Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
An email newsletter can be one of the most powerful tools that a small business owner has for converting website visitors into prospects and prospects into customers.
The reason is that newsletters address two fundamental aspects of conversion: engaging your audience with valuable information and staying top of mind, so that your company is the most logical choice when it’s time to make a purchase.
With clogged inboxes, people are less inclined to open emails that come from businesses unless they perceive that the messages hold real value. A well-written newsletter, full of useful information delivered on a regular basis, is more likely to be opened than an email sent now and then.
Receiving and opening your newsletter reminds prospects of who you are, how you can help them, and ensures that your name remains familiar to them. In order to achieve those goals, you must ensure it is consistent, engaging, helpful, and full of personality.
Here are four best practices for writing a newsletter that drives conversions.
1. Write a Personal Introduction
Customers want to know who you are. They want to understand you, trust you, and like you as a person, not just as a faceless representative of your company. Each newsletter provides an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to new prospects and let regular readers get to know you a bit more.
Craft an engaging introduction that tells a timely story of what is happening in your life or that shares an anecdote related to the material you want to cover. Wrap up the introduction with a brief rundown of what content the particular newsletter includes and close by encouraging readers to take action.
2. Provide High-quality Editorial Content
Articles and essays are the heart of your newsletter and are what ultimately retains the attention of your audience, so resist the urge to dash off something quick and sloppy. Aim for at least one article of about 500 words. Make sure it is packed with helpful information, actionable tips, or other high-quality content that prospects and customers can use.
Before you get stressed out thinking about how you will write all of these articles, it’s important to understand that you do not always need to write your own newsletter content.
You can repurpose blog posts or other content you have already written, hire a guest blogger to create original content, or even ask for permission to reprint someone else’s article or blog post (with proper attribution, of course). If you are in a hurry, create a list of quick tips for using your product or service.
3. Offer Something of Value
A compelling offer with a strong call to action is how your newsletter will transition passive readers into paying customers. Keep these sections entirely separate from your editorial content, however, to avoid making your useful advice sound like a sales pitch.
Toward the end of your newsletter, include a section with a relevant offer that matches the theme of the newsletter. For example, if this article were in our company newsletter, the offer could be to get a free email marketing consultation to generate leads.
4. Keep the Schedule Consistent
No matter what newsletter schedule you choose, the most critical factor is consistency. Set your newsletter to go out on the same day, preferably at the same time, for each edition. Over time, your prospects and customers will look forward to receiving your emails, which puts you in the driver’s seat for marketing your products and services.
For most businesses, one newsletter per month is the minimum frequency that will drive results. As mentioned above, with so many emails clogging up inboxes, it’s easy for your particular newsletter to get overlooked.
If you’re only sending one message per month, it’s highly likely your prospects and customers could go several months without reading your emails. Two to four newsletters per month, delivered once per week or once every two weeks, is ideal for most businesses.
An email newsletter is one of the most powerful, yet often underutilized marketing tools for small businesses. Remember to keep it useful, actionable, and engaging; send it out on a reliable schedule; include a relevant offer, and use a compelling subject line that sums up the newsletter content.
Following these best practices will ensure the relatively small investment in your email newsletter pays for itself many times over.