Friday, September 17, 2010

Guest Blog Post: E-mail Newsletters: Still Relevant?

As social media and blogging have grown more and more popular, there’s been some talk about the demise of the “lowly” email newsletter, or e-zine. Once a staple of business owners using the Internet to market and promote their businesses, it seems that lately the thinking is that they’re not so important anymore. Or, even worse, not as effective.

If you’re not familiar, an e-zine can be as simple as a plain text email with a couple of helpful tips for your readers—to a HTML version with pictures, an article, listings of your upcoming events and more.While it’s true that there is more “stuff” clamoring for our attention in our inboxes than ever before—and blogs and social media seem to be the more of-the-moment methods to reach out to potential customers—I still believe that an e-zine is a key marketing tool. In fact, it’s the perfect vehicle for continuing the relationship you’ve begun with people on social media sites or your blog.

Here are a few reasons why:

1) Keeps you top of mind

As much as we would like to think that our prospects or our audience are always thinking of us (wouldn’t THAT be nice?), it’s unfortunately not the case. Just as a company wouldn’t run a TV commercial just once, repetition is necessary to remind people of you, your offerings and your expertise.

2) Intimacy

No, not that kind. An e-zine gives you a great opportunity to create a feeling of “intimacy” between yourself and your readers by sharing a bit about what is going on with you outside of your business. (Think about what you’ve been up to lately—got anything to share about your recent vacation, your pets, a great book you’ve just finished?) Often people do this in a section at the beginning of their e-zine under a heading such as “A Note From” or something similar. This helps strengthen the relationship with your subscribers by giving them a glimpse into who you are.

3) Expert status

The more consistently you share information, tips and articles on the subject or niche you are most knowledgeable in, the more credibility you gain in the eyes of your readers. Perceived expertise leads to trust which leads to sales.

A few other tips for your e-zine:

Frequency: How often you send it depends on how often you can commit to doing so, (how’s that for an answer ? ) but I recommend at a minimum twice a month and ideally, once a week. Remember, you want to stay top of mind above all else.

Subject line: Another important part of your e-zine is your subject line. Obviously you want as many people to open your e-zine as possible, so have some fun with this. Think of what would stir up curiosity in your reader—and don’t be afraid to be a little provocative or a teensy bit controversial once in a while.

When to send: A common question is “what day is best to send it out?” There is no set answer to this, except to say that I have heard several different opinions on the matter. Tuesday through Thursday is often said to be the best time—however, I know others who send theirs out on Sunday and have a very good open rate as well. You may want to play around and test a couple of different days and see what your results are. No matter what day you choose, know that an open rate of 25% and above is considered good. Your email marketing service will be able to supply those stats.

If you’ve been hesitant about putting together your e-zine because you think you don’t have enough content or you don’t have a fancy-looking template, remember, simple is fine. Start with one tip. The sooner you make the commitment to communicate with your list on a regular basis, the sooner you can reap the benefits of that strengthened relationship.

No more excuses, ok?

Christine Gallagher, The Online Marketing and Social Media Success Coach, is founder of Communicate Value, where she is dedicated to teaching small business owners and professionals how to conquer the overwhelming aspects of online and social media marketing to increase business and maximize profits. To get your free 5-Part E-Course and receive her weekly marketing & success articles on leveraging technology, building relationships and boosting your profits, visit

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