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October 19, 2015
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I was told not long ago that email newsletters have gone the way of the dodo bird.

I have to disagree. Rather, I think that the audience has changed, while the practice of creating newsletters did not. To breathe new life into this outreach vehicle, we simply need to bring our approach out of the Stone Age.

Today, there are an overwhelming number of messages coming from different directions competing for the exact same audience. It can be difficult to rise above the hubbub!

Have you fallen into a newsletter rut? Do you find your email newsletters and their message wind up in the trash bin before being opened?

If so, here are three questions to ask yourself before building your next newsletter!

Question #1: Is it Relevant?

If you operate a financial planning business, perhaps you should reconsider putting home-cooked recipes in your newsletter. In fact; unless you’re in the food, fitness, or residential real estate industry; this is a good rule of thumb for everyone.

You send email newsletters to keep your customers (or potential customers) up-to-date on the services you offer and trends in your industry. Studies have shown that the average person spends a shocking 15-20 seconds or less reading individual emails. In that 15-20 seconds, they are only really retaining about 50 words of what you are saying.

That’s it. You have 50 words to give them a reason to keep reading. Is Grandma’s meatloaf really the best use of those words?

In our fast-paced society, it’s always a good idea to maximize the content and formatting of your newsletters. Get to the heart of the matter without the extra “fluff”. Your content should be personable, but direct.

Question #2: Is it Useful?

If it’s a high open rate you seek; keep your ear to the ground on your customer’s industry, concerns, and local trends. You want to find a pain point that they have and address it in the subject line of the email. You’re there to solve a problem that they have right now, and are therefore worthy of their valuable time.

An Example: ABC bank is launching a new e-commerce feature. The marketing department releases their monthly newsletter with a heading about the new regulations on credit cards with the EMV chip. For business clients, this will be of interest because there are new legal ramifications if they are not compliant. In that newsletter, ABC bank adds a short article about their new e-commerce feature next to the EMV information.

Remember: It’s about what the customer needs, not what you want to sell.

Question #3: Is it Brief?

Ready for the good news?

With attention spans shortening, the new rule is “More punch, Less copy”.

In fact, you really only need 250 words in your entire newsletter. I’m not saying that your articles need to be short. I’m saying if you are putting more than 250 words into your newsletter, link them to longer articles in your blog. Get the audience hooked, and then drive them to your website.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, you want to drive the audience to your website. Traffic is always good! Second (and more importantly), you want qualified prospective customers to visit your virtual ‘digs’.

If someone likes what they see in your article summaries and clicks through to your blog, that’s someone with an interest in your services. They just might not know it yet. Getting them to your website gives you an opportunity to demonstrate how you can fix the pain point that prompted them to read the article – and possibly more!

“This Seems Like a Lot of Work”

Well, it is! Marketing through any vehicle should be a dedicated, strategic process. Email newsletters are no different.

Newsletters are still an effective method of branding and help to keep your business ‘top of mind’. They’re also extremely cost-effective, which is great for small businesses!

If you are concerned about having the time (or creativity) to build customer-focused newsletters with consistent impact and return, contact erika@heerencontentstrategy.com to request a quote!

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