Article #60, August, 2007
Don't make the same newsletter mistakes I did!
Part 1: Content
Email newsletters, or ezines, can contribute in a very big way to the success of your business, but there are right and wrong ways to do them. If you do the wrong things, you could damage your reputation/brand.
I have made some mistakes and learned a lot of lessons in the 5 years I have been publishing my monthly email newsletter. This article will address content; part 2 will address the technical side.
The two most important concerns are your distribution list and your target. Many newsletter publishers believe the bigger their list is, the better. In some ways that is true, but honestly, the quality of your list is much more important. That means that compared to a huge list of subscribers who will never buy anything from you, a smaller list of targeted subscribers who will purchase your goods and services is better.
What I mean by targeted, is that the subscribers to your list are interested in what you have to tell them and are likely to buy from you. So, if you are a residential real estate agent, you will want subscribers in your geographic area who are likely to buy a house in the next few years.
It would be even better to target even more. For example, people saving for their first homes - first time buyers - would be better, and easier. Your content would be specifically written for them. They get to know you well and you build a relationship with them. They trust you. They hire you!
Ideas for content come to you more easily once you have selected your target market.
Here are some ideas:
- Top 5 lists
- Tip of the week/month
- 250 - 500 word articles
- Q & A (question and answer) section
- Advice column
- Favorite resources/websites
- Interviews of experts
- Book reviews
- Other product reviews
- Links to audios (recordings of teleclasses, interviews, you teaching something)
Of course this is not a complete list, but it should be enough to get you started.
Although it is a good idea for your subscribers to get to know you a little bit on a personal level, don't go overboard. Unless you are a veterinarian, do not put pictures of yourself playing with your cats. A headshot is excellent, but not if you have cut a picture of you at a wedding in half because it's the only picture you have of you dressed up. Get a professional picture.
Putting a little bit of personal information is good so people can get to know you, but they are mostly interested in themselves and in how you can help them. They are not interested in you until after they have gotten to know and trust you on a professional level.
I recommend that you put something marketing-oriented in your newsletter. Let your readers know where you will be speaking or networking, offer a promotion on a product or service every month, ask readers to visit your website after you have added new content or redesigned, etc.
Timing is a question I am often asked, and the answer is - it depends. For information marketers, it seems once a week works, as long as you provide value/information in every newsletter. For everyone else, every other week is usually very good timing. Once a month is good, too. The key is to provide value every time.
If you have a very long sales cycle, meaning you don't sell 100 houses every month, the price is fairly high and it usually takes awhile for a sale to complete, once a month is best. If you are selling a higher volume of products or services, like massages for example, and the price is fairly low, more often is better. Establish the timing that works best for you and your subscribers and stick to it.
The purpose of your newsletter is to remind your subscribers that you exist, build relationships and sell products. By writing articles, answering questions or providing tips or resources, you are establishing yourself as the expert in your niche and industry. Be consistent in your timing and your subject matter!