Saturday, February 26, 2011

7 Tips to Make Your Newsletter Pop

How does your newsletter build loyalty?

Many small businesses have newsletters, but is your newsletter a call to action or is it just a retelling of past events?  Are you still flirting with your customers? Or have you moved into the 10 year stale marriage?  Are you still telling your customers I love you? Or are you just leaving your dirty socks on the floor?

I receive a few email newsletters about trends and topics in and around Japan.  But after I read them, I am never asked to share this with friends, discuss this with others or even comment about what I just read.  In today's social networking society, we are always able to give our opinion.  Your newsletter not be an exception! How can you rekindle the flame?

1) Use that online forum!  Embed your letter with links to your on-line forums.  If your forum is specific to certain members or topics, let your loyal customers log in with a password. This creates more support and loyalty.  You don't have a forum? Well hop on facebook and create one!

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2) Give-aways for feedback! Offer a wine & cheese party for members who respond to a survey.  Tell them that is free as a courtesy.  Yes, I know it may be difficult, but if you find a sponsor for your event, then they can pay for the wine and you can be the shero.  While they are at the party talk about how you appreciated their responses. If it is anonymous just refer to interesting points that you read and things you would love to discuss in more detail. (This can be altered to reflect your business values. You don't drink? Do you fondue?)

3) Feature fantastic customers in your upcoming newsletter. What is your newsletter about? Marketing? Find the Marketer of the Month. Then ask your list if they would like to submit some of their ideas. Are you geared towards parents? Find a way to highlight the accomplishments of the parents in your organization. Maybe a mom just climbed Mt. Fuji or a dad just learned how to dance the tango. Tell everybody!

4) Include video or photographs in the newsletter.  Maybe I am just a visual person, but some of these newsletters are just white space and no color. I know, I know  everyone wants to make it look clean. Clean doesn't mean empty. What happened to the colors of the rainbow?

5) State the obvious! If you know your customers are impressed by the new hamburger place that just opened up, then tell them, "I know you saw the new hamburger place that just opened up, but I'm going to tell you why ours is better." Maybe you don't want to be that direct, but how can you make that an important part of your message. 

6)  Respond to comments, emails, and even "likes."  If you have a newsletter and you get an email that said anything positive or negative, respond to it. Be polite. On another note, the more you write about a topic, the more people will submit random questions that have nothing to do with your particular business.  Now unless it is completely off the wall, then try and give a brief sentence.  I would save these responses for once a week or even once a month. As a small business owner you can have a more intimate relationship with your customers, especially in the building stages.  It really bothers me when small businesses only respond to emails that seem to benefit their needs or when they are asking for money.  I have met two people who respond to almost everything.  Caroline Pover, a Tokyo based entrepreneur, is someone who replies to most if not all of my queries. They are usually relevant. Don't worry, I'm not asking about the weather.  If I send her an email, she will respond, even if it is to say thank you.  Another one is Terry Lloyd, he has a weekly newsletter called Terrie's Takes where he expresses his views on trends in business around the world and in Japan.  He is also the publisher of Metropolis English Magazine and Japan Inc. Now, maybe it's because they are both in publishing, I don't know. But it certainly feels nice to know that someone read me email and had the decency to respond.

7) Get rid of no reply emails! It burns me up when I get an online email from a company that starts off with,
Dear Michaela, or
Haven't heard from you in a while?
Or, Do you want me to stop sending this email?

Then I read the email and I actually want to reply right then and there, but what happens.....I get the "no reply" response. If you have to have a "no reply" button, then have a silly message saying,

Oops, you clicked the no reply button didn't you? Tsk, tsk, tsk...I need you go over to the forums and talk to us there. We love to hear your opinions and some of our other customers may share your thoughts.
or  you could try...

Yeah, we know it sucks to read that no reply button, but our coffers are full so we had to streamline our messaging center. Talk to us over there in the forums.

or how about this one?

I know you had a burning question and we would love to answer it, but we just need you to follow our somewhat overbearing procedure or we may end up like MySpace.

 Check us out on facebook!

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