Posted: Mon 23rd Jan 2012
In the second part of our series on creating and managing an email newsletter, Enterprise Nation editor Simon Wicks takes a look at what you can put into yours to engage your customers and promote your business, its products and services.
Businesses may 'dress' their enewsletters in different ways, but it all comes down to one thing - selling a product or service. You can be very direct about this, of course, providing your recipients are ready to buy and you give them good reason to do so (a seasonal promotion, for example, or an exclusive offer). But before somebody buys from you, they need to feel that doing so will be worthwhile. This is where an enewsletter serves a broader purpose. As with all marketing, before you hit someone with your sales message, it's worth thinking about how you get them to the point where they are ready to buy. Consider the three Cs of content, community and commerce: Content: what additional information can you give to your customers that they will find useful, entertaining or interesting? Community: how do you make your customers feel as though they're part of a wider community of people with shared interests that revolves around your business? Commerce: how do you then turn an engagement with your content and your community into a sale in a natural and inevitable way? A good enewsletter will blend the three Cs into satisfying whole"¦
Keep your content interesting and relevant
What extra value can you add to someone's experience of being your customer? There are almost no limits here, providing the information you give is relevant to your business and your industry. For example, if you're a cupcake business, maybe a recipe in each newsletter wouldn't go amiss; if you're a small marketing agency, a case study that illustrates your services would be good. Fund101 recipient DanceHQ includes a timetable of classes in their enewsletter - a useful reminder and reference point for customers. Business card innovators MOO.com carry tips on how to create a striking business card, but also look at wider issues such as job titles in a bright and funny way that makes you want to read. Product reviews and demonstrations are an excellent way to create engagement, particularly if you give people a chance to add their own comments. LOVEFiLM, which rents out films, features movie reviews in their enewsletter; cycling kit retailer Always Riding includes customer reviews in theirs (this is an excellent of reinforcing a sense of community). But if your product or service is built around a hobby or passion, then why not a short video tutorial that links through to your YouTube channel? If you have a blog, include a good post that's already proven popular. You can give news about an event you'll be attending, run a competition to win one of your products or survey your customers by inviting readers to take part in a poll. The only rules are that your enewsletter content must be interesting and relevant; it should ideally be fairly brief; and you shouldn't overwhelm your reader with choices.
Link to your other points of communication
Whatever you put into your enewsletter, make sure you also include links to your other online points of engagement (your website or blog, your social media pages) so that your customers can contact or follow your activities via their preferred platform.
How often should you send an enewsletter?
To some extent, this depends on your product and its sales patterns. If you sell small amounts of something regularly to repeat buyers, then make yours a frequent newsletter - weekly, say. And if you make most of your sales on a Saturday, send it on a Friday. The trick is not to send too many, or too few, and it may take a little trial and error before you work out the best frequency. Make sure it's always on the same day, at roughly the same time, however. The routine imposes discipline on you, but it can also create familiarity for your recipients. If someone gets used to receiving your weekly recipe on a Friday, they may be miffed if it doesn't arrive. Think about your recipients' working week; when are they most likely to be at their PC (or laptop, or on their smartphone) with the time to browse what you've sent? At Enterprise Nation, we send our enewsletter fortnightly on a Wednesday, usually between 11am and noon. We generally round up some of our favourite content from the past week and mix it up with information about the events we run and the books we publish. You can sign up in the top right-hand corner of this page