’Smart’ Newsletters: Seven Techniques

Rise and shine, marketers. It’s a new day for newsletters! The medium is busy reinventing itself from what it was just a few short years ago. Whether it’s new, evolving technologies or more strategic and smarter thinking driving change is hard to say. One thing is certain: Newsletters have the potential to be something very different from their tried-and-true ink-and-paper siblings.

Newsletters don’t take a backseat any more. They’re emerging as one of the strongest components of today’s marketing communications plans because of their unique ability to improve customer care and extend the life of a prospect. They’re starting to replace the more expensive media of advertising and direct mail, both in business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). The fact is, permission-based e-newsletters outperform every other online advertising and e-marketing medium. Strengthened with companion microsites and dynamic content, “smart” newsletters can now deliver customized and personalized messages — a critical factor for deepening brand relationships and keeping customers loyal.

E-Newsletters Get Smart

Most marketers know newsletters are cost effective and timely. Few know newsletters can be smart. That’s right, smart. Used correctly, they can provide more intelligence and knowledge about customers and prospects than you can imagine. But only if you know how to use them. Marketers are learning to look beyond traditional measurements of click-through and open rates and, instead, observe how people interact with and read content, promotions, and fact-based information.

By tracking customers’ interactivity with content and using new customer segmentation techniques, savvy marketers now produce smart newsletters customized with messages based on true reader preferences and complex customer intelligence.

Seven Steps to Getting Smart

How can you create a smart newsletter? Here are seven things you can try:

  • Think like a publisher. Content is the magnet that will drive your readership and attract subscribers. Great content equals great readership.

  • Be committed. Don’t test the waters — jump in with both feet! Create a plan, define content and sections, and consider your brand when thinking about your newsletter’s design.
  • Develop subscriber profiles that are meaningful to your business or marketing objective. If you’re a technology marketer, you may want to consider collecting information on the technology your prospects and customers have to determine what type of information you should send next or to qualify their role in the buying cycle.

    Collect and gather more customer intelligence through database management and data mining. Use surveys and quick polls to see how customers interact with your content, product, services, or brand. It’s a fast, easy way to learn more about preferences, dislikes, and opinions. Use all this knowledge to help time messages and content according to where a customer is in the buying cycle.

  • Establish content based on subscriber profiles. Create articles that speak to the interests of audience segments. Use the knowledge you garner to stand in your customer’s shoes so you can understand her individual interests and behaviors. Then, individualize and personalize communications and incentive offerings accordingly.
  • Your content should continually evolve as you get to know each customer better. Over time, you’ll become so adept at meeting readers’ needs, they will seek out each newsletter — and click links that build their brand knowledge. Even if you need to send 10,000 different newsletters with each “mail drop,” this approach yields deep rewards.
  • Take advantage of new template online approaches that make it easy to deliver a continuous deep branding experience with built-in measurement and reporting of brand performance.
  • Explore, investigate, and demand new metrics that go beyond open rates and click-throughs. Measure interactivity between your customers and content to reveal just how strong or weak your brand relationship is, who has high value potential to your company, and who is most likely to respond to your long-term customer- and brand-building efforts.

If you haven’t tried these techniques, don’t worry. In upcoming columns, I’ll address each one and show how progressive marketers use e-newsletters to build close, personal, profitable relationships between customers and brands.

Questions or comments? Please email me. I look forward to hearing from you!

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