Are you pondering starting an e-newsletter for your company? As we head towards the end of one year and the beginning of the other, it’s natural to think of new tactics to add to your marketing campaign, and since content is the huge buzz phrase of 2012, you may be thinking that 2013 will be the year for you to get that e-newsletter underway. As with many things when it comes to marketing, however, there is a wide berth between thinking you should start an e-newsletter and actually knowing how to get the e-newsletter started.
Here are the tips we usually offer to our clients. If you need any assistance with any of this, just let us know!
Know your recipients
Of course, there is not much of a point in sending out an e-newsletter if you don’t have anyone to send it to. Hopefully you have easy access to your customers’ email databases via your CRM program or via an internal database. That’s a logical place to start, but you’ll want to continue to add to your database as you go along, and counting on recipients to forward your e-newsletter is not the most reliable path to success. Here are some other ways to increase your e-mail database:
– Invest in lead generation programs with publications. The registration process required to download your white paper or your webinar almost always incorporates an e-mail address that you can input into your database. This methodology is also a good one because the email address belongs to a person who has expressed interest in your content already.
– Gather email contacts at trade shows and conferences – scanning badges makes this task much easier than it used to be.
– Purchase email lists from reputable list houses.
Now, there is a catch, no matter how you gather email addresses. Best practice indicates that you should always provide an opportunity for people to double opt-in. That means that even if they have signed up, your email communications should ALWAYS include an unsubscribe option (programs like Constant Contact build this into the structure of all emails you send).
Additionally, if you’ve never sent an e-newsletter before, it’s a good idea to send out a simple, text-only email to your database saying that you are going to start emailing them more regularly. This not only can serve as a preview, but it can also serve as a warning to people who may feel they didn’t receive an early warning that you were going to include them on your e-newsletter list. You know you feel frustrated when you shake a person’s hand and suddenly you start receiving their daily communications. Don’t do that to your database.
What are you going to say?
Once you identify who you might send an e-newsletter to, the next logical step is to figure out your game plan. What do you want this e-newsletter to accomplish? If your initial answer is, “We want to keep our customers updated on what we’re doing,” that might not be the best place to start. The key to any kind of content you send out these days is to make it of interest to your recipients. Nobody really cares, sadly, that your company just printed new literature. That might be meaningful when you meet your customers in person, but what your customers really want from you are solutions and information.
It’s a good idea to work out an editorial calendar at least for the first few e-newsletters. You don’t have to be rigid. You can say, for example, that one of your stories will be a commentary on a news story or industry-relevant article. Maybe each e-newsletter will answer a commonly asked question, or maybe you want to spotlight a different customer each time, if your business model makes that kind of inclusion acceptable.
How often are you going to send your e-newsletter?
One thing you definitely do not want to do is send an e-newsletter sporadically. You don’t want to say that you are going to send a daily e-newsletter, send daily for a week, and then wait a month to send your next e-newsletter. Be conservative and realistic on the front end and stick with that plan for awhile. If you start out with a quarterly e-newsletter and you feel like you want to increase frequency, still wait awhile, but maybe make each e-newsletter longer or more detailed.
Designate who will do what
If an e-newsletter becomes too difficult to produce, you will lose your internal support team faster than you can say “e-newsletter.” Make sure you have people who are willing to write content, who are willing to find images, who are willing to respond to any replies the e-newsletter garners, and who are willing to work on database maintenance. Make sure nobody bites off more than they think they could chew during their busiest time.
Are you thinking about starting an e-newsletter in 2013? If you have any questions be sure to let us know, or if you need assistance, we can help you with each of the steps described above! Drop me an e-mail if you don’t want to leave a comment below.
By the way, earlier this year I put together a “take 10” for MarketingProfs on this topic. You can check that out here. It does cost $10 if you are not a MarketingProfs member.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66571228@N02/6240081267/ via Creative Commons