When I ask people how their newsletter is going, they often reply that they simply don’t have the time any more.
But what’s going to happen when their business slows down or they want to expand? They’ll have lost the opportunity to stay in front of all those people.
As usability expert Jakob Nielsen said, “Newsletters must be seen as a long-term investment: they work their magic over time.”
In other words, you can’t just stop and then expect to start back where you left off. You need to keep your newsletter rolling. If content is king, then consistency is queen.
Despite the growing popularity of social media, email newsletters still deliver the best return on investment, according to the Direct Marketing Association. But don’t forget you are building relationships, not snatching quick sales.
Although flexibility is vital to your newsletter’s survival, you can’t overdo it. Like the treadmill, the email marketing machine is hard to get back on if you’ve missed too much time.
So how do you fuel your newsletter machine, so it will keep running in good times and bad? That’s what I’ve been pondering, as I prepare to present on this topic at a Constant Contact seminar next week.
Here are 10 tips I’ve figured out.
- Start with a list of topics that respond to customer questions, information you wish your customers understood and other issues that come up frequently.
- Make a list of seasonal topics that relate to your business.
- Continue with a list of ideas to showcase your expertise, for example how-to articles, legislative updates or opinion pieces. Relate your expertise to what’s hot and happening in the world, your niche and your life.
- Create a 12-month calendar, starting with the seasonal topics.
- Ignore the calendar sometimes. If you have an issue to respond to, a product to launch or an experience to share, write about that. Don’t worry about publishing more often than you’d planned. That will help make up for those busy times. That’s why I refer to my newsletter as “mostly monthly.”
- Keep it short and simple. Most people will spend no more than a minute scanning your content. By setting smaller, realistic goals for each issue, you’ll also be less likely to miss your time targets.
- Recycle. A thoughtful email, a killer presentation, a link you found on Twitter or an insightful conversation can be inspiration for newsletter content. Just make sure you rework it to fit the medium and audience. Usually I’ll take a post I think my subscribers will like and shorten it.
- Integrate your newsletter with your social media. Post your enticing first paragraph and link on all the sites where potential customers hang out.
- Stretch yourself. Hire qualified help or learn how to create newsletter content more effectively and efficiently.
- Learn from your stats and reports. The better your newsletter performs, the less likely you are to neglect your content treadmill.
Although the death of email newsletters has been foretold many times, they endure. I predict that they’ll continue to grow.
Look at all the people walking down the street, sitting on the bus or standing in the elevator reading from their phones. Mobile technology is giving people more opportunities to read newsletters. Don’t miss out!