So you want an e-newsletter. Now what?

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In so many cases, marketing is a matter of reminding your customers who you are and what you do. The boom of electronic communications has made this process relatively simple, informal and inexpensive.

Many companies are turning to the e-newsletter format for its ability to educate, remind, introduce new products or services and market themselves. If you are just getting started with an e-newsletter or considering the option, here is a checklist to follow, in order.

First, understand any applicable regulations. Some industries, like financial or medical where use of client information is heavily regulated by federal law, have very strict rules about how businesses communicate with current and potential customers. Learn these first before you get too far.

Next, create a look that is flexible and clean. Researching e-newsletter programs before you start using one will save time and headaches. Or talk with a marketing agency, which is likely to have done this research already.

And make sure that the look reflects your brand. When your customers receive your e-newsletter in their inbox for the first time, you have seconds to convince them that it isn't spam. The easiest way to do this is by giving them a recognizable graphic upfront: your logo, the president's photo, your product or a distinct color scheme are all ways of doing this.

Then, determine a schedule that makes sense to you and your audience. E-newsletters sent only once a year do nothing for your brand's momentum and your audience's familiarity with it. Daily e-newsletters might be a burden on your team and may annoy your customers. Find a frequency that is comfortable.

Don't forget to develop good articles. If you don't have a good writer on staff, hire one. If a marketing agency is helping to create content, make sure that a trained writer is working on the project, not an account rep who considers himself a writer because he aced his handwriting test in 4th grade. E-newsletter writing is not advertising writing, and your customers will notice the difference instantly.

Over time build your list. Some may argue that you need to have a perfect list from the start. Not so. You need to have a list at the start, but the perfect list is a product of good, regular articles, and it grows over time. Also, be careful of throwing money at an unknown email list provider. Using these lists can land you on many blacklists quickly.

Eventually, encourage action. Where this step falls depends on your industry. Sometimes, a coupon as part of the first e-newsletter is an appropriate way of saying, "Try us out." Business-to-business relationships usually require several communications of relationship building before any hard selling.

Kleidon & Associates has been a partner with several companies for the development of their electronic communications. From initial template designs for the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau and the Amish Door Village, to monthly content development for the Greater Akron Chamber to the design and writing of e-blasts for Jones & Wenner Insurance, we can assist where help is needed.
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