by Lexie Thomas, WP owner, and Vera Snodgrass, WP writing intern
Did you know there are 4.2 billion daily email users worldwide (FormRush, 2023)? That’s a whole lot of people checking their email. And it’s why email marketing is one of the most versatile and valuable tools a small business can have in its arsenal.
Whether you’re sending a one-time offer or your regular e-newsletter, the return on investment for this low-cost marketing option is generally reported by marketers to be between $30 and $45 for every $1 invested. For small businesses, email marketing is the second-most-leveraged tactic to increase brand awareness and gain new customers, right behind social media.
For more stats on email marketing, check out this fact-packed article from HubSpot.
Emails promoting a specific discount typically engage the most customers immediately and have the best ROI. They clearly have a place in your marketing plan. But where do regular e-newsletters fit in? Are they even worth the time and effort?
It’s true that e-newsletters don’t have flashy open rates and click-through stats like a coupon email might. The natural question then becomes: Why put time into an e-newsletter? The answer is that immediate response is not your goal with an e-newsletter. Rather, the payoff of your e-newsletter is brand awareness and credibility.
With paid online and print ads, the space for sharing all the benefits of your products or services is limited. Impressions and column inches are expensive. Your e-newsletter gives you the best opportunity of any marketing tool to take a deeper dive into your products and services with potential customers, to help them understand why they would love working with or buying from you.
E-newsletters have costs associated with their creation, but they are reasonable. If you’re writing your own content, creating your own graphics, and setting up your own email using a template, plan to spend 8 to 15 hours per issue putting your e-newsletter together. Working with an agency like the Write Place can take this workload off your plate and may be more valuable to you, allowing you to spend time working on other aspects of your business.
The role of email service providers
You’ll want to use an email service provider (ESP) to send e-newsletters. Never try sending an email campaign from your business email address.
Why use an ESP?
- Easy access to stats like open and click-through rates
- Handles unsubscribes and removes bounces to keep your list healthy
- Allows you to segment your customer list into geographic groups, type of buyer, current vs. potential customer, etc.
- Can create automated triggers for follow-up emails based on certain actions
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of ESP options to choose from. Depending on the size of your list and the features you want to leverage, you may be able to use a free plan. At the Write Place, we use Mail Chimp, and it costs us approximately $0.04 per email on a pay-as-you-go plan.
Subscription models are common and tend to be the best fit for those sending to large lists or who want additional functionality, like text messaging capabilities or A/B testing. One option for those looking for a robust provider for larger lists and more functions is Sendinblue, where business plans start at $65/month.
Keys to e-newsletter sustainability
To have a successful e-newsletter that drives sales over time, you need a healthy list of email subscribers. Your email list must contain people who have agreed to receive emails from you to comply with anti-spam laws. Laws vary by country, but generally permission can be implied (as in, a current customer) or express (someone signed up via an online form).
Growing your express-permission list takes patience and intention, but it can have huge payoffs in terms of increasing your brand reach to new customers. Here are some options for building up your list:
- Release some free, valuable content or a product discount code via a pop-up e-newsletter sign-up box on your home page or blog.
- Consider investing in a social media campaign to advertise your free content or discount code, with the barrier to entry being e-newsletter sign up.
- Be ready with a solution to get people to sign up at networking events and trade shows. Have a sign-up form out on your booth or a table, or carry call-to-action cards with a QR code linking to your sign-up form.
Consistency is another important component of an e-newsletter. Staying on schedule builds your credibility and creates a relationship between your customers and your brand. If you show up in their inboxes regularly with interesting things to say about topics you’re knowledgeable and passionate about, your customers will look forward to connecting with you. And when the time comes to buy, they’ll trust you with their investment.
To stay on top of your commitment:
- Plan out newsletters well ahead of time. Make a list of content ideas for each newsletter.
- Work steadily over several weeks to create content, rather than doing it in a rush the day before.
- Another approach is to write several months’ worth of content over a focused week. This can really help keep your tone on-brand. Be cautious, though, if you’re writing about a swiftly evolving topic—those articles should be rechecked just before release for accuracy.
Committing to a newsletter shouldn’t be painful. After you choose an ESP that fits your needs, work to stay consistent and create thoughtful content. When it makes sense, reach out to a professional to help with scheduling, management, and future content creation. You can build deeper connections with your customers!
The Write Place has plenty of experience building e-newsletters, and we can help you fill yours. We write content, keep you on schedule, and make sure the e-newsletter you send is of the highest quality. You can reach us at 641-628-8398 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.