One great way to stay in contact with past customers is to create a monthly newsletter. Newsletters aren’t just good for advertising. They’re also an excellent way to get email addresses for later email campaigns (e.g. sending coupons) and for letting customers know what has been going on with your business.
But developing that newsletter the first few times can be tricky. Here’s what you need to know.
If you want to keep your readers reading after their first one you have to give them information they’re interested in. There are several ways you can find out what they want. First, there are standbys like special deals or coupons in each newsletter that will be a safe thing to add at first. Another idea, if you have a blog, is to expand on your popular articles in the newsletter. Finally, if you have a good rapport with your customers already, like on social media, just ask them!
Hire a Pro
Unless you have desktop publishing or writing experience in the past, it’s much better to hire a professional to design and write your letter. Customers prefer to see professionally-designed email newsletters than something sloppy. Even if you go text only (perhaps a good idea in the beginning), your writing still needs to be accurate to convey professionalism.
If you hire someone, do it at least two weeks in advance to give them time to write it and you time to proof it. A single newsletter should not be very expensive, though price will vary depending on the length of the piece, the complexity of the design, and the experience of the writer.
Build a queue
Sites that churn out tons of content use an editorial calendar to keep writers on task and build up a queue of material. Many small businesses get the idea of running a newsletter and forget about it until the last minute, leading to a rushed product. Take a tip from the pro content producers and create three newsletters before you start sending them. That will give you a three-month lead time to create the next one and raise the chances you’ll have enough. It’s much easier to add or subtract from a piece that’s already made than try to come up with whole cloth in a few hours because you forgot.
Track track track
Sending a newsletter used to feel like firing a message into the void and hoping for a response. That’s no longer true. If you use a mass emailer like MailChimp to send your newsletters, investigate what sort of analytics you can track with your service. You’ll be primarily looking at two stats: open rate and response rate. The open rate is how many people opened your email. The response rate is the rate of how many recipients followed up on a link or an offer inside your email. Tracking these over time will tell you how well your newsletter is working (at least from an online perspective.)
Once you get a rhythm going, it’ll be easy to create and queue up your newsletter. And as your readership grows and trusts you more, you can experiment with sending additional messages, offers, or what have you to keep the interest going. Soon enough you’ll have a thriving newsletter readership.