Email Marketing Tip Quickie

I’ve been writing email newsletters since I’ve been in business. But for some reason, I’ve overlooked this obvious and easy email marketing tip. So I thought I’d share.

Send your email newsletter TWICE in one month. The first time should be to your regular list during your regular ship date. But then schedule it to send on the last day of the month to only those who’ve subscribed since your last newsletter went out.

Constant Contact makes it super easy to do this (and I’m sure the other major vendors, like MailChimp, do as well). In Constant Contact, simply do the following:

  1. Select your email campaign.
  2. Click on “Resend Options.”
  3. Select “New contacts since email was last sent.”

Done!

Two things to keep in mind: to make it easier, do any data entry of email addresses to your “Contacts” list before you go through this process. And if your newsletter is dated in any way (e.g. you wish people a Happy Thanksgiving), you’ll need to copy your email campaign, remove dated references, and schedule a send to yourself only. Then, you should copy the list of new email addresses and then follow steps 1 and 2 above. For step #3, you’ll select “Enter email addresses Info” and paste the list of new email addresses.

8 Company Newsletter Ideas to Try Out

Need some company newsletter ideas? Here are eight to consider.

1. Private Sale/Private Offering. Construct a newsletter around a special sale or offering that will be available to subscribers only. Promote this fact on Twitter and Facebook and grow your list while you’re at it. I recently worked on this concept for one of my retail clients, and we got a good number of sales out of it as a result.

2. Inside Views. I don’t know about you, but I love learning about the real people in companies, especially those I do business with. In a time when corporate “spin” is in our faces more than ever thanks to the Internet, it’s refreshing to hear real thoughts and real views from real people. Do a “Q&A” feature with some of the people in your company. Ask questions that invite real answers — in other words, answers that provide insight into who these people are as human beings (e.g. favorite movie, favorite book, three songs queued on their iPods).

3. Highlight Charitable Giving. I’m not suggesting that you toot your own horn, but what you can do is provide real exposure to some of the charities and nonprofit organizations that you and your employees support. (Always a crowd pleaser in November.)

4. Blog Roundup. Sure, we want to believe our clients and prospects are flocking to our blogs and hanging on every word we write, but the truth is, life happens. Even when you consistently post great articles, not everyone will see them the first time around. So do a newsletter article where you recap those key blog posts: ones that garnered the most comments, ones that provoked controversy, and ones you feel are important “can’t miss” articles. This strategy can work well when you’re tight on time and can’t bang out a complete article or when you’re coming off the holidays or summer, since people might have missed some key blog posts due to travels and general craziness. For many of my clients, we’ll do this at least once a quarter.

5. In their own words. Ever thought of giving one of your clients the pulpit? Somewhere between a customer story and a customer testimonial, a customer letter “in his or her own words” could be refreshing. DO NOT EDIT CONTENT. Simply fix glaring punctuation/spelling errors and anything that’s factually inaccurate.

6. How’d we do that? You take what you do for granted, but chances are you have some readers who might be really curious about a certain aspect of your business. For example, if you’re an online retailer, you could provide insight on how you choose the lines you carry. If you’re a custom cabinetmaker, you could do a before and after “refurbishing” series, complete with images or video. You get the idea.

7. Do the opposite of what you normally do. Do you usually focus on customer stories? Offer some how-to articles instead. Do you normally write long articles? Find one great image — like a cartoon — that gets your point across and then attach it to an offer. People find value in any number of things. Mixing it up is a great way to keep your audience engaged.

8. Did You Know? Chances are your customers — even your best customers — don’t know everything that you do or every product you offer. Take a hard look at service offerings or products that you think should be resulting in more business. Then highlight two or three in a “Did You Know We Offer This” sort of article.

Need help coming up with fun things to put in a newsletter? Hi. Contact me.

Outbound Marketing Fail: A Real Life Story

I’m a huge advocate of a marketing philosophy called “inbound marketing.” This term was coined by a company in Cambridge, Mass., called HubSpot. Basically, the idea is to focus on getting your company found by people who are already interested in what you’re offering. In other words, it’s much easier to sell a rhinoplasty, for example, to someone who is already looking to reduce the size of her nose than it is to sell a rhinoplasty to someone who is perfectly happy with her nose.

Inbound marketing includes:

  • Optimizing your website for search engines so people looking for your products and services can find it
  • Writing content that attracts, engages, and converts visitors – this can be done through myriad ways, such as blogging, tweeting, interacting with a Facebook audience, providing free/useful content on your site
  • Nurturing leads every step of the way
  • Nurturing current customers and helping them to spread your message

Outbound marketing, such as unsolicited emails, direct mailers, radio spots, TV commercials, etc., casts a wide net that may or may not include people who are interested in your services. You end up spending more money, yet you usually end up with fewer conversions.

Okay…lesson over.

