Benefits of Email Marketing

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy - Part II

by Michelle Keegan, Email Marketing Divaź

When I wrote part one of "I Read the News Today, Oh Boy" - way back in July of last year, I didn't necessarily expect to be writing a part two. But, "oh boy," do I see a disturbing trend.

"Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away"

Increasingly, more than a few newsletters in my inbox have become little more than thinly veiled self-promotion. Lighter content and heavy selling has resulted in less and less of a differentiation between email promotions and email newsletters. This means that email marketers are missing out on an opportunity to leverage two different kinds of email communication to their fullest potential.

So, what's the difference between an email promotion and an email newsletter?

In a nutshell, email promotions are primarily one-way communications designed to achieve the short-term goal of driving traffic and sales. An email promotion generally contains one or more direct calls-to-action "click here to buy now," or "sign up today" to elicit immediate action on the part of recipients.

Promotions can:

  • Help you get your share of holiday business
  • Boost sales, appointments or traffic in otherwise slow months
  • Promote your brand
  • Clear space for new stock
  • Move excess inventory
  • Get your name in front of a new or existing customer
  • Reward your most loyal customers

Email newsletters, on the other hand, are regularly scheduled communications that encourage a two-way "conversation." While a newsletter can contain some calls-to-action that provide short-term benefits, it is uniquely suited to accomplish the long-term goals of customer retention and loyalty.

Newsletters can:

  • Build relationships with your customers and prospects
  • Position your company as a valuable resource
  • Obtain and retain the mind share of your customers
  • Educate and inform
  • Build your credibility over time
  • Widen your audience via "word-of-mouth"
  • Help you get your share of holiday business

Both email promotions and email newsletters have their place. My advice is to use both in your email marketing plan, but treat them differently to maximize the value of each communication type.

How, you ask?

  • Manage Expectations
    When your visitors sign up for a newsletter, a newsletter is what they expect to receive. So, do not use the word "newsletter" as a clever disguise for your promotions. If you are hoping to increase your signup rate by duping your audience, expect the corresponding unsubscribe rate to be as high - or even higher. Better to just tell it like it is. Your subscribers will appreciate your honesty and reward you with their trust and ongoing readership.
  • Separate Your Lists
    Keep your newsletter lists and promotion lists separate (it's fine if you have individuals who subscribed to both lists). Some of your subscribers know they want to take action and are looking for your promotions. Some may not be ready to take action just yet. Win them over with your newsletter content.
  • Know Why You're Writing It
    Starting a newsletter because your competition has one is not a good enough reason all by itself. It is very important to clearly define your newsletter's purpose.

    Here's an example that should look familiar:

    Email Marketing Hints & Tips is a short email, sent every three weeks, on the best practices of email marketing. It includes actionable hints and tips in a crisp and concise format aimed at helping you become an expert email marketer!

    Trust me, it will let your readers know what to expect and keep you on track and on topic.

  • Give Subscribers a Reason to Read It
    A newsletter may have ads and links, but recipients will open each issue and read it for the content. Our good friend and newsletter expert, Michael Katz, has his own 80/20 rule:
    "80% of your newsletter should be focused on helping the reader, 20% should be about you."

    So provide real value in the form of useful information. Solve a problem, discuss a hot topic or give actionable tips. The time you invest in writing the content will be well spent.

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