When it comes to writing enewsletters, it seems that everyone feels qualified to say how they should be done. We must confess that it bothers us more than a little that we write letters that apply the basic rules for attracting and retaining readers, yet sometimes find our way of doing it being overruled.
We recommend writing letters that have a conversational tone. The idea is to have the reader feel that it is a personal message, not an advertisement.
We recommend keeping letters as short as possible.
We suggest the the name of the newsletters should convey the idea of what it will be about.
Yet, we sometimes find that the client wants an online brochure - not an interactive communication.
We often find that the name of the newsletter will have more to do with a company slogan than with its content.
And, with a few exceptions, we find that the content we submit for approval comes back with "suggestions" that we add lengthy items.
Of course, the newsletter is their newsletter, so we do our best to accommodate our clients. Then, we will admit, there are occasions when the client changes do perform well. But, we keep wondering, "Why hire professionals if you can't accept their advice?" We do know this, the enewsletters that do best are the ones where we were left to do it our way - the professionally enlightened way.
Professional Blogging - Is It For You? Web logs are such close cousins to enewsletters it was inevitable that we we at Loop Consulting would become active here. We have recently added two new companies to our blog client list. In both cases, the blog is used as an internal communications medium.
But why would a company hire us to create a blog format and keep it running? Couldn't they do it inside?
The answer is that maintaining a blog becomes one more task added to the work load of someone in the company. Blogs have to be continually refreshed, particularly if you are aiming at an outside audience.This means posting at least once a week - preferably more often - if you want to keep visitors coming to your site.
So, the staff person responsible for the blog has this monkey on his or her back all the time. It becomes a nuisance and that means that, as time goes on, postings are made less frequently. This leads to a slow death for the blog.
That is why we are getting business from companies who want their blogs refreshed on a continuing basis. When the responsibility is ours, the job gets done.
Web logs are close cousins of enewsletters. They are composed in HTML language, are designed to present thoughts, ideas and news. One difference is their flexibility - the ease with which text and illustrations can be posted up - or removed - from the blog site.
Instant postings are no problem and you don't need to go through a web designer to do them.
In recognition of this speed and flexibility we have had clients ask us to set up blogs for internal communications. These blogs are talking to groups of empoyees - bringing them up date on late developments in their fast changing business world.
We have gotten text from the clients and had it posted up to the blog site within an hour.
The audiences for these blogs are advised to check them frequently. If there are questions, email links are are included so they can fire them back or comment. Alternatively, readers can use the commentboxes. These can be set up so that the comments can only be read by the publisher of the blog.
We have seen great enthusiasm on the part the users of this type of blog. We'd be happy to discuss it with you.
Direct mail has been the time-tested way to efficiently reach targeted groups of prospective customers. But, efficient as it may be, it does not have the ability to reach and pinpoint selected audiences that enewsletters have.
Speaking of reach, how do you reach people who are on the road, for business or vacations, with paper newsletters? Today people are checking their email - and reading it - when away from office and home.
How do you reach people who spend considerable time in alternate locations? These may be students at school - or people who live in the North but winter in the South. Mail may not catch up with them - but you can bet they are checking their email wherever they are.
Then, speaking of pinpointing, some of the most desirable prospects are people who are interested enough to want to read your enewsletters. They may reach you through an invitation to see your newsletter in your website. They may have seen your enewsletter because someone forwarded it to them. Then they liked it enough to click the "Subscribe" button and ask to receive your letter.
These new subscribers are a part of your prospect data base with very high potential to become customers. How could you do this with paper newsletters?
These are examples of how you can make target marketing more defined. Let's call it "niche marketing." Enewsletters can put a finer edge on your marketing efficiency.
How Does Your Tracking Go? Every month we do a tracking analysis for our enewsletter clients. It is interesting, and important, to watch for the trends. Are the "opens" increasing or decreasing? How many emails are coming from the letter? What parts of the letter are most interesting to readers (as seen in click-throughs). There are many more measurements we watch. Then we tell our clients what this data means.
But in doing these studies we come up with other observations about how enewsletter readers perform. For example, we changed the format of the letter for one client. At their request we ran the items of news sequentially down the page, instead of having them accessed only through links near the top of the letter. The click-through dropped and the reason was obvious. The readers were going deep into the page rather than clicking a link to bring up a specific item.
This made the point that long letters are not necessarily a bad thing. People will read on deep into the page if the material is interesting. However, we emphasize the point that the material had better be pretty attractive or the last items down the page will not be read by a lot of readers.
Each letter is different, it should be noted. What works for one, may not work as well for another. That is why we study the tracking data intensively and draw conclusions about what it is showing that will enable us to improve readership of the letter.