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Enewsletters – the original social media…

Written by Brett Sidaway, July 22, 2011
 | Enewsletters - the original social media...

Enewsletters – the original social media…

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While lots of small businesses think ecommerce is a matter of good web design and SEO, today there is an increasing focus on social media.

It might be a good time to look again at the value of perhaps ecommerce’s original social media – the enewsletter and email marketing. To some, even its very name seems old-fashioned. However, the ability to deliver key brand, sales and product information direct to opted-in customers is still one of the most powerful weapons any organisation has. If used correctly, it offers the chance to build and grow business in just as customer-focused way as any other form of ‘social media’ can offer. Here are some areas to consider for a winning enewsletter:

Email Marketing Ideas, Hints and Tips

1. Just do it!

Newsletter extensions are among the most numerous – and highest rated – plug-ins for CMS systems such as Joomla and WordPress. With Joomla, AcyMailing is typical of the dozens of free plug-ins. As well as providing a template it will also:

  • Handle data protection issues – like opt-outs and recording IP usage to help you comply with UK legal requirements
  • Personalise all mailing – to maximise impact
  • Integrate with other social media like Facebook and Twitter, as well as shopping cart integration for ecommerce sites
  • Archive newsletters

Similar plug-ins are available for all CMS or blog-based software, most free. Because they are so powerful and easy to use, there is really no excuse for any business not to be using them. For those with bespoke websites, third party providers like dotMailer and MailChimp offer templates, data handling and distribution at very little cost.

2. Just do it regularly

Once you start, it is important to keep going. The best plan may be to make a plan – put together enough ideas, copy [words etc.] and offers for three – four issues. That way you will buy some time and will start to get into a routine. Getting customer response, increased sales and brand awareness will become your biggest motivation. How often you send out an enewsletter will depend on how much you have to say [see point 4] what customer segment you are sending it [see point 3], but a minimum requirement would seem to be once a month. Regularity is just as important – don’t send three in one month and then nothing for the next three months. And think like magazines and set a ‘publication’ day – say Friday afternoons for weekly newsletters and last Friday of the month for a monthly one.

3. One size doesn’t fit all

Again, one of the benefits that enewsletter and emarketing software bring is the ability to deliver multiple enewsletters to multiple sectors. It’s very unlikely your customers form one block interested in all aspects of your business; they are more likely to be interested in just one area of your business. Based on opt-ins, you can now create newsletters specifically for those customers – again maximising their effectiveness and delivering messages that your customers want to read about. You may find you write shorter, more focussed newsletters so there is no issue with finding things to write about.

4. What to write

Perhaps surprisingly business people don’t think there is enough to say about the very thing they dedicate most of their waking hours to! Although writing about products and services is important, enewsletters need to be more than an electronic sales promotion. Other areas to write about include :

  • the team
  • success stories, case studies etc
  • the history of the business
  • future plans
  • community and charity links
  • general articles related to your business expertise

One thing that we have learned from other social media is to get interactive with customers – be open with them and look to get their feedback on the business and products, poll them on your services, ask them for ideas on future product range etc. The content you write can also be used to update the website, create content for blogs and published articles and link to social media – all very important elements in improving your website’s visibility.

5. How to write

Businesses other concern is about their ability to write. It’s unlikely your customers will insist on Nobel-wining prose. In fact, if the enewsletter reflects your or your businesses personality so much the better. Don’t feel you have to do everything yourself either. Asking other members of the team will not only lighten your load, it will get buy-in from the staff and add interest to the newsletter. Don’t get hooked on thinking enewsletters are only words – remember to use photos and videos as these add variety and receive a positive response from readers.

6. Read and learn

One of the greatest benefits to an enewsletter is the ability to measure response. As well as general information about how many you sent and who opened your newsletter, you will also be able to see which elements were more [or less ] popular. You will be able to track direct links to your website, and see if it has driven response to other social media. Nice as these statistics are, they are meaningless unless acted on. Use the figures to hone and polish your message to maximise sales. Learn the difference in response to offers and vouchers. See if a particular article has attracted special attention. Set time aside to analyse the results before planning your next newsletter. Used properly, and in conjunction with good web design and SEO, together with the rest of the marketing mix including social media marketing, enewsletters and their statistics will be a powerful cost-effective tool in guiding and developing your business growth.

Image credit – JASE Group LLC

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