Each and every day e-Newsletters are playing a larger role in the success of online businesses, an industry that witnesses many an Internet venture struggle to stay afloat amongst the saturation of information. Given this vast sea of knowledge and choices of Internet gurus to follow, loyalty moves to the forefront as a clear priority for any company that wants to attract and maintain quality clients. As the old saying goes, “It costs a lot less to retain a customer than to acquire a new one.”
WHAT IS AN E-NEWSLETTER?
I know this is review for many, but let’s break it down quickly. According to Wikipedia, “a newsletter is a regularly distributed publication generally about one main topic that is of interest to its subscribers.” So, with the “e” in e-Newsletter standing for “electronic”, it’s one distributed through an electronic means, most notably e-mail. Said “news” can comprise of anything that the creator wants to include (What would we do without the Internet acting as our giant soapbox?!).
E-Newsletters are markedly different from their traditional print counterparts, not only due to their distribution, but also to their conception and analysis of results, making them an exceptional marketing tool. Not just online, but brick-and-mortar businesses as well can maintain regular contact with their subscribers and, therefore, foster a sense of loyalty.
TYPES OF E-NEWSLETTERS
E-Newsletters can have a variety of objectives, and we will consider two different types.
Predominantly informative e-Newsletter:
Objective – Supply the subscriber with the necessary information. Purpose – Sell ad space, increase brand awareness, increase loyalty.
Predominantly commercial e-Newsletter:
Objective – Product and/or service announcements, vehicle for promotional campaigns. Purpose – Increase sales, increase loyalty, sell ad space, increase brand awareness.
WHY HAVE AN E-NEWSLETTER?
E-Newsletters are a fundamental industrument to foster loyalty in your subscribers since it allows you to maintain regular contact, and thereby cultivate a relationship; a marketing relationship.
Furthermore, it is a relatively inexpensive and timely platform that is measurable. The creator can analyze the results with great precision, and therefore learn a tremendous amount about their consumer base. On the other hand, with print newsletters, it is difficult to know who received it, what was read, and so on.
E-NEWSLETTER: THE EXECUTION
Objectives, Purpose and Target Audience
The first step on your to-do list is to answer the who, what, and why of your e-Newsletter. Similar to any marketing strategy, this information is absolutely necessary when deciding on the specifics of the Newsletter, from the layout (design, background, colors, etc.) to the best day and time to send it.
Subscription to the e-Newsletter
The next step is to decide how you will “capture” your subscribers and what fields will be part of the subscription form.
-Methods of Enlisting Subscribers
The four most common practices are: The opt-out, the double opt-in, the opt-in and the mailing list.
Opt out – With this method, the Newsletter is sent without first obtaining the receiver’s consent. However, within the Newsletter, the receiver is given the option to no longer receive the publication, or in other words, “opt out” of future mailings. Furthermore, not only do you not want to be a spammer (since nobody likes one of those), but you don’t want to be falsely accused of being one. According to “The CAN-SPAM Act: Requirements for Commercial Emailers”, the law requires that your email give recipients an opt-out method. Double opt-in (double confirmation) – The subscription to the e-Newsletter is only complete once the following two complementary steps have been completed: -Subscriber submits information (usually just their e-mail) to the company, often through a small form or banner-like area of the website promoting the e-Newsletter. -Subscriber confirms that they want to receive the e-Newsletter by following a link e-mailed to them by the company. If the second step of the confirmation process is not completed, the e-Newsletter will never be sent. Not only does it confirm that the subscriber wants to receive the publication, but also that the e-mail address given is a valid one. Opt-in – The e-Newsletter is sent after receiving prior consent from the recipient. Many times, “consent” is the introduction of an e-mail into a subscription form on the company’s Web site. This method is used to capture a more generalized audience. Mailing lists – A mailing list is an already assembled collection of names and e-mails that a company can rent or buy. Furthemore, mailing list brokers exist to help companies locate what they are looking for.
-Subscription Form: Requirements
Equally important as the capture method is the fields of your subscription form. A fine line exists between too little and too much information. The former may mean zero demographic information (and little market insight for you), whereas the latter could scare off potential subscribers (and potential sales for you). So, the question remains…Just email? Email and name? Email, name and date of birth? Email, name, date of birth and favorite position? Heck, they may answer favorite position before last name!
Although information is (extremely) important when devising a marketing plan, the typical Internet surfer is not very tolerant of time-consuming processes, which go against the spirit of the “Net”: privacy, liberty, ease and speed. However, one option is to request a relatively complete gamut of information, though making only some fields obligatory, which are often symoblized with an asterik (*). That way, the surfer can decide what to divulge and what to keep a secret.
Personalization and Frequency
The more the e-Newsletter addresses the wants and needs of its subscribers, the more likely they will read it, continue to opt in and maintain a high opinion of the company.
The frequency is another important aspect that is dependent upon the type of e-Newsletter:
If it is an informative one, it is justifiable to send it daily, like a bonafied newspaper. If it is a commerical one, it is sensible to send it less frequently, since daily is rather “aggressive” and seen by many subscribers as “spammy”.
Once a frequency is established, it is important to stick to it.
So, get to the drawing board and start creating those award winning newsletters. In our day and age of information overload, customer loyal and retention can go a long way!
Also, be sure to check out the requirements for commercial emailers http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/canspam.shtm
Mona Sutherland graduated summa cum laude from UCLA in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Mona moved to the Republic of Panama to pursue certain entrepreneurial endeavors, including graduating valdevictorian from her MBA course at the University of Lousiville. Mona is currently an Internet Marketing Specialist.
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