7 Best Practices for a Successful Email Newsletter
A common complaint in this modern age is that we are “drowning in email”.
So is it really effective to try and contact people through a company email newsletter? I am convinced that it is: my own newsletter goes out to several thousand people every month, and my only regret is that I didn’t start one as soon as I set up in business. A really high quality newsletter has a lower cost than many other marketing avenues, but it’s still an investment.
A newsletter is a very effective way of establishing trust and familiarity, but like in any relationship, they have to be earned. You can’t just put your foot in the figurative door to somebody’s inbox and advertise at them. For a successful email newsletter, here are the rules I follow.
Successful email newsletter tip #1:
It’s all about your readers
First, communication is about your audience, never about you or your products. Your audience signed up to receive your emails because you have a solution to their problems or gave them something interesting to think about. They might not be in the buying phase right now, but they signaled that they are open to hearing
more about what you can do for them. Spend time crafting your newsletter about the needs of your audience. What is likely to be on their mind when they read it? What can you help them with?
In The Positive Economist newsletter, we answer the questions our readers have about the implications of major developments in government policy, how to get the best out of digital assets, achieving business goals, seeking out grants and awards for their business, building their network in new cities, dealing with downtime in their company and so much more.
Successful email newsletter tip #2:
Be consistent, reliable and regular
Second, trust and familiarity will only be established if you share quality content that is truly helpful (see previous tip), and if you do so consistently. It will undermine your efforts if you send one newsletter to advertise a new offering and then disappear for months at a time. Be there reliably, every week, every month or every quarter. Choose a rhythm and stick to it.
Regularly put yourself in front of your audience, remind them of who you are and of why it’s worthwhile for them to give you their attention. Every single month, we produce a new episode of the Savvy podcast, on the themes that our audience is interested in: productivity, self-confidence, being resourceful, being world-class. That’s a one-hour podcast, with guests to interview, every single month.
Successful email newsletter tip #3:
Build a pipeline of quality content
Third, you need to work behind the scenes to constantly produce quality content to include in your newsletter. Whether you create your own content or curate other people’s contributions that are highly relevant to your audience, it takes time, effort and money. I invested in help to produce more content, and in a custom CRM to manage our database of readers. This isn’t a one-off investment, but a monthly, yearly investment that you need to consider carefully. From our experience, the ROI is clearly and significantly visible.
Successful email newsletter tip #4:
Set readers free
Fourth, give your audience a way to leave. Your newsletter should of course include an unsubscribe link: people might not be interested anymore, or might not be your core audience. As the less interested readers leave, it makes your mailing list more valuable to you and to them, because it is more targeted: by contrast, the people who haven’t unsubscribed are those who positively want to hear about you. Focus on them, reward their loyalty with more quality content.
Successful email newsletter tip #5:
Build an infrastructure for conversation
Fifth, these loyal readers might want to get in touch, so give your audience a way to respond. Readers should be able to get in touch simply by clicking “reply”. It’s crucial to have a reliable support system in place to catch those responses as early and as effectively as possible. People who read your newsletter might want to write to you the moment they hear from you because you struck a chord with them. Clear space in your diary for at least the day after the newsletter goes out to respond to these thoughtful notes.
Successful email newsletter tip #6:
Find your readers offline, too
Finally, make it easy to join your community and raise awareness about it. Whenever I deliver a presentation, I let people know about the newsletter: I tell them what is in it and how they can sign up for it. A sign-up form on your website is indispensable of course, but don’t miss an opportunity to strengthen a new connection with someone through this means. If somebody expresses interest and gives me their business card, I always ask whether I can add them to my mailing list.
Successful email newsletter tip #7:
Be ready to invest time and money in it
If I had to sum up what this form of connection is about, I would say: it’s a considerable investment. It’s all about consistency, quality and following up. Your work isn’t done after you press “send”. However, it will be rewarded a hundred times over in “hard” metrics i.e. a wider reach and more sales, but also in more subtle metrics i.e. readers taking the time to tell you that what you wrote brightened up their day. That’s priceless.
This article was first published in the Irish Post
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