I am constantly asked to comment on the effectiveness of a corporate newsletter strategy and whether it makes sense to invest in developing and maintaining one, especially when it seems that everyone is doing so. My answer is: “it depends.” Electronic newsletters sent directly to your clients can be extremely effective and generate serious business inquiries that lead to increased revenues, if done correctly and by the right people. However, they also have the potential to get lost among the volume of other inbox email and furthermore, if not implemented properly might even damage your professional image and business. This article will clarify some of the points concerning whether your organization should engage in launching an electronic newsletter and how to hopefully make sure that your reader looks forward to each publication and not just simply press the delete key.
Why develop a newsletter?
- Communicate your corporate news, products and services – It is a great vehicle to share information with your prospects, clients and staff and keep everyone notified of new products, service offerings, incentives and changes.
- Increase inquiries, prospects, customers and revenues – Delivery of the proper content will attract visitors to inquire and purchase your offerings as well as enable new visitors to add themselves (opt-in) to your distribution list database. People will be able to forward your newsletters to others thus increasing your overall readership.
- Speed to market – It is an extremely efficient and fast tool to deliver the latest information to your clients. Once you launch a new product or service you are able to immediately announce it to the world.
- Budget – Compared to other methods of delivering information to your clients such as print media, TV, and Radio, newsletters are quite economical per campaign.
- Interest level – With the right analytical tools, you will be able to determine what your clients are interested in, what they are reading, what to offer in the future and how you should consider changing your newsletter with emerging trends.
- Immediate action – If your visitors are interested in your offerings, a hyperlink embedded in your newsletter enables them to instantaneously learn more or place on order.
- Marketing – It is an additional effective tool in your marketing concepts to get in front of your prospects and clients.
Which type of newsletter?
I am a big fan of HTML and not text newsletters. Some of the reasons are:
- They are easier to read and allow you to immediately grab the attention of your audience.
- They allow you to create hyperlinks such as “read more,” “order now” and “take survey” which can easily be tracked on your statistical reports.
- They strengthen your corporate brand by presenting a unified look and feel, reinforcing the look and feel of your website and print material.
Pitfalls to watch for:
- Do not spam your audience – I recommend you send your newsletters on a monthly basis so your audience learns to expect it. There is nothing more irritating than your inbox filling up with spam emails or newsletters of product announcements that are sent too frequently.
- Expecting instant gratification, successful marketing campaigns of any sort take time and electronic newsletters are no different. The key is to “touch” your audience consistently over time with powerful messages and great content.
- Make sure your “from” email address comes for a credible email address such as yourself.
How to make it successful?
- Focus on delivery of great value such as tips, “did you know” and “how to” sections.
- Create consistency and credibility by delivering your newsletter each month with great value.
- Be unique and develop a message to makes you stand out in the crowd.
- Develop articles that position you as “the expert” in your field.
- Solicit clients’ feedback and find out what is effective and what is not.
- Archive your newsletters on your website to increase the content and value your site has to offer. Creating an “articles” section is also a good idea to create one centralized place of all your articles.
- Make it extremely easy for people to opt-out and of course, opt-in.
- Use a strong email and database engine that gives you total control over the design as well as the maintenance of your database.
- Allow people to select HTML or text preference if they wish to change it.
I acknowledge that delivering a great electronic newsletter is hard work that requires a lot of thought and the efforts of some very talented individuals. It is like anything else, a commitment. Also, writing good articles may not come naturally and sometimes seems like a difficult and daunting task. The first step is to write one and the rest become easier. In conclusion, if you are struggling with the question of whether or not to jump into an electronic newsletter campaign, simply focus on the possible ROI that an additional low-cost marketing tool might provide. In a report “E-Mail marketing – How to improve ROI” published on eMarketer, the report states that 45% of customers who were surveyed said it was a “great way” for companies to stay in touch. When properly used, e-mail can balance low costs and high response rates better than other marketing media. But.the challenge is to maximize its effectiveness through improved content, targeting and tracking.