With so many newsletters out there, their effectiveness does seem to be reducing. For example, my open rates this year have dropped slightly to 38.49% compared with 39.54% last year, but this is against an industry average of 14.9%. Meanwhile, my click rates have reduced to 11.46% from 19.4% last year against an industry average of 10.6%. But newsletters still work, which is the real measure of success.

My last issue went out at 2.15pm and I received an enquiry at 2.37pm. That’s just 22 minutes to win a new client! At practically no cost! When I asked the prospect how they heard of me, he said: “I just got your newsletter.”

So newsletters still have an important part to play in marketing your business.

E-newsletter tips (based on UK law as I understand it)

– Don’t be too sales-y. Nobody wants to open a so-called newsletter and see an advert

– Only send it to people who’ve opted in e.g. through a signup link on your website (for added take-up you can offer an ‘ethical bribe’ e.g. ‘Sign up for monthly hints and tips and get an exclusive free report on XYZ’)

– You can send relevant newsletters to all customers and prospects who’ve ever asked for a quote, without them opting in, but you can’t send unrelated information (so if you’re a builder it’s OK to write to them about bricks but not flowers)

– Always include an unsubscribe link (by law)

– Send at least once every 6 weeks for best results (people forget you if it’s any longer than that). If you have a highly seasonal business, then quarterly is OK. But if you can only send a newsletter once a year, even that is better than nothing.

– It can take 6-8 issues to get Return On Investment (just like building any relationship, you’re trying to turn a stranger into a friend, a subscriber into a customer)

Note that you can’t send bulk emails via Outlook (or similar). For one thing, the software restricts the number of addresses you can send to in one go, and for another, it will appear as spam to the recipients. If you do send via your ‘normal’ email system, be sure to use BCC not CC so you comply with the data protection act, protect your mailing list, and avoid the risk of anyone hitting ‘reply all’.

Note: CC stands for carbon copy, BCC stands for blind carbon copy, a hangover from the days of the typewriter. With CC everyone can see the email addresses you’ve sent the message to, with BCC they can’t.

When asked how long it takes to produce my own, I give three answers:

– A year to analyse other newsletters and decide what I wanted to do with mine

– A month to compile the content for each issue (I copy-and-paste links and ideas into a Word document as and when I find them)

– Half-a-day to write it, design it and send it

I use Constant Contact to distribute my newsletters (there are plenty of other bulk mail providers out there e.g. MailChimp, or your web provider might even include the facility with your website).

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking

Skip to content