The granddaddy of email marketing, the e-newsletter, has been a staple tool in the email marketer’s cache of communication weapons since the first e-blasts began many years ago. Regardless of consumer or business-based selling environments, e-newsletters have allowed marketers to communicate on a regular basis with customers and prospective buyers alike. Their popularity and use, however, had been on a steady decline with the advent of new inbound marketing techniques, blogs, and social media marketing efforts. But are marketers beginning to rediscover the value of a traditional e-newsletter?
I was somewhat surprised to read in a new content marketing benchmark report from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute that in 2015, 83 percent of marketers are using or planning to use newsletters in their content marketing mix. This is up more than 10 percent from the previous two years. This is great news because this marketer believes that a well-built, content-rich newsletter is one of the most effective ways to organically build a subscriber list and following, which can eventually lead to increased sales and sales conversion. Here’s why:
- Newsletters are regular. Whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly, having a commitment to a newsletter forces your marketing team to dedicate themselves to content creation, which in the modern B2B world, fuels core systems like marketing automation.
- Helps build your mailable database. Because they are fulfilled electronically, the newsletter will provide a good reason for prospects to engage with you by giving you their email address so they can receive the newsletter.
- Thought leadership and awareness. If done well, your newsletter can be a highly useful tool in showing the market your knowledge and industry expertise.
- Cross-promotional opportunities. Your newsletter can drive general Web traffic, be promoted in email and nurture campaigns, and gain cross-promotion throughout a variety of social media networks.
- A useful sales tool. A salesperson is forever in need of good content to present to prospects to keep them engaged throughout a buy cycle. Sales can help drive their deals forward by getting their prospects signed up for a regular e-newsletter. If used as part of a marketing automation platform, readers of the newsletter are cookied and their engagement on the newsletter and website is tracked. This in turn triggers alerts to sales encouraging them to connect with a reader.
So while there are great benefits to doing a newsletter, the content behind it is critical. A well-crafted newsletter first and foremost, should provide 80 percent education and 20 percent company/product information. Remember, this is your chance to show readers your expertise and thought leadership. Don’t squander this on creating a glorified sales slick or you will lose readers and have the opposite effect on your lead generation efforts. There are many theories behind design, frequency, and content for newsletters and you could pull hundreds of articles on this topic alone. I have boiled down some of the most common tips that I think will ensure you’re newsletter is successful. They are:
- Bring in outside brains. Don’t rely 100 percent on internal employees to create content. Find external experts to author an article for your newsletter. You can find these folks in your client base, partner community, or through speaker bureaus. The beauty of this is the ability to re-purpose the article in your blog or gather a number of articles and create an e-book.
- Sign up. Keep a simple form front and center on your site and in all of your social networks to allow people to easily sign up to receive the newsletter. Don’t ask for more than a name and email. Your objective is to get people reading and sharing. There will be time to get more information from your readers later. Be patient.
- Frequency. Unless you have a team of dedicated writers, don’t commit to more than one per month. I have seen all too often marketers commit to a bi-weekly newsletter and they end up scrambling for content, only to resort to throwing a lot of PR fluff and product information into it. This is a bad idea.
- Use your newsletters as the entry point to other nurture marketing programs. Marketing automation platforms can be set up to trigger a permission-based email once someone signs up for a newsletter and ask readers if they would like more specific information on webinars, white papers, etc. Don’t overdo it here, but don’t ignore the opportunity to drive readers into a nurture-based program.
Following these tips and tactics, any marketer can produce a high quality e-newsletter and based on the trends I’ve seen, many are jumping back on this tried and true marketing tactic.