By Ardath Albee, BtoB Marketing Strategist, Marketing Interactions
Newsletters delivered via email are a staple for many BtoB companies. These e-newsletters usually contain titles, descriptions and links to several articles, perhaps an executive column, a customer spotlight, an invitation to a webinar or a white paper download and any product or company news at hand.
The problem I see with many company newsletters is that they're instantly forgettable. My brain goes to "blah, blah, blah" when I see them in the preview pane of my inbox.
What may be keeping your newsletters from performing is the lack of strategy applied in their assembly. And that usually occurs because the goal for your newsletter is about your company creating a touch point rather than being focused on providing value and relevance to your subscribers.
How many of you have only one newsletter?
One newsletter may be all you can produce on a regular basis, but that doesn't mean it can't produce results by delivering at least something useful for each subscriber. What that requires is a bit of strategic thinking—and, of course, insight to your subscriber list.
How many of you only care about open and click numbers from your newsletters?
The problem here, is that you're only scratching the surface on an aggregate level. Let's say you achieve a 40% open rate and a 15% click through. In comparison to other email sends, this may seem like a great outcome...but is it? You'll never know if you don't dig deeper.
So let's get back to the strategic assembly part.
Your newsletter needs a goal. If you only have one newsletter, you may need to establish several goals. Start small and set one goal for customers and one for prospects.
Based on the goal(s), plan your content layout to deliver what you want to learn.
[Oh, didn't I say that? You shouldn't ever send a single marketing communication without a goal to learn something. That's just wasting an opportunity.]
Newsletters can be a great opportunity for:
- Floating new ideas and innovations to gauge interest
- Enticing prospects to learn more about your customers (ones like them)
- Building your company's status as a thought leader
- Problem discovery
- Revealing up-sell opportunities
- Discerning depth of reach
In reading this list, you can probably start to see how developing your newsletters to achieve a goal can have a big payoff.
Consider these scenarios using items from the list above:
You include an article about an issue your customers are experiencing and float an idea about how to solve it. But the people who clicked through only spent an average of 22 seconds on the page when it takes a scanner at least 60 seconds to ingest the idea well enough to restate what it is. Probably not the hottest idea...at least not yet.
An article about a new industry issue receives the most clicks of all the content in the newsletter. When you review who read it, you see a nice mix between prospects and customers. And the time spent is high enough to show true interest. This may reveal both an up-sell opportunity and an interest focus for a prospect-nurturing track.
A customer story doesn't evidence a huge readership, but when you look deeper, you see that four people from the same company all viewed it. That's an indication of depth of reach and should signal a follow-up call. Especially when you learn that the customer story was about a company just like theirs. And, hey, you know exactly how to start the conversation, now don't you?
Can you begin to see the beauty in planning your newsletters to deliver greater insight to your subscriber base? When you start evaluating responses in relation to goals, you've got the ability to gain traction with, and provide higher-value to, your subscribers.
Sure, this takes a bit of work and effort, but the payoff as you tune your newsletter over time can be a beautiful boost to your marketing, loyalty and sales efforts.
Or, your newsletter can just be the beast that eats resources every month because it's something your company thinks it should do...well...to keep your name in front of folks.
Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc, helps B2B companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing customer-focused e-marketing strategies driven by compelling content. Her clients experience results like an increased 375% of sales-ready leads in just 8 months which translate into millions of dollars added to their sales pipelines. But, marketing isn't just about generating new demand. Ardath helps clients re-engage customers and build loyalty that adds longevity to customer lifecycles. Visit Ardath’s website: www.marketinginteractions.com and find fresh marketing insights on her blog at http://marketinginteractions.typepad.com.