You’ve launched your web site. You’ve implemented a public relations campaign and spent oodles of money advertising in trade journals, magazines and newspapers. But your site’s daily visitors are still in single digits and your sales are…well let’s just say that early retirement is no longer an option.
Perhaps it’s time to try email marketing. Or, to be specific, an email newsletter. After all, they require minimal effort to produce, and are proven to increase sales.
Of course, there are many other reasons why email newsletters make good business sense. Here’s just a few of them:
- You can create a marketing campaign on a shoestring budget.
- You can measure the results and find out what works and what doesn’t.
- You can build a personal relationship with a large group of people.
- Your subscribers pick YOU when they opt-in to your list.
- You can track customer behavior.
- You can collect user information for specific, targeted campaigns…the list goes on and on.
So what are you waiting for. It’s time to take the next step and put the power of email newsletters to work for you.
Starting Your Email Newsletter Campaign
Before you start any type of marketing or advertising campaign, you need a plan. This is equally true for email newsletters. You don’t have to put together a 200-plus page document outlining all your goals and objectives, but you do need to define some basics before you begin.
- Get to know your audience. It’s not enough to say, “they’re people who like widgets”. Take your cue from magazine publishers. They know exactly who their target audience is, how much money they earn, what social group they fit into and what motivates them to buy. Find out who your customers are, then tailor your newsletter around their needs and desires.
- Check out your competition. Yes, you do have competition. Find out what they’re doing by investing some time to research their product or service. What could you do better? Is there a gap in their service you could fill?
- Identify your newsletter’s purpose. What do you hope to achieve with your newsletter. Do you want to give your subscribers information about your product to help them make purchasing decisions? If so, you must first help them find out more about your product by letting them see how it can make them smarter, healthier, wealthier, or more successful. Or do you want to position yourself as an expert in your field? Your goal here is to provide your subscribers with well-written articles that address issues in your industry. Whatever your objectives, your strategy must focus on your goals.
Now you know what you want your campaign to achieve, it’s time to start thinking about content. This is usually where the faint hearted run for cover. Fear not. Creating content isn’t as difficult as it first appears. Below are different methods you can employ to keep your newsletter content fresh, relevant and on target.
- Write it yourself. By far the cheapest approach in the long term is to write it yourself. If you enjoy writing and if you have lots of ideas for content, then this may be the best option. Only you can decide.
- Hire Writers to Write for You. If you’re not comfortable writing content yourself, you may want to consider hiring a professional writer to write it for you. There are plenty of freelance writers who specialize in writing newsletter articles. You’ll find several at http://www.freelancewriting.com/
- Get Content from Online Article Directories. A low-cost option is to get content from article directories, such as Ideamarketers.com, Goarticles.com, Articlecity.com and Ezinez.com. Articles posted on these sites are generally free, as long as you include the writer’s byline when you publish.
Design your template
Just as a magazine has a certain look that will appeal to their subscribers, so must your email newsletter. Decide on a template design and stick with it so your subscribers know what to expect with each issue. Think about how magazines and newspapers have regular columns in each issue. Split your newsletter into bite sized pieces so the content is easier for readers to digest.
HTML or Plain Text? It’s really a matter of personal preference, and what you think will most appeal to your readers. The jury is still out on whether one sells better than the other, but if in doubt offer two lists: one in plain text and one in HTML. Then let your subscribers decide.
Ready, Set, GO
You’ve defined your objectives, secured your content and designed your newsletter. Now all you need to do is put it together and launch it to your customers. For this you need a mailing list. Begin with your own in-house list-made up of people who have specifically requested to receive information from you. Set up a sign-up form on every page of your web site, advertise your newsletter in online ezine directories or in other newsletters, and announce your newsletter in your signature file–the tagline that is, or should be, attached to every email you send.
However you choose to build your list, don’t ever, ever become a spammer. Never send your newsletter to anyone who hasn’t specifically requested to receive it. Remember, Can-spam regulations require every marketing email to include an opt-out provision and a valid physical address. If you ignore these rules, you do so at your own risk.
Email newsletters, are possibly one of the most effective marketing tools available to online businesses. Exploit this opportunity and you’re almost guaranteed to pull targeted customers to your site, create demand for your product, gather customer data and secure your company’s success.