Last month, I shared some e-newsletter best practices from three of the best publishers I know: solo professional marketing consultant Michael Katz, freelance writing consultant Peter Bowerman and SEO expert and consultant Jenny Munn. When I receive their e-newsletters, I almost always stop what I’m doing and read them. To me, that’s the mark of a quality e-newsletter.
I got so much good feedback from Michael, Peter and Jenny that I decided to make this a two-part article, so here are the rest of the Q&As. BTW, Michael was just featured in Forbes blogger Dorie Clark’s marketing blog talking in more detail about e-newsletters — check it out here.
Q: What are the three biggest benefits to be derived from publishing an e-newsletter?
Bowerman: The first is enhanced reputation in the industry. My 11-year-old, “never-missed-a-month” ezine has readers and the industry view me differently than someone just starting out.
The second is the fact that if you do it well, an ezine can truly be your most powerful marketing tool. On several occasions, marketing a new book ONLY to my ezine subscriber base yielded sales that recouped my publishing costs in 30-60 days. And the third is the ability to build a vibrant, supportive community of like-minded folks.
Katz: In no particular order, I’d say the first is increased visibility, the second is expert positioning, and the third is the ability to stay in front of people on a consistent basis until they’re ready to buy from you.
Munn: Number one, I have more eyes and ears on business announcements I want to make. Number two, I get some good engagement with my e-newsletter. People feel more connected and tend to reach out to me when they have questions, or just to say hi. Number three, it drives traffic to my website.
Q: What are the three most important keys to e-newsletter publishing success?
Bowerman: First, understand the quid pro quo: Good content in return for marketing access. Focus on delivering solid content, not making money. If you do the first, the second will follow.
Second, publish consistently or not at all. Your newsletter should be something people expect to see show up in their inbox with near-tedious consistency.
Third, solicit input from your readers. Most of my content actually comes from my readers. This not only takes a lot of the burden off me to produce content, but just as importantly, it offers readers a range of viewpoints, perspectives and experiences across the spectrum.
Munn: First, give yourself a limited time to write each issue. If not, you will take hours upon hours editing and perfecting it. Give yourself an hour or two, edit it the next day and then press send.
Second, create a pre-formatted template. It helps you stay consistent if you know what pieces you’re writing ahead of time. You’ll drive yourself batty if you’re always changing the format.
Third, always send a test copy to yourself first. You’d be surprised how many small tweaks you’ll want to make to the copy or design after you see it live in your inbox.
Q: Can you tie any new leads and business directly back to someone receiving your newsletter?
Munn: One referral partner constantly refers great leads to me, and I know I’m on top of her mind because she comments on my e-newsletter and says she enjoys it every time I see her. This has resulted in thousands of dollars to my business.
Katz: The vast majority of my clients are people who get in touch with me and say something like, “I’ve been reading your newsletter for three years and I’m ready to go!” They already know and trust me, which is always a bit odd, since in most cases I’ve never heard of them. So selling is no more than a pleasant conversation about what they need and how I work.
For example, I just started a new session of my one-year marketing program. Of the 11 students, 10 of them already received my newsletter. You don’t sign up for a one-year program with a stranger.
Bowerman: My ezine has been one of the key marketing tools for my book business. It has been incalculably valuable in increasing my income from sales of books, ebooks, coaching and speaking services to my crowd of commercial writing practitioners. And again, the crux of its effectiveness is the quid pro quo I’ve set up of providing solid, useful content in exchange for permission to market my products and services directly to readers.