Posted: Mon 16th Jan 2012
If you're like me, you probably receive a good number of email newsletters. Mine cover a variety of topics, from my hobbies to news and information about small businesses. One or two are purely for amusement only (ever read Popbitch?). I don't read them all - in fact, many go straight into a folder marked 'Newsletters'. But if one happens to have an intriguing subject line or I know the content is always worth taking a look at, I'll click on it and take a look. This is normal - depending on the content and the list of recipients, commercial newsletters typically have open rates of between 2 and 10 per cent (actually, 10 per cent is pretty good). So if I'm a typical recipient - opening the odd one - then why go to the bother of sending out an email newsletter at all? Well, there are a whole bunch of reasons.
1. Contact. It's another online contact point with people who have expressed an offer in your product or service. But whereas your website, blog, Facebook page or Twitter feed generally require people to come to you, with an enewsletter you go to them - straight to their inbox. It's like handing out flyers at a show rather than standing behind your stall waiting for people to come to you. 2. Can you afford not to? Even if open rates are low and clickthrough rates to your website even lower, that still means someone is clicking through to your content and that someone can be considered a warm lead that you wouldn't otherwise have. If you've set things up right, you may well turn them into a buyer. Besides, the chances are that your competitors are already sending their own enewsletter - to your potential customers. If they are, then you've got get yourself into the game. 3. It sharpens you up. An enewsletter is direct marketing. Direct marketing forces you to think about what your offer is and the best way to communicate it. 4. It tells you about your customers. An enewsletter is also a useful customer research tool. You don't just send it and forget about it; you look at what's been clicked on and by how many people. This tells you a lot about what you potential customers are actually interested in, and that will help you clarify and refine your marketing messages - which can only be good for sales. You can also use your enewsletter to survey your customers, of course. 5. Aren't four good reasons enough? Reason five is, quite simply, that it's quite a fun thing to do. It engages you with your own business and challenges you to think about what you've done and what you're going to do next.
Next week we'll take a look at what you should put into your enewsletter to make it engaging and how often you should send it. In the weeks to follow, we'll look at the best free and low-cost platforms to use and how to do build your enewsletter. Keep reading! Simon, Enterprise Nation editor