Why newsletters? And how to set one up

We’re halfway through our do-it-yourself content marketing series! Here are the first six:

  1. Do it yourself: content marketing
  2. Getting your website content marketing ready
  3. Who is your audience?
  4. Content strategies: Pillars and Clusters
  5. How to write an article
  6. Language, keywords, and Google results

Hopefully, by now, you’re writing content for your audience, keeping your website updated, and appearing in Google search results.

So why would you also send a newsletter to your database?

Quite frankly, if you’ve already got the content, why wouldn’t you?

Newsletters are one of the most powerful digital marketing tools at your disposal because they allow you to communicate directly with your prospects and customers. Every other form of digital marketing must wait for your customers to find you and then click – website, social media channel, online advertising, etc. Whereas newsletters go straight to them, to their inbox, and if valuable, they may even be kept around for a while.

Here are some basic reasons for sending newsletters

  • Drive sales – you are 40 times more likely to get new customers from email marketing than social media
  • Connect with your customers – the best channel to develop stronger relationships with prospects and clients
  • Boost your social media following – your readers can share the newsletter on their own channels
  • Increase traffic to your website – to read the article in full, readers visit your website
  • Brand awareness – newsletters have a higher engagement rate than any kind of digital marketing

The top two reasons people subscribe are to learn more about a topic that interests them (36.2%), followed closely by wanting to stay up to date on the latest content from a website/business (35.8%).

So, if you’re convinced that a newsletter can work for you, next is figuring out how to set one up. There are quite a few software options; HubSpot, Constant Contact, MailChimp, SendInBlue, Campaign Monitor, AWeber, Get Response, MailJet… and I’ll be honest, even I haven’t heard or dealt with some of these. It’s easy enough to assess, just type in two of them in an internet search bar with ‘vs’ in between and you’ll find an existing comparison.

Choosing software for newsletters

At MasterJack, we can work with whatever you already have. But if you don’t have one, there are only two that we put up for consideration.

Mailchimp Newsletter Software

An American platform for managing mailing lists and creating email marketing campaigns (or newsletters in this case), Mailchimp is easy to set up and easy to use. It guides you through the process so you can just follow your feet (or fingers on the keyboard).

They have a free marketing plan that is ideal for beginners as it includes all the basics. Your database must be less than 2,000 contacts or you’ll have to move to a paid plan.

Unfortunately, some emails sent by Mailchimp do get marked as spam, and if this happens a lot then you’re running the risk of getting your account suspended or deleted. That’s when you need support and because it’s based in America, the reviews are not pleasant to read.

So, if you have more than 2,000 contacts or will grow to more than that within a year, and/or if the contacts are predominantly corporate emails (not personal emails like Gmail), then we would not recommend Mailchimp for you. Instead, we would point you in the direction of…

Vision6 Newsletter Software

Located in Australia, Vision6 claim to ‘grow conversions with beautiful email marketing’. Again, it’s easy to use with guides, FAQs, and an online chat (depending on the options you choose) if you get stuck.

For unlimited email sends, it costs around $35 a month – less if you go through a reseller like MasterJack. There is an even cheaper option if you’re wanting to DIY, about $10 a month.

From all the comparisons I found online, no one has anything bad to say about Vision6. And from my own experience, neither do I.

Setting up a newsletter

Once you’ve chosen your software and created an account, you’ll need two things – a template and a database.

Template Design

Both Mailchimp and Vision6 have templates you can choose from, and you can see which ones are both desktop and mobile compatible. Make sure you choose one that is, and that the style fits your brand. Don’t worry about colours, fonts, and imagery, these can all be changed once you’ve chosen your template.

There are many options within newsletters, you can segment your database and change content to suit each segment. You can have different templates for different types of communication – reminders, articles, invitations, etc. You can, ultimately, get quite lost in the options available. So, if you’re starting out, I recommend sticking with the basics and growing as you need to from there.

Database Upload

To upload your database into either software, you’ll need to do some admin-type work to get it ready. If you can, export what you’ve got into a spreadsheet. Try to get the first and last name separated and in different columns – this might mean spending time doing the admin work I mentioned. But you can have each newsletter you send out, have the person’s first name at the top, like “Hi Lisa!”. And this makes the communication more personal and therefore harder for the reader to skip it like its junk mail.

If you don’t have a way to export your customer data to a spreadsheet, then the process will require more time. You’ll need to create a spreadsheet and copy and paste the information into it, or directly into the newsletter software.

Legal considerations

I am not a lawyer. Obviously. So, if you need to, please take proper legal advice on this. But what I know, is that New Zealand does have laws around sending unsolicited electronic messages (newsletters included). You can be fined each time you send an unsolicited message up to $500,000. There are basically two rules to follow to stay above board.

  1. You need consent to send a newsletter to someone, and
  2. You need to make sure they can unsubscribe if they want to.

There are two types of consent. Express consent is where they’ve indicated on a form, given verbal or written consent (though verbal is difficult to prove). And inferred consent is when you are logically sending communications from the already existing business relationship you have with them. But the communications are only for evaluations or reminders – not selling.

The best way to subscribe new customers to your newsletter is to add a tick box to any onboarding process you have – the form you have on a shopping cart, or in a business. To include existing customers, you would send an email with a digital sign-up form.

In closing

If you have content, you should be sending out a newsletter. They are usually sent out monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. It all depends on how often your database can be contacted without feeling like you are annoying them.

Now that you have the content, how about making the most of the marketing opportunity and using the same content on your social media channels? Next month we’ll be talking about which social media channel you should be on for the best results.

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