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The Digital Business Kit for Retailers

Learning Outcomes

Retailers will understand how they can use eMarketing strategies to sell products and services online. [printfriendly]

mod-arrow Newsletter

Newsletters are electronic documents typically emailed on a regular schedule to a defined list of recipients who have signed up, or “opted in,” to receive your electronic mail. Recipients are interested in the value content from your company (news, coupons, topical articles, etc.) versus personal communication. A reply is not expected. Newsletter emails may be sent using 3rd party service providers, allowing you to focus on content of value to potential clients.

Often newsletters are the number one method to deliver content to audiences. 


australia contentWhy use newsletters?

As newsletters are received via email, they will market to customers who may not be on or receptive to other marketing channels like social media. These online newsletters are relatively inexpensive and easy to produce. Newsletters that have interesting and useful content for your target market will encourage signups by the people you are trying to reach. Interesting content will help you build a contact list of email addresses – potential clients who have implicitly given you permission to contact them. Newsletters are excellent for segmented target markets, focused content like product specials and time-limited offers have good sales conversion results.

Typical uses: Retailers send newsletters to foster ongoing engagement with potential customers, with content like product specials, how-to tips, new programs, etc. A newsletter is intended to continue customer engagement, support action to buy or other goals set by the marketing department.

Strengths: Easy to use, mainstream accessibility, low cost, good metrics and content can be re-purposed for social media and other channels.

Weaknesses: Many people are overwhelmed by incoming mail.  Competition for customer’s time to open your email is fierce. This “weakness” is mitigated by the fact that most newsletter recipients have opted in, based on an interest in your products and information content … but you have to keep them interested or they will opt out.

Costs: Free or paid. Most email marketing service providers have a free level of service, offering limited numbers of recipients on a list and often limited features. Paid subscription services start at $9 a month and increase based on service features and email volumes.

Optimise newsletter marketing

The 5 most popular ways to optimise marketing through email newsletters are:

  1. Subject line: It needs to be brief but interesting. The newsletter is useless it isn’t opened.
  2. Provide value: Find out what your potential customers value, especially in relation to who you are targeting. Coupons, industry statistics, “how-to’s,” etc. can keep your audience opening your emails and hopefully sharing them.
  3. Content: Do not overdo it. Readers should get something of interest from a 5-minute read. If you have more information than will fit on an easy-to-consume newsletter, include links to your website for those who want to read more.
  4. Action items: Call to action! Provide some compelling reasons to act, such as a special offer, that will bring people to your website.
  5. Pictures and videos: These engage 50 – 70 % more clicks than text.
Why use 3rd party newsletter services?
The newsletter service providers are in the business of providing businesses with an easy to use, professional newsletter products.   This provides a good quality experience for your customers, as well as the analytics your marketing department will need to measure newsletter success. Most services offer free analytics to track important statistics like “open rate” (how many people opened mail), “click-through’s” (how many email links were clicked, which email links and who clicked them), etc. This is all important data for the sales department and for continuing to improve marketing efforts by repeating what works and fixing what doesn’t. Another benefit of using an email SAS (software as service) is that the email marketing company sends the emails from their server, which reduces the chance of your company server/provider suspending your service due to suspicion of spamming.

Best Practise

Whether you use a 3rd-party distribution service or not, you are responsible for the content. Focus on a few good quality content items that present your company in the way you want to be perceived. Important considerations for applying best practices include:

  1. Time of sending
  2. Tracking and metrics
  3. Content and goals
  4. Campaign optimisation
  5. Spam and opt-in practices
  6. Frequency of sending – Generally it is best to determine which newsletter publication works for you and stick to it consistently. People will expect to receive your newsletter on a regular basis, e.g. monthly. If it is sent too infrequently or inconsistently, people may stop looking for it or reading it.
Training/resources required
Most newsletter creation and distribution platforms are very easy to use, and staff who are comfortable making word documents and writing and sending emails would be able to learn a basic newsletter marketing tool within an hour. For content, make sure that someone in your company has the responsibility to ensure that good, quality content is being developed for each issue of your newsletter.Top vendors/suppliers
Most newsletter services have a set of standards and advanced features. Typical features include: templates, editors, image storage, mail-list management, social media embeds and buttons, mail-merge personalisation, message scheduling: as well as forward-to-a-friend, assured “can-spam” compliance, “click to open” and more. Advanced features may include: multiple message auto-responders, RSS feeds, advanced analytics, event management, surveying tools and more. Select a service that provides the most appropriate features for your needs so that you can focus on the content.