The newsletter is a tried and true way to keep your clients abreast of what’s happening in your world. It has even transcended print, moving into the new e-newsletter format. So what’s the mysterious “how” behind these sales-driving powers, anyway?
First off, newsletters are presented as just that - news. Rather than an advertisement, the newsletter appears much more credible in its approach. It also allows you to tailor your approach. For example, a black company can write a newsletter for its business and make it feel like an African-American journal. By making your products and services seem newsworthy, you also make them notable.
While the style of your content is important, so is the size. Readers are more inclined to finish an article with fewer words than one that is well written but long. Make sure to keep your content between 500-700 words for maximum reader retention. Also be mindful of the visual formatting and the color of your text. If it’s easy to read, it will be read.
Be sure to include a “free tips” section in your newsletter. Not only does this promote your business as an expert in the field, it attracts readers who aren’t already clients. This will also give people a reference for when they do need your services. If your newsletter is especially clever and well written, it may generate even more readers.
If you’re sticking with the feel of a journal, offer a free subscription to your newsletter. You may even gain new sales leads this way, as newsletters are often posted on work bulletin boards or passed along to friends. You can also find strong leads by periodically including coupons for your readers.
Consider, even, the newsletter’s new counterpart: the e-newsletter. One of the benefits to an e-newsletter is the analytic information you can receive. Analytics are indicators that help you find out which links are being followed and which ads are of most interest. You can even see how many people open your email and how many people you’re actually reaching. You can still include the same visual format of a paper newsletter but for much less money in the long run.
Dr. Randal Pinkett, chairman and ceo of BCT Partners and co-author of Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness, is well versed on the benefits of launching a newsletter. In a recent interview with The Network Journal, Dr. Pinkett had this to say about the key ingredients that newsletters provide when it comes to boosting sales:
A newsletter is a brilliant branding tool. It enables one to control the brand and the messaging around that brand, while tailoring content to fit the needs and interests of the consumer. Furthermore, it can provide more elaborate and detailed information than can be disseminated on Twitter and Facebook. Not only is a newsletter a tool for branding products and services, the “look and feel” of a newsletter can be seen as an extension of that brand. Social media sites, although valuable, limit your ability to fully overhaul the “look and feel” to suit your direct purposes.
Newsletters are “pushed” to the reader, assuming that they are distributed to a database of existing or potential consumers who have already expressed an interest in the product/brand by purchase or “opting in”. In this case, the key is to continue presenting information and resources deemed valuable to the consumer and maintaining or increasing interest among a pool of desired consumers. Blogs, on the other hand, necessitate a “pull”--they require additional marketing techniques in order to attract readership and draw interest out of a vast, at times unidentified, pool of web surfers. In addition, newsletters enable you to capture more long-term information from a consumer (mailing address, email, age, or race) that social media and blogs do not necessarily require. For example, I can ‘follow’ my favorite tech company on Twitter without giving up any key information in return.
e-Newsletters allow for the integration of pictures, video, and links in ways that outperform Twitter and Facebook, yielding an overall richer media experience. And now, in an age where advertising produces multiple product campaigns, an e-newsletter can provide direct links or embedded media to the brand’s viral commercial campaigns.
Newsletters allow you to segment your distribution to the interests of particular audiences (i.e. only your clients in a specified geographic region, or only your clients in a particular industry, etc.)
e-Newsletters allow you to better analyze the behavior of your audience, i.e., who read the e-Newsletter, who clicked-through certain links, coupons or media, what was the most popular content, etc. An analysis of this kind can measure consumer responses, categorize them in terms of demographic, region, industry, etc. and aid in determining which products and services are right, or even no longer relevant, for a particular consumer.
Pinkett went on to say that all of the above, if implemented optimally, have the potential to yield results, whether by putting companies in more direct touch with consumer behavior or determining the proper timing of a new product line.
While the Internet and social networking are all the rage, don’t forget the newsletter’s place in advertising. Remember, not everyone is online. As with all marketing, know your customers and know how to reach them in a way that really works.
Additional reporting contributed by Sergie Willoughby.