Last week we talked about the importance of aligning your leaflet drops with your other types of marketing communication and highlighted the usefulness of a quality e-mail newsletter. We emphasized that in terms of affluent London customers, the key word here was quality and that your newsletter needed to be created in such a way that customers would actually enjoy receiving it and want to open and read it.
Tip number 1, which is possibly the most widely-ignored tip on the web, is make it completely voluntary to receive the newsletter. By completely voluntary, we mean that if you offer any sort of downloadable content on your website, you just let people download it without making them hand over their e-mail address to be able to access it. Leaving aside the fact that any remotely tech-savvy customer is likely to have a “spamcatcher” address for this purpose, all you’re doing is devaluing your newsletter by presenting it as something people have, essentially, to be press-ganged into accepting. Just let them download the content and leave your other details, such as how to sign up to your e-mail newsletter and/or find you on social media within the document. If your content is good, you have a good chance that people will choose to sign up. If it isn’t, then it should be.
Secondly, you need to grasp the fact that people have signed up to receive a newsletter rather than a sales brochure. Yes it can be fine to make a reference to something related to sales, provided that it can reasonably be placed under the heading of news (e.g. a special offer) but, at most, that should amount to 10% of your content. If people know who you are, what you do and how to find you and they like you, then there’s a good chance they’ll contact you when they’re in buying mode.
Your content needs to educate and/or entertain and/or inspire. If it does at least one of the aforementioned, sales will follow on. For example, if you are a shoe shop and you have a special offer on a particular brand, you could educate customers by telling them about what makes this brand special, you could entertain customers by telling them a funny story about something which happened when you were wearing a pair of shoes from this brand and/or you could inspire customers by giving advice about how to match shoes by this brand to outfits. You then mention, almost in passing, that, as it happens, you have a special offer on this brand. This is likely to get far more attention and response than an e-mail which simply goes on about the amazing special offer.
On that note, we would advise caution about having special offers just for e-mail subscribers, as it can encourage people to see the newsletter as a source of discounts (which only apply when they are in buying mode) rather than a source of valuable content, which they can read at any time.
Set expectations, have a consistent structure, but keep content fresh
When people agree to receive your e-mail newsletter, make sure they’re clear about what they’ll be receiving and how often. You may want to guide them to making sure that your e-mail is able to get through their spam filters. One way to set expectations and keep Google happy by updating your website is to make e-mail newsletters publically available after a certain time. Then subscribers can see exactly what sort of content they’re likely to get and decide if it’s relevant for them. It may take a bit of trial and error to come up with the best structure for your e-mail newsletter, but once you have it right, stay with it unless there’s a compelling reason to change as that is what subscribers expect. Content however, has to be fresh and this includes the subject line, which ideally should be customized to each edition of the newsletter.