Done properly, email newsletters can transform subscribers into enthusiasts -- people who look forward to opening and saving your emails. These enthusiasts act and interact with you in a number of ways: They pass content onto others; trust what you write; and respond to your advice, offers, recommendations and promotions.
What’s more, with email reaching more than 90 percent of Internet users, email newsletters will continue to be one of the most popular and effective ways to communicate with prospects and customers. Why? It’s affordable. It's targeted. And with a smart plan to get you from start to finish, it's highly effective.
A Valuable Customer Loyalty Tool
Experienced marketers agree, busineses of all sizes gain from well-planned and executed email newsletters -- they are one of the most popular forms of email marketing, distributed by individual consultants, small- and mid-sized businesses and large institutions.
Because of that popularity, it's important to carefully plan this valuable customer relationship tool up front and use its three powerful advantages in creating and nurturing relationships.
First and foremost, email newsletters create loyalty. Visitors to your site or blog may come and go, but newsletters push content to users on a regular schedule, creating predictability and consistency.
They help build credibility and trust. When you take the time to create content that is relevant to your audience, it positions your organization in the minds of recipients as serious, credible and helpful.
Email newsletters create a sense of community: A reader who views and follows your content does so knowing they are part of a larger group where the knowledge gained can be put to use.
Head for Lead Generation
An email newsletter often has goals that are distinct from promotional email campaigns, which are intended to drive direct and immediate sales. The newsletter tends to focus on customer retention and lead generation by providing relevant content to a targeted audience on a regular basis. Yet, there are many exceptions, and the goals of an email newsletter can be multifaceted. As with any marketing activity, without explicitly identifying a goal, you will have little on which to measure its success.
Clarifying what you want to achieve will help identify your audience. Are you speaking to customers? Prospects? People who have browsed your Web site? Your in-house email list? Understanding your goals and target audience is the first step in planning your email newsletter. Often, you may find you need more than one to meet the needs of varying segments.
Potential goals may include the following:
- Establish relationships with prospects
- Acquire new customers
- Build a following for your content
- Convert email lists into active leads
- Develop relationships and retain existing customers
- Position your company as an expert
- Educate or inform customers about products and usage
- Drive traffic to your Web site or social media outlets
- Gain advertising revenue
- Generate direct sales
Planning Your Email Newsletter
No matter what specific goals you have for your email newsletter, to be successful, you need a plan. Outline your goals and the steps that need to be completed, as well as who will be responsible for each item. The following is a short list of steps:
- build your distribution list
- design your newsletter
- develop content
- test and implement and
- measure results.
You also need to consider cost, which is a common misconception about email newsletters. It’s true that an email newsletter is one of the lowest cost forms of marketing, but it’s not entirely free. In addition to the cost of your ESP (Email Service Provider) you should plan for design time, Web site changes, list-building activities and content development.
So get started the right way. Choose an appropriate goal and savvy strategy, and you can send smart email newsletters that will build loyalty with customers and create new relationships with prospects – more cost-efficiently than ever before.
Becky Repka is marketing manager of StreamSend Email Marketing, a provider of email marketing solutions. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org