I’m about to start something new—that’s also something pretty darn old for small businesses. I’m launching a new newsletter, and I think you should have a newsletter for your small business too. (If you’d like to sign up for my new newsletter, please go to www.RhondaAbrams.com.)
I’m a big believer in newsletters for virtually all small businesses. Newsletters are having somewhat of a renaissance right now. In addition to regular “newsletters,” individuals are launching subscription-based newsletters to share their expertise, and some “newsletter” companies are actually enabling companies to substitute those for websites or social media.
While my publishing company has had an email newsletter, I’m now launching a more personal one that will enable me to engage closely with readers like yourself (I’d love to hear from you!). I’ll help small businesses keep up-to-date on successful business tips, provide detailed info on government programs and policies, and share insights into small business pursuits and pleasures (including such things as where to travel).
I’ve been around small business life so long that I remember when newsletters were actual printed newsletters. They’d come in the mail, have info relating to the company’s area of expertise, and would keep the small business’s name in front of their customers.
Email newsletters still accomplish much of what old-fashioned print newsletters did. Do people get tired of email newsletters? Yes. Do people only open about one out of every five they get from a business? Yes. Will some people unsubscribe? Yes.
But…will regular newsletter emails keep your name in front of prospects? Yes. Will it encourage some people to buy? Yes. Will it help people remember your name to give for referrals? Yes. Are emails fairly easy and cheap to do? Yes.
Thanks to a profusion of web-based email newsletter services, it’s easier and cheaper than ever. Some of them are even free for very small mailing lists.
Here’s a short list:
And there’s a new player in the field as well—Substack. Substack enables you to easily charge a subscription for your newsletter. If you have very desirable information to share, this is a way for you to ‘monetize’ (I hate that word) your expertise.
These automated online email newsletter services perform all the technical aspects of sending out your newsletter. They continually clean up your mailing list, deleting people who choose to unsubscribe, evaluating any “bounce backs.” They’ll give you links you can put on your website (and/or others’ websites) so people can sign up to receive your newsletter, making it easy to gather and maintain your mailing list. And they’ll give you analytics so you know what’s working and what isn’t.
If you’re launching an email newsletter, keep in mind:
- Give readers a reason to open it. Include meaningful, useful content, discounts, or notices of sales.
- Keep it relatively short. People have limited time. The recipient needs to be able to get something valuable from your newsletter in less than a minute.
- Send it regularly. Once a week or once or twice a month is ideal. While some newsletters are daily, that’s a lot of work for you and will probably increase your “unsubscribes.” Any less than quarterly, they’ll forget about you.
- Make sure your subject line promises value to the reader. The value can be a financial incentive ($25 cash back) or, more likely, it can be information that a reader might find useful (7 weight-loss tips).
- Avoid subject lines that will get you blocked. Spam filters block subject lines with words like “free” or dollar signs $$$ or all caps. Be careful or your mail won’t go through.
- Keep your branding. Make sure your company name is very visible. Use the same colors, fonts, and taglines you use in the rest of your branding.
- Only send it to people who’ve signed up. This is called “Opt-In” and most email newsletter services will only send to your email list if people have signed up to receive it – or have given you their business card.
- Provide an “unsubscribe” option. Once again, this is required by law and embedded in newsletter services.
- Give it personality. While many—if not most—newsletters may just have product information, if you really want to engage with readers, add a personal touch. Give a look behind the scenes of your company, or, as I’m going to do, reflect on your personal experiences and expertise.
Email newsletters are an easy and inexpensive way to keep in touch with customers and prospects. Try it for your company—and please sign up for mine!
Copyright Rhonda Abrams, 2021
This article originally ran in USA Today on June 7, 2021