A reader from Hong Kong recently inquired about the marketing and content leverage a newsletter could provide for paid publications. This raises an important but often-overlooked aspect of newsletters. Most newsletter publishers think of their products as single marketing programs or entities. Too often, benefits for other marketing opportunities are not considered.
In the magazine industry, a newsletter is an opportunity to enhance a publication’s brand. It provides a means to segment editorial and promotional offers. It can deliver breaking news, updates, and other critical information. Newsletters can also help increase the publication’s paid circulation.
There are some very simple things your newsletter can do that will enhance marketing and public relations. Here are just a few ideas of how to morph a newsletter to create additional leverage:
Product launches. Many companies, both consumer and business-to-business (B2B), launch anywhere from one to several hundred products each year. They may have a customer or prospect newsletter with company-wide information, but a new product can be enhanced by a dedicated, "hot off the press" issue to support the launch. An entire issue can be dedicated to a new product or service. This includes features, benefits, early customer feedback, and reasons to buy or upgrade.
Virtual trade shows. Trade shows are a less attractive marketing vehicle than they once were. Most companies attend a small handful, but many customers or prospects may not be able to travel to a particular show. Give them a virtual tour of your booth. Let them know what you hope to accomplish at the show. Or after the event send a summary of what they missed.
Event promotions and invitations. Webinars are growing in popularity as corporate travel shrinks and your audience’s time becomes scarce. Promoting a Webinar or event with a special newsletter update gives you an opportunity to sell the event, the speakers, and the reason it’s a must-attend.
"Just for you" promotions. If you have an offer that’s only appropriate for part of your audience, a newsletter promotion is ideal. Segment your readers and mail only to those who are appropriate.
Directional marketing. Do you have new information on your Web site? Is your company featured somewhere you’d like readers to be aware of? Use your newsletter to announce what’s up and direct readers where you want them to go, such as an editorial write-up in an industry publication or a new case study on your site.
Sales cycle enhancement. If your product or service has a long sales cycle, several prospects are likely at the same stage of the buying process. Create a stepped newsletter approach to target each stage of the game. For example, level one is for prospects who have inquired about your product, level two for those who had an initial conversation with a sales rep, level three for those who have had demonstrations, and so forth. The beauty of such an approach is consistency in the selling model and more control moving prospects forward.
Product support. Most companies view newsletters primarily as a marketing or promotional tool. In tough economic times when every department is cut back, a newsletter can provide product support, technical tips, and other information commonly requested via phone or online support. It’s a time saver and a cost-effective tool for enhancing customer service.
Subscription enhancer. If you want to increase newsletter readership or circulation of other printed vehicles, create a special bulletin that focuses exclusively on "tell a friend" benefits. Chances are, your readers know others who can benefit from your product or service. A referral contest could offer readers an incentive for the most referrals who subscribe.
These are just a few off-the-top-of-my-head suggestions for leveraging your newsletter investment. Don’t think of a newsletter as a single entity. How you can morph yours to extend its reach and readability through these, and other, variations?
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Kathleen Goodwin is the former CEO of IMN (formerly iMakeNews), specializing in customer acquisition and retention through permission-based e-newsletters. For nine years, she was vice president of marketing for Ziff-Davis' publishing division, where she oversaw the marketing of all print publications and their early online siblings. She also serves as an advisor to early-stage companies and has been responsible for several successful new-business launches.