One of the best ways to deliver useful content to customers and prospects is through an e-newsletter. But many organizations miss the mark when it comes to getting the most out of these high-value communications tools. Reports say that although nearly 3 out of 4 marketers strive to use them to build a positive brand experience, their outcomes often vary in quality, readability and success.
How can you create a winning e-newsletter? Here are 8 tips for B2B marketers:
- Be an authority: You (or your company) have expertise in something – and you likely have advice to share on overcoming a common challenge that your product or service addresses. The newsletter presents an excellent opportunity to showcase your expertise, provide helpful advice and illustrate how others have successfully gotten past similar hurdles – the same hurdles faced by your customers and prospects. So identify your core competency, focus on a specific subject, and create and accumulate content about related business challenges or bottlenecks. Your goal with your newsletter is to position your company as a leading authority and resource towards addressing and solving these challenges.
- Know your audience: The more specific the focus of your newsletter, and the better targeted it is to your audience, the more successful it will be. I’ve talked about segmenting your market before, and this can also be done by collecting data through landing page forms, social media interactions and your newsletter subscription form. When you work with a reputable email data provider, you can also secure highly targeted, segmented business contact data as well. With your data organized in this way, you can tailor content to the specific profiles and needs of your audience.
- Don’t sell: Your company e-newsletter should include links to informative articles, customer case studies, upcoming online or live events that present edification purposes, and interesting news and industry statistics. Ideally, all of this information should reside on your company website. That said, the newsletter is NOT the place to sell your company, or include sales messages or special offers.
- Make it an easy read: Give your newsletter a catchy name, a colorful design and plenty of photos or graphics. Make it easy for readers to skim and navigate (e.g. include white space in between articles). There’s no need to include full articles or stories; better to create a headline and brief 1-2 sentence introduction, and encourage readers to click on the story link to get the full content. Don’t make it too long with too much content; target no more than a half-dozen stories or pieces per issue.
- Make it interactive: Don’t make the conversation one way; ask for audience participation. Encourage feedback, comments and requests for future content from your readers. Ask them to write in with a specific challenge they are facing, and for your resident in-house expert (include a picture!) to answer personally.
- Get in the habit: Don’t just send your newsletter once or at random time periods. Commit to doing a newsletter over the next year, and establish a regular distribution cadence, which could be quarterly to start or even monthly if you have a lot of content. If done right, your audience will soon start to anticipate your newsletter.
- Test and optimize: Measure opens and clicks, and track which content or articles draw the most interest. Then increase the presence of the most popular items in future editions. Make sure your newsletter renders properly on myriad browsers and mobile devices, and test different designs to find the one that generates the most responses. Also, identify the ideal day and time to send it – unlike standard email messages, your readers may want to set aside some time to peruse the content -- which may happen outside of the normal working hours.
- Archive them: Once sent via email, post your newsletters on your website so your readers can look them up, and your new prospects can see them – and sign up to receive future editions.
Your company’s e-newsletter presents a great opportunity to build your brand, convey your expertise and authority, and above all, engage with your prospects and customers. It’s a mistake to overlook the value that can be derived out of these powerful communication tools. So, as you gear up for 2017, be sure to put your e-newsletter front and center in your marketing plans.
Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can help you achieve better email marketing ROI, and convert more prospects into customers. Ask us how. Also, take a look at our complimentary new e-book on building a successful B2B email marketing database.
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