For some small businesses newsletters are a big question mark. Are they worth the effort? Can they really help you grow your business?
Granted, email newsletters can be a huge time suck for busy small business owners. But that’s no reason why you shouldn’t use them to keep in touch and build relationships with your current and potential customers.
So if you’re asking yourself whether newsletters make sense for your business, also ask yourself this: do your prospects want to hear from you in their inbox?
If your emails are filled with great information and resources that can help your audience solve a problem, then don’t think twice about getting started with email newsletters.
But before we get into why and how newsletters can be an asset for your small business, it’s important to first make the distinction between email newsletters and email marketing.
Is email marketing the same as email newsletters?
While newsletters can be part of an overall email marketing strategy, they’re not the same thing as the goal is different.
Email marketing refers mostly to promotional messages and content sent to subscribers with the intent of making a sale, either immediately or in the future.
While newsletters may also have the same ultimate goal of selling a product or a service, its main purpose is to inform, educate and engage. They’re an effective way to keep your business’s name in front of your target audience, but in a friendlier, non-sales manner.
So, if you’re sending newsletters, make sure they’re filled with news and information that your subscribers care about.
So what is a newsletter for?
Here is how a newsletter can be an asset for your small business:
It keeps your business top of mind
We’re addicted to emails. So addicted that more than half of us can’t even use the bathroom or watch TV without checking our inbox, according to findings from Adobe’s annual email survey.
So if you have a mailing list and you know your audience has an inbox they are checking regularly, why not put yourself in their inbox?
Email newsletters help ensure that your audience doesn’t forget about you, and it keeps your business in front of them until they’re ready to buy.
Pro tip: No matter what business you’re in, pay attention to email frequency. Some newsletters are sent daily in very active industries, while others with fewer updates or slower activity may choose a weekly or monthly schedule. It all depends on how often news or updates occur. In this blog post you’ll find some great tips to help you decide the optimal send frequency for your business and audience.
It helps keep customers informed, educated and entertained
Imagine you’re launching a fantastic ebook you’ve worked on for months, and you want to let your audience know about it. How do you go about it?
Do you blog about it, share the news in a post on Facebook or Twitter, and hope it reaches your audience?
Or do you send a newsletter to your mailing list where you tell them all about your ebook, and how it can help them get smarter, wealthier or healthier?
Sure, you can do both, but a newsletter is sure to be more effective. Why? Because everyone on your mailing list is there because they want to hear from you.
In fact, they signed up because they expect you to:
- Entertain them. With so much time spent in front of computers or on smartphones, it’s nice when some of that time can be spent being entertained with some good email content. That content can be anything from a fun interview to a video or a quiz.
- Educate them. A sure way to turn subscribers into loyal readers of your newsletters (and ultimately loyal customers) is to give them the information they’re looking for. If you answer their questions and concerns, and if your expertise can help solve their problems, you’re not only building trust but you’re also a step closer to turning them into customers.
- Keep them up-to-date. There are users who will subscribe to newsletters that promise to give them the inside scoop and an edge over their friends, colleagues or competitors. If you make that promise in your sign up request, make sure you keep it.
If you manage to achieve one or more of these goals with your newsletters, you’re already ahead of your competition.
It allows you to reach the right audience
What makes an email newsletter so effective is the fact that it’s hyper-personalised and targeted. That means that you can send a newsletter to hundreds of subscribers, and still be able to personalise your message.
With other channels like social media networks, targeting can be rather limited. But not with emails.
An email newsletter can be highly targeted and personalised down to an individual level. For example, with the 123 Reg email service you can segment your subscribers list based on different factors like age, location, or the specific needs or interests of recipients.
Say you’re a personal stylist and you’ve just published a guide on summer trends and must haves for women. Of course you’re going to want to email it to your female subscribers. So the next step is to segment your list to only send your guide to women subscribers.
Your audience will appreciate the personal touch and be more inspired to interact with you.
It builds trust and creates lasting relationships
With a strong email newsletter strategy, you have the opportunity to become the local news presenter everyone is excited to see. With useful advice and the latest information, you can draw your audience in with your engaging personality and then build trust so subscribers look forward to hearing from you.
But for your audience to be engaged, you need to pay attention to the content you include in your newsletters. You can’t bombard subscribers with emails about everything under the sun, ignoring whether the topic is of interest to them, and then expect them to stay hooked.
To be effective, your newsletters should be:
- Interesting. Don’t let your newsletters be more clutter in your recipients’ inboxes. Make readers feel fortunate to have received something informative and entertaining from you.
- Valuable. Subscribers should be enthusiastic to receive and consume the content you provide. So make sure your newsletters are filled with information they can use and enjoy.
- Relevant. If your email isn’t pertinent to them, don’t be surprised when they delete it. Your emails should matter to your recipients, and speak to their unique pain points.
- Non-salesy. If you encourage people to subscribe by promising access to weekly newsletters filled with guides and useful information, and then jump into a sales pitch in every email, you’re doing it wrong. Not only will they unsubscribe but you’ll also lose their trust for good.
You can find out what your audience wants
Email newsletters aren’t just great for sharing advice and knowledge. They can also be a fantastic source of analytics data that can help you determine what your audience really wants from you.
For example, you can find out which topics recipients click to open, which generate little to no interest, how much time they spend reading a blog post etc.
Use what you uncover to then make changes and improve the quality of your newsletters.
You can get access to this data either from your email service dashboard or from Google Analytics.
Take our free online course to learn how to use Google Analytics to track your email results.
How to get started
Convinced? Here’s how you can start your own newsletter:
- Take our free Online Business Training course on email marketing. You’ll learn how to send your newsletter emails and analyse the results.
- Have sign-up forms throughout your website and blog. Here’s a simple example:
- Entice people to sign up by offering a free report, an exclusive recipe or guide.
- Use a tool like the 123 Reg email marketing service which includes the ability to manage your subscribers list and get information on the success of your newsletters.
After you start your newsletter, you’ll want to start building your subscribers list. This guide walks you through the basics of getting started with building your first email list, plus a few strategies to get more people to sign up.
What to write about
Here are a few content ideas for your business newsletter:
- Surveys and statistics – Lots of people find customer surveys or industry related statistics interesting, so try sharing them in your newsletters.
- News and updates on your business – Newsletters are ideal for sharing news and stories about the success of your business (like awards and nominations) and anything exciting that happens inside your company like fun events, business anniversaries etc. For a bigger impact, make sure you also include some photos with your stories.
- Blog posts – If you have a blog that is updated on a regular basis, this makes great content for your newsletters. Log into your Google Analytics account and see which are the most popular posts throughout the month, and then share them with your subscribers.
- Quizzes – Many of us enjoy taking quizzes so why not take advantage and create a fun one for your subscribers? Make sure it’s related to your business so you can then use the results for future content creation.
- Interviews – Interview one or more industry experts and you’ll have the perfect material for your next newsletter.
- Case studies – People enjoy seeing examples of how your products or services work in real life. For better results, make sure to also add visual content like videos and photos.
- FAQs – Pick one question you often get asked by customers and provide a more detailed answer in your newsletter.
- New products or services – This is self-explanatory but make sure to let your subscribers know whenever you launch a new product or service, or add an exciting new feature.
To sum up, the best reasons to use email newsletters: they’re simple, powerful and inexpensive.
When you can keep your business top of mind and build a trusting, long lasting relationship with your audience without breaking the bank, it’s something you need to consider implementing.
Are you using email newsletters for your small business? Tweet us @123Reg.