I have been thinking about doing a enewsletter for my business, CP Communications but just don’t know if I have the time to do it regularly enough to make an impact. I understand (and often tell my clients) how powerful they can be to reinforce your brand and communicate your key messages to potential clients. Valerie Khoo did a story in Enterprise recently on this:
“If you have an effective and truly useful email newsletter, this is something customers look forward to receiving. It positions you as an expert and keeps the flow of communication between you and your customers open. So when they are ready to buy or are in the market for whatever you are offering, you are top of mind.
Build a following: I discovered a power of effective email newsletters about six years ago when I travelled overseas for an extended period to set up a social enterprise to help disadvantaged people in poverty. Initially, it started as a simple email to family and friends – it included tales of eating weird food, falling off motorbikes and trying to communicate in another language. I also included updates on the project I was working on. It wasn’t long before the initial group of 50 or so recipients grew to nearly 3000 as people from all over the world asked to join the list.
That’s when I realised that email newsletters are such a powerful medium. I now use them in all my businesses. But how do you make an email newsletter effective – something that your customers will open and read instead of press delete when it arrives in their inbox.
1. Don’t sell – offer advice, expertise and interesting information
If you use it only as a sales tool, you will turn customers off quick smart. Customers will only continue opening your email newsletters if you offer useful information that’s going to help them. For example, let’s say you’re a chiropractor. If your newsletter is consistently full of information about the packages you offer, new staff changes or new products you have on sale, then your customers may open one or two – and then turn off.
But what if you included regular tips on how to avoid or manage back pain? In one issue, you could deal with managing back pain in the office including exercises you can do at your desk. In another issue you could include tips on managing back pain for the elderly. (Not all of your customers will be elderly – but most of them have elderly parents who probably experience back pain!)
2. Give – don’t take
I constantly see major companies get it wrong. They hold big competitions or massive advertising campaigns and collect lots of names for their database, then proceed to send email newsletters full of marketing messages. I spoke to one senior executive recently who confided that their email newsletters cost them about $40 per recipient when they factored in all the costs associated with acquiring and communicating with those on their database. That kind of cost would cripple any small business.
It costs my business less than one cent (0.005 cents to be precise) to communicate with my customers per email newsletter. So don’t think it has to cost a lot of money. Just because the big end of town is spending a small fortune on it doesn’t mean you have to. Your customers will respond much better when you are genuinely trying to help them out and give something to them. If your email newsletter is only full of marketing or sales spiels, then the message you are sending your customers is that you just want them to give something to you!
3. Be regular
If you’re only going to send out an email newsletter sporadically, then this is not going to be very effective at all. Imagine if your favourite magazine stopped being published every month (or week) and was only released every so often. You might miss an issue, you might lose track of it and lose interest altogether.
If you want your email newsletter to be effective, you need to publish regularly. Personally, I think once a fortnight at a minimum. That means you need to ensure that you can generate enough useful content every fortnight, otherwise you’ll end up with a lame newsletter.
What if you can’t write?
Some business owners outsource the writing of their newsletters. Of course, this can be a costly exercise. If you aren’t great at writing – but you’re full of ideas on how to help your customers – I would still recommend trying your hand at writing it. But then ensure it gets polished by an editor so that your message is clear. Or you might have a friend who is a dab hand at the English language who can ensure that your commas and full stops are in the right place.
How do you send it out?
If you’re starting with a very small list, then you can just send it out by email. Once your list gets bigger, you might want to graduate to a small business database like ACT. Beyond that, you might want a specialised email newsletter service, which is what I use. These include services like Newsletters Online, AWeber and Ezemail. There are many on the market to choose from.
Sydney Public Relations Agency, CP Communications provides specialist media, traditional and online PR strategies that get amazing results. Contact us today. For more great tips visit our website www.cpcommunications.com.au.