Here’s a real-life example that just happened to me. Tell me what’s wrong with this approach:

  • I received an email with a subject line: newsletter
  • The body said, “Do you have a newsletter?” and came complete with a signature. The guy’s signature included a title (account executive) but the company name could only be gleaned from the guy’s email address.
  • I responded (a bit skeptically, I’ll admit, since I have a newsletter sign-up on each page of my website and a clear “newsletter archive” in the navigation). I said that I did indeed have a monthly newsletter and I provided a link to the sign-up and my archive.
  • The guy responded right away with this:

I would like to introduce myself, my name is Sam (last name redacted) at <company name redacted> leading providers in email newsletter management solutions.

Several clients in your industry use our service. The reason I contacted your organization is because we provide a solution to help you better manage and broadcast your email campaigns (e-newsletters).

I would like to show all possibilities that our program can give you. Would you be available for a short conversation this week? That won’t take much time but will give you fresh ideas and show other opportunities.

Ugh. (Yes, that was my reaction, although I spouted it in a more earthy term.) I decided to respond, only because I was curious how far Sam would take me on this fishing expedition. Here was my response:

Thanks, but I’m really happy with my current vendor.

Never heard back. Sam didn’t engage me further (which, in this scenario, was a smart move). But what a waste of time–on his part and mine.

I realize the email software industry is crowded. But this isn’t the way to stand out. What should Sam be doing? Here are three ideas off the top of my head (and this goes without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway: as an email software vendor, Sam shouldn’t violate the #1 rule in email marketing by sending an unsolicited email. Duh!)

  1. Have his current customer base – his current tribe, as Saint Godin would say – refer him potential clients. Start a referral program or simply call up a very happy customer and ask the customer to introduce Sam to a few of his colleagues (there are ways to get more creative with this…again, I’m just thinking off the top of my head).
  2. Optimize the website for people who are actually looking for email software. They’re out there–including people who are looking for the first time and people looking to make a switch. Provide engaging content and figure out how you’re going to persuade me to use your software rather than some other software (yes, this might require you to take a step or two back and conduct some marketing and messaging research).
  3. Hold webinars on the product’s capabilities and on email marketing in general (it shouldn’t all be self promotional, but rather it should share tips, best practices, etc) – a great way to introduce people to your platform is by holding free webinars…people who sign up might be looking for the first time or they’re looking to make an immediate switch or they’re shopping around – all of these are good things and people you can continue to nurture and market to because they’ve shown an interest in what you have to offer.

I was going to “out” the company and website but have decided not to. (Trust me when I say that the website isn’t optimized.)

Email Marketing: Should You Send Weekly Messages?

Dear Copy Bitch: We’ve been doing an every-other-month email newsletter campaign for over a year, but one of my competitors (I’m an executive coach) does a quick-hitting weekly email with a quote/source of inspiration. I’m thinking I should do something like that starting in January. Our list is around 150, and we have, on average, a 50 percent open rate. Your thoughts?

—BH, Rhode Island

Answer: Be very careful about going from an every-other-month email newsletter to a weekly email campaign. Remember, the people who are on your mailing list signed up for a bi-monthly newsletter. In fact, I’m hesitant about weekly email campaigns in general because they tend to cause list fatigue. The types of businesses that can “get away with it” are retailers, and even they have a high number of opt-outs and abuse complaints.

You have a small list, but it sounds like a loyal list (the fact that half the list regularly opens your email indicates that). I’ve seen weekly emails like the one you’re referencing. To me, most tend to be short on substance (inspirational quotes can be, well, inspiring, but is the point for me to remember the person who said the quote or the person/company–in this case, the exec coach–who sent me the quote? It’s a fine line).

If you’re concerned you’re not in front of your newsletter subscribers enough, consider going to a monthly schedule. Or better yet, ask your audience what it wants (i.e., survey the people on your mailing list). Your marketing should respond to your customers’ needs first, not in reaction to what your competitors are doing.

Failed Marketing Expose: Make Your Free Content Truly Free

So this surprised me: one of the “big players” in marketing and copywriting has a really cool, short newsletter that comes out on Wednesdays. It’s filled with info that I would gladly provide a link to on this here blog, because it’s info business owners can implement right away.

Today’s newsletter was no exception, so I hopped on over to her site to get the permalink, and guess what? Her newsletter archives COST MONEY. They are NOT accessible unless you pony up $$ for it and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Now let me remind you: I signed up for her newsletter for FREE. I enjoy the content (it’s one newsletter I’ll read right when it comes in b/c it’s always short). I’d probably rebroadcast her newsletter every week through the blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But I can’t because you have to pay for her archives.

I think her archives could be a great way to promote her paid-access areas. Make ’em free, marketing lady. Make ’em free and allow me to SHARE the great content. Isn’t that’s what it’s all about?

Note: I have no problem with the idea of bundling those newsletters and turning them into a book that people pay for. But a cost-to-play newsletter archive isn’t the place to make a buck. Use that content to get more subscribers, to lure people in, and to show people your marketing/writing chops (or whatever type of chops you have).

[Updated: August 2017]