10 Newsletter Strategies

E-mail can be a highly effective medium for communicating with your customers, clients, or prospects. Direct e-mail is a fraction of the cost of direct mail and therefore allows more frequent/targeted communication. Like any marketing effort, there are guidelines or strategies that will help us ensure the success of our direct e-mail efforts. Please consider this white paper highlighting ten key strategies. MK Marketing, Inc. will assist you to see how we can and should employ these ideas to help make a newsletter program a success.

Note: Some of these comments are focused on creating a newsletter program. Blast e-mail with "high value immediate offers" is a different animal that must be addressed in detail separately.


STRATEGY ONE: INVITE SUBSCRIBERS TO WEB SITE

There are a number of ways to build a subscriber list. The worst way is to put individuals in our list who have not requested to be there. MK Marketing therefore operates an opt-in strategy.

As your company needs to build more names into our database, MK Marketing, Inc. will initiate an aggressive registration program within the site and with advertising allegiances that offer e-mail names. At trade shows, we will offer sign up options. When a sale is made, we will create a method to ask customers if they would like us to stay in touch with them.


STRATEGY TWO: OFFER SIMPLE WAY TO "OPT-OUT"

Now that we have our mailing list, it is vital that subscribers who want to remove themselves from the list can do so reliably and easily, otherwise we risk alienating them altogether. Unfortunately, the most widespread method is most subject to error. (The mechanism that states: "If you do not wish to receive this e-mail, please hit reply and enter ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject window".) This approach often fails.

MK Marketing, Inc. employs a Web-based opt-out program to be sure that we do not continue sending mail to individuals who have requested not to be contacted. We will provide instructions for removal to the reader. We will also confirm every new member of our database prior to mailing. The best way to confirm is with a very high value incentive to stay and receive more information. (For example 25% off coupon can be sent upon confirmation.)


STATEGY THREE: TARGET AND CUSTOMIZE MESSAGES

A company newsletter may have many different target audiences: employees, prospects, existing customers, advertising opt-ins names, etc. While the first newsletters can be sent to nearly the entire group, a need to fragment messages to certain portions of an emerging database may exist. MK Marketing, Inc. will take the growth of your database into consideration as the newsletter program is established.


STATEGY FOUR: PERSONALIZE

Personalized messages sell. Talk to readers on a one to one basis, make them feel like individuals, and our e-mail marketing campaign will be much more successful. MK Marketing, Inc. will employ the following strategies:
• Personalize envelope
• Personalize content
• Personalize feedback: invite readers to respond to outgoing messages to a personal e-mail address. Then respond when appropriate. We can create auto-responses as we learn more about the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).


STRATEGY FIVE: CREATE RELATIVE CONTENT

It is crucial that the content that is "advertised" is the content that we deliver. As a central initiative to every newsletter program, MK Marketing, Inc. will develop a content calendar and rotate interesting or applicable articles that the subscribers will find of value.


STRATEGY SIX: TUNE FREQUENCY

Once you find out how much additional business you get through direct e-mail you may be tempted to send more frequently than once per month.

If MK Marketing, Inc. finds response is good, we can send more frequent messages, but it is a delicate balance. The value of the information must stay strong. We must also conduct customer surveys to determine if we are serving a positive purpose for our clients. We can also track the unsubscribe rate. If we increase frequency and the unsubscribe rate increases, then we can pull back. This is a process we must manipulate to suit our needs and those of our customer.


STATEGY SEVEN: ADOPT QUALITY REVIEW PROCESS BEFORE SENDING

There are a few things that MK Marketing, Inc. reviews each and every time any e-mail is sent.

e-mail is addressed accurately
proof for spelling and grammar errors
Be certain that links are functional on receiving end and that web site is ready with new information.

MK Marketing, Inc. works closely with our clients to be sure that the newsletter information is clearly communicated to the staff each month so that telephone calls and personal inquiries are handled appropriately.

STRATEGY EIGHT: PREPARE FOR GROWTH

MK Marketing, Inc. strongly suggests the use of a reliable email system rather than desktop software for the following reasons:
• Emailing will require scalable volume.
• Your system should be able to restart if there is a sending error and should be able to check-point all jobs.
• Your system must be able to split the database and send to specific individuals.
• When Emailing, you should have the capability to track messages sent.
• As the system grows, it will become more valuable. A larger system can easily store and extract data in a standard relational SQL database for security purposes.
• Automated unsubscribe process
• HTML and multi-computer language options are required


STRATEGY NINE: AUTOMATE EMAIL BOUNCE RESOLUTION

Sometimes sent messages return with an error. Hard bounce backs are fatal and permanent. Soft bounce backs can be handled. There is currently no standard syntax for the soft bounce messages; "Mailbox full" and "Can’t connect to server".

Efficient automation is required to limit wasted bandwidth and endless manual hours to repair and resend. If servers are congested, up to 25% of e-mail can return as a soft bounce. An automated process will handle this issue.


STRATEGY TEN: LASTING IMPRESSIONS AND ETIQUETTE

Before MK Marketing, Inc. embarks on any e-mail sending, we first step back and work with our clients to determine what type of impression we wish to convey.

Some finer etiquette issues to consider include:
Offering options for plaint text or HTML messages
Providing archives of past newsletters
Sending a goodbye message to confirm an unsubscribe
Sending a "welcome" to new subscribers

The Internet is a brand new world with its own set of rules, but it is important to remember that the basics of good business and etiquette are strongly in place. We will not be successful if we break these rules. It is therefore also very important that we are aware that sharing the database haphazardly could minimize our relationship to our Web-based friends.

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