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Monday, May 11, 2009

Producing an e-newsletter (that will actually be read)

How many emails do you receive a day that you delete immediately? For me, I'd say a minimum of 50. With the loads of emails we all receive daily, how do you as an entrepreneur create an e-newsletter that doesn't go straight to the trash?

Carmine Gallo recently wrote an article for BusinessWeek about his interviews with Dave Robinson, VP of marketing for Mozy (an online computer backup service), and Janine Popick, chief executive of VerticalResponse (an email and direct marketing provider for small businesses). In his interviews, Gallo searched for advice on getting customers to read e-newsletters.

Robinson advised that you should only send an e-newsletter if you have something relevant to say. He said, "if it's not interesting to our customers, we're wasting their time." Popick also commented that entrepreneurs should share their expertise. A "how to" article or "five easy steps to (fill in the blank)" are great ways to engage customers, but remember, keep your articles short, sweet, and instructive.

When a customer signs up for an e-newsletter, they are making a request for updates about your business. Don't disappoint. Popick said, "be specific regarding the frequency of your newsletter and the value you will provide." Irrelevant information can easily become frustrating and force your customers to unsubscribe. The marketing staff at Mozy chose to limit their e-newsletters to once a month to prevent diluted content.

One of the best e-newsletter articles is to tell customer stories. Robinson said, "The last thing we want to do is tell a story with a bunch of boring copy and bullet points. The best best way to tell our story is through real people and their anecdotes....We want people to read our newsletters and look forward to them. If it's all about the company-- give us more money-- it turns people off."

Important points to remember when writing an e-newsletter
1. offer expert advice
2. stay true to customer expectations
3. use customers to tell stories
4. deliver great content and the money will follow

e-newsletter article

As an entrepreneur, do you send out e-newsletters? After reading this post, will you be modifying the content and/or frequency of your e-newsletters? What feedback (positive or negative) have you received about your e-newsletters thus far?

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