Newsletters are a great way to bond with customers. They are a friendly, casual way to stay in touch.
There are a lot of different formats. But there is one thing they must do to be successful.
Newsletters must get the reader’s attention…
I’ll never forget the two teachers I had in a shared-time experimental English class. It was my junior year of high school.
Monday through Wednesday we had English literature followed by two days of public speaking.
The teachers couldn’t have been more different.
The English teacher was a petite woman with a soft voice. Unfortunately, she also tended to speak and read in a monotone.
I love books, I love literature. But she was so hard to focus on in that soft lullaby voice. The hour dragged. I could feel my eyelids wanting to droop.
The first time I met our Thursday-Friday teacher, I was terrified.
Mrs.Trueblood strode into the room like a warrior-queen. Her voice boomed rich and deep. Authoritative. Strong.
As she made her way toward the teacher’s desk on the far side of the room, I noticed everyone was sitting up a little straighter. Mrs.Trueblood commanded every class.
Yup. She had my attention…and then she captivated my brain. That turned into one of the most enlightening and amazing classes I took in school.
If I would see her now, I’d stand my tallest and shake her hand with all the professionalism I grew into…and thank her for what she gave me. Skills and confidence that are still with me today.
Every newsletter needs to open with a good subject line and lead that gets the reader’s attention.
I’ve been writing newsletters for well over 25 years. They’ve kept customers up to date, inspired them and offered valuable information.
Were they all masterpieces? Of course not. But they’ve given me lots of practice to find what works.
Discover your stats specific to your industry niche.
Industry stats are something many businesses are unaware of.
Sending out e-newsletters and then seeing how many people do, or don’t, open them can be a little nerve-wracking. I’ve seen many businesses start second-guessing themselves and abandon the project.
Instead use Google and find the typical statistics for your business segment.
You’ll find out all sorts of interesting data there. The typical number of opens, the typical number of clicks, (if you have links,) and even conversions. It’s all available as part of the tracking of the mail-handling program.
Different systems track different things if they are properly interconnected to your website. Talk with your webmaster about what will work best with your system.
Once I learned those statistics I discovered I was doing better than most businesses in my industry. Sometimes 10 times better.
But what if you get an email that doesn’t get the response you expected? I’ve found most of the time it was timing. It wasn’t the perfect time for that message.
It could also be the wrong group or segment of your recipients.
Try these 4 techniques for a great newsletter
One question I often get is…how often should I send a newsletter?
Your newsletter can be a monthly release of multiple articles that are featured weekly.
They start with the first week’s article in brief with a link to the full article. They also include links to three other articles at the bottom. Each week one article gets its turn at being featured in an email.
That works well for larger businesses who really want to build and share information. It also builds traction faster.
But if four monthly articles are not in your time schedule, or budget, then send at least monthly.
You need to stay in touch with clients and prospective clients at least monthly to stay on their mind.
I like to work from an idea list. I also review what worked well in previous years for specific time slots.
You have two choices for tracking data from your email system. Export it to a data file or stay with the same email contact manager system. This builds you a history you can easily review.
Keep your newsletters to one theme if possible.
Even many popular magazines tend to use themes. You won’t find 4th of July picnics in the December issue. Get the right message at the right time.
Start with seasonal. Look for events or holidays you can tie into if that fits your specific products.
But if you’re in the midst of a crisis? Pause and think about what is going to be the most important message you can share this month.
Right now family bonding, mental health and self-care are all important.
Tips for coping with stress, anxiety and getting a good night’s rest are high priorities.
Tips for dealing with unavailability. Many of us are accustomed to dropping by the store nearly daily to get this or that. Not now.
Most of us are planning and shopping in advance to minimize the number of trips we need to make. We’re making contingency plans for things that aren’t available.
We’re coping with back orders and items out of stock with no projected availability. This adds to the stress levels. Anything to cope with stress or anxiety is getting checked out.
Are your customers looking for a quick read? Plan the length and complexity based on your target audience. Are you sending a series of educational pieces? Those may run longer.
Are you sending a helpful, hopeful, hang in there message? Keep it short, positive and inspirational.
Get your message clear and simple.
I’m often asked how long is long enough?
A short email might be 200-300 carefully chosen words.
A blog length article can be 800-1500 words.
But as my seventh-grade-teacher always said, as she primly lifted her calf length skirts toward her knees…
It needs to be long enough to cover the subject and short enough to be interesting.
Of course, we giggled or tried to keep straight faces. It was years before I realized how profoundly truthful those words are.
Don’t drag it on…that’s when you lose readers.
Find the magic balance…
Many of the emails and newsletters we receive are 100% sales. If you’re like me, you can spot and delete those in seconds.
The first pass of my emails is looking for stuff to delete. Sound familiar? Absolutely.
We are being so inundated with emails…especially sales and sales pitches, that we’re experts at spotting the stuff we aren’t interested in. So we go down, tick them and in one fell swoop…their opportunity is in the trash.
Maybe those businesses haven’t noticed people have other needs than just a sale.
Here’s a quick question or two for you to consider.
What type of email do you like to receive from your suppliers?
A sale? Or helpful information with maybe a short call-to-action or product special at the bottom?
Which makes you feel better? Which makes you feel more connected to them?
Make your communications heavy on the information, inspiration and connection side.
Keep the selling information to between 10-20% of the total. Message first. Sales second is a better way to bond.
Not sure how your newsletters rank?
As we make our way through the marketing complexities we face, here’s a special offer. For the first 2 people who contact me…before 5PM PDT on 4/16, I’ll do a quick complimentary review of an existing newsletter.