Often, when we recommend starting an email newsletter to clients who have come to LLD for our digital marketing services, many start off by being on-the-fence or indifferent to the idea. A common objection we hear is, “No one uses email anymore.” While a strong argument could have been made to this point under a decade ago,
the fact is that with the smartphone revolution, more people are using email than ever before, since now they can check it from anywhere. Another one is, “I don’t want to bug my customers.” Fair enough. However, an email newsletter done right doesn’t annoy people—quite the opposite in fact. If you concentrate your email marketing efforts on creating something of value, and we mean truly useful, not just “buy our stuff,” most people will actually look forward to your newsletter, and you’ll see your open rates take off.
As an example, we’re big fans of interactive marketing guru Seth Godin and subscribe to his blog posts via email, which comes every single day (even weekends.) Each one offers a valuable piece of marketing wisdom that couldn’t come from anyone’s brain but his and each insight adds a bit more to our own knowledge and, perhaps more importantly, sparks new ways of thinking about our business.
Now, we’re not recommending you send anything every single day, in fact, we strongly advise against it, when you’re starting out. Optimal newsletter frequency can vary from industry-to-industry, but we’ve found that starting by sending something of value to your subscribers once per month is a good way to begin, and leaves your subscribers wanting more.
There are innumerable reasons that we believe an email newsletter is a great idea for startups, no matter what your product or service is, and we’ve listed the top five below.
Newsletters allow you to speak directly to your customers.
As a small business, you have a brand, and every brand should have a voice. Faceless, voiceless brands are a product of 20th-century industry, but today people expect more. They don’t just want to purchase brands they like, but brands they believe in, and nothing can express your voice better than… well, your voice. Email newsletters provide an invaluable opportunity to speak directly to your customers, to infuse some personality into what you have to offer, and to communicate to people as human beings and not just “buying machines.” It’s well-documented that people make brand choices based on emotion, so this is your opportunity to demonstrate the personality that will trigger that emotion. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, a skilled copywriter will help.
Email newsletters boost sales.
This is an almost undeniable truism. Repeat sales are a part of any successful startup’s business plan, and what better way to drive repeat sales than reaching out directly to people who have already purchased your product? And if you’re launching a new product or service, there is no lead more qualified than someone who has purchased from you in the past. In addition to this, newsletters allow you drive new sales by offering referral codes for customers to share with their friends. This tactic is a way of incentivizing of word-of-mouth, which is the most powerful kind of marketing. If you offer a code that, when used by the new customer at checkout, offers a 10% discount to BOTH the new customer and the existing one that referred her, everybody wins. Offering discounts to people who love your product is exactly what we mean by providing something of value, and your customers will love you for it.
Email newsletters encourage engagement on social media.
If you’re engaged in social media marketing (and we think you absolutely should be) email newsletters are a fantastic way to drive to your social platforms and gain more followers. Sometimes all you need is a social button in your email that links to your social media page, but if you’re engaged in a social media campaign, a contest, for example, your newsletter is a way to let your readers know about it, get them excited, and then seamlessly drive to the campaign through a link or a button. Getting followers on social media is essential, but can be tough for new businesses and startups. Asking for likes is awkward and uncomfortable, it’s far better to have your brand spread organically. Getting likes or follows from past customers is a great first step, and there’s no better way spark engagement with your social accounts than by driving directly to it. After that, the spreading can begin.
Newsletters drive customers to your website.
If you’re making effective use of your email newsletter, each edition should have links back to your website, but more importantly, should offer your customers a reason to click on the links. Returning to the example of new product offerings, an email newsletter can offer teasers for the new product, with the full reveal waiting for them when they click the link. Once they are on your site, of course, the page they land on should funnel them toward a sale or towards similar products that they are likely to love as well.
Teasing seasonal specials is another effective way to use your newsletter to drive to your site. During the holiday season, your customers will be in buying mode, but the competition will be high, and teasing compelling deals through email is a sure-fire way to get them into your “store.” Finally, you may have noticed that many email newsletters these days offer something of value for free—a download of an e-book for example—in order to get people on their site. Obviously, the type of freebie you offer will depend on the business you’re in, but it’s a tried and true method for getting folks onto your website.
Segmenting, targeting, and tracking.
There’s no question that email marketing and come a long way since its inception over 25 years ago. One of the most valuable features that come packaged with almost any good email service, like MailChimp, is the ability to segment your newsletters into different “types” of customers. In addition to having a “master list” containing all your subscribers, you can also create sub-lists that contain, for example, customers who have purchased a specific product, or people in a certain geographic area. This is clearly a huge boon when it comes to targeting your messages, as it allows you to zoom in on exactly who each message should reach. This also makes your newsletter more valuable to its readers, as the messages that reach them will be more relevant if they take into account past purchases or demographics. In fact, segmented emails enjoy an open rate that is 14.31% higher than non-segmented emails. The best email services also allow you to track interactions with your message at a granular level, o that you can not only see how many opened your email, but who—specifically—opened it, and who clicked on which links. This has tremendous value in terms of honing your message in future emails, and also allows you to test marketing messages for efficacy before you launch an Adwords campaign or social media advertising.
As you can see, there are many great reasons to have an email newsletter. We also understand, however, that it takes a bit of work to get it off the ground, time and attention to monitor and adjust, and marketing expertise to interpret the learning in order to drive growth. At LLD, our email marketing team has the expertise help you with this part of your digital marketing strategy, and we’d love to talk to you about how we can help get your newsletter working for your small business quickly.