By Winmark Business Solutions
Due to their low cost, flexible designs and quick production time, enewsletters have become the most effective email marketing tool for businesses of every size. You don't need to be a big company or have a large subscriber list to create an effective e-newsletter, as part of your Internet marketing strategy.
Enewsletters are a great way to build strong, long-term relationships by communicating with prospective and ongoing customers each month. For many companies, it may be more effective to create separate multiple newsletters targeted at unique audiences in order to provide the most relevant content possible.
For example, an enewsletter focused at prospective customers may be very different than a newsletter for existing customers. Also, companies that provide products and services for multiple industries may wish to create unique newsletters for each of the top industries they serve.
Enewsletters are often designed around a lead article (the longest and most detailed in the issue) that relates to an important aspect of your business. Good topics for lead articles include the announcement of a new product or service, industry trends or problem-solving tips.
In addition to a lead article, enewsletters generally include a handful of headlines with a hyperlink and short descriptions. These generally promote larger topics that can be explored in more detail on your Web site or a recommended Web site. Here are some tips for a launching a successful enewsletter:
- Keep articles brief — Online readers are typically looking for information that is quick and easy to read. If you want to provide articles with more than 8 to 10 paragraphs, consider a shorter article that can be used as a teaser that links to longer articles on your Web site. Subscribers receiving electronic newsletters are typically looking for material that is quick and easy to read. Or consider the longer article for a printed newsletter, since it's easier to read long content offline.
- Serve the subscriber — Enewsletters should not be treated as a sales brochure. For an enewsletter to be effective, it needs to serve the needs of the subscriber first. Enewsletters should demonstrate your company's broad understanding of the customer and its expertise within the industry. Your products and services can be mentioned periodically or tangentially in some issues.
- Become a subscriber — The best way to generate a good enewsletter is to be an active subscriber of enewsletters. Subscribe to enewsletters related to your interests, your company's industry and for related industries. Make note of enewsletter designs, features, topics and formats that you like and apply these lessons to your own enewsletter.
- Don't send an enewsletter as an email attachment — ISPs are likely to block enewsletters from subscribers if they are delivered as attachments — particularly if the file size of the attachment is large. Attachments also require readers to take an additional step before reading the newsletter.
- Evaluate the open rate — Use a bulk email service for sending your enewsletter that can track the open rate of individual articles. Use the open rate for each article to determine the interests of subscribers. Then, give them what they want!
- Survey readers — It's a good idea to survey subscribers periodically to determine their level of satisfaction. Invite readers to suggest topics and newsletter features. Have them evaluate the relevance, frequency, and overall design of the newsletter. Use survey information to improve e-newsletter content.
Enewsletters offer a high level of measurability and cost-effectiveness. Successful enewsletters gather open rates that are much higher than typical email promotions. Open rates of 30-40 percent are common — and open rates above 60 percent are not impossible.
The benefits of a successful enewsletter are numerous — it enhances your company's reputation, generates leads and improves your company's relationship with existing clients.
About the Author
Winmark Business Solutions (WBS) is a free Web site for small businesses and entrepreneurs containing over 6,000 pages of business-critical information and downloadable tools at www.WBSonline.com. WBS is a division of Winmark Corporation, a multi-brand franchisor with nearly 900 franchise locations in North America. With over 25 years working with small businesses, WBS draws upon years of experience to bring important small business articles, information, tools, forms, checklists, calculators and downloadable forms to the small business owner to help their business grow. WBS contains over 6000 pages of business-critical information all available at www.WBSonline.com.