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Important Newsletter Don’ts

Your Newsletter–What Not to Do

Newsletters are easy–just write a note and send it out!  But, like everything else, if you want your newsletter to be effective, there’s more to it than that.  Here is a quick summary of what to do with the newsletter, followed by what not to do.

What We’re Trying To Do

The newsletter is intended to nurture prospects into being customers.  When someone just encounters your business or your site, and learns about you, they may not yet be ready to do business.  But by reading your newsletter, they learn more about you and your business, and get comfortable with the idea of doing business.  There’s an old marketing rule that we need seven credible exposures of our brand before a prospect will seriously consider doing business.  So get that first exposure with the site, and the next six with the newsletter.  So we’re trying to build credibility and comfort through this communication.

Change the Outline Each Time

You’re trying to make prospects comfortable with you, so keep the same general outline for each newsletter.  If you provide a recipe as the second item in one newsletter, then provide a recipe as the second item in every edition.  Your readers will get to know the organization of your newsletter and they’ll be able to go right to what they like.  And if they like one, then they’ll like the next one, because it’ll have similar organization.

Constantly Offer Discounts

The newsletter is not a place to offer discounts!  Why not?  Because it goes to all (or nearly all) of your prospects and customers, and discounts in the newsletter tell them that you’re willing to sell for less than asking price.  It undermines their confidence in your pricing, encouraging them to believe that they can get what they want from you for less than you usually charge.  So stay away from discounts as a major feature of your newsletter.

You can occasionally offer a price deal in the newsletter, but specialize it to some particular circumstance and then be ready to do it again if that circumstance arises again!  For example, if you offer a discount on the third anniversary of being in business, then plan to do it every year.  And also avoid the temptation to find lots and lots of similar excuses!

Poor Quality Content

Your prospects judge your newsletter by the usefulness of the content.  So be sure that you provide information that’s useful to them in some way.  If you’re an attorney, how to handle some situation that could have legal consequences.  If you’re a physician, health advice is an obvious choice.  If you’re a Web marketer, a newsletter on how to write newsletters.

Sell Too Much

A rule I’ve seen for newsletters is 75% non-selling content and 25% selling content is a rule that’s often given.  I’d modify that by advising no more than 25% selling.  If the purpose of your newsletter is to attract long-term clients, not just, say, selling merchandise, then you might even have almost no selling content, and simply seek to convince your readers that you’re an authority in your discipline so that when they need help they’ll come to you.

Not Often Enough

In the days when newsletters went out in the mail, they were expensive to print and even more expensive to mail.  But those days are gone.  Today, our prospects subscribe to and pay for email service that delivers our newsletters to them.  If they want to print them, they pay for the printing!  And it’s easier to open and look at a newsletter–or not to look at it.

Take advantage of the ease and convenience of automation, and realize that your readers are accustomed to getting most newsletters on a weekly or even daily basis.  If you send weekly instead of monthly, your readers will be reminded of you more often, and they’ll be more likely to do business with you or recommend you to someone who needs your product or service.

Forgetting about Headings

Many readers will scan the headings in a newsletter before they decide to actually read it.  So provide those headings!  In addition, busy readers may read some sections and not others–make it easy for these readers to make this choice, or else they’ll not read your newsletter at all.

Forgetting about Branding

Be sure that your newsletter looks like your Web site and carries your logo.  If prospects see inconsistent graphics from you, they’ll not remember you as well, and your communications wit them will seem disjointed.  One way to achieve consistency between your site and newsletters is to send blog posts from your site as your newsletters–as I do.

Don’t Send a Welcome Newsletter

In any social interaction, saying hello is important.  Similarly, a new subscriber deserves to get a special welcome edition of your newsletter.  Most newsletter software can send this for you; all you have to do is write it and give instructions to the software one time.  The open rate of the intro newsletter is much higher than the open rates of subsequent newsletters–this is a great opportunity to communicate.  It’s also a good time to offer a discount–make it a new subscriber discount, and the subscriber will know not to expect it again.  Offer a discount on the next meal, an ebook on how to deal with a personal injury situation, an ebook on the insurance coverage a small business should have, for example.

The Bottom Line

Keep in mind that the purpose of your newsletter is to nurture prospects, not sell them.  Take the long term approach, and you’ll see the results.

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Welcome New Newsletter Subscribers

Importance of the Welcome Email

It’s easy to overlook that welcome email that you send to new subscribers to your newsletter, but that’s a big mistake.  Why?  Because, as an Experian white paper shows, welcome emails have an open rate that’s much higher than typical newsletter open rates.

Welcome Email OpensThis chart, from the Experian white paper, shows an open rate for welcomes at nearly 58%, compared with about 15% for typical newsletters.

Note also that the click rate is also much higher, nearly seven times as high.

So the welcome email is a great time to reach prospects and customers with your message.

When Should You Send It

Immediate vs Batch WelcomeYour newsletter software may offer you a choice between sending the welcome right away or in a batch at some later time.

The right time is right away!  The same Experian white paper shows the open and click rates for immediate welcomes is much higher than for later, batch welcomes–as you’d expect–when someone has just subscribed, you’re on their mind.

If your newsletter software won’t send a message to new subscribers, this advantage is important enough that you should replace it.  An excellent and very popular WordPress newsletter plugin–the one I use–is MailPoet.  The free version lets you send an immediate welcome.

The First Message

Start by thanking the new subscriber for joining the list.  Then deliver your first message–your vision and mission, told in your own voice.  What are you up to?  What do you deliver, and to which people?

This is your opportunity to tell this customer or prospect that you stand for and deliver things that are important and worthwhile, to reinforce the message that was already delivered about you, that drew this subscriber to you in the first place.

Remember the old saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression!  This is your opportunity to deliver the basic message about your whole business and what you stand for.

Now Offer a Surprise

All of us love to be surprised!  This is your chance to delight your new subscriber with a surprise.  What sorts of things can you use to do this?  The advantage of the welcome newsletter is that you’re not setting a pattern here–this is the first one, so you can offer a welcome gesture that you may not repeat.

Because this is a special occasion, the usual caution about offering discounts in the newsletter–that they can undermine your price structure and create you a body of customers who won’t buy at regular price–doesn’t apply.  You can offer a discount coupon.  You can even offer a more dramatic special–if you’re a restaurant, offer a “bring a friend” coupon with two meals for the price of one!  Be careful to call it a one-time welcome offer so that it’s clear this will not be a regular event.

You can also offer other surprises, such as free shipping, all sorts of goodies as premiums, or even an ebook.  Whatever suits your particular business.

The Standard Outline

If you’re a regular reader of these notes, you’re aware that I recommend that you establish a standard outline for your newsletters, and follow it with each one.  This allows the subscriber to know what to expect–there will be a recipe, perhaps, perhaps an interesting client story, perhaps a description of a new product feature.  This way, if your subscriber likes one newsletter, she knows that subsequent newsletters will be of interest too.

For the welcome newsletter, forget the standard outline!  This newsletter has a very special job to do that’s different from other newsletters, so you don’t need to follow your regular pattern.

The Bottom Line

Establish a special welcome to new subscribers of your newsletter.  And in this welcome, offer them something really special.

Of course you have a newsletter!  If not, go directly to jail and do not pass Go.  Instead, read other articles here about your newsletter and get started.  It’s the best way to build your business on the Web.

 

 

 

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