You find a Web site or receive an email about an online store with cool products that you'd like to order, but not right now. Either you file the email or bookmark the Web site. How often do you proactively return to the email or Web site? For me, the percentage is miserably low and my bookmarks file is hey-uuuge.
If getting people to your Web site is a breeze, then you're in good shape. The question is. . . how often do they return especially when they are ready to buy your product or service? By that time, they may have forgotten about your site and services.
Regularly connect with them through an email newsletter. It's a great way to trigger their memories, give them something for nothing, and build relationships. The payoff will be new and more business, money in the bank account. A high quality newsletter demonstrates value, trust, and stability.
How many newsletters and emails have you seen from companies that were all about “them?" They discuss their newest products. Their site redesign. Their receiving an award. Does this information help you? Maybe if you're a shareholder; otherwise it useless information.
Newsletters demonstrating value by providing information to help readers in their everyday work such as solving the problems they face, keeping them on top of industry trends, and saving them research time by filtering the best articles related to the business.
When a newsletter repeatedly gives readers something of value without a price, they eventually make the buy because the company has proven its expertise through problem solving. One newsletter does a great job in using a sense of humor in its promotional items.
Watch the ratio of solutions versus selling. If selling dominates the newsletter, then it is not likely to be as effective since it's focusing on the company not the reader. Promoting services and products is fine as long as there is more problem solving content than promotions.
Readers often provide feedback showing their appreciation for our saving them time. They don't have the luxury of searching Web sites for the latest information in their industry. A newsletter gives them that, a little bit of everything in one spot. Ultimately, providing value to readers means solving their problems and making their jobs easier.
Do you buy from someone you don't trust? What about Web sites selling products? eBay has the rating system where buyers and sellers rate one another based on their sales experiences. Would you buy from someone who has 50 percent positive / negative feedback? Trust plays a role.
Newsletter publishers become a trusted information source by knowing their audience and being honest with their readers. Furthermore, as the newsletter continuously solves business problems, it shows the readers the company behind the newsletter understands them and their challenges. Add more credibility by interviewing experts or inviting them to contribute an article.
Demonstrate integrity by creating a mailing list in a respectable way (read: avoid buying lists). Grow the mailing list by"
- Using employees’ address books.
- Sending it to people who requested company information.
- Including a subscription box on the company Web site.
- Adding newsletter information in an email signature.
- Writing the information on the back of business cards.
Keep the removal process simple. If someone doesn't want the newsletter, making it harder for her to get off isn't good for the business. It reduces credibility. Besides, if she can't get off, she'll add the newsletter to the spam filter. If there are 100 people like this, it wastes space and clutters the mailing list. Let them go.
Involving readers is a great way to build trust and a community. Provide an outlet for encouraging reader feedback in every issue. Invite readers to submit questions and help each other solve problems, share success stories, anything that would encourage them to write and provide information of value to other readers.
Many newsletters offer readers the chance to ask a question and in turn, post the question so other readers can help. Another way is to ask readers a question on the topic of the month and follow up in the next issue with responses. People like to see their names in lights, so it's another way to connect with readers.
Emailing newsletters on a regular schedule with accurate and timely is what it means to demonstrate stability. It's not just about finances, number of years in business, or product success.
Actions are the best way to prove stability. To do this with a newsletter:
- Deliver on a regularly schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly).
- Use a consistent format (it's OK to redesign it when it is for the right reasons).
- Write with a clear and constant voice.
- Include a survey for reader feedback (sometimes change is necessary).
- Respond to reader emails.
Stability shows the company is always available when needed and comes through when the call is sounded.
While finding new clients is essential, staying in touch with current clients is vital because they have used the service and know the quality of the work. They're more likely to buy again as long as you stay in touch. Newsletters are a great way for maintaining customer loyalty while searching for new customers.
High quality newsletters demonstrate value by providing information relevant to the reader; stability by regularly sending the newsletter; and trust by speaking from integrity. While newsletter should focus on the customer not the company, both parties should gain value. As long as the three factors are in place, the newsletter should be a winner.
(c) 2004 Meryl K. Evans
Meryl K. Evans, Content Maven, is Editor-in-Chief of eNewsletter Journal and The Remediator Security Digest. She's a slave to a MarketingProfs weekly column and a Web design reference guide at InformIT. She is the author of the popular e-report, How to Start a Business Blog and Build Traffic. Visit her site at http://www.meryl.net/blog/ for free newsletters, articles, and tips.