Pound for pound — it’s tough to beat what a good, consistent electronic newsletter (i.e., enewsletter) can do for your business.
This isn’t just my experience, either. Recent industry surveys have shown eye-catching results for companies who strategically use this tool:
- Increased Sales: A 20 percent increase in leads that convert to sales (DemandGen Report)
- Lowered Costs: A 50 percent jump in sales-ready leads and a concurrent 33 percent drop in costs (Forrester Research)
- Higher Price Points: Increased average purchase price by 47 percent (Annuitas Group)
- Trust: Finally, 96 percent of CEO's consider email newsletters valuable for their information consumption (according to CEO.com)
Now, notice I that I said you need to start a “good” enewsletter. How do you do that? In my experience, there are some basic things that separate the good from the bad:
(1) Be Interesting
I put this first because it’s the most egregious mistake companies make. They assume that because they are a corporation that they need to engage in “corporate” speak in their e-newsletters. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you’re going to start — or improve an existing newsletter — your goal is to build trust and relationships, not put people to sleep. Your audience is probably made up of executives and decision makers who are bombarded everyday with “corporate speak” messages from their own company and the legal department. This is your opportunity to stand out. Take it.
Helpful Tip: Think about assigning one person in your company to serve as the “face” of the newsletter. You don’t build relationships with corporations — you build them with people.
(2) Is Your Software Up to the Task?
Normally I wouldn’t get too caught up in software recommendations. But when it comes to building and nurturing something as important as your house list I’ve seen companies derailed by their current software packages. The take-home point here is that if you're going to get serious about leveraging the power of e-newsletter, make sure your software is up to the task.
Points to Consider: Does your software enable you to personalize your newsletter messages? How about email subject lines? Does it allow you to send your message in various formats (many email providers still block images that are used in HTML messages)? Can you also integrate autoresponder sequences?
(3) Get to the Point
One of the hallmark sins of newsletters is taking too long to get to the point. Your audience will read your newsletter (and build a trusting relationship with you) if you provide them with valuable information. Do that right off the bat.
Spending the first hundred words parroting your company’s mission statement or some arcane legal warning will be a deal killer for your reader. Ideally they open the enewsletter and see a professional masthead with a benefit statement in it explaining and reminding them why they are reading. Then, get right into the content.
Helpful Tip: It’s hard to beat the professionals — but if you decide to write your own e-newsletter, try to write your first draft without editing. You can go back and do that later. When you do, you’ll probably find you can cut the first paragraph or two, where you were doing some “throat clearing.”
(4) Avoid the War and Peace Mentality
Your readers are a lot like you: busy. A good e-newsletter should be no more than a thousand words. Probably less. It’s also a good idea to break it up into short sections. There is a little bit of art vs. science involved here, but you’re better off being too short rather than too long.
(5) Engage Your Audience
According to a DemandGen/SilverPop report, e-newsletter increase response rates 4 to 10 times those of regular email “blasts.” Here’s some ways I’ve seen engagement increase:
- State Your Stance — Then ask questions. Actually, often times simply stating how you feel about a subject is enough to engage your audience. They’ll often respond without your prompting.
- Don’t Hide — At the bottom of your newsletter you can put something as simple as an email address for responses with a simple statement like: “Have any thoughts on this newsletter? Let me know at (insert your email address).”
(6) Display Your Value (Not Your Products)
Your prospects and customers should feel that your enewsletter provides them with value. Does it help them solve problems? Does it share things with them that will help their particular situation?
It’s fine to talk about your products from time to time. But you should never be the focal point of your newsletter. Ask yourself, “Is this content helpful and of value to my reader?” If you can answer “yes” to that, you’re doing great.
In terms of importance and effectiveness, getting your enewsletter in front of your readers on a regular basis is trumped only by being interesting. It’s that important.
Consistency matters. If you’re not in your reader’s inbox on a regular basis they’ll forget about you because they think you’ve forgotten about them. Trust will be lost and relationships will not be built. Commit to a schedule that’s realistic for you, but no less than once a month. If you want to reap the rewards of an enewsletter commit steadfastly to this.
eNewsletters Critical to Your Growth
The numbers I shared above tell a clear, compelling story. If you want to start using the power of the internet to grow your revenues, lower costs and leverage relationships and trust with your customers — then an electronic newsletter is a tool you must be using.
About the author
Curtis M. Alexander is a Business Growth Strategist who helps industrial and manufacturing companies increase profits and strengthen market position. Curtis publishes Gaining Ground, a free monthly enewsletter for industrial and manufacturing executives that shares practical and proven strategies for growth. Sign up at www.curtismalexander.com.