The truth about newsletters

The truth about newsletters

Newsletters are the definition of bad demand generation – all about the company sending it, usually without an objective and certainly no “What’s in it for me?”.  Think about it – how many newsletters do you engage with?  Or even read?

I highly recommend against them, but if I can’t talk you out of it, here are some tips:   

  1. First, know that newsletters are the number one killer of the leads your company has worked hard to get.  That’s because they’re not only usually poorly executed without content relevant to the reader, most companies also send it to everyone in their database whether they signed up for it or not.  If you value your database and the return on future marketing, seriously reconsider.
  2. However, if you insist, break down why you’re doing a newsletter.  What is the objective? Is there legitimately something to communicate that has real value for the recipient?  And that also makes your company money?   Specific objectives like registrations, opps, meetings or closed business?  Or are you just trying to “keep in touch”?  My recommendation –  be in front of your database instead with regularly planned segmented, meaningful outreach with just one relevant offer.  But if you’re still determined, set specific, measurable objectives for the newsletter and plan how to track results.
  3. Only send it to people who have signed up.  On your newsletter sign-up form, list the benefits of subscribing, what will be learned, the frequency of the newsletter and the value very clearly.  If your description is just “sign up for newsletter”, you’ll have a useless list of competitors and job seekers. 
  4. If that means the list is small, that’s fine.  Don’t be tempted to pad your list and especially, don’t just put anyone you have an email address for on the list.  (That’s just begging for an unsubscribe which means you can’t ever market anything else). If the first few issues only go to 20 qualified and interested people,  great!  Engagement means way more than volume.
  5. Do your best work on your newsletter.  Don’t assign it to the most inexperienced person on the marketing team or throw it together the night before.  Keep it short and meaningful and commit to a schedule. People notice if the “monthly newsletter” only goes once.  And they notice if it’s late – a newsletter that talks about January in February isn’t good marketing.
  6. Newsletters are easiest to execute if you work from a template.  Typical templates would promote one piece of content, one event or webinar and one product announcement.   And not every offer has to be brand new.  As a matter of fact, periodically consider repeating an old and effective offer. That lets you validate how the old standbys perform.
  7. DO NOT MAKE THE SUBJECT LINE” FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER”.  Or “ACME NEWSLETTER”.  Make it something compelling to get an open – like a description of the content or what the recipient will learn.  This will also help you get your newsletter past SPAM filters.
  8. Once it’s sent, watch your stats.  The most important metrics are opt outs and opens.  If the opt outs are high and the opens are low, your prospects don’t find the content relevant and you’re actively burning your list.  If the opens are high and the opt outs are low, you nailed it!   Next look at engagement to see what offers are bringing the highest response.  This gives you ideas on what the audience is finding interesting.
  9. Be brutal about communications limits.  If you have a database email to send at the same time, delay your newsletter.  Unless your newsletter has high engagement with prospects – then you might even be able to replace the one-off entirely.
  10. Part of relevance is not sharing anything not absolutely pertinent. That means promotions, company news, pictures of pets or Bob’s new motorcycle.  And definitely don’t share pictures from company events – why rub it in that the recipient didn’t get in on the fun?

Want me to review your newsletter?  I’ll do it for free – send me the last 3 AND the results on how they performed.  I promise objective feedback.

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