The purpose of an email newsletter
The goal of an email newsletter is to build relationships and keep people engaged. Email may not be as sexy as newer channels, such as social, but it’s still the most effective way to build a one-on-one relationship with your customers. You can use your newsletters to educate and delight your customers with interesting content, and to tell them about other services and products that might be relevant to them. Done right, email newsletters can transform casual buyers into loyal fans, and even brand advocates.
Your email newsletter is also a tool for building credibility and developing a relationship with prospects and new leads – keeping in mind that people do business with companies they know and trust. Buying cycles vary and, however good your newsletter might be, some prospects simply aren’t ready to buy or sign up for your service yet. They may be interested in what you have to say, or have a need that isn’t pressing. But it will take time and regular contact for them to get to know your brand and take action. Your email newsletters allow you to nurture these fledgling relationships, and your email metrics (such as opens, click-throughs and unsubscribes) tell you if what you’re sending is being appreciated.
Email newsletters, gone wrong
You’ve probably encountered this scenario before: You subscribe to content on a subject you’re interested in and then, a couple of days later, receive an email that reads like a sales pitch, with an invitation to schedule a call with a pushy salesperson. It’s too much, too soon, and you don’t open the emails that follow.
Or perhaps you subscribe to a newsletter on a subject you’re interested in, but don’t receive anything for several weeks. By the time you receive a newsletter, you can’t remember who the company is or why you subscribed – or if you even subscribed at all. Sound familiar? After all the effort the company went to to get you onto their mailing list, you’ve lost interest and they’ve missed their opportunity. You don’t recognise the “from” name and you ignore the email, or unsubscribe.
The impact of timing and value
Now let’s consider an example that’s worth following. You sign up for a newsletter on a subject you’re interested in – SEO, leadership strategies, whatever floats your boat – and you LOVE the weekly content. The newsletter keeps you up to date with the latest trends and developments in your industry. The content is unique and insightful, and you actually look forward to each edition. When the company reaches out to offer exclusive access to a new tool or product that closely relates to the content that you’ve been enjoying, you’re intrigued. It might be months before enough trust has been established and you’re ready to take action. But by offering clear value and developing a relationship with you, they’ve won you over. Just as in the offline world, being consistent and maintaining regular contact is integral if you want to build and strengthen relationships.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to creating great content. Company and product updates have their place, but it’s not enough to send emails for the sake of it, or to deliver uninspiring content that no one wants to read. After all, your subscribers are busy people with crowded inboxes, and they’re bombarded with sales pitches every day. Think about what your audience is really interested in. What are their pain points, and what would be useful to them? Use your newsletters to deliver great content – be it unique articles, videos or online guides – and keep the sales-focused emails for genuinely great offers.
It’s also important to take a longer-term view of your campaign results. This means avoiding cheap tricks for quick wins, such as deceptive subject lines that grab attention and generate high open rates, but that diminish trust and hurt the relationship going forward. Focus on building relationships with your customers and subscribers, rather than on maximising the results of single campaigns.
Personalisation and segmentation
If you have a large mailing list and your customers fall into categories with different needs and interests, can you segment your database and tailor the content? To pull this off, you need to have a good understanding of your audience. One way to do this is to improve your signup forms and subscriber confirmation emails, making sure you include the right fields. Clothing retailers, for example, often collect information about users’ gender and style preferences during the signup process, so they can send personalised newsletters based on this information. But the same approach can be used in other industries. If you allow subscribers to choose the type of content or topics they’d like to receive, or if you use transactional data from your CRM or e-commerce platform to segment your mailing list, you’ll be able to send relationship-building messages that offer real value. It might sound like more work, but marketers have reported a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.
The bottom line
Your email newsletter is an opportunity to build and deepen your relationship with subscribers, and to keep them engaged. These are prospects and customers who’ve opted in and who want to hear from you. It takes time and effort to get it right, but when you produce a regular newsletter that’s relevant to your audience and that consistently delivers value, you’re investing in key relationships.
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