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You’ve got mail

Electronic newsletters can be the perfect paperless prospecting and relationship tools

Veronika noize
Guest Columnist
Direct mail is widely recognized as the workhorse of marketing because of the relatively low cost, ease of campaign evaluation, and effectiveness (in terms of sales or actions). But for many small businesses, even the relatively low cost of a direct mail campaign can seem like too much for too little.

The good news is that electronic direct mail campaigns are an affordable option that not only cost less than a typical snail-mail direct mail campaign, but yield potentially greater results.

Usually called electronic newsletters, or e-zines, the number one use of electronic newsletters is customer retention, because more sales to your current clients means reduced cost of sales, which translates to a higher profit margin.

But electronic newsletters are not just about client retention. They can also be used effectively as a prospecting tool that attracts new clients by demonstrating expertise, providing information of value or giving advance notice on special sale prices and other premium offerings to prospects on your list. E-zines are also an easy way to keep your name, services and philosophies in front of your clients, prospects and supporters. Using an electronic newsletter as a follow up to a sales conversation that does not result in a sale or defined next step lets the prospect know you are still interested.

If you choose to use an electronic newsletter as part of your relationship strategy, you must:

Make it a worthwhile experience for the reader. Include useful content, personal stories to increase sense of relationship and appropriate disclosure (new programs, rates, sales, testimonials, etc.).

Leverage the existing relationship. Use the customer name when appropriate, such as in the greeting, or by tailoring messages to different subscriber categories such as prospects, clients or supporters.

Explain and maintain your intention around their names. Ask to be added to your subscribers’ personal address books so that your mail won’t be perceived as SPAM and be scrupulous about your policy regarding sharing, selling or in some way giving out your subscriber names to others, including partners.

Watch and measure your results. Monitor how many people open, click through or opt out of your list to gauge how well your newsletter is working for you as well as the recipients. Pay special attention to those that decide to buy your product or service and find out why.

To build your electronic mailing list, you can:

• Experiment with the color, font, placement and verbiage of "tell a friend about this newsletter" messages to see what works for you.

• Post teaser stories and information on appropriate electronic boards that direct the readers to your Web site and newsletter sign up.

• Offer a gift for subscribing to your newsletter, such as a special report, access to special areas of your Web site that have extra content, or something of value that is exclusive to your subscribers.

• Add a mention of your newsletter to your electronic signature line so that it is appended to all your e-mails.

• Include a mention of your newsletter in the articles you publish, along with a link to your sign-up page.

Electronic newsletters are a simple yet powerful and cost-effective way for small businesses to keep their community of prospects, supporters and clients engaged, connected and informed.

Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach, is the author of "How to Create a Killer Elevator Speech" and "How to Double Your Business in 30 Minutes a Day." Noize’s Web site is a comprehensive resource with free articles and valuable marketing tools for small office/home office business professionals. Visit her Web site at www.VeronikaNoize.com, or call her at 360-882-1298.

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