker and Managing Director of SuccessIS! (http://www.successis.co.nz) and a leading specialist in easy practical ways to improve business profitability, personal productivity and Internet marketing. Debbie lives in NZ and travels the world speaking, writing and training.