By Jeffrey Gray
Breaking News for Email Newsletter Publishers: You can do more with your online newsletter!
Ask not what your readers can do for you; ask what you can do for readers. That’s right, every single time you publish a newsletter and send it you’re your subscribers, you should be asking yourself one question; “Is this newsletter informative AND engaging?” Basically, the point is your newsletter could be the best, most well written, Pulitzer Prize contending piece of writing anyone has ever seen, but what if no one reads it? What if they read it, but they still don’t feel like they’ve gotten anything out of it? Compare it to text books and college. Sitting in a loft bed in a tiny dorm room reading text books on Western Civilization to me, was the most mind numbing experience I’ve ever felt. Once we brought it to the classroom however, was different, there were discussions, videos, questions and answers—we became engaged in the content, instead of just reading it. It was the combination of taking in the material and then acting upon it that made it the most valuable. Your newsletter can function the same way.
The most original and common form of interacting with your customers through email newsletters is probably the survey. Including a survey is an easy way to get your readers engaged in your newsletter and sometimes even a sly way to get some marketing research out of your newsletter (especially if you can give something away for free to entice them to take the survey)
Your surveys could be about numerous things including customer satisfaction, industry related surveys, who will win the Stanley Cup, anything to get your readers active in your email.
Adding images is the original way to peak interest in a newsletter and break-up all the words. Take a cue from newspapers and magazines; if you use a picture add a caption. This way, the reader can get a quick glimpse about what they’re about to read and have a nice visual reference to go along with it. Images related to your story can do a great job of breaking up the monotony of words, enticing readers to do more than just read your newsletter (which is ok!).
Got something funny, interesting, or relevant to share with your audience? If you have a bowling newsletter, maybe you can point your readers to a YouTube link of the charity bowling event and show highlights of the woman who bowled a perfect 300. Can you show readers in a video how to do something? Upload it and share. With the Internet and websites like YouTube at your disposal, you can be taking advantage of any avenue possible. The glamour of video can bring your newsletters to life, make them more than just still images and words—emphasize them with online video!
Do you maintain a blog? Incorporate it into your email marketing efforts. Your blog is an interactive piece of your company; it’s easy to bring part of your newsletter into your blog. Ask your readers if they have anything to share for your blog. In your blog, you can ask your readers if there is anything they’d like to see in your next newsletter. If you’re having a contest (we’ll talk about this later) announce your winner in a blog post (as well as the following newsletter.) Doing this will not only create interaction between your newsletter and your readers, but promote your blog a little more.
Contests & Giveaways
WIN FREE STUFF! No three words could ever offer more incentive than these three. The thing about a contest is, even if the readers are REALLY only interested in winning free stuff, it still keeps them around longer than they might have. This means more perusing of topics, headlines, or other offers in your newsletter—increasing over all awareness of your newsletter. While they’re scrolling your newsletter for the giveaway offer, they’re reading other items that may be of interest to them. Everybody…. ahem…wins!
Questions and Answers
They’ve got questions, you’ve got answers. You’re the professional; they come to you for products, services, or information—let them ask some of the hard hitting questions and prove your worth to them by answering them. It gives you interaction for your current newsletter and content in the next issue.
Conclusion and What do you do? Share with us
So there you have it. Put some life into your newsletters—engage your readers. Pull them into your email marketing and interact. We can’t sound hypocritical so, in an ongoing effort to keep our own newsletter interactive…write us, tell us how you keep your newsletter a two-way street of online communication. From traditional to ordinary and from unique to extraordinary, we want to know. We’ll post as many responses as we can in a future blog entry and in next months edition of iContact Marketing Monthly. Email me at Jgray@icontact.com and tell me how you make your newsletter interesting and interactive!
About the author:
Jeffrey Gray is the Marketing Manager at iContact, a leading email marketing application based in Durham, NC. He managers all advertising campaigns and marketing initiatives, is the editor for “Email Marketing Monthly,” and writes for “Ask the Marketing Guy” on the iContact Blog. He writes about Marketing, Advertising and Life in General on his blog at www.jeffreygray.wordpress.com. Want to connect with Jeffrey directly? Follow him professionally and personally on LinkedIn or Twitter.