How to Produce a Great Electronic Newsletter
By Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach
As marketing tools go, it's hard to beat a great electronic newsletter, but it may be even harder to figure out what makes a newsletter great. I've subscribed to electronic newsletters since the first day I got an email account back in 1994, and even though the technology has changed dramatically, what made a great electronic newsletter then still makes a great electronic newsletter today.
How can that be? Here's a hint: It's not the technology that makes a newsletter good (or bad), but the content. And no, I'm not talking about state-of-the-art graphics, or any other bells and whistles that most people associate with "good" electronic newsletters.
What makes a great electronic newsletter today is simply that the newsletter achieves its purpose for both the sender and the receiver. Unfortunately, many newsletters serve neither the sender's nor the receiver's needs, and thus both parties are disappointed (which is not a good way to do business for most of us!).
So why do businesses publish newsletters, and why do people subscribe?
Businesses create newsletters for one reason, and that is to develop a relationship with the customer (or prospective customer). That relationship can be built by sharing free information of value that educates or entertains, and inviting the reader to visit the business's web site for more information of value. This information can take many forms, including news about products, services and special offers, reminding customers of the best times to buy, tips, how-to articles, and so on.
Here's all you need to know about why people subscribe to newsletters: They want to get free information that is pertinent to their needs. Period. And what's even more important to know about your subscribers is that they are extremely busy, and so they want that information in easily digestible pieces.
So how do you write a great newsletter that will educate and/or entertain your customers while building the trust and credibility that you hope will bring dollars in the door? Here are six strategies for making sure your newsletter is as close to great as you can get:
Offer value to your reader. Whatever your product or service, there is something you can give away for free. What works best for most businesses is information: Top 10 lists, tips, how-to articles, success stories, and so on. You may also consider offering special pre-sale information or advance notice of unadvertised specials to your mailing list, so that there is an extra incentive for signing up for your newsletter.
Keep it short. This is a balancing act, because ideally you want to offer at least three pieces of value in each newsletter. Perhaps the best way to do this is to use a short teaser in your newsletter that links to a page on your web site with the full story. That way, you don't lose readers who are too pressed for time to scroll through a long story to get to this month's specials.
Include only quick-loading graphics. People will not wait for a graphic-heavy message to load, and if they're still using an old modem instead of a cable or satellite connection, they'll feel irritation rather than excitement about your message. Save the fancy stuff for your web site (if you must have it somewhere), and keep your newsletter free of huge graphic files that take forever to download.
Include lots of links to your web site, but never include attachments. With all the concern around viruses these days, there is no excuse for attaching documents (yes, even coupons!) to your newsletter. Include a link to a special page on your web site that has the information, but do not attach anything to your newsletter. Ever!
Make it easy to unsubscribe. You know better than to subscribe people without their permission, but sometimes people forget they subscribed or want to get off your mailing list for one reason or another, so make it easy for them. This is part of your commitment to great customer service, and will leave your customers feeling confident in your integrity.
Proofread for spelling and grammar errors. Nothing diminishes your credibility like spelling errors and mistakes in grammar. You may think an error is no big deal, but to your customer, you are communicating a total disregard of the attention to detail that they expect from a professional business, so immediately the quality of your product or service becomes suspect. And that makes an error a big deal!
Keep in mind that your newsletter doesn't have to be expensive or fancy to serve its purpose, but it does have to meet the basic criteria listed above to be a great value to your customers.
Read more articles or view Top 10 lists.
Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach, is a successful Vancouver, WA-based entrepreneur, author, speaker, and Certified Professional Coach. Through coaching, classes and workshops, Ronnie helps small businesses attract more clients. For free marketing resources including articles and valuable marketing tools, visit her web site at www.VeronikaNoize.com, or email her at Ronnie@VeronikaNoize.com.
How to Produce a Great Electronic Newsletter © 2003 Veronika Noize. All rights reserved.