If you are feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities of internet marketing and PPC advertising keep in mind that a few key things done consistently can reap real rewards. A regular newsletter to clients that includes useful content, requests for referrals or partnerships, and special offers (which could simply be highlights of some of your services) will help create a solid foundation for you to grow your business.
From Group E-mail to Newsletter
If you have a mailing list that is larger than 50 people, it may be time to graduate to an e-newsletter. Many mail programs will block the receipt of mass e-mails from private accounts as spam. An e-newsletter can be text or HTML (words + pictures), the latter being more popular, and is e-mailed to your contact list. You don’t have to attach large graphics or PDF’s that may or may not be displayed as you would like or even opened, links and images are embedded in the body of your newsletter. An e-newsletter service provider also has its own tools so that your mailings are not marked as spam. Monitoring tools so you can track your e-mails to see how effective they are (opens, clicks, forwards, etc.) come with the service and you can manage multiple mailing lists if needed. You should expect to pay between $10 and $15/month for these services. A few that I have used and recommend are:
- MailChimp, http://mailchimp.com (Free for up to 1,000 subscribers)
- iContact, http://www.icontact.com/
- Constant Contact, http://www.constantcontact.com/
There is a slight learning curve to using some of the online publishing tools – but once you compete your first newsletter you will have a template for successive mailings.
I don’t have anything to say!
To make the prospect of newsletter writing less daunting, try jotting down some ideas throughout the month. Commit to one morning a month to write it and send a test e-mail to yourself and a friend to check for errors. It won’t be the great American novel – just a few paragraphs to remind people that you are still out there providing useful services. Take advantage of events, workshops, a seasonal change or holiday to send a note to your contact list. When your newsletters include useful, original content they will become welcome missives and forwarded to friends.
Keep it Simple, Sally
E-newsletters should be tailored to the busy person’s in-box with one or two key items for their immediate attention. Craft an e-newsletter that speaks to the needs of your audience:
- Write your own content. There are some services that generate industry specific content but they also sound generic. You know your clients and you know your business, trust your own voice.
- Keep It Simple. Focus on one specific benefit or promotion.
- Include a call to action.
- Include a link to your website and your contact information.
Whether you want people to contact you, visit your website, or download a coupon, make it easy and obvious. Stick to the main points that you want to communicate and save the extra content for the next, regularly scheduled e-blast or blog post. Follow-up any event announcements with a phone call or postcard to let people and clients know that they are important to you.
When should I send – and how often?
Once a week, once a month, quarterly – whatever works for you as long as you stick to the schedule. If you have a special event or workshop in between mailings, send out an invitation or reminder notice about one week in advance. Happy mailings!