You can liken an email newsletter to a good sandwich — it’s quick and easy to digest. A bad one, however, is likely to damage your reputation… Tracey Dooley highlights some of the most common ezine blunders and, more importantly, how to avoid them. (Before you ask, yes, even in the land of good ol’ Social Media — not to mention overflowing inboxes — email newsletters DO still work. In fact, for most marketers and small businesses, an ezine is THE marketing tool of choice…
Do you ever feel just a little bit jealous of the ‘big names’ such as Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield and Michael Port, all of whom are enjoying ‘the rich life’ thanks to all those passive income streams?
What’s their secret?
Well, they all know their target markets inside out . . . and they all put a huge amount of effort into building and maintaining strong relationships with their audience.
That’s what a publishing an effective e-newsletter is all about…
Most people agree that producing an email newsletter has been the single best thing they have ever done for their business.
One of my clients saw her sales increase by more than 350% when she started to publish an email newsletter aka ezine and many others have reaped similar rewards.
But that doesn’t mean all newsletters work, of course. In fact, many simply don’t deliver . . . and never will.
After rewriting and critiquing a wide variety of customer, business-to-business and employee newsletters, here are the top five common mistakes that I have come across over the years, and more importantly, how to correct those problems.
1. Not setting and sticking to a schedule. A lot of newsletters fall through the cracks because people underestimate just how much effort and time can go into producing them. So the promised weekly newsletter becomes a monthly. Then its delivery gets later and later. Soon, it suddenly stops, only to be sent another after an unannounced four-month hiatus.
You will lose credibility with your readers if you
don’t stick to your schedule. Most will lose interest in you altogether.
Needless to say, it’s imperative that you keep your commitment to your subscribers. Furthermore, for any ezine to succeed that is, if it is to generate leads and ultimately sales you have to make it a priority. That includes publishing it on time, all the time.
BIG TIP: There’s no point scheduling a weekly ezine if you don’t have the resources to meet do so, or if pulling out all the stops means you’re going to produce a weak or ineffective newsletter. I’d suggest working out how long it takes you to write a couple of issues before you commit to a dedicated schedule.
2. Forgetting your readers.
I’ve seen heaps of e-newsletters that are little more than one big pitch fest, or that keep boring readers with ‘we platitudes’ (“We offer unique, innovative solutions…” or “We have the biggest range of…” and so on) or ‘pseudo-news’ about the new member of the accounting team or the latest office day out. This is the kind of egocentric prattle we tune out from during face-to-face conversations. So you can imagine how busy the ‘delete’ key is going to be if you carry on sending out such dribble in your ezines.
The stark truth is that your readers are not really interested in you. Sure, they won’t mind hearing some of your news, but they certainly don’t want to be ignored.
Everything in your newsletter must answer the questions: “How is this relevant to my readers?” and “Why will this benefit them?”. Show readers that you DO care about them and that you have their best interests at heart by providing useful or interesting targeted content. Content that they actually want to read.
3. No compelling reason or incentive to sign up. When I first started producing newsletters, it was possible to simply put a “Sign up to my ezine” box on a website or post a message in a forum and have 100 people sign up. Unfortunately, that stopped working quite some time ago now.
Today, you have to work harder at getting people interested in what you have to offer. One idea to try is dedicating an entire web page to actively encourage people to give you their email address in exchange for some form of incentive. Don’t forget to tell people WHY they should sign up and HOW they will benefit.
4. Ignoring the first rule of all marketing:
Keep it simple. Too much waffle, too many sections, too much advertising, too much complicated content, too many changes from issue to issue… these are deadly sins in the world of ezine publishing.
Some of the best ezines I’ve come across are nothing more than singe-topic articles, around 700-1,000 words in length.
I recommend you start off with 90% valuable content (practical tips, useful resources, interesting stories) and include just 10% promotional material where you toot your own horn and work up to 25% sales copy, no more.
5. Ineffective subject lines. In order to get read in the first place, the words you’ve chosen for your subject line have to get past the spam filters. So be careful not to use too many words and symbols that are likely to be caught (including too many exclamation marks and words such as “special”).
Once it has passed the spam test and arrived in the recipient’s inbox, the job of your subject line is to get your reader to open your ezine. Incorporate a specific benefit that will pique your subscribers’ interest and motivate them to read the issue. Be as provocative as you can.
For example, one of my recent subject lines was “How The X Factor Can Help Your Business” it proved to be one of the top subject lines I’ve ever used, garnering an impressive 72% open rate.
That’s not to say you can go wild with the subject line, making up fantastical offers if they don’t exist! It must accurately reflect the theme of or what’s inside the issue.
Apply these tips to your next newsletter and you’ll have one that is friendly, non-intrusive, thought provoking, informative, capable of building a sustained relationship with your readers and, above all, leads to more business.
Adapted from “Newsletters that Build Customer Relations AND Fill Your Inbox with Orders” by Tracey Dooley http://bit.ly/6NYZGT
By Tracey Dooley, Copywriter | Editor | Proofreader
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