What You Need for a Winning e-Newsletter (e-Newsletter 101 for Small Businesses)

po2c-newsThinking about starting an email newsletter (sometimes called an e-newsletter or e-zine)…or deliberating if the one you have is worth your efforts? Before you decide, you should understand why e-newsletters have become essential to successful small businesses and solo-preneurs.

Consider: When potential customers opt-in and provide you with their email address, they become an integral part of your marketing list, allowing you to market to them.

That’s the first critical step in building valuable relationships with people who really want to hear from you…making an e-newsletter an excellent vehicle for delivering your ongoing message.

Plus, there is continuing value to an e-newsletter. The informative infographic from iContact shows how e-newsletters can help you get potential customers to convert to buyers as well as get existing customers to buy from you again.

e-Newsletters also provide a unique opportunity to connect one-on-one with people who are your target prospects and buyers. When these communications are done right, they can help “… portray your business as an industry leader.”

They’re popular with good reason. David Kandler says it’s because they’re inexpensive and immediate.

What’s the real strategy behind an e-newsletter?

A newsletter is a way to give your readers a deeper insight into YOU and your brand/image/blog. They provide additional content, completely separate from your RSS feed or a blog.

When people subscribe to your newsletter, they are giving you permission to email them which will allow you to cultivate:

  • A deeper and more meaningful, one-on-one connection with them (unlike a more general blog post)
  • An ongoing connection that never goes away
  • An email list that’s like money in the bank…because it adds to your value proposition

Why does every small business need an e-newsletter?

Rich Brooks says that an e-newsletter is “…the sharpest tool in your Web marketing toolbox” and provides 7 reasons you need one:

  1. It complements your website. It keeps your message in front of your audience on a regular basis.
  2. It’s cost-effective. Okay. It’s free.
  3. It’s interactive. Just a click on an e-newsletter link takes people directly to your website, your blog, a PDF, a video, a sound clip, or any document on the Web.
  4. It’s easy to test its effectiveness. Depending on the program you use to send your e-newsletters out, you can track what’s being clicked and what’s not. You can use these metrics to help you determine what people are interested in, what moves them and what’s on the top of their mind. You can then use this information to market to them in a more strategic way. We use InfusionSoft because we love the information it gives us.
  5. It encourages buzz (and boosts your subscriber base). You’ll get free word-of-mouth advertising as soon as subscribers forward their e-newsletters to friends and associates. This puts you in touch with people you might not have reached any other way.
  6. It reaches your best customers. They’re ready and waiting to find out when your next book or new product is coming out or when you’re speaking.
  7. It has virtually no limits. With formatted text, embedded images and even polls and surveys, you’re not limited to boring plain text. You can include forms, multi-media and other marketing tools directly to your subscribers’ in-boxes any time of the day or night, no matter where they are in the world.

What’s the best way to make sure your e-newsletter gets open and read?

In Web Marketing for Dummies, Jan Zimmerman discusses the best ways to optimize your email click-through rate (CTR) and comply with the federal CAN-SPAM Act (that requires businesses to get permission to send their email).

To conform to regulations, your e-newsletters must:

  • Include your company’s street address or P.O. box and phone number.
  • Include a link to unsubscribe or opt out with a single click.
  • Provide a link to your privacy policy. (Don’t share your lists with a third party unless you give notice to subscribers and obtain consent from them.)

It’s a good idea to send a welcome message to subscribers, only send your e-newsletter to subscribers who’ve agreed to receive it, provide a direct link to a Subscribe page for people who’ve received a forward, post samples of your e-newsletters (and back issues) on your website, post links to your e-newsletters on your social media pages, and save testimonials that praise your e-newsletters.

Plus, for user-friendly e-newsletters, you should also:

  • Proofread everything, including the From and Subject lines, and test all links
  • Send preview copies of both HTML and text copies to yourself and others
  • Tell people how often the newsletter will arrive and when
  • Provide a place for subscribers to indicate their name, areas of interest, job title, or type of newsletter they want, especially if you have more than one newsletter. (For example, some readers might be interested in events or new products; others in sales or discounts.)
  • Require only a few fields in this subscriber profile. A sign-up form that’s too long discourages subscribers
  •  Include a link that allows subscribers to change their profiles easily and quickly

Email Monks provides a handy infographic-style overview on how to make sure your e-newsletter gets to your prospects and customers and that it’s opened and read time and time again.

Do you have a plan for delivering great content regularly over the next year? If not and you could use some help with design or creating regular content, check out some of the newsletters we’ve created for clients and if you like what you see, get in touch. We like that!

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