Newsletters – humble but effective
There are good reasons why you might consider using a newsletter as a marketing tool.
Increase sales from current customers.
The good old 80/20 rule! For most organisations, 80% of sales come from the ‘top’ 20% of customers. A newsletter is a good way of keeping in touch with that 20% – and the other (often less serviced) 80% – in a non-obtrusive way. If you can segment these two groups, you can target them with different messages, products or services. Remember, customers ‘churn’ so you should be looking for ways to pull customers from the bottom 80%, to replace lost customers from the top 20%.
Educate prospects and customers.
Newsletters are a great vehicle to provide background information about products and services – before you even think about making a sale.
Reduce selling time.
Be confident that you can get in front of all of your customers, regularly, without picking up the phone to each one. And, when you do call them, sales time is reduced – because your customers know more about you (and are better-qualified) than if you were a cold-caller.
E-mail newsletters are highly cost-effective, though they do need to be ‘opt in/out’ to be legal and well-received. The best newsletters do not ‘sell’ – they promote organisations through a demonstration of expertise.
Good newsletters get passed along far more than brochures.
Use a newsletter to demonstrate your skills in particular areas, to set yourself apart from your ‘sell, sell, sell’ competitors.
A few of my customers use newsletters, and, for each, they are a success. Many get comments back, which create new opportunities to talk to customers. Those of my customers which use newsletters tell me that they find them to be a powerful tool in building relationships and maintaining customer contact. (For some, I write the copy, as this ensures that it gets done regularly and doesn’t become a chore.)
Some of the most interesting newsletter content includes:
- helpful business ideas.
- warnings about problems or pitfalls that you can help your customers to avoid.
- news of upcoming events, trade shows or product launches.
- evidence of success of your products or services.
How do you stop your newsletter being spam?
Well, it has to be said that one person’s spam is another’s shopping list. So whether it’s spam is partly up to you. The key is to send it only to those people who ask for it, so make sure you have a good opt-in and opt-out process. Make sure that the content is worth having – if it’s a ‘hard-sell’ e-mail, it simply goes in the trash. My experience is that good, informative newsletters do work – and work well.
So what about the legal stuff?
What does an e-mail newsletter need to contain to ensure that it’s not illegal spam? Simple:
- It needs to be solicited, not unsolicited.
- It needs to contain a postal address.
- It needs to contain an easy-to-use opt-out/unsubscribe process.
- It needs to come from a real (not spoofed or misleading) e-mail address.