“Sign up for our newsletter!” cries the graphic at the bottom of the page of your favourite website. You sit back in your desk chair, laugh and think to yourself, “Oh you sad pathetic call to action, how dare you assume that I want to fill my inbox with your inane, thinly veiled marketing efforts.” This was the prevailing opinion on newsletters for quite sometime, and rightfully so. For a very long time newsletters were simply the equivalent of the weekly or monthly flyers that the grocery store sends out; however, in the new world of Content Marketing and Digital Strategy, companies can no longer afford to put out garbage in the form of a newsletter.
For a time those online newsletters held less value than those weekly flyers, at least you could start a fire with those flyers, but from the ashes it would seem, that newsletters are experiencing a kind of renaissance. So with that in mind here’s a bit of information and a few tips to make sure that you are creating newsletters with rich content and not spamming potential clients.
According to Internet Live Stats the total number of websites doubles almost every two years and in the very near future, meaning before the end of 2014, there will be 1 Billion websites. Simply put, it’s an ever-expanding ocean out there, and if you are fortunate to be discovered by your audience you should certainly make the effort to encourage them to either stay, or come back. One way to do this, is to develop a digital strategy that provides value to the user by visiting the site. Unfortunately, we have to face the fact that people are lazy. Your users don’t always want to put in the effort to check to see if you’ve updated the content, put up a new blog post, or even totally overhauled the user experience of your site. Your audience may be genuinely interested in your efforts, but unless you can manage your editorial calendar to work like network television, there is a good chance that they may miss an update or new product offering that would have converted them from audience to client.
As a result those audience members are more and more commonly subscribing to newsletter services. For the common user who finds themselves with less and less time to continually check in and see if you’ve offered up a new tidbit for them, the newsletter is becoming a more and more attractive option. What does this mean for your marketing efforts? It means, that if properly executed you can guarantee a few minutes of direct contact to your audience every newsletter cycle.
Things to Know Before You Start
The most important thing to consider when developing this prong of your digital strategy is making sure that you are aware of your own capabilities. There are a lot of factors that go into the successful creation of digital content:
- Time to spend on creation
- Subject matter
- Market demand
- Sourcing options
All of these factors lead to a number of newsletter decisions, but perhaps the most crucial decision to make is regarding frequency. A newsletter like any piece of content you create has the opportunity to be of great value, or a waste of time. So more then anything you need to know: how often you can produce enough valuable content to fill a newsletter, and how often your audience wants to digest it. When you know these two things, you can build your newsletter cycle to match.
Remember your commitment to quality must outweigh the quantity of demand; people will wait for something that is worth the wait.
An example of a website that had great initial success with the development of their email list, was Upworthy. Their aim was simple, distribute positive content from the Internet to people who wanted it. Unfortunately the hyper-frequency of their mailings pushed many to unsubscribe. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and the point of diminishing returns is something that you should be conscious of with any digital strategy.
The next tip we can offer, “Be Above Board.” This simply means be straightforward and honest with your subscribers. Let them know what they can expect from the newsletter upfront and then stick to that. Don’t make the unsubscribe option more of a chore than spam listing your delivery service. Being creative with, anti-spam legislation and practices can undo any good will your brand had, very quickly.
Here at Top Draw we send out a newsletter at the end or beginning of each month (depending on your outlook). We fill the newsletter with helpful and informative articles, such as the one you are reading right now. You may even be reading this as a result of our newsletter, how very meta! The important aspect to realize from this is, that we routinely see qualified leads result from our newsletter efforts. With our level of clientele even a sporadic rate of return would be acceptable, but we routinely see the effort that we put into our newsletter rewarded.
In summation, the newsletter can be a great tool for those who properly address both its creation and distribution. Here are a list of do’s and don’ts to help you get started in this resurgent marketing exercise:
- Insure what you are sending to your readers provides some kind of stand alone value apart from learning about your company or product
- Understand how often your audience would like to receive this information
- Be clear about what is exactly entailed with their subscription
- Address growing and emerging trends in your field, even if you are not utilizing them
- Praise the work of others
- Offer some kind of reward beyond just the content
- Consider the device of the user
- Put out sub par content just to fill the order, your readers would rather have a “lite” issue then a bad one
- Sell your email list to third parties
- Make the unsubscribe option harder than spam blocking
- Use flash elements, they don’t work well on mobile
Well that’s it, I hope that I’ve sold you on the value of a well designed and executed newsletter, and if you do decide to make one for your own business send us a link we’d be happy to subscribe.