Effective email newsletters

Email is still one of the most effective forms of marketing for small businesses -- and it’s affordable too! Understand what goes into an email newsletter and when you should send it for best results.

A great marketing tool for staying at the top of consumers’ minds is the email newsletter. By providing interesting and useful articles, you’re building trust with your contacts. Even if they’re not ready to buy from you today, you will be the first they think of when they are ready to buy.

What to Include in Your Newsletter

A good newsletter has a few basic components:

  • Introduction letter (from CEO or head of company or department)
  • Article
  • Quick tips
  • Special offer

Your letter may update subscribers on news at your company, or may talk about an interesting topic the President has in mind. The article should be relevant to your subscribers and useful. Think about the problems they have, and write about a solution. If you sell tents, write about how to keep warm when camping in the desert. Good article styles include how to’s and commonly asked questions, so search online to get topic ideas.

The quick tips section should relate to the article, but provide easy-to-skim suggestions. If we stick to the camping theme, the quick tips might be a list of things to pack for a camping trip to the desert. The special offer should be something you offer exclusively to email subscribers. Put an expiration date on it so that they act fast to take advantage of it.

How to Create a Newsletter

There are many email marketing service providers offering affordable DIY newsletter services, like Constant Contact and Emma. Prices are low (and sometimes free if you don’t have many contacts to email), and are charged monthly.

These services offer simple-to-modify templates that allow you to change the color, insert your logo and write your articles. You can also add and manage your contacts, as well as check out the analytics for a given mailing to see how successful it was.

Build Your List

You’ve got your newsletter designed, but who will you send it to? Start with the contacts you have, which may include past customers and contacts you’ve met at trade shows and networking events.

Add a subscription box to your web page so people can easily sign up. Create an enticing call to action for the box, such as “Get your free ebook, ‘10 Best Campsites in the World,’ when you sign up for our emails!”

Make sure to follow the CAN SPAM regulations and only add people who have opted in to get your emails to your list. If you have a stack of business cards, you can input their addresses and send an email asking if it’s ok to add them to your list. Always give subscribers an easy way to unsubscribe if they choose. Most email marketing systems have this built in.

Schedule Your Email

Studies show that the best time to send your email newsletter is Tuesday through Thursday, especially if you’re sending it to people’s work emails. The rationale is that people cut out early on Friday, so they’re not around to get your fresh newsletter, and on Monday, their inboxes are so full, your email may get trashed before they’ve read it. Aim for distribution between 10 and 1 pm local time. You can play around with days and times by looking at your email analytics, which show you the open rate (what percent of people you sent it to actually opened it) and forward rate (if they sent it to a friend). Find the time that gets the best open rate.

How Often to Send

Send your email newsletter once a month. You can also send a second email about two weeks later with a special promotion or news about your company. Send more emails than this and you risk annoying people. Send fewer, and they may forget you. The goal is to be there just enough to get that mindshare that will result in them thinking of you when they need your product or service.

Tie your email marketing campaign in with other marketing components, such as social media. Invite your followers to sign up for emails in exchange for a coupon or free ebook, as mentioned above. Include a sign-up tab on your Facebook Page to increase subscribers even more.

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