8 Essentials of the Self-Employed E-Newsletter

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In a 2007, the marketing scientists at MarketingSherpa published a case study showing that ConAgra Foods generated 34.25% more product sales from consumers subscribed to their email newsletter, as opposed to consumers who were not.

Email is still the go-to form of communication used by businesses, and a newsletter puts your marketing message where prospects are already looking. If done well, you can turn regular brand exposure into more revenue for your business.

In my 20 years of marketing experience, I have identified eight essential elements an email newsletter must include to be effective. Here we go!

1. A Predictable Schedule
Predictability plays a big role in the efficacy of your newsletter. Your subscribers are busy. In fact, the average American receives over 100 emails a day. So, if your newsletter’s timing is unreliable, coming in on no particular schedule, it’s going to get lost in the mix. But, when readers can expect it on a steady schedule, like say, Monday mornings or the first Friday of the quarter, they will be more inclined to recognize and read the email.

2. A Targeted Audience
Like everything in life, you must be intentional about your email newsletter. Every part of it needs a purpose. Why are you sending your newsletter? What do you hope to gain? When you know who you are targeting and why, you can build your newsletter to influence that group’s feelings about your business or project. Having a specific targeted audience in mind helps mold your marketing message so it is highly relevant to your subscribers, which makes it much more interesting to them. The more relevant your marketing is, the better results you will see.

3. Useful, Shareable Content
Whoever said it had it right – content is king. With the absurd amount of email people get on a daily basis, they’re only going to read your newsletter if they get something out of it. You can offer industry-insider tips or specific how-to advice, etc. The point is your content needs to be subscriber-focused. It needs to help them in their everyday lives. That gives them a reason to look forward to the next newsletter. Excellent content increases trust with readers and causes them to want to share your content – and that’s the best kind of marketing there is.

4. Growing Readership
Just because your audience is targeted doesn’t mean it can’t get bigger. You need to find a way to promote your newsletter and grow the size of your list. To start, you can add all the prospects you already have to your email database. Then, be sure to add a subscription form on your website. That way, web visitors can sign up if they like what they see. And the more prospects that opt in to your newsletter, the more leads you get.

5. Your News and Updates
According to a survey of email newsletter senders done by the Nielsen Norman Group, over 60% of newsletter users rate company news as VALUABLE content for an email newsletter. In short, a majority of readers say they like hearing about you and your business, too. That’s what you want to do anyway! Keeping subscribers plugged in to your latest news keeps the connection with them and leads to more sales.

6. Offers and Incentives
Special offers always attract sign-ups. So use them to your advantage! You can feature discounts or promotions that are exclusive to your readers, which in turn will motivate more people to subscribe and get access to your reader-focused content and special promotions. Special perks also keep subscribers excited about the next email.

7. Links
A newsletter sign up form on your website is a must, but so are links in your newsletter that send traffic back to the website. You see, your newsletter wants to accomplish two goals:

1) Offer valuable content to encourage loyal reading.
2) Drive traffic to your website.

Make sure the topic of each newsletter clearly displays the valuable content, and then find opportunities to link to landing pages for relevant products and services within the newsletter. This gives you natural ways of connecting the great content you offer to the great products or services you provide.

8. Contact Opportunities
You want subscribers to get back in touch with you. So you need to give them every opportunity to do so. Practically, this means featuring contact information prominently within your newsletter. Include your phone number, email address, mailing address (if you have an office location), and social media icons that link to your pages. This information makes you available to prospects.

Does your newsletter have all 8 of these elements? If you don’t have a newsletter yet, I recommend you get started right away, and be sure to implement these 8 essentials!

Joy Gendusa is the Founder & CEO of PostcardMania. She literally wrote the book on postcard marketing, and she built her own marketing firm from the ground up into a $20million dollar enterprise in just 15 years. You can find her on Google+.