Latest posts by Eric Richard (see all)
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Newsletters often get a bad rap in today’s business environment. For many owners, operators and staff, the vision of an outdated, mailed piece of paper that takes hours of manpower to produce and print immediately comes to mind. This vision is sometimes accompanied with the notion that the person receiving it will immediately throw it in the garbage without even reading it. Even the notion of e-newsletters, which are more efficient and affordable to compose and send, still get a cold reception at many businesses.
Sure, widespread use of the Internet and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter makes it easy to distribute relevant information across social channels. However, an owner or operator can only ASSUME that the information is getting to the right individuals, as not everyone regularly checks these outlets for news and updates from their service providers and businesses they frequent (and some rarely check at all).
E-newsletters are the solution. In fact, email marketing is the most common interactive marketing vehicle currently used by marketers, according to Chief Marketer’s 2011 Interactive Marketing Survey, because of their effectiveness. And believe it or not, most of your customers will appreciate receiving them.
AFFORDABLE, EFFECTIVE SOLUTION
Gone are the days when newsletter production was a time-consuming and expensive task. There was a time not too long ago when most newsletter production typically required graphic-design software, a professional-grade color printer, large envelopes, mailing labels and a postage check made out to the post office. Throw in a staff member knowledgeable in graphic-design software, and this seemingly simple process could turn into a nightmare to the staffer assigned to it. Some businesses turned to contracted designers and other out-of-office resources to handle this burdensome task. Despite all the costs and time commitments, the newsletter was still an important means of communicating company news, discounts, coupons and other pertinent information to customers.
These days, business owners and their staff can select from numerous online e-marketing applications that allow them to quickly create a professional-looking newsletter with a minimal amount of time and effort. Many of these software programs are cloud-based, meaning they’re accessible in the same manner as any Web site without requiring any installations or downloads. And they typically require only basic computer skills to utilize. Once ready to distribute, a business simply uploads a mailing list of current customer e-mail addresses and schedules it.
This process is not only simpler than producing a traditional printed newsletter, it’s also much more affordable. Generally, the only cost is any fee the e-newsletter provider charges for using the software.
In addition to the cost savings, e-newsletters are interactive and allow the customer to quickly access information and conduct transactions, something a traditional printed newsletter does not. Adding links back to a company Web site, portal or page gives individuals the option of purchasing items, scheduling services and e-mailing the company right through the newsletter.
KEEPING CUSTOMERS CLOSE
Direct communication with customers and individuals interested in your business keeps them in the loop on discounts, specials, coupons, news and other issues of interest. The continued trend toward social media outlets has its benefits, as more and more businesses rely on these sites for announcing their information. However, they often lack the personal connection that newsletters can create. There’s also the assumption that your customers will visit the site and view your materials, which may not always be the case.
By receiving this information right in their e-mail inbox, customers feel appreciated that the business took the time to prepare and share information with them. In some instances, these newsletters can include specials and discounts not available elsewhere, making them an even more valuable communication vehicle. Regular customers who find value in the newsletter will eagerly await each edition sent, building customer loyalty and, hopefully, increase sales at your business.
E-newsletters are a proactive approach businesses can take in ensuring their messages reach their customers directly and in a timely manner. It takes the guesswork out of whether customer receive the information you’re distributing, while at the same time creating a benefit most customers will enjoy receiving.