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Home / Reviews / Features / Marketing / Have I got news for you

Have I got news for you

How to improve your e-newsletters.

In some respects, email newsletters have become the new junk mail. Everybody seems to be doing them. And instead of unsolicited material dropping through your letter box the way it used to, now it simply arrives via your computer.

But just as the best ‘junk’ mail proved to be effective (the concept wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did otherwise), so too can email newsletters. They just need a little thought, in terms of content, design and distribution.

So before you send out your next newsletter - or maybe your first if you’ve yet to dip a toe in this particular water - ask yourself some questions.

What should it look like?

There are two basic options. Get it designed professionally, and send it out as a complete html file. The quality will speak for itself, it will mirror your corporate identity, and the version that readers open will be guaranteed to be free from glitches, file corruptions and missing hyperlinks. The alternative is to use one of the numerous newsletter companies, such as MailChimp, iContact or Constant Contact. You can choose from a variety of templates, work your way through the training programmes, and send out a nice-looking newsletter at a relatively low cost. Just be careful not to choose a template that looks similar to one of your competitors. And they are prone to the occasional technical blip, which you just have to live with. Above all however, don’t ‘design’ your own newsletter, unless you really are a graphic or website designer. It will look amateurish and cheap, and readers will assume the same applies to your business.    

What should it include?

Back to one of my favourite maxims: less is more. Don’t overwrite, don’t go into laborious details, and always include a call to action - something that will make the reader respond, such as a special offer, a competition or an event. Keep the content brief, punchy and newsworthy. If you haven’t got anything new to say, don’t fill space for the sake of it. You need to keep in regular contact with your clients to remind them you are still there - it’s called ‘touching’ them in the world of marketing - but don’t send a newsletter unless you can justify the ‘news’ part of the phrase.

Who should I send it to?

Managing your database takes time, but the effort is worth it. Keep it up to date. Respond to changes, such as bounce-backs, new addresses and requests to unsubscribe, as they come in. Don’t save them up to do all in one go. You will find yourself with a newsletter ready to send and a backlog of admin to do before you can. If you’re sending to a ‘dead’ address you’re wasting your own time and money, as most newsletter providers work on a cost-per-address basis. Familiarise yourself with the latest data protection rules, but also remember to include a ‘forward to a friend’ function, so existing readers can spread the word.

When do I send it?

When are your busiest periods? When are you quiet? Do customers tend to book/buy ahead? How do the seasons/weather affect you? You know your business patterns and customers better than anybody, so tie in your newsletters accordingly. And monitor the responses, otherwise you’ll never know if they’re working.

Last but not least...

Images. Always a tricky subject, especially when you operate in the naturist industry. Use photos to illustrate or break up text. Make sure you have the subject’s permission. And go for implied rather than explicit nudity. Readers need to know what the newsletter is about, but you’re not peddling pornography, nor do you want to risk offending anybody who has a shared or workplace email address.

PAUL ROUSE


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