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Frank Remarks: Building a Climate of Trust with Newsletters

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  1. Frank Remarks: Building a Climate of Trust with Newsletters
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An email newsletter can help your business to form and maintain a strong relationship with consumers - or it can help you to slam the door in your own face. In this article, Frank Fiore points out the crucial steps to building the right kind of newsletter.
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Frank Remarks: Building a Climate of Trust with Newsletters

Mark Twain once said, "Climate is what we expect. Weather is what we get."

This concept also applies to your email promotions. The goal of any email marketing strategy is to create a proper "climate" to sell your services and wares. Unfortunately, in many instances all you get is return for your efforts is stormy weather. The reason is this. If you're still using your electronic newsletter as a cover to sell your wares, not only will you be disappointed with the results, but your subscribers will inform you of their disappointment by using the unsubscribe button. On the other hand, if you use your newsletter to build an ongoing relationship with your subscribers and create a "climate" for selling your product and services, you'll find that subscribers will read it and you'll have a customer retention vehicle par excellence.

This Is Not What I Signed Up For!

When a subscriber signs up for your newsletter, that's what he expects to get—news. Your subscribers asked to be sent news, not offers. Pulling the old switcheroo on them will only show what your attempts at relationship-building really are—a cheap way to promote your wares.

So what's the difference between a promotional email and a newsletter? First, it's in the percentage, and second, in the format.

Percentage

Let's take percentage first. Your newsletter should have at least 80–90% news consisting of links to third-party information and articles about the product or service you sell and the concerns of your prospects and customers. That is, your newsletter should contain information that your subscribers can use, such as movie, book, or music reviews or upcoming updates to the product they've purchased. You also can enhance your reputation—and get business—through well-written articles in your product or service subject area.

Customers and prospects are always looking for information that can help them either use or purchase the products and services they need. This is where you can shine as a helper and facilitator for your clients. Here's a tip. Think like a soap opera writer and write a series of articles that build on each other. At the end of each one, include a "teaser" promoting what comes next. You also can archive these information-type newsletters on your site, adding more content for shoppers to view when they visit.

The remainder of the newsletter should be about your company and its products or service. In other words, 80–90% of your newsletter should be focused on your subscribers' needs—the rest on yours.

Now on to format.

Format - Content

First, how long should your newsletter be? If you have valuable information to provide in your newsletter, don't be afraid of its length. Give subscribers valuable information on a topic they're passionate about, and they'll read every word. Besides, your newsletter should have as many of these elements as possible:

  • Welcome. Thank your readers for subscribing and give a quick summary of what's contained in the current issue. And remember, you're speaking to one—and only one—person at a time. Write as if you're speaking only to him or her, and keep the tone casual and personal.

  • News to Use. Link to current news items about your product or service and market niche. If you're selling gaming software, for example, give brief news summaries of articles that review the latest games and the gaming industry, then link to them in your newsletter.

  • Customer-focused news. If you're a B2B—businesses to business—why not profile one of your customers in each newsletter? You might even explain how your services or product helped the customer solve a business problem. One-on-one interviews are another way to spotlight your customer and the challenges your industry faces. These interviews could be made with industry experts in your niche. For example, what competitive pressures is your industry facing, or what's the future of your product or service?

  • Feature article or tips. Write a short, useful feature—better yet, supply a series of tips that your customers can use. Think about packaging your message. People like to think in terms of numbers. Package your message in terms of "The 10 Tips for..." or "The Six Secrets of..." or "The Seven Mistakes of...," and so on. Another way to package your content is in the form of "Did You Know...?" or "Frequently Asked Questions."

  • Tell a Friend. Ask subscribers to tell friends about your newsletter. If they like what they read, ask them to forward the newsletter to friends, family, and colleagues, and build in the referral code in your newsletter to do it.

  • Subscribe and unsubscribe instructions. Be sure to supply simple and easy instructions on how to unsubscribe, and—to those who have been forwarded the newsletter by friends, family, or colleagues—how to subscribe.

  • Link to your web site. Finally, be sure to provide a link in your newsletter to your web site. After all, this is a free promotion of your web site. Why not take advantage of it?

Here are some additional tips.

  • Learn from your competition. Subscribe to their newsletters. You'll not only pick up some competitive information, but you can see how they use their newsletters to stay in touch with clients and prospects. Scan their newsletters to pick up ideas on content, writing style, personality, and tone.

  • There's even a revenue-generating opportunity with electronic newsletters. If your newsletter is unique and offers information or support that consumers can't get anywhere else, you can solicit paid subscriptions. Or you can ask the manufacturers of your products to sponsor your newsletter—in effect, selling advertising space.

  • Don't be shy about asking visitors to your site to subscribe to your newsletter. Ask visitors to sign up when they first enter your web site by placing your subscription offer on the home page, and tell them what they'll receive as a subscriber. You also might want to offer an incentive to sign up, such as a discount coupon they can use on their first purchase, or a free sample or demo of your product or service.

Format - Design

Should you send your newsletter as plain text or in HTML? Many of the popular email programs today can read HTML-formatted email. When opened, an HTML-formatted email appears as a web page instead of lines of simple ASCII text. That means that you can display images, photographs, colors, and graphics in your email, which makes for a much richer experience for your reader. If you want to send HTML-formatted email, two good articles at Wilson Internet can help. They'll take you through the steps of how to format an HTML email newsletter or how to format dual text-and-HTML newsletters.

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