As a small-business owner, you might look at an email newsletter as more of a nicety than a necessity. Sure, your customers might appreciate it, but is the return really worth the effort?
Marketing consultant Scott Poniewaz (@scottpony) points out that email is one of the most powerful advertising channels available for ROI.
"I've worked with web hosting companies, paddle board manufacturers, and architecture firms, and each had a great opportunity to use email marketing," he says. "I am hard-pressed to find a single business type that would not benefit from sending a newsletter."
Still having doubts? Here are three signs that a newsletter could do a lot for your business.
Sign #1: You have information to communicate.
Perhaps the most obvious reason to start a newsletter is because you have information that could benefit your customers. Jason Rueger, a staff writer and email marketer with FitSmallBusiness (@FitSmallBiz), lists three specific situations that might make a newsletter a good fit:
- You produce content of any kind or have a good blog.
- You routinely run specials or promotions.
- You feel like you have something to say, but don't have a way to say it.
According to Rachel Chapdelaine, marketing communications specialist with Marketing Mojo (@MarketingMojo), you may also want to send a newsletter if you frequently update your…
- Site content.
However, she recommends aggregating updates into a single email, so "you are not exhausting or annoying your email list and customers."
Pro insight: "Communication is a two-way street," adds CEO of The Golding Group (@GoldingGroup) Kyle Golding. "Incorporate audience feedback such as surveys or polls."
Sign #2: You want to build relationships.
With so many competitors clamoring for their dollars, potential customers often choose the business they feel good about. However, your newsletter can only demonstrate your trustworthiness if you "give your audience great reasons to read it outside of 'what's on sale' spam messaging," says Golding.
That doesn't have to mean that you only write about your business. Chapdelaine says there is value in sharing curated content from non-competitors.
"If an industry event directly impacts your consumer, you should let them know," she says. "Even better? Share your own opinion on the event along with solid advice on how to adapt to change or take advantage of an opportunity."
Pro insight: "The generally accepted rule is that you must touch your audience multiple times before you pitch your products or services directly," says Chapdelaine. Keep that in mind as you design your newsletter.
Credibility is the name of the game when it comes to building relationships. See how you can give yours a boost in "Why an Online Presence Can Make or Break Your Small Business."
Sign #3: You want to generate leads and make sales.
Chapdelaine says getting social followers and website visitors to subscribe to a regularly published e-newsletter is a good way to convert website visitors into leads.
"Not only do you know that they are interested in your content, but you can also market to them in other ways, such as promoting a new content or product release via email or retargeting ads," she says.
Once you have the leads, Jason Rueger says you can use your newsletter to move them from contact into a fan. He says to give them "content, offers, coupons, et cetera that convert them from interested (and probably a bit skeptical) in your brand to true believers."
Rueger also points out that true believers can be a major asset.
"Referral marketing is still one of the top ways that small businesses grow, so having true fans who are telling their friends about your business is invaluable," he says.
Take a look at your sales cycle, too. If it’s highly seasonal, Golding says, "Newsletters can capture audience attention during peak times and push offers, promotions during slow periods."
Pro insight: According to Rueger, a business with significant traffic to its website may be ready for an e-newsletter. The extra benefits may help pull more customers through the sales funnel.
Email newsletters can be a boon to your business, but remember they are essentially public. Say the wrong thing and you could be accused of libel. See how insurance protects your small business against allegations of defamation in "Save Your Business $50,000 with General Liability Insurance."
About the Contributors
Rachel Chapdelaine is the marketing communications specialist at Marketing Mojo, a digital marketing agency. Professionally, she enjoys learning about SEO, advertising, analytics, marketing automation, and content marketing. Personally, she’s a bit of a foodie and cinephile.
Kyle Golding is the CEO and chief strategic idealist for The Golding Group, an award-winning think tank of strategy, business process management, and marketing integration experts with offices in Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. He is also cofounder and CMO of VORTTX Training, cofounder of 1219 Creative Co-Working + Art Gallery, and owns / operates Share Furniture.
Scott Poniewaz is a marketing consultant and entrepreneur based in Austin, Texas. As a well-rounded executive, he advises startups and businesses of all sizes and across many different industries. When not working, he is an avid hockey player, golfer, foodie, and traveler.
Jason Rueger is an analyst and staff writer for Fit Small Business. Jason specializes in online and offline storefronts and product reviews. When not helping other small-business owners, Jason runs his own small business, Rueger Pottery, where he makes handmade, functional ware that he hopes will lead those who use it to find some meaning and beauty in the everyday moments of life.