From the IRS to hospitals to your local politicians, it seems like everyone has an e-newsletter these days. Easy and inexpensive to produce, e-newsletters are a great way to share information and special offers with your loyal or new customers.
The frequency of an e-newsletter can vary, but the mission is the same: to connect with those interested in your business. And since e-newsletters don't require the paper—or budget—of a direct mail campaign, they're great options for small businesses looking for a low-cost way of increasing marketing efforts.
You can get your own e-newsletter started in 6 easy steps:
1. Start collecting e-mail addresses
Use every avenue available: a sign-up sheet at your store, a box on your website, etc. Just make sure you look into opt-in procedures and review SPAM regulations; the last thing you want is to get in trouble for sending unsolicited email.
2. Find an e-mail provider
If you only have a handful of names in your email database, e-newsletters can be sent from a standard email address, like Gmail or Hotmail. However, if the aim is to grow your e-newsletter database, you'll want to find an email service provider. There are plenty of choices out there at various price points, including many that are free.
3. Set up a template
Most email providers offer free design templates. If yours doesn't, lots of free and customizable e-newsletter templates are available online.
4. Focus on content
Think about the kinds of e-newsletters you like receiving. More than likely, those messages contain relevant content you've specifically requested from a company you trust. Your customers want the same from your business. Avoid overly sales-y messages. Your recipients want to read content, not ads. Tailor your e-newsletters to include relevant and informative articles that are presented in an easy-to-read format. Your e-newsletter is a way to connect with your customers; don't risk losing them by sending unrelated or incessant email blasts.
5. Test it out
Email deliverability and open rates are hot topics these days, and you'll want to see what works for your business. Test everything—the subject lines, story topics, offers, promotions, etc. Keep what works and set aside what doesn't. Don't forget to test your e-newsletter in a variety of email clients to make sure it looks good and remains readable. Many clients block images in emails—is your e-newsletter still inviting without them?
6. Watch those numbers
An essential part of email marketing is producing metrics and analyzing what your readers are doing. Everything from delivery numbers to click-throughs is important for your marketing strategy, and reviewing metrics may alert you to problems. For example, a high number of requests to “unsubscribe” may be an indication you're sending out too many email blasts.
Don't be afraid to try new things, and be sure to check out the numerous online resources available to help your e-newsletters become more effective. If done right, e-newsletters can be an essential part of your business's online marketing strategy and can keep you connected with your customers for years to come.
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