Could Paying for Newsletter Creation Be the Best Marketing Money You Ever Spend?
Remember when it used to be so exciting to get an e-newsletter?
You might have even paid for some subscriptions. You gave out your name and email address like you were entering a raffle or something. Back then, it was even exciting to get spam emails. You’d click them and think maybe, just maybe you did have a long-lost relative in Nigeria who died without an heir and named you his only successor and the inheritor of his gajillion dollar estate. Newsletter creation and publication was hot, hot, hot.
Marketers went bananas, too.
The biggest, best advice sounded a little like the line from Fried Green Tomatoes except the secret wasn’t in the sauce, it was in the list. “Build a list, build a list, build a list,” they sang as a chorus. Great advice, actually, and newsletters were the golden ticket for building that list, the ethical bribe prospects lined up to get.
And Then Email Became a Chore
I used to chuckle when my ex-husband complained about getting “like a dozen emails” in one day. Clearly, he’d never subscribed to Warrior Forum, double-opted in on any Internet marketing gurus’ lists, or subscribed to FlyLady.net to try to regain some semblance of neat and clean in the house.
Dozens? I actually pay Google for extra space in my Gmail account (also known as my filing cabinet).
But I digress.
Point is, now people kind of want to puke when they think about how much email is accumulating. Therapists soothe their clients saying, “Hey, your inbox will be full the day you die. It’s okay.”
So while an email newsletter is still something, it’s not everything.
How many of your recipients, even if they’re truly interested in reading the latest issue, decide to save it for “later”?
And by later, I mean never.
What Are They Reading in the John Now? Newsletters Make a Comeback
Meanwhile, back in your mailbox out by the road, you’re almost kind of wishing someone would send you a letter. But a newsletter would do, too.
After all, you’ve now got no reading material for your bathroom. You get something in the mail that’s even remotely interesting-looking, you save it from the ruthless over-the-trashcan sorting session, and it gets safely ensconced… on the back of the toilet. Depending on your roughage intake, it might take you a few days to get through it, but you actually read it. And if it’s good, you read every word.
That, my friends, is my poop theory of publishing. You can share it. I don’t mind.
And by ‘theory’ I mean that my creative partners and I nearly came to blows over this one, and since I’m writing this piece, you’re hearing my preference for print first. We had a knock-down, fangs-bared kind of discussion (Okay, that’s a lie. It was spirited but friendly… just seemed more dramatic if we’d rolled up sleeves and brandished fisticuffs. Play along, okay?)
A Rumble in the Publishing Pit
In one corner, some were throwing out statistics showing that digital newsletters were still THE way to go… and that print is the crutch of the ill-informed throwback.
In the other corner were some saying that even though we have no hard data to back it up, anecdotal and personal experience lead us to predict a return to print for a while… until the pendulum swings back again, or onto something entirely new. We, in the print corner, believe we’re not behind the times, but that we’ve looped the space-time continuum and are now trendsetting. Or something.
In the end, we compromised. I’ll share the list of pros and cons for print and digital formats in a bit. What’s best for you and for your clients (if you’re a marketing consultant) depends on some particulars. You’ll be best suited to decide which will work for your needs and budget. Either way, we can help you get what you need. We’ve got the good stuff.
So, newsletters. For now, the novelty lies in print and mail. That doesn’t mean you don’t need digital formats, too, because you do. It just means that if you really want maximum impact, you’ll spring for some paper, ink, and postage.
Semantics First: What Are Newsletters?
Printed or digital, a newsletter gives valuable information and news to groups of people with a common interest on a regular (usually monthly) basis. Newsletters can come from all types of businesses and organizations – from big and small companies, local charities, and national associations.
Some are paid subscriptions; some are free. The terms ‘newsletters’ and ‘ezines’ are largely interchangeable, except that newsletters can be in digital or print format while ezines are exclusively distributed online.
Usually, we’re looking at between 2-5 articles, and anywhere from 2-12 pages. But it’s not just words.
For print newsletters, if you include attractive graphics and images, your newsletter will take on the appearance of being more like a magazine, and your recipients’ sense of knowing, liking, and trusting you will skyrocket as they enjoy looking at the pictures and reading helpful, valuable, and maybe even entertaining articles. You can also include coupons and special offers that make the newsletter even more likely to be anticipated, read, and acted upon each month.
Why Do Businesses Need a Newsletter?
Businesses use newsletters to connect, teach, and sell. It’s a mindshare tactic – stay on the forefront of your customers’ and prospects’ minds, and they’re more likely to be loyal. Offer specials, be personable, and share really valuable information, and you’ll cement your position as “my [whatever you do]” in readers’ minds.
Studies show the most common reason customers leave one business to do business with its competitor is that they felt forgotten, unappreciated, and disconnected. The name of the game is lead nurturing and customer retention – and newsletters are a cost-effective way to accomplish both. In fact, here’s what Forbes says about why newsletter creation is a good investment:
Engaged, returning customers can boost revenue by 23%, as they tend to enjoy and feel loyal to a brand — and, as a result, purchase more.
Should You Go Print or Digital with Your Newsletter?
Print will give you some advantages:
- More likely to get read than digital, if the graphic design is eye-catching and the articles are engaging.
- Not many businesses are doing print anymore, so your newsletter will stand out.
- Some people are ‘over’ digital overload. They’re the same people who’d probably prefer holding a real book rather than a Kindle.
- You don’t have to wait to build a list before you can get results for your business.
- Print can be expensive. If you have hundreds or thousands of people to contact, print’s probably not going to happen. It can be expensive.
- If you DO go this route, and you don’t get results from your first newsletter, you’re going to be patient.
- If your call to action is Internet-based, readers may not take action because it’s too much trouble to fire up the computer and type in the website you’ve asked them to visit.
Digital has its advantages:
- Deliver cost is pretty nearly zero unless you count Aweber or whatever other email services you use. Doesn’t matter whether you’re sending to a handful of clients or a horde.
- Apparently, every published test says sending digitally is the way to go. (Harumph.)
- If you include an Internet-related call to action, all it takes is for readers to click to follow it.
Hello? See the Poop Theory above.
Do Newsletters Help with SEO?
Not especially. And especially not the ones you just print and mail. Google’s good, but so far they don’t have the ability to read stuff that’s not online.
However, if you get unique content written for your newsletter (rather than stock content, which is an option for some businesses, and we do offer a range of packages that starts with stock content at the lower end), you can multi-purpose it to use online as well as in email and print newsletters.
For example, if your newsletter is original content you can…
- Post the articles on your site as blog posts. This gives you more pages (hence great SEO value) to get indexed by searching and more importantly, you get ranked higher because search engines love FRESH content.
- Use them as the content of a video
- Record them and use them as audio content and podcasts
- Use them as guest posts on another website
- Allow other newsletters to use your content
Newsletters are not primarily about SEO. They’re about nurturing leads, and caring for customers. The good thing about that is that it doesn’t matter what Google does – the whole Google machine could go kablooey, and your newsletters will still be making money for you. Kind of nice to have at least one thing that’s pretty nearly guaranteed to generate business, regardless of Pandas, Penguins, or whatever zoo animal Google wants to unleash next.
The ROI on Newsletter Creation and Publishing
The whole point of having a newsletter or ezine is to maintain regular contact with subscribers. This means publishing at least once a quarter, but more likely once or twice a month.
Whether the newsletter goes out internally to a company’s employees to build a sense of teamwork and keep them informed about industry news, out to consumers to provide a mix of relevant content and promotional material, or out to members of a non-profit organization to keep them informed about events, fundraising, and news, compiling this publication on a regular basis is a lot of work.
Newsletters are such an effective way to maintain contact with people and to boost ongoing revenue that they are well worth the investment they require. Smart business owners recognize the wisdom of outsourcing this task.
Getting results from a newsletter requires having a list of subscribers, of course. Building that list is easiest when you have a subscription form on your website. Using an email service like Aweber, MailChimp, or Constant Contact makes managing the subscriber list easy and ensures newsletters get delivered. However, don’t just stop there – you also want to get the information you need to be able to send a print newsletter.
For many businesses, this is a piece of cake. The billing office has all this information. If your business isn’t that kind of business, you’ll need to start collecting mailing addresses as well as email addresses.
Are Newsletters Worth the Hassle?
Yes! A single newsletter can easily get the phone ringing and the door swinging with customers who’ve been meaning to come in for a while, and just remembered when they got that newsletter. In fact, newsletters are so powerful that you can lead with them in prospecting. The speed with which they can generate business leaves SEO sitting in the dust.
You will get the best results possible by planning ahead.
If you will spend a bit of time planning the contents of 6-12 months of newsletters, you can focus on your marketing thrusts for that time period as well. For many business owners, marketing is just something that happens haphazardly rather than in an organized, strategic way. By looking at what’s already on the calendar for the coming months and seeing how it can be tied into the newsletter, you can also leverage these events into marketing and publicity.
If you’re a marketing consultant who wants to market newsletter services, you might want to consider doing one for your own business. If you create a newsletter with really valuable content, teaching your subscribers how to use newsletters to grow their business, you will quickly gain expert status and find they want to hire you to publish for them, too.
Want to Talk about Newsletter Creation? Maybe Get One Going for Your Business?
Triumph Communications has been producing newsletters ranging from two to twelve pages for more than a decade. Some clients use them as a direct source of revenue. Others use them to stay top of mind with their customers. Some feature fresh content and others repurpose content that’s already created. Either way, especially if you mail a physical newsletter to your customers and prospects, it’s one more way you can stand out from the crowd.
If you’d like to get going with a newsletter for your business, let’s talk.