Whilst we are inundated with email marketing and newsletters, there is still a place in business for these. The trick is to get it right. Not only do you want to avoid unsubscribing, but you want people to actually open the newsletter. Choose your words wisely; you want them to tell, sell and absolutely compel your reader to action.
How to Create Great Newsletters
Some of your readers will actually look out for your newsletter (or blog or vlog or podcast). If you are consistent, you will gather a following. Be random, irregular and you lose traction. The other point of consistency is that it then makes it happen. If you are committed to blog writing weekly or a monthly newsletter, then you should diarise to make it happen and stay on track. If you know you have to do a newsletter once a month, then knowing that will hopefully ensure it happens.
Length & Frequency
Ok, when it comes to newsletters (unlike blogs) the concept of ‘less is more’ absolutely applies. People are busy and do not have time to read a long-winded essay. When someone reads a blog, they are often browsing (perhaps at night whilst half watching TV) so they have time to read. An email is often different. It’s in their mailbox and often their objective is to clear their emails. So you either get read quickly, get deleted, get filed to read later (which in 99% of times, means never being read) or someone unsubscribes. Once in a while, someone will stop and read awhile, but that is rare.
For the same reason (time) I also subscribe to not emailing more than once a fortnight (at most!) and recommend monthly is better. Some ‘experts’ say email weekly and stay top of mind. That theory is good, but in reality, I believe busy people get impatient with weekly. Weeks roll around so quickly; a week these days feels more like 4 days!
Know your client; know what bugs them
No different from blog writing, you need to know your client. If you have different types of clients (as a business coach, I focus on professionals, medicos and tradies) then in your email program have different categories (often also called tags). When building your database give the lists or categories careful consideration. Consider even writing different items for your different categories. How I write an email marketing letter to a lawyer is different to a doctor. The words I use are different – a doctor will call their business a practice, whereas a lawyer is a firm. When I write to accountants, I don’t need to educate them about the importance of budgets or knowing your margins, but I do know they are often challenged around marketing. Know what your customer or client wants to read and write about that.
Subject fields are critical
The word ‘newsletter’ is boring. Have a subject title that will inspire people to open your newsletter, not click that ‘block button’. Be original, be different and be engaging.
What is important goes first – and links are last
Step one is getting someone to open your newsletter, now you have to keep them there. Statistically, a number of people read the first 25%, 50%, 75% etc … so as you go on, there is more of a chance of people leaving. Put your gold first. The best article or more engaging part goes first. I also put links to other sites last. I don’t want to send my reader elsewhere before they get to the end. Adding links is great (perhaps you’re an accountant referencing a tax rule) … but have the link to the ATO site last.
My greatest tip for email marketing is keep it short. I mean really short. I like to have 3 or 4 articles per newsletter, but my rule is no more than 80 words per article. Sure, I might occasionally come in over this, but not often. That also helps you to cut out the words you don’t need – making it nice and succinct. You are focused, have a clear message and are direct and to the point.
The final steps …
Any writer should have another person proofread and spell check their work. Don’t rely purely on computers to check your work. They are better than nothing but still can miss a lot. Adding images to your newsletter will break it up a bit, but take care you don’t have too many as they are often blocked by spam programs. Speaking of blocking, many email software programs have a ‘spam score test’ feature built in. This will tell you how likely your article is going to end up in other’s spam boxes. For this reason, your heading is crucial and should be punchy, engaging, enticing to be opened by a human, but also quality to be avoided by technology that blocks spam. If someone else has written your newsletter (or blog or anything you put out there) take the time to personally read it. If you are putting your name on it – then be sure you will be proud to do so.
We, of course, want to ‘sell’ in our newsletters … whether it’s to sell our expertise, remind clients we are around, educate them about products or services or just stay in touch. If you have something you want to tell them (the sell) then ensure it’s no more than 10% of your article. Alternatively, no more than one in 10 email blasts should be purely sell. Essentially you are giving 90% of the time, and asking for something only 10% of the time. Remember to sell benefits, not features. A tip also is that a testimonial is a great way to sell and to communicate how wonderful you are.
Well-written business or company newsletters are excellent to keep in touch with your connections and ensure someone is monitoring the sending email. I cannot count the number of times that one of my readers has hit “Reply” and said, “you just reminded me, I need you …” If your ‘reply’ goes to a ‘do not reply’ or unmonitored email box, well, what a loss. Not only do you miss the opportunity but that person will think you are such a slacko for not responding or that you clearly don’t really want their business.
Do you find writing a bit of a challenge? If you’d like to get better at writing newsletters, blogs, marketing material or even produce a book or eBook, then check out my upcoming writers retreat in beautiful Vietnam. As long as your main focus is business, it’s a tax-deductible trip where you will return having all the tricks of the trade, plus help you complete a writing project. We are going to cover everything from marketing, strategy, how to get started, getting ideas, building your project and then putting it altogether. These are super small groups, so you get personalized service from a multi-published author, business coach and marketing guru. Check it out at Vietnam Writing Retreat.