An email newsletter can serve an essential role in your overall marketing communications strategy if done right.
Read on to learn what an email newsletter is and how to create an effective one for your small business.
What's an email newsletter?
An email newsletter is a virtual newsletter sent via email to a list of subscribers. These subscribers could consist of customers or clients, business partners, internal employees or even anonymous visitors to your website. Generally, these subscribers have elected to opt-in to receiving the newsletter by clicking a "Subscribe" button somewhere on your business website or through a standard marketing email.
Often, Email newsletters are a principal marketing tool to maintain a relationship with people who are interested in following your business. To that end, an email newsletter can serve several purposes, including to:
- Share new or updated products or services
- Communicate a sale or discount on products or services
- Communicate upcoming business events
- Share important business news
- Request feedback
- Express appreciation
- Send greetings
Why should small business use email newsletters?
Roughly 83 percent of B2B marketers use email newsletters, according to a report by the Content Marketing Institute. The widespread use of the marketing tool isn't surprising given the numerous benefits it offers small business, including to:
- Convert casual website visitors into loyal customers or clients
- Adding links to email newsletters creates the potential for additional revenue opportunities
- Boost brand awareness
- Advertise a product, service or sale at a lower cost than printing and distributing traditional newsletters
- Communicate more information than brief social media dispatches allow
- Position your business as an authority in your niche through informative, long-form content
- Speak to your subscribers en masse and at a pre-scheduled time. You don't have to be online or available when the newsletter goes out
What all of these benefits share in common is that they keep your subscribers engaged in your business. By doing this, you foster goodwill with them and increase the likelihood that they will stay connected with your affairs and utilize your products or services over the long haul.
What to include in an email newsletter
Naturally, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to starting a small business email newsletter is identifying what to include in it so as not to bore or inundate recipients with information. At a minimum, small business owners should include the following elements in an e-newsletter:
- Creative email subject lines. Choosing a fun, catchy or attention-getting subject that's relevant to the content of the newsletter can go a long way in enticing a subscriber to open your newsletter and read it.
- Fresh, tailored content. You can either choose to dedicate your newsletters to a particular topic or discuss multiple subjects in a single newsletter. Content types can range from sales or promotional content to educational or informational content or a combination thereof.
- Whatever type of content you choose, it should be timely and relevant on some level to your business niche. The tone with which you communicate to your subscribers should also be in keeping with the brand voice you use in other marketing communications.
- Design elements that complement your brand aesthetic. Your newsletter is an extension of your brand. So, the choice of graphics, fonts and whitespace in the newsletter should also be in keeping with your brand aesthetic. Even if your brand aesthetic is zany and fun, you want to keep images to a minimum and leave enough white space in the newsletter to keep it readable and clutter-free.
- Specify a clear call-to-action. Do you want your subscribers to respond, visit your website or perhaps your business itself after reading your latest newsletter? Briefly and concisely include the desired outcome of the text content. Link the text if you want to point to a page on your business website.
- Intuitive Unsubscribe option. You want your subscribers to read your newsletter because they want to, and not because they're being held captive. So, keep the "Unsubscribe" option in plain view.
Ways to create and send an email newsletter
Now that you know what to include in an email newsletter, you can create and send one of your own using:
- Email clients: You can populate the text and images similarly to you would a regular email, and then add to your list of recipients and send the email. Or, you can use an email newsletter tool that integrates with your email client, such as Flashissue for Gmail.
- Desktop publishing applications such as Microsoft Publisher: This offers a convenient feature for creating and sending email newsletters.
- Email marketing services such as MailChimp, which serve as all-in-one applications for building subscriber lists, creating and sending an email newsletter to that list and promoting them. This option is the most scalable and fully-featured option as your subscriber list grows.