Every Product Manager Needs A Product E-mail Newsletter

A newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with your product's customers
A newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with your product’s customers
Image Credit: Francisco Tosete

Every product manager wants to be able to stay in touch with the people who have already purchased their product. There are a lot of ways to do this including having a good working relationship with your sales team. However, since we now live in the 21st Century we have an even better way to make this happen: the email newsletter.

How To Manage An E-mail Newsletter

Just deciding to create an e-mail newsletter is a big first step even though this really should be part of our product development definition. However, you are going to have to realize that is very much like having a baby. It may be fun to decide to create it; however, once it shows up you are going to be responsible for caring for it forever. Just make sure that there is enough room in your schedule to permit you to both create new content and then pull the newsletter together each time you want to send it out. Get good at doing this and you’ll have something else to add to your product manager resume.

Deciding to create a newsletter is a great idea; however, it’s not going to do any good for you if you don’t have subscribers! You are going to want to get one or more people who work for each of your existing customers to sign up to receive your new newsletter. You are going to want to be very careful here. You don’t want to add people to your mailing list that don’t want to receive your newsletter. In each issue you are going to have to very clearly show how subscribers can unsubscribe to the newsletter if they choose to do so.

One way to get more people to sign up to receive a copy of your newsletter to present them with a compelling offer. What you are going to want to do is to create an incentive that is closely tied to what your business does and leverage that. You should talk about what kind of content readers will discover in your newsletter and why it is valuable to them. One of the things that I like to do is to create a valuable whitepaper that subscribers would like to get a copy of in addition to subscribing to your newsletter. This way you can immediately reward their decision to subscribe to your newsletter

How often to send it out is a critical question that you are going to have to answer right off the bat. The one thing that you don’t want to do is to have long periods where your newsletter subscribers don’t hear from you and then all of a sudden you send them multiple emails. Pick a regular delivery schedule like once or twice a month and then stick with it.

What To Put Into An E-mail Newsletter

Nobody is going to read your newsletter if you don’t do a good job of filling it with compelling content and then laying it out in an attractive easy-to-read format. One of the key features of any design has to be how much white space you use. Make sure that there is a lot of white space so that your content is very clearly set off and not lost in a sea of other items. Additionally, you don’t know what your e-mail newsletter is going to look like when your customers are reading it. They may be using a browser plug-in tool that strips out images from what they see. If they do this to your newsletter, will it still be readable?

Not all subscribers are going to be the same. You need to keep track of just exactly who is reading your newsletter. What this means is that you are going to have to survey your readership once a year and ask them what they think about your newsletter. If, based on the data that you collect, you discover that your newsletter audience consists of people with very divergent interests, then you may want to consider creating different versions of your newsletter.

As product managers we need to keep in mind that an e-mail newsletter is all about the subject line. If you don’t get this right, then people simply are not going to be opening your newsletter when it arrives in their inbox. Take the time to craft a subject line that will capture people’s attention and make them want to read more. Try your subject line out with people that you work with before you use it. You may also want to consider doing some A/B testing in order to determine what subject lines work the best.

What All Of This Means For You

Our customers have a bad habit of forgetting about us if we don’t take the time to remind them that we are here. There are many different ways to go about doing this. One of the simplest is to create an e-mail newsletter that you send out to all of your existing customers. This is so easy to do that it really should be a part of every product manager job description.

There are many design and delivery decisions that you need to make if you are going to be creating a newsletter. Chief among these are how you are going to go about getting subscribers, and how often you’ll be distributing your newsletter. Once you’ve made these decisions, it’s time to design the newsletter layout. This will include how much white space to include and how you want to go about using images.

Take it from me, creating an ongoing newsletter is no easy task. The good news is that there is no rocket science involved here – it’s really pretty easy to do. However, once you make the commitment to create a newsletter you’ll have to find the time to keep doing it!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there is any time of year where you should send out more frequent copies of your newsletter?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Have hear about bitcoins? It’s the craziest thing – people are in the process writing their own product development definition and inventing a brand new currency! This currency has no ties to any government or country. The whole thing “lives” in the minds of the computers who together make up the Internet. The math behind it is a tad complex, but it seems to be growing in popularity and, more importantly, you can actually buy things using bicoins. Microsoft recently announced that they would accept bitcoin in payment for their products. What does all of this mean for product managers?