Though new technologies may have emerged, email newsletters are still one of the strongest marketing channels small business owners have in their arsenal. There’s something about the intimacy of an email newsletter that fosters personal relationships and communication better than even blogs can. If you’ve abandoned your newsletter for social media or were never quite sure of the value, here are five ways that creating an email newsletter can build your small business.
Newsletters Build Your Audience
Though we’ve come a long way, not everyone understands how to subscribe to an RSS feed. They don’t know how to follow you on Twitter, how to friend you on Facebook or how to connect via LinkedIn. However, they do understand email. They’re used to sharing things via email and checking it daily. By offering an email newsletter, you open your doors to people who may not be as technically savvy as the folks who prefer to subscribe to your blog. Providing another forum for people to stay-up-to-date on your on-goings helps you to grow your brand and increase awareness to people who would have otherwise missed out.
Newsletters Build Customer Loyalty
Unless you’re already working with a well-established community, blog readers and social media visitors can be fickle. Just because they followed a link to your site today doesn’t mean they’ll be around tomorrow. Email newsletters help you build that loyalty because they continually drive visitors to your site. You’re able to build top of mind over the long term and constantly let people know what you have to offer or what you’re up to. These actions build loyalty.
Newsletters Build Trust
A visitor’s inbox is their trusted zone. And when you appear there on a regular basis, providing good content, you enable them to trust your brand and what you’re offering. They begin to immediately ‘recognize’ you and develop a much more personal attachment to your brand. One reason they do this is because of the intimacy associated with email newsletters. Because you’re hitting someone in their inbox, you can take a different tone with them. You can offer them exclusive content, you can share a bit more of yourself, and you can create a different relationship than you can simply through your site. Email, by nature, is more personal so folks start to feel like they ‘know you’ and they’re much more likely to trust what you’re selling. During last year’s BlogWorld, Darren Rowse shared that his email newsletter has double the conversion rate of his incredibly successful blog. That’s a testament to the power of using personal relationships as a sales tool.
Newsletters Build Top of Mind
One of the most powerful things newsletters can do for a small business is to build top of mind at a very low cost. The first step to any business transaction or relationship is awareness. Someone can’t visit your site to solve their problem if they’ve forgotten that you exist. With email newsletters you’re able to build that and stay in constant contact (no pun intended) with customers, vendors, partners, etc, and build a constant presence very easily. The simple presence of your newsletter in their inbox every week/month keeps reminding them that you’re a brand they’ve done business with and (hopefully) once they’ve had a good experience with in the past. You make sure that the next time they need services that you offer you’re the company they go to. Hey, they may even remember you offered a discount for what they need in your last newsletter.
Newsletters Build Product Exposure
You know that the day you send out your email newsletter that you’re going to see an influx of traffic. Folks that don’t normally visit your site daily are going to be reminded that you exist and they’re going to come check you out. That makes email newsletters an incredibly effective way to soft launch products or get increased exposure to new offerings or content pieces. By timing the launch to go along with your newsletter, you capitalize on the natural traffic high you get each time you publish a new newsletter and bring it all together: Trust + Awareness + Product = Sale.
Though not as hip as they once were, email newsletters still pack big rewards for small business owners to build their business. They can connect you to new readers, keep you in the minds of current ones and even create bigger brand exposure for new offerings. If you’re not using an email newsletter as part of your marketing strategy, it may be something to add to the mix.
Newsletters are great, as long as the content is valuable and relevant. Otherwise they get instantly deleted/archived and maybe even get unsubscribed. However, you make some great points Lisa and the only caution I would add before everyone rushes out to start a newsletter is this: make sure you are willing to commit the time to regularly send out the newsletter.
Julie - A Fine Tooth Comb
As Robert mentioned, an e-newsletter requires hard work and a hefty time investment. The rewards are worth it, though.
I have found that asking feedback questions in my e-newsletters creates a two-sided conversation with my readers, rather than my pushing information at them all the time. I’ve developed some wonderful relationships with my readers this way.
Hi Lisa, another great article! As some of the other replies have stated, it does take a bit of a time investment, but can certainly be worth it. I agree with you not only does it build trust but also product recognition. One thing I’ve found beneficial is for the SMB owner to include a special discount code (or refer a friend) every now and then. That way, they will ensure that their customers are really reading their newsletters, and, hopefully increase business.
You might be interested in how some other SMB owners are using newsletters/online marketing to their benefit. I’m attaching a link to a good article regarding this, and would love to hear your opinion.
Microsoft Small Business Center/Articles/Marketing:
The Microsoft SMB Outreach Team
Fantastic pointers on email marketing – I like how much of a relationship a small business can build with its clientele through a regular mailing that is relevant to both the business and the customer.
I couldn’t agree more, online newsletters don’t seem as sexy as social media, however as part of an overall marketing strategy there is nothing other than face to face that creates intimacy with your clients or propective clients as a relevant newsletter.
Newsletters are great. Make sure though that your contacts are tracked in a CRM. Our Salestrakr supports both contact management and a sales opportunity management. You can also send out group emails using our advanced search engine. This may be better for smaller groups as an email marketing engine is typically used for 100s or even 1000s of emails at one time.