I’ve explained before why it’s important to keep in touch with your existing customers and shown the advantages of blogging for small businesses. Both are linked to a handy and affordable marketing tool I’m discussing today: Newsletters.
For a small business, newsletter are an ideal way to connect with customers and share blog posts with an interested readership. Plus, it’s a great way to generate new business. So what’s stopping you?
Sending out a regular newsletter is an affordable way to spread the word about your company and many systems out there offer a range of services for small and large databases. If you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress for your website, there are plugins that allow you to send newsletters and add a sign-up form to your website.
Alternative providers include Mailchimp which offers a free account allowing you to send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers per month, and Campaign Monitor, where you can choose between a monthly payment or a pay-per-campaign plan and send out a newsletter to 1,000 contacts for as little as £9.
These services are also helpful when it comes to the design of your newsletter, as most of them offer customisable design templates and option to upload your own layout. To lighten up your content with visuals and photos, have a look at free images libraries you can find online.
Before the fun starts, be sure to build up a mailing list relevant to your business. Collect subscribers via your website or blog, social media channels and at events and trade shows you’re exhibiting. Add a subscribe link to your email signature and ask existing readers to share your newsletter with friends and colleagues.
An additional opt-in process ensures people who really want to receive emails from you do so and keeps your mailing list limited to people actually interested in your business, who are therefore more likely to click and buy. It also keeps you safe legally (for the EU/UK, regulations regarding electronic emails have been compiled in the CAN-SPAM Act).
The most important element to your newsletter’s success is your content. First and foremost, provide value to the customer; if you only send out sales letters with your latest promotions and offers, people will quickly unsubscribe.
Instead, deliver information, tips and tricks, insights and news that they otherwise wouldn’t have discovered. Be sociable and show them something from behind the scenes of your business. Introduce your team members or tell them about your latest staff outing.
Also important is the subject line: If you’re too pushy you risk ending up in a spam folder, so make sure it’s informative and precise and lets people know who is behind the newsletter.
As usual, know what you want to achieve with your newsletter campaign and implement ways to track your results. Add links to your blog or website, share pins or photos from your Pinterest or Flickr account and don’t forget the call-to-actions (CTAs) to tell people what to do (“Click here!”, “Follow us!” or “Share with friends and colleagues!”).
Then have a way to measure what people have been clicking and reading. Systems like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor offer this by default, or use Google Analytics to track the traffic from your newsletter to your website or shopping cart.
Be On Time
An important question, but a difficult one to answer: When is the best time to send out your newsletter? There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for this as it depends on your audience. When you’re mainly addressing businesses, people are usually very busy at the beginning of the week and already on their way out on Friday afternoon, so send your newsletter on Thursday lunchtime when people have time to read it.
If you’re selling to consumers then the times are completely different. During office hours they won’t have much time to read their private emails, so evenings and weekends are a good time to send out emails. It’s not an exact science, so you’ll have to experiment to find out what time works best for you.
WANT TO READ MORE?
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Does Direct Marketing Work for Small Businesses?
How to Make Your Local Business Event a Success
5 Ways to Make Social Media Work for Your Small Business
5 Top Tips to get Your Press Release noticed