From time to time we are asked questions about our monthly email newsletter that we have produced for three years. Although we claim no expertise in this form of marketing, as a service to our friends here are some of the things we have learned from our experience.
1. Mailchimp – it’s free and beginner friendly. Mailchimp is an Atlanta-based emailing system. It offers its “Forever Free” program that is free if you have 2000 or fewer subscribers (email addresses) and send fewer than 12,000 emails in a month. For someone who had never used a program like this, I was able to get up and using the system fairly quickly. It took a while to become efficient at the task of creating a newsletter, but Mailchimp and others provide plenty of video tutorials on how to use the program.
2. Regularly add email addresses. You will be surprised how fast your list grows. If you don’t already have a spreadsheet of names, just begin collecting business cards at networking events, trade shows, etc. and continuously update your list. You may be part of organizations that can provide you with lists of email addresses.
3. Goal #1 is regular contact. Email newsletters are wonderful ways to overcome the “out of sight out of mind” phenomenon. Generating a monthly newsletter, even if it goes unopened, can still remind the recipient of who you are and what you do.
4. Set reasonable expectations for open rates and read rates. Typical open rates for monthly newsletters usually run around 15%. For our main newsletter we generally get an open rate of 18-25%. Over time, expect your open rate to decrease. And realistically, the busy people you are sending your newsletter to are probably not going to digest fully the information contained, but some will. Your hope should be that the information may be helpful to some and establish you as the expert to all.
5. Expect bounces and unsubscriptions. There are a number of reasons emails do not make it to your recipient. We call these bounces. Sometimes the culprit is the the receiver’s security settings. Often, I have simply entered the email address wrong. We also expect two or three to unsubscribe every month. As we have written about before, many of us are victims of information overload online, and an unscribing from emails is one remedy.
6. Make it personal, upbeat, local and different. Too many newsletters look like they are purchased from “services” that provide the contents and format. Gives yours a personal touch. I use photos (as you can see) to show our engagement with clients, friends and the community. If we can take dry material and make it fun, we have accomplished something.
7. Include tools. If you can include in your newsletter tools for clients to use, provide links. For instance, we are now including a tool to test websites to make sure they are mobile friendly.
8. Links for more information. The @tlanta inbound newsletter provides links to our blog, our reviews, our Facebook page, and Ray’s Linkedin page. Our goal is to give each recipient close at hand information about @tlanta inbound.
9. Leveraging content. I try to write two articles, like this one, every month. They generally are in the 400-500 words range. That size is perfect for blog posts, so I can then take the articles and add the blog on the website. Once the articles are on the blog, I take the website link and post it on Facebook and Linkedin, getting expanded benefit from our creative efforts.
10. Bottom line, does it work? We think so. In different ways, we get “feedback” almost every month from the newsletter. And the newsletter has resulted in new business from time to time.
Have questions about doing your newsletter? Just give Ray a call or shoot him an email. today!