5 Ways to Use Newsletters to Build Community and Sales

hml email newsletter

ways to use newslettersNewsletters are a great way to engage consumers, create community, and generate sales.  Newsletters also make a great addition to your existing marketing communication strategy as they allow improved, consistent communication with subscribers that keeps you top of mind when they need products.  Today, we’ll discuss ways to use newsletters as part of your marketing strategy.

Ways to use newsletters

You can print newsletters and give them to customers along with their purchases if you have a brick and mortar store. This works especially well if you have an older customer base or as a way to get information out when you don’t have a large mailing list.

More commonly, especially in today’s digital world, newsletters are sent on a defined schedule to subscribers. For instance, I send out a newsletter to subscribers with updates about my novels as well as offers from fellow indie writers on a bi-monthly basis.

According to Wikipedia, a newsletter is:

a regularly distributed publication generally about one main topic that is of interest to its subscribers. Newspapers and leaflets are types of newsletters. Additionally, newsletters delivered electronically via email (e-Newsletters) have gained rapid acceptance for the same reasons email in general is gaining popularity over printed correspondence.

This means, if you decide to produce a newsletter, you’ll need to set up a schedule and commit to producing content on a regular basis — usually once every two weeks or once a month. Creating newsletters more frequently may cause subscribers to unsubscribe, which hurts your market performance and may lead to poor delivery or even cancelation of your relationship with the company hosting your subscriber lists.

An online newsletter, sometimes called an e-newsletter, gets shared across your social networks, as well.

Crafting a newsletter strategy

  • As with any other strategy, the starting place is establishing goals for the particular tactic. Ensure you establish smart goals (see the link for how to create them).
  • You’ll need an email company that hosts your mailing list and facilitates creating newsletters. If you’re short on funds, MailChimp is a great option, although they recently weakened the appeal of their free tier and lowered the number of subscribers allowed. If you have a little more money, try Constant Contact (which limits the number of images allowed at the lower pricing tiers) or Aweber (which is what I use).
  • You’ll need subscribers and this is challenging.
    • A subscriber form: All the email companies I recommended, as well as most others, provide tools for creating sign-up forms. Keep it simple and only ask for information from subscribers that’s absolutely necessary (commonly name and email address) to increase the number who subscribe. Here’s mine:

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “//forms.aweber.com/form/55/416693255.js”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, “script”, “aweber-wjs-ap014jo7o”));

    • Placement of form: put the form everywhere — such as in the sidebar on your website, on the home page, in your social media (Facebook has a tab for this).
    • Inducements: offering subscribers something for giving up their info helps build your list. Commonly, companies offer white papers, infographics, or special access to entice subscribers. Some companies hold contests, like the one below from AirBnB.

newsletter signup contest

  • Newsletters

What to put in your newsletter

The quality of the information in your newsletter is a prime factor in achieving the objectives of your marketing strategy. So, give serious consideration to what you put in your newsletter.

The key element of this marketing strategy is that you must provide value to your customers and others reading your newsletter. If the newsletter contains mostly bold self-promotion, readers get annoyed. Annoyed subscribers stop reading your newsletter (and may even report your newsletter to your provider) and poor quality newsletters may hurt your brand, especially among existing customers.

Providing content value also aids your marketing strategy in several other ways.

  • High-value newsletters get a LOT of secondary readership (meaning people pass them along to their friends).
  • People tend to keep high-value newsletters or at least (virtually) clip relevant portions from the newsletter to refer to later. This extends the life of your message, providing a boost to your marketing strategy over a long period of time.  For instance, a consumer might clip a recipe containing your branded ingredients for many years and potentially pass these recipes to their heirs.
  • Finally, high-value newsletters generate additional subscribers either from those who originally got a pass-along copy from a friend or from those who find your content online and subscribe when they see its value.

5 Ways to Get Value from your Newsletter

1. Follow the rules

Obtaining subscribers and sending newsletters changed with the passage of Can-Spam in the US and GDPR in the EU (California has a law similar to GDPR). These laws make several practices common among email marketers illegal to protect the privacy of individuals. Among the practices now illegal are:

  1. Buying mailing lists if used for electronic purposes. Buying mailing lists to a physical address is still allowed.
  2. Deceptive headings and subject lines
  3. Not identifying your physical location
  4. Not allowing subscribers to unsubscribe from the list and honoring these subscription changes in a timely manner
  5. Sending electronic communications other than those explicit in the subscription form

Penalties for breaking the rules fall on your email newsletter provider and are very steep. For this reason, these companies have very stringent rules, often more significant to your strategy than those imposed by government rules. Failure to comply may mean your relationship with the company ends.

Further, email clients, such as Outlook and Gmail, recently started segregating emails viewed as promotional to separate folders that most users never open. Interaction by subscribers with your email brings messages out of these folders.

2. Increase sales

Newsletters share information about your product and should include features for increasing sales such as:

  • Information about new products and services
  • Instructions for using your products, especially unique uses that might not have occurred to readers, such as recipes or financial services
  • Workarounds for common problems, for instance, there is a problem with apps for Droid. A newsletter could include instructions to avoiding downloading this app or how to eliminate the problem if the app has already been downloaded.

This information encourages the purchase of new products, increased sales of existing products, and decreased returns of sold products while supporting the brand.

3. Build a community

Newsletters are a great way to engage consumers with your brand.

  • You might include pictures of consumers buying or using your product — like Harley showing the owner group (HOGs) during a rally.
  • You can invite consumers to share information — like patients suffering from disease might share how they cope with the disease in a newsletter supported by an association like the American Cancer Society or for a pharmaceutical company making a drug to treat the disease.
  • Newsletters can contain all kinds of user-generated or company-generated content to help bring the two groups together.

A good newsletter also might contain a forum or some other vehicle allowing feedback from readers to share in the next issue of the newsletter.

4. Engage employees

Just as a newsletter can engage customers, it can engage employees. A newsletter for internal use might contain information about job openings and promotions, information about existing products and new products, philanthropic activities of the firm to help the community or save energy, or providesother evidence of social responsibility.

Newsletters such as these support your marketing strategy by strengthening internal relationships, motivating employees, and sharing information with other stakeholders.

5. Referrals for salesforce

Newsletters can further support your marketing strategy by providing leads for your sales force in industrial sales or for high-end consumer goods such as automobiles and insurance. By tracking readers and their reading preferences, you identify prospects for particular products. Alternatively, you add CTA (calls to action) within the newsletter that links to additional information, sends requests for contact to the salesforce, or sends subscribers to online sites to purchase your product.

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