Technology / Email newsletters

Making your small business newsletters work

With so many small business newsletters around, is it still worth having one? I say yes. I believe both printed and electronic e-newsletters are still valuable and effective – even when produced on a shoestring budget.

20 December 2009 by

Here are my tips for making your small business newsletters work for you.

1. Look professional

There’s no doubt that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there are some newsletters that are just plain unattractive. No doubt you’ve seen a few of these in both your inbox and your letterbox. It’s a definite turn off.

Regardless of the size of your budget, it’s important that the presentation and layout of your newsletter reflect your brand. The golden rule is that whether your newsletter is printed or electronic it must be easy to read or navigate, and clean and simple in design.

I recommend avoiding the use of standard or generic templates, because they’ll rarely do your brand justice. If you can, make the initial investment in a template that reflects your brand, and as part of your brief make sure it is designed to fit numerous applications.

"Your newsletter should not be overly technical or written in a way that sends people to sleep – after all most of us don’t choose to spend our spare time reading Acts of Parliament or legal transcripts!"

2. Provide valuable content

Although your newsletters are produced, sent and paid for by your business, they are actually not about you at all. If your content doesn’t have a high level of ‘what’s in it for me’ for the reader, your newsletter will fail. Readers will switch off, unsubscribe, return the mail to its sender (you) and ask to be removed from your database. Ouch.

Want more articles like this? Check out the email newsletters section.

If you’re stuck for content ideas, common topics that people like to see in small business newsletters include:

  • case studies illustrating how using your product can make their lives or business better;
  • new products or industry-related research;
  • pictures from an event;
  • special offers;
  • interviews with industry experts or people your audience relate to or admire.

3. Inject personality

Your newsletter should not be overly technical or written in a way that sends people to sleep – after all most of us don’t choose to spend our spare time reading Acts of Parliament or legal transcripts! I recently received a legal document from my mortgage supplier with the suggestion that I make myself a cup of tea, get comfy on the couch and sit down to read it. Next time I feel like an afternoon nap, I might just give that a try!

In summary, don’t let having a tight budget hold you back from producing great newsletters. I’ve been told many times in my life and career that I have champagne tastes on a beer budget – it’s probably true, but there’s always a way around it!

The million-dollar question is whether small business newsletters generate sales. In my experience they do, and over time can also help you build and strengthen your brand.

Has that been your experience too? Let us know below.

Jo Macdermott

from Next Marketing works with business owners in Melbourne who require marketing support. Jo specialises in tactical marketing plans and campaigns that are pragmatic and make a lot of business sense.

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