How To Create Newsletters That Kill

Even when you are not trying to sell them something, you need to stay in contact with customers
Even when you are not trying to sell them something, you need to stay in contact with customers
Image Credit: Dennis Skley

In the Twitter and Facebook era in which we are currently living, you might think that sending an email to your existing and potential customers is too old school. However, you’d be wrong. It turns out that email newsletters are one of the fastest growing areas of marketing communication. The reason that emails are such a big deal is that your target market will always read your email – even if it’s just the subject line before they delete it. The same thing can’t be said about today’s new-fangled social media tools.

Get Them To Sign Up

If you want to create a new newsletter as a part of your product development definition, it’s not going to do you a lot of good if you don’t have anyone t send it to. What this means for you is that you now need to start to build a mailing list of email addresses of people who want to get your newsletter. Never add someone to your email list without their permission – that’s called spam. You’ll need to very clearly communicate to your customers what the benefit of subscribing to your newsletter will be for them. What you really want to do is to make a compelling offer to them – discounts on future purchases or insider tips on how to use the product that they already have.

Your next big newsletter challenge is going to be trying to determine how often you want to send email to your subscribers. If you do it too often, then you’ll get a bad reputation as a spammer. If you do it too infrequently then there is a good chance that your customers will forget about you. The one thing that you want to avoid doing is neglecting to send newsletters to your customers during the year and then starting to send them something every day during November and December. The right frequency may be different for every company, but generally speaking, emailing your customers once or twice a month seems to work the best.

We all want our email newsletters to look great. For most of us this means that we combine text and graphics into a single newsletter. When you do this, you are going to want to be careful that you include enough white space so that things don’t look like they are all jammed together. If you decide to include images into your newsletter, you’ll need to keep in mind that some of your readers may have turned images off in their email and so they’ll be reading your newsletter with no images. Double check to make sure that your newsletter still looks good if they are doing this.

Provide Great Content

When you send your customers an email newsletter, you’ll want them to read it. In order for that to happen, you are going to have to make sure that the newsletter has great content that they are going to be interested in