Newsletters feel personal because they arrive in your inbox;
you have an ongoing relationship with them.
-Jakob Nielsen, September 30, 2002
Sometimes with the web changing so rapidly, a comment made in 2002, such as the one above by Jakob Nielsen, (whose been called the “guru of web page usability” and “the next best thing to a true time machine”) could sound like ancient history. In my opinion, Jakob Nielsen called a spade a spade.
The focus on web 2.0 and social networking often neglects to mention our old friend, email newsletters —and the importance in continuing to use them as part of a company’s marketing mix.
In a recent Forrester webinar with B2B marketers, Laura Remos and Dan Klein asked their participants, “Which digital, social media tactics do you use currentlv?” 2/3 of the participants rated email newsletters at the top of their list, with webinars following close behind. Only 35% or fewer reported using blogs, online forums, video produced by marketing, podcasts, customer contributed content, or other Web 2.0 tactics.
Emal Newsletter Best Practices
A recent post on the blog, The Email Wars, called email marketing, “the magic ingredient… the critical component to social media. It is the fuel that will drive your campaign or community.” So what about this question regarding email newsletters and how they’re fairing with newer social media? I don’t believe it’s an either or situation. As Nielsen put it so eloquently, email newsletters are personal. That hasn’t changed. In fact, email newsletters compliment and work harmoniously with the company’s website, blog, online forums and other Web 2.0 tactics. They help companies in their efforts to build and maintain relationships, communicate with clients and prospects all at once; or in carefully segmented lists.
To create a successful email newsletter:
1. Develop a schedule, e.g. monthly, quarterly– and stick to it.
2. Remind customers and prospects about what your company has to offer them.
3. Make your newsletter permission-based, always giving the recipient the ability to opt-out.
4. Make the most of the newsletter’s hyperlinks–point readers to your website, blog, facebook page, and any other place where your company has a presence.
5. Expand on a topic you wrote about in your blog (or vice versa).
6. Experiment with new material. Content is still king e.g. your readers may like when you provide how-to articles, review an industry book, include a list of upcoming events.
7. Remember content needn’t be restricted to the written word, it takes many forms–images, videos, podcasts, social networking, social bookmarking, and micro-blogging.
8. Use analytics software for information about newsletter open rates, opt-outs, bounced, number of click-throughs.
9. Set realistic goals. Keep in mind that open rates may vary according to industry e.g. newsletters about marketing, publishing & media and technology typically have open rates between 20%-30%. Newsletters for manufacturing, non-profit, travel, art, government, and religious audiences have been reported as having open rates as high as 40%.
10. Remember your audience, write in a congenial style, avoid jargon. Keep it brief, able to read in a few minutes.
Above all, work with your email newsletter and ensure it’s well integrated into your marketing mix. If it’s gotten old and too predictable, then breathe new life into it.
Whatever you do, please don’t eliminate the email newsletter—it’s much too young to retire.
Tell us—are you using B2B email newsletters? We’re interested in hearing about your experiences integrating them into your social media marketing mix.