When you own a business, a newsletter can be powerful. It can help you reach people you don’t touch otherwise, and stay regularly connected with them. Newsletters offer you an opportunity to share your expertise, communicate directly with customers and prospects, and share resources that your audience may not otherwise access.
But newsletters are challenging for business owners. They take time, energy, attention and focus… and then using them incorrectly can cause more harm than good.
Here are the top 5 challenges that I see business owners struggle with when trying to produce an effective newsletter, and some ways that you can manage those challenges and have better success leveraging your online communication.
The #1 challenge: Getting Started
It’s easy to look on the idea of it with enthusiasm, but taking the actual steps to pulling together your first newsletter can seem daunting. You need to design the template, match your branding, create your content – and know it’s the right content – figure out who you can send it to, upload your contacts… there’s a lot of upfront work to get yourself started. ON THE PLUS SIDE: You only have to do this part once! Once you’re up and running, you can use the same template & the same contact list over and over.
The #2 challenge: Keep it going
Once the first message is sent out, it’s time to go back and do it again. <sigh> As I noted above, you don’t have to go right back to the drawing board. However, you do need to generate some new content. “Now what do I say?” One way to manage this challenge is to generate your content for multiple newsletters in one chunk. Sit down across a day or two and sketch out the topics you want to cover over the next few newsletters. You don’t have to write the articles out fully, but if you can create a sketch of the topics and main points of each article, you’re a long way towards getting it done. Another benefit of doing this is that you can see how your various articles will relate to each other over time; consider identifying some themes that you can cover over a set of one or two newsletters, which can create cohesion and allow you to really explore a juicy topic.
The #3 challenge: Generating Click Rates
It’s easy to be enamored by “Open Rates” — i.e. the number of people who open your newsletter to (presumably) read it. But from a marketing standpoint, that isn’t quite enough. How often do you open an email, only to delete it without giving it more than a cursory glance? And how are you going to know if that’s what your reader did? Enter the “Click Rate” — i.e. the number of people who click on a hyperlink you’ve included within your email. If they’ve gone so far as to click on your hyperlink, then you know they didn’t just delete the email… they engaged. The challenge here is to give them a hyperlink that they want to click on…
The #4 challenge: Effective Calls-to-Action
The hyperlink referred to above in #3 is your “call-to-action”. You are asking your reader to do something — read an article, go to another webpage, sign up for something, reply, etc. When they take the action you called them to, you have created an effective Call-to-Action. This feeds your click rate and help you know who is actually reading your content, which indicates their interest.
The #5 challenge: Integrating newsletters with social media & blogging
Don’t let your newsletter exist in a vacuum; Use it to help your readers find you wherever else you are online. Provide links to your Social Media sites so that you can gather fans, followers and an audience beyond your contact list. Also offer links to your website and, better, your blog, where they can find more of your content and also see what your business has to offer.