Email secrets & lies: E-newsletters

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A regular email newsletter can be a pleasure and a burden. Figuring out how often to send it, what to include in it and how much integration isn't always easy; but, when executed correctly, it can boost your customer retention and sales. Jeff Revoy, chief marketing and product officer at email service provider iContact discusses one secret and one lie related to email newsletters. Secret:You can mine social media—your own as well as those belonging to third parties—to uncover e-newsletter fodder. By now, most companies have a blog, but the people who read your blog may not be on your email list. In addition, companies may retweet items on Twitter and post to a LinkedIn group or Facebook page. “Don't assume all your readers or subscribers have seen your blog or Facebook page,” Revoy said. Think broadly about where you can pull content from and your content strategy opens wide up, he said. So, for example, you might want to highlight a partner's blog post in your e-newsletter as long as you have permission to repurpose it. You may also want to include comments, questions and threads from your Facebook page or LinkedIn group as a special social media section of your e-newsletter. Conversely, don't forget to use your email newsletter content on social channels, Revoy said. “Send it out through social media where people consume content in smaller bites,” he said. Lie: You must stick to a set schedule and layout, sending out fresh content no matter what. Experts have said it time and again: Set your subscribers' expectations and adhere to a schedule so as not to disappoint them. But what if you have nothing new to say on a particular week? “Frequency should be about business objectives, not just that it's the second Tuesday so something needs to go out,” Revoy said. If you start churning out content just for the sake of a schedule, your opt-outs may go up, he said. “Subscribers will tune you out because you're not relevant,” he said. Revoy suggested reusing and repurposing previously run newsletters and stories, especially if your list has grown significantly and current subscribers probably didn't read those items or stories when they were first released. Another option: Strike a content-swap deal with a partner or a customer; include their content with a short introduction from someone at your company, as long as it fits your customers' needs. You can also send a shorter newsletter that contains a Q&A written by a company executive or an interview with a customer service person, a series of links related to your industry or vertical, or text or links to new website content. Customers don't care that you don't have three feature stories, a case study and a product overview. They are happy as long as you have one piece of relevant content. “Don't put yourself in a rigid box,” Revoy said. “It's important to keep an ongoing dialog, but less is always more, so you don't have to stick to the same length, content and features every single issue.”
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