When companies approach me asking for suggestions to stay in touch with customers and prospects, one of the quickest and easiest ways is through an e-mail newsletter sent on an established, expected schedule. But just “having a newsletter” is not sufficient. There are important considerations throughout the design, writing and distribution process. Keeping it relevant for all, reaching your targeted recipients, and providing readers with the opportunity to read the source material are all integral for a successful campaign.
1. Keep it relevant, keep it simple.
Everyone has a rabbit hole that they love to go down and get lost. Mine was Pintrest last month as I began searching for best practice ideas for creating infographics for clients. I woke up early one Saturday morning and spent the next several hours oblivious of my surroundings. I probably would have missed this flying past my face.
My first thought was, “How absolutely cool would this be to use and deploy and share and convince clients that they should be doing these?” The second thought was, “Realistically, less than twenty percent of my customers would be interested in the time and expense of researching facts, producing it and then printing it in sufficient quantities to make it a worthwhile expenditure.”
The future of marketing online is in content creation, producing things that your clients and prospects want to read with your custom analysis. If your company has the in house talent to produce it, make a commitment to post once or twice per week so that at the end of your aggregating period you have a plethora of articles to choose from. Put those articles to your blog, link to them on Twitter and post them in LinkedIn, either on your own personal profile or your company’s page or in groups to foster a discussion. It’s the future of online engagement.
2. Delivery to your targeted audience is key.
At some point, the list of people you want to reach goes beyond your ability to bcc your entire Outlook contact list, and inevitably you miss someone along the way. Web-based e-mail clients such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Vertical Response and others help automate that process. They also have additional benefits including:
- Tracking the people who open or click through links to improve targeting.
- Many interface with popular Customer Relations Management (CRM) programs to put that open and click information into contact records.
- You can have multiple lists and subdivide those lists to do more targeted, issue-oriented marketing.
- You can create custom templates with your logo with links to things that are important to your business such as agents, vendors, government agencies or professional associations.
- Many let you keep a thousand names or less and send unlimited e-mails for under $30 per month.
They also track bounces, or messages that are not delivered. The bounce can be “soft” (out of office message), or “hard” (the address is not valid, a spam filter prevented delivery).
The importance of clean data cannot be understated. I was on a webinar earlier this week featuring a presenter from Netprospex who said that in e-mail lists that they analyzed, the average undelivered rate was twenty-eight percent, with full forty-one percent of those surveyed having a delivery rate of under seventy percent.
When people buy lists or build them over time, the freshness of the data should constantly be monitored. A tremendous amount of time and money is spent vetting data upon entry and allowing bad addresses to accumulate over time can cost a company far more money later rather than addressing it at the outset. How much more? Staggering as you can see below.
3. Point readers to the source material
Not every reader is capable of analyzing a court decision or medical trial results or the Federal Register. As the subject matter expert, your job is to identify the issue you find important, put it in friendly and approachable terms for the majority of your readers and for the ones who want to read the whole backstory, give them the right to do so.
Some of the content may be fully available to them and in the public record, other content may be behind a paywall, but the important thing to remember is that the internet has democratized information and search engines can find just about anything once it’s been published to the web.
What is important, though, is to respect the rights owners and not post copyrighted content without their permission. I see lots of people just clip and put up content from trade publications, especially as news was moving quickly in late 2012 on labor issues with the ILA on the East Coast and the OCU on the West Coast.
In my personal life, I’ve had Youtube and Facebook take down videos that I’ve made of family events because I used a song as a soundtrack and pairing it to that movie and putting it online is considered a public performance and a violation of my “license” to use the song for private, non-commercial use.
Newsletters are a great way to stay keep people apprised of the goings-on at your company and demonstrate your knowledge and competency on issues. Topics can range from breaking news that impacts your clients’ businesses to employee news to new product offerings. But they are only effective when they effectively and completely reach your target audience and are done legally.
Position : Global works with clients across many industries to write original content for their websites, social media streams and produces newsletters with custom designed templates. If your company needs this service, please contact us for a quote.
DISCLAIMER: Position : Global’s e-mail client is Mailchimp and we are neither endorsing nor receiving compensation from any of the other companies mentioned in this article.