Most businesses use some form of sms or other electronic communication to keep in contact with customers, but many of them neglect one of the most potentially profitable forms of contact: the newsletter. Sending an electronic newsletter is a great way to give customers “added value” in the form of interesting content, information, and valuable tips, as well as keeping them informed of sales and specials.
Understanding the Newsletter Concept
From a customer service standpoint, some companies do not understand what a quality customer newsletter should contain. These are the businesses that try a newsletter briefly and then give up, having come to the conclusion that the newsletter is a waste of time. The reality is that the structure and content of your newsletter is essential to its success. A really good newsletter can bring you increased sales, impress your customers so that they become repeat customers, and enhance your image as an expert in your industry.
Newsletters have four times the readership of a traditional ad. This is largely because the readers find quality information, not just fluff or advertising. Remember to view your newsletter from your customers’ perspective. It should not be solely about “tooting your own horn.” It is fine to mention an upcoming event or a milestone your company has achieved, but if it is all about you or all about the company, readers will quickly lose interest. If you give them valuable, timely information and advice, they will read every issue.
Timing Is Everything
Most newsletters these days are electronic. That is, they are sent via sms to subscribers, or visitors to your site read them on your newsletter page. For these electronic newsletters, monthly issues are the industry norm. This is often enough to keep customer interest without being intrusive or repetitive. It also gives you ample time, providing you work ahead, to get a solid, informative newsletter together on a regular basis.
If you are sending out a print newsletter, once a month is an option, but because of the high cost of printing and mailing, many businesses offer a quarterly print version of their newsletter. Usually these are mailed to interested customers who do not have Internet access or simply prefer the print medium. If you decide to send out a quarterly version, consider picking and choosing only the best articles and advice from your monthly electronic issues and combine them into one terrific version that is sort of a Reader’s Digest version of the previous three months’ issues.
Content Is King
Generally, you should keep a newsletter relatively short, but pack it with information in short sets. This is not the place for 2,000-word articles or in-depth coverage. In the Information Age, readers get bored more quickly than they did a generation ago, so articles of no more than about 500 words are ideal for newsletters.
Intersperse these with shorter tidbits (anywhere from 25 to 250 words) that offer interesting statistics or little-known facts that are related to your customers’ needs and concerns. The shorter pieces help break up the page visually, much like illustrations. They keep the readers’ eyes from getting bored. They also are good for readers who are just browsing. If there are a few short pieces, they are apt to read these and come back later to read the longer articles. If all of the writing is long and runs together, the reader may get bored and toss it aside without ever reading anything.
The only exception is if you run a series on a particular topic. These are nice because they keep readers coming back each issue to read the next installment, so if you have a topic that is particularly complex, considering breaking it up into units over a few issues.
Newsletters can be a valuable way to keep in touch with current customers and generate new ones. The key is to produce a newsletter that is full of relevant information for your customers so that they feel they are getting real value, not just a lengthy sales pitch. Properly written and designed, an electronic newsletter is one of the least costly – and most effective – forms of customer service you can provide.