Improve E-Mail Marketing Results With Newsletters

By Paul Soltoff | Posted April 09, 2003
There is a major shift taking place in e-mail marketing — what was once a from standalone e-mail customer acquisition is being replaced with relationship e-mail marketing. Driving this e-mail marketing trend will be permission-based newsletters.

Tired of sending spam? Interested in reducing unnecessary mailing costs while improving your overall transaction levels and building relationships with your prospects and customers? Seriously consider developing a newsletter. Flat out, a properly conceived and implemented newsletter will dramatically improve your e-mail business.

A newsletter is a strategic method to diffuse heavy-handed selling via e-mail. It's a way to conversationally engage recipients, not repel them, as standalone e-mail offers can do. A newsletter creates familiarity, trust, and credibility, morphing over time into loyalty and revenue.

For the e-mail world, newsletters are perfect for promoting products and services because they can be editorially packaged to avoid shamelessly promoting offers and deals. Executed correctly, your e-newsletter is received by consumers who have a homogenous interest in the subject matter. In fact, depending on your mailing system's database capabilities, you may already know each subscriber's specific interests.

Building subscriber relationships is easier than with conventional e-mail promotions because subscription offers can be positioned on Web sites to attract targeted visitors. Newsletter subscribers are self-selecting themselves as interested in your product or service. You can go deeper. Newsletters lend themselves to data collection. Bear this in mind and be sure to include survey forms and demographic questions to help segment subscribers.

Provide Readers With Value My purpose isn't to teach e-mail newsletter production methods, but rather to emphasize the benefits of developing a relationship with a prospect or customer. These benefits directly improve e-mail response metrics, including reducing the unsubscribes from your e-mail list.

That said, I'll restate a critical factor: provide value to the reader.

Do whatever you can to involve the prospect. Include testimonials, letters to the editor, or a feedback section. Sell computer equipment? Tell people what technology is around the corner. Cosmetics? Volunteer makeover tips and product reviews. Make sure the newsletter has a printable version.

You're not a writer and unsure where to obtain newsletter content? A number of sources offer content for free or at a fairly low cost. Search "syndicated content" in your favorite search engine, or check out sites such as EContent, IdeaMarketers, and Content-Wire.

E-newsletter publishers once relied on text formats. Today, use HTML at the very least. Broadband penetration is about 20 percent of U.S. households and growing exponentially. There's no reason to ignore rich media, especially when your newsletter sells higher-end products or services targeted to upper-income individuals.

I suspect over 80 percent of your subscribes would choose to receive HTML. Depending on their browser or e-mail client, not all prospects and customers can. Consider a dual text/HTML version. This enables 95 percent of recipients to receive it without too many problems.

In terms of distribution, you have several choices. You can mail to your base or first ask them to subscribe. Among subscribers, expect a monthly unsubscribe rate of three to six percent. You can reduce that 25 to 50 percent by including a pass-along subscription referral process. People always know people who like the same things they do.

Like standalone e-mail, newsletters can be tracked in terms of opens, clicks, and, most important, actions. You can include code that tracks links readers click and related actions. All this data should be stored and appended to subscriber names to improve your ability to communicate effectively with them in the future.

If you're not able to construct or distribute a newsletter internally, there are excellent newsletter companies that offer the requisite services.

I heartily recommend adding a newsletter to your communication arsenal. It will help your company overcome many problems associated with standalone e-mail. The upside greatly exceeds the costs associated with publishing.

Adapted from ClickZ.com.

Paul Soltoff is the chief executive officer of SendTec,, the parent company of DirectNet Advertising (DNA) and iFactz, and has more than 20 years of direct marketing experience on both the client and agency side. SendTec provides results-oriented direct marketing solutions for acquiring, retaining and communicating to customers through digital advertising; direct response television; patent-pending e-mail/Web convergence technologies; performance media, and media buying services. SendTec represents clients and advertising agencies such as AOL, National Geographic, AARP, Grey Worldwide, Cosmetmque, DBD Needham, Shell Oil, National Geographic, and IBM.

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