… That Your Prospects Will Actually Read
Newsletters are the “swingman” of marketing (a basketball reference indicating someone who can play multiple positions).
This flexible piece of marketing communication appeals to multiple audiences and keeps you top-of-mind with customers, prospects and alliance partners.
By consistently providing timely and relevant information, newsletters can bolster your firm’s technological expertise, provide value to your existing customers, and keep your brand front-and-center until prospects are ready to buy software.
But your customers and prospects are inundated with email, junk mail, and just plain busy. So here are a few tips for creating a killer newsletter that will rise to the top … and that your prospects will actually read.
1) Content is King
Creating great content is the single most time-consuming task in developing a newsletter. Corporate blather, boring content, repurposed brochure features, or a poorly-disguised sales pitch is never a substitute for a good newsletter.
Instead, focus on how a given technology or concept helps to solve common business challenges. When stating a benefit or feature, be sure to answer the question your reader is probably asking themselves … “What’s In It for Me?”
What does it mean to be scalable? How, specifically, does it save time or cut costs? It’s not enough to mention a product feature; you also need to explain what it means to your reader … in plain English, not gobbledygook.
2) Newsletter Length and Format
When you consider how much detail should be provided in your articles, remember that your target audience likely includes multiple positions throughout a company - IT folks, accounting personnel, warehouse managers, top level executives – that probably all have different preferences. Striking a balance between an overly lengthy newsletter with too much detail and a format that’s too short (and leaves readers wanting more) is important.
At Juice Marketing, we’ve developed a format that gets very good results for the Sage Partners that subscribe to our newsletter marketing program. It provides plenty of information to “C-Level” executives and managers who are busy and just want a quick overview to stay informed while also providing enough detail to IT personnel or accounting staff that tend to look for more detail, specific examples, or online video demonstrations.
At the end of the day, you’ll keep your readers interest by getting to the point quickly and providing easily digestible nuggets of information without going into excruciating detail. Just the top level stuff with links to more detail … if they want it.
3) Email Newsletter Delivery
Most of our clients deliver their newsletters via email. But as you know, it can be a challenge reaching the inbox of your intended recipients. So here are a few email marketing best practices:
- Subject Line – Getting your email opened and read starts with the subject line. Be creative and make it compelling … but keep it relevant. “March Newsletter from XYZ Reseller” is relevant but not very creative or exciting. Why not try something like “4 Simple Tricks That Extend Your ERP Investment”?
Experiment with different subject lines, run some A/B split tests, and determine what your audience responds to. Also, avoid using buzzwords (Limited Time, Free) or special characters ($, **, or !) that are certain to trigger a SPAM filter.
Check out Email Subject Lines That Won’t Be Ignored for some great tips from the folks at Copyblogger.
- CAN-SPAM Compliance – Don’t forget that CAN-SPAM law requires that an option to opt out is included in all subscriber-based communication. The best way to ensure CAN-SPAM compliance is to use an Email Service Provider – like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Swiftpage.
- Opt-in or White Listing – If you have customers or prospects that have opted-in to your newsletter, make sure to ask that the email address from which the newsletter will be sent is added to a Safe List or White List to ensure proper delivery to their inboxes.
4) Distribute it Widely
If you’re going to spend the time to write a newsletter or pay a newsletter marketing provider like Juice Marketing, make sure to leverage and distribute it widely … beyond just your current and active customer base.
Do you have prospects that you haven’t had an opportunity to communicate with in a while or leads that have gone dormant? Newsletter.
Do you have a referral network or alliance with CPA or IT firms? Newsletter.
Do you attend industry events or trade shows? Hand out newsletters.
Even within your existing customer base, send the newsletter to as many contacts and departments as possible. One of our clients shared a story about someone on the accounting staff that read an article about Paperless Office, approached a supervisor, made a case for how much easier or efficient her job would be, and racked up a sale for that partner. Those opportunities can be missed if the newsletter is only going to a single contact like the President or owner. Take advantage of the strength of a newsletter … multi-use and multi-audience.
5) Be Consistent
As with any marketing activity, consistency is crucial. Determine an appropriate interval for your newsletter and stick with it. If your audience is receiving your newsletter on a regular basis and it contains great content, they will begin to expect it and even look forward to receiving it.
Newsletters are a fantastic marketing tool. With the right content, a few best practices and consistent delivery, they will help position your firm as a technology thought leader and are an effective way to stat top-of-mind with your customers and prospects.
What are YOUR tips for a killer newsletter?
By Mark Badran