Setting up an email newsletter for success

4 minute read

While a few businesses still send out printed
newsletters by snail mail, most entrepreneurs prefer reaching their client base
through email. Not only is an electronic newsletter much less expensive and
time consuming, it’s easier to produce and you can add links to your website.
It’s a great way to promote to a dedicated group of readers.

Advantages
of a newsletter

As a small business owner, you need to find as many
avenues to promote as you can. For that reason, even if you have a thriving
blog, you should also create a newsletter campaign, as it gives you an
opportunity to reach out to your readers again, giving them a new slant on your
message. You might also expand your readership as some prefer newsletters to
blogs.

In addition, newsletters allow for added control. For
instance, you can monitor who’s reading your content, which links they click on,
and sometimes which articles they share. With these statistics you can write articles
your client base will read and enjoy.

Also, when people start subscribing, you can easily
collect their email addresses. You can use these to contact people on a more
personal level. To that end, it’s a good idea to segment your list, sending out
different campaigns to select people, depending on their interests.

For instance, if you deliver seminars on a variety of
topics, it would be natural to segment your list by lecture subjects. Or if you
run summer camps for children of all ages, you might segment your newsletters
by the age bracket of the children. Depending on your client’s needs, you can
segment by demographics, educational background of your reader, interests or
anything else you like.

Write
compelling content

People subscribe to your newsletter because they
expect to gain knowledge on a subject in which you are expert. You need to
satisfy this need and do so extremely well. Find out what your readers’ top
questions are and answer them. Do your best to solve their problems. Your
articles should be relevant to your line of work, but be careful not to advertise
your business too heavily. Be subtle.

If you are able, create unique content. Avoid
rehashing subjects already splattered elsewhere on the internet, unless you
have a fresh outlook on the subject.

The trick is to write content that others will copy!

Keep in mind that people’s attention spans are
usually quite limited. If you use subheading, italics and bullet points, it
will draw their attention to the important points rapidly. Your busy readers
will thank you. Also avoid long sentences and paragraphs.

It’s fine for a paragraph to be a single sentence!

If you have trouble writing (or can’t seem to find
the time to do so), consider hiring a ghostwriter to help you. If you can’t
afford one, at least hire a proofreader to find those pesky typos. It’s tough
for readers to forgive too many grammatical errors.

Attracting
new subscribers

Remember, even if your email newsletters are
brilliantly written, witty and informative, they won’t be of any help to you if
no one reads them. You need a large readership to be effective.

Here are some easy tips to collect subscribers:

  • Include an
    opt-in link wherever you can. Paste it into your personal email signature, both
    for new messages and outgoing replies, blog articles, guest blog articles, etc.
  • Promote through
    all your social media sites.
  • If you are face
    to face with a potential subscriber, Invite people to sign up using your
    personal tablet or laptop.
  • If you have a brick
    and mortar building or frequently work trade shows, create a sign-up sheet for
    your newsletter. Some put out a fishbowl to collect business cards, letting
    them know that you’ll sign them up.
  • If you ship
    products, include an invitation to sign up with every package you send out.
    Note: If you sell through internet stores, such as amazon.com, be sure to read
    the fine print. Some have strict policies against this.

And here are some more creative, guerilla marketing
approaches:

  • Create a unique
    event and offer a door prize for everyone who signs up for your newsletter.
  • Offer some sort
    of reward for subscribing. (It could be a free eBook, a one-time discount on
    services, etc.)
  • Give rewards to customers
    and employees who gather opt-in email addresses.
  • Create a fun
    inviting YouTube video which encourages people to sign up to your newsletter.

Preserve
and improve your email list

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of our country’s most
recognizable landmarks. Its caretakers don’t paint it once every few years, but
keep up with maintenance every day. It’s the only way to make sure our
beautiful bridge doesn’t deteriorate.

As a small business owner, you also need to keep up
with routine maintenance on your prized possession, your customer contact list,
protecting it from expected erosion. According to MarketingSherpa, a marketing
research company, you should expect your email list to deteriorate by 25% per
year.

Over time, your readers might change their email
addresses, or perhaps they made an error when typing it in. These would produce
a hard bounce, which means the email
address is invalid. These should be removed immediately.

You might also collect soft bounces, if there is a server error. This can also happen if
someone goes over their quota. Most newsletter services will continue trying to
send your email to a soft bounce address over a period of three days. Only
remove soft bounces if soft bounces occur to the same address three to five
times.

It’s very important to avoid high bounce rates. They
affect your reputation as a sender, which means your newsletters could wind up
in your readers’ spam folder. Of course, having too many soft and hard bounces
negatively affects your deliver rate.

There are a few things you can do to improve your
bounce rate:

  • Include an
    unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.
  • Invite readers
    to update their profile, so that you have the best email for them.
  • Use a verified
    opt-in process. With this technique, a new subscriber must confirm their address
    through a link sent to them using the specified email address.
  • Collect phone
    numbers or physical addresses for your subscribers, so you can follow up with
    them if there is a hard or series of soft bounces. Spend the time to prune the
    hard bounces out of your list and monitor the soft ones.

There’s an art form in creating a good newsletter
that people will read and forward to their friends. If you find a style that
fits you and your business, giving your client base information they can really
use, you’ll continue to increase your readership and your business should
naturally expand.