May 23, 2012

Up your Readership

You can promote your enewsletter by using a call-to-action sending people to:
  • your sign-up page
  • your last issue
  • your archive

Here are 10 places you can and should promote your newsletter:
  1. Website
  2. Email signature
  3. Blog
  4. Business card
  5. Online profiles - Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  6. Social media posts
  7. At point-of-sale - paper sample of newsletter, card with link to sign-up
  8. Feedback forms
  9. Workshop hand-outs
  10. Brochures

PS: Make sure your newsletter has a subscribe link in each issue.

May 18, 2012

Original Content Makes YOU Unique!

Do you really need any more information than what you’re already getting? Do your readers? How do you compete with ALL that content that’s readily available?

You give them something they can’t get anywhere else!

A list is easy - here’s one way to think about it:
  • Static resources: original writing, photos, videos, slide shows, presentations, and more
  • Live resources: webinars, teleseminars, lunch and learns, other events, and more
The execution is maybe not so easy. Developing original content requires energy and inspiration. Plan your content in advance - even if only in your head. Take advantage of inspiration when it comes because it often won’t at midnight when facing a deadline.

So, what if you can’t write, sing or dance? (That I strongly doubt, but let’s pretend.) Does it mean you have nothing to share? Not by a long shot.

Think context. It may not be original content pieces - it might be the way you arrange them, the context in which you present them, or your opinions about them. ‘Curate’ has become a common word in relation to content management - to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation. That takes skill, and the way you do that can be unique too.

Our own strategy for our newsletter has 3 key parts. One is to provide original resources/ideas. Another is to provide well-curated content of interest to our readers. What’s left? That well-curated content comes from our contacts. The final piece of our strategy is to build community and connections among small business folk.

Give lots of consideration to your goals. Your content development strategy will be different than ours. The strategy you develop can also make you unique!

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder May 16, 2012

May 12, 2012

Company News is No News

"Sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with us."
"Sign up to get company news and other info."

Does that make you want to invite yet another email into your inbox? I think not.

what NOT to do
I did a search on Twitter for #enewsletter. One thing stood out: companies luring people to sign up with the promise of company news. Now, there aren't many instances where I'd be interested in hearing about new employees and new client projects and new branch offices. Here are those instances: you are my friend, you are my client, or you are my supplier. And if you are any of those, it won't be long before I'm telling you what you're doing wrong.

If I don't know you, your company news won't interest me or anyone else who doesn't know you. You need to lure me with something useful or interesting first. (And it seems especially lame when those posts are lined up all in a row in Hootsuite.)

I'm not saying not to include some company news in your newsletter. I'm saying keep it brief and remember that only a segment of your readers will be interested. Leave it out of your call to action - on Twitter and on your website.

PS: Your website About page is a great place for your company news. You can link to that in your newsletter for those who want to know.

PSS: My friend Debi says, "It's not about YOU." Brian Reagan says, "Don't be the Me Monster" - it's ok, go ahead and click it ;)

May 10, 2012

So Many Choices

“What is the one best thing that you want a reader to do?” That's one question I ask new clients. Research has shown that offering too many choices creates indecision. To be effective, a call-to-action must motivate your reader to, well, take action. It's not as easy as you might think to decide what that should be. After all, there are LOTS of options.

It comes down to really 4 types of choices. You want your reader to click on something, send you an email, pick up the phone and call you, or come to a physical location. (Let me know if you think of others that don't fit these choices.)

It makes sense to create a list of what action(s) you want your readers to take, ranked from most to least important. Keep it short! Use that list when you design your website and newsletter. Your list may change from issue to issue or it may stay static for a number of months. Just don't forget that there's a purpose behind your newsletter and what that purpose is.

May 5, 2012

Get a Head Start

Start thinking about your next newsletter issue as soon as your last one has gone out.

Set up a place to gather your content ideas - an 'idea catcher'. I use a folder on my Windows desktop. If you're not always sitting at your computer when inspiration hits, there are other more flexible tools: Evernote, DropboxGoogle Docs, and many more. (Along with everything else, Evernote even allows you to capture all your tweets, which are usually a good source for content ideas.)

Load up your idea catcher. When you have an inspired idea about something you want to include in your next issue, plop it in.

This works really well if you regularly include popular quotes, blog posts, book recommendations, and other resources. As soon as you come across ones you want to use, 'catch' them.

By the time your issue date rolls around, it won’t seem like such a chore to assemble your newsletter. The bonus of this approach is that you have less stress trying to remember all those great ideas!

May 2, 2012

Amplify Your Message

Add social media to your email marketing strategy for a broader reach. It may not be obvious which strategies will work best for you but, if you take the time to work through these questions, you will be closer to figuring it out.
  1. If I ask my readers to like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, do I have a suitable presence? What are readers expecting?
  2. Is my newsletter content worthy of sharing? Even if I make it easy to share, will readers want to share it? Why?
    • If my content is share-worthy, what benefit do I get? How can I measure it?
    • What kind of content will give value to readers, encourage sharing, and give benefit to me through sharing?
  3. What is my primary call to action? Asking readers to share… or something else? Do sharing tools draw attention away from other important calls to action?
  4. Am I simply switching people from one channel to another, if I use email to encourage people to follow me on Twitter, read my blog, or become a Facebook fan? Am I creating extra contact points that have value?
    • Is an email subscriber more or less valuable to me than a Facebook fan or a Twitter follower or a blog reader?
    • Does that even matter to me? Is offering more communication choices the way to ensure ongoing attention and loyalty?
    • How do I design my email and social media presence so that it works for those who get all of it and for those reading only one channel?
Maybe you don’t know all the answers yet. Take the time to find out.
It will be worth it to know that your efforts are successful or what you can do to make them that way. Here is a worksheet that you can use to strategize.