Many types of marketing, like traditional advertising, try to get the audience’s attention by interrupting them when they are in the middle of some other activity (watching TV, driving, or shopping). While that can be an effective way to increase awareness about your company, it is more and more difficult to capture the attention of your audience. Newsletter marketing, on the other hand, targets an audience who has specifically asked for information.
At its core, newsletter marketing involves sending useful information to contacts who have signed up to receive it. If we break that down, we see two important factors: value and permission.
The purpose of newsletter marketing is to provide useful information to your audience. You are typically educating subscribers about your industry and services/products. As a landscaper, you might provide helpful information about watering cycles or when to bring in plants for the winter. The point is to provide value without just spamming your audience with promotions or pitches.
This is also where the second key—permission—comes in. Effective newsletter marketing is targeted to an audience who has opted in. They have specifically said that they want to receive your email content. That permission is built on a foundation of trust, and you don’t want to endanger it by filling their inbox with advertising or wasting their time.
Traditional newsletter marketing has been around since before the internet. While some companies do send out physical newsletters in the mail, most use email as their delivery system of choice. In addition to being the current standard, it allows you to track and test your newsletters with ease (and there is no postage). A printed newsletter is still an option for particular audiences or if you want to stand out.
You might be thinking you have no need for newsletter marketing. Your current advertising and outreach might work just fine. But here are a few ways your business can benefit from creating an email newsletter.
If you show up in your audience’s inbox on a regular basis with valuable content, they will start to associate your brand with the products and services you provide. If they look forward to the information you have to share, your name will be the one that pops into their mind when they are ready to buy.
By sending informative, engaging content directly to your audience, you establish yourself as an authority in your space. In addition to associating your company with the industry, they will start to see you as the expert.
In our example of the landscaper from before, newsletter subscribers will begin to trust the landscaper as a resource, not just a service provider. That is where they will send their questions and ultimately, their business.
The content you send in your newsletter will help grow your audience into a more sophisticated and knowledge community. Rather than spend all your time answering the same questions, you can put that information into the newsletter. That way, when a subscriber converts to a customer, they know your process well. They have a better idea what to expect when working with you.
Unless you’re running a non-profit, you need more than a knowledgeable audience. You need some of those individuals to eventually become customers. The newsletter provides an excellent base for building high-quality leads.
From the start, they have pre-selected themselves by raising their hands to say, “Yes, I want information from you.” That means they are engaged and interested. The longer they stick with you, the more comfortable they will be when it comes time to purchase your product or service.
Another great benefit of newsletter marketing is that it does not have to stand on its own. You can incorporate social media links in your content and use the emails as cross-promotions for your other marketing efforts. You can also use social media as a strategy for building your lists.
If you feel that newsletter marketing sounds like a lot of work, there is good news and bad news. The not-quite-as-good news is that it does take effort to put together a solid email marketing strategy. The good news is that much of it can be automated, and it tends to run smoothly once you get over the initial hurdles.
First, you will want to consider what your goals are with your newsletter. Increased sales is typically our end goal, but you want to think more specifically about whether you are wanting to nurture leads, grow your audience, or achieve some other end. That will help you organize your content moving forward.
You also need to have an audience to send your content to. One of the best ways to grow your list is to develop and offer some type of lead magnet. This could be a report about a common issue that clients encounter or useful information that potential customers need. A real estate agent might create a home buyer’s checklist, for example. The lead magnet doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it should be compelling enough to convince visitors to hand over their email address.
In order to keep content going out to your audience on a regular basis, you will want to set up a drip campaign. This is typically evergreen content that your audience will begin receiving once they sign up to be on your list. Once it is organized, a drip campaign can lead your audience through a specific journey that you want them to take.
You will also want to think about important future dates when planning your newsletter calendar. This could mean tailoring your content to the appropriate season or planning ahead to promote a certain product around a holiday.
Finally, remember that newsletter marketing can also be used to make a direct pitch. You want the content to be useful, but you can slip in some promotions on occasion as well. A good general rule is to provide two to three educational emails for every “salesy” email.
There is a lot to consider when crafting a solid newsletter marketing strategy, and it can’t all be distilled into one blog post. Here are a few more tips to ensure that you are heading in the right direction.
Even more than with your website, customers will likely read your newsletter on their phones, so adopt a mobile first strategy for your email content.
Segment your list: As you build your audience, you will want to create separate lists to give you a better idea of how to serve them. (As a Realtor, for example, you might not want to send the same content to sellers and buyers.)
The subject line for an email is like the headline for an article. If you don’t grab their attention immediately, you will likely miss the opportunity to get your content in front of their eyes.
Related: 100+ Email Subject Lines (free eBook)
Most email marketing platforms allow you to perform some A/B testing to find out what subject lines, links, and content work best for your audience, so take advantage of that once your list is large enough to provide a decent sample size.
Experts disagree about whether you should go with a more corporate or personal style in the “from” heading of the email. Consider what might work best for your audience and test some different versions.
Email marketing doesn’t need to be one-sided. You don’t want to feel like you are sending content out into a void, so give your reader something to do. Ask them to send you comments, questions, or feedback. Or provide links to pages on your website that you can track. This will help you know whether your newsletter is effective or not.
Newsletter marketing can feel intimidating at first, but it is a fantastic opportunity to reach your audience and connect with them in a way that isn’t really possible for other marketing strategies. Remember that your audience has invited you into their inbox, so treat that as a privilege and continue building your relationship with them.