Ever since e-mail became a mainstay for business communications, services such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, iContact and InfusionSoft have popped up to provide e-mail marketing campaigns to businesses. Many businesses use newsletters to stay connected to their clients, potential clients, vendors, suppliers and employees.
First, let's examine the purpose of the newsletter. My marketing coach, Denise Hedges from Business BreakThrough Institute, taught me to create what she calls a marketing train program, where active marketing is the head of a train that consists of three cars:
Active marketing. Active marketing involves programs that allow you to be in front of your target clients and customers. For example, my business markets to women business owners. Therefore, my active marketing programs consist of speaking engagements, quarterly business retreats, teaching classes, strategic relationship building and networking with women business owner associations. This allows me to stay in front of my target clients in the most effective way.
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Passive Marketing. Passive marketing involves little interaction but is a great resource for someone who is searching for information. In my business, examples include books, websites, brochures, manuals, this column for Womenentreprenur.com, articles, blogs, etc. These are reference materials that stay passive. The important part of passive marketing is becoming an expert in your industry so you stand out and take the leadership position.
Follow-up. This is where your newsletter comes in. It allows you to follow up consistently and stay in front of your target clients. We use ConstantContact to e-mail our Journal of Value Growth on a Monthly Basis.
If you're using a system such as Constant Contact, you'll know your average open rate for your newsletter and what the click rate is. Monitoring your performance is crucial to seeing if your content is being read. On average, we have about a 28 percent open rate and a 15 percent click rate. We've sustained this rate for a period of time.
But what makes a good newsletter? Remember, it's all about them, not you. I believe there should be three components in each newsletter:
Tips for your reader. You can provide three to five tips to help your readers grow their businesses. I prefer three tips. Each tip should be short--two sentences at the most. Something simple, short and ready to use. Leave it like that without any more explanation. For example, "If you want to make more money for you and your business, suspend your limited beliefs about money."
Successful sample of your tips. I love to give examples by using real-life experiences. In my monthly newsletter, business owners can see how other businesses apply and implement certain strategies or tips.
Call to action. Include a call to action either to implement what you suggested or to give you a call for further information. A newsletter by nature is meant to be a follow-up. If there is no call to action, there is no action from the newsletter.
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Of course, there are other things you want to include in your newsletter--items I prefer to put on the right-hand side.
2) Special events, articles published, blog links
3) Social media links
If you're thinking about doing a newsletter or are already doing one, do it consistently. Many of my clients look forward to my newsletter because there is always something they can learn or be inspired by.
But not everyone can write or wants to write. Therefore, before you decide to implement the newsletter, make sure you have a team that can help you. For example, I have an editor on staff to go through all outgoing communications. I often brainstorm with her what topics to write about or which ones to recycle. This applies to blogging, as well.
Producing a newsletter consistently shows your commitment. Many of my business colleagues do it weekly. We don't have the capacity for a weekly newsletter, so we do it monthly. If you don't have the internal resources to create a newsletter, hire a professional writer or editor who is familiar with your industry. In many industries, you can also buy a joint newsletter service that will do all the writing and e-mailing.
If you don't stay in front of your existing clients, they become your competitors' best prospects. It's your call.