Common goals of newsletters
Here's a short list of the most common goals:
Generate advertising revenue
Generate subscription revenue
Sell ancillary products or services
Position your organization as a leader in its field
Drive traffic to your Web site
Keep the organization’s name in front of prospective or current clients
Up-sell to customers
This list is not all-inclusive and the goals are not mutually exclusive. Benchmark recommends choosing one primary goal and adding one to three secondary goals. After you decide what your goals are, quantify them whenever possible. This may involve "guesstimating" the benchmarks of what makes your campaign successful. Just figure out what’s realistic and go with it. Remember that you can always adjust up if your estimate is too low. If your estimate is too high, you may want to rethink your campaign.
Creating an effective subscription page
Getting people to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter is crucial. If you request too much info on your subscription page, or your e-mail newsletter description is weak, you’ll lose prospective customers. Here are a few tips to optimize list growth:
Don’t ask for more than five to seven information items on the subscription page. If you ask for more, people will abandon the page without completing the process. Just remember: you can always gather more information down the line.
Request information that helps to individualize content. For a b2b e-mail newsletter, you’ll need, at a minimum, an e-mail address and a first and last name. Requesting a customer’s zip code or location (state), has become standard, as is their title and affiliation.
Asking for a street address, phone number or information on purchase authorization makes it obvious to customers that you want to sell their information and fill their electronic, snail and voice mail boxes with solicitations. If you do this, customers will either abandon your page without subscribing or lie about their info. Neither of these results will further your cause.
Use multiple choice and drop-down menus whenever possible. This makes things easy for subscribers to navigate your e-mail and makes it easier for you to analyze data. This way, you won’t have to sift through your responses to group together those who typed "marketing director" with others who typed "director of marketing". Make the process easier for them – and you.
When sending your e-mail newsletter, make sure it includes an accurate description of its content and other factors. Have a marketing person write it if you want a good, compelling description. The description should include the following:
Features: the type of content in your e-mail newsletter
Benefits: how the customer benefits by reading or subscribing to your e-mail newsletter
Frequency: how often you publish
Audience: who reads your newsletter, and who you write it for
Call to action: how to unsubscribe
Finding affordable content
Many syndicated articles are available in exchange for attribution. Although these articles are cost-effective (many are free – you can’t get cheaper than that), finding quality articles that target your audience is often difficult. But there are many ways to get affordable editorial content. Here’s what Benchmark recommends to clients:
Speak with an industry expert and write the interview out in a question and answer format. This works especially well with a panel of experts.
Attend an industry conference or seminar and write an overview of what happened: what products were introduced, what industry trends were emphasized, etc.
Got happy customers? Write a success story of someone using your product.
Invite industry experts to contribute content. Quite often, they’ll do it free for the exposure. If you get someone who’s good, ask them to write for you on a regular basis.
Previously published pieces
If you read something and find it valuable, share it. This is usually not a problem if you write a brief intro and link to the original piece. If you want an article to appear on your site or newsletter, you must request permission to reproduce it and possibly pay a fee to avoid copyright violations.
Does gathering great content and putting together an interesting, informative newsletter time consuming? It can be. But finding great syndicated articles takes time as well. You’ll produce a high quality e-mail newsletter by using these methods and following these tips. Be organized and plan ahead, giving your writer (and yourself) enough time to write and edit articles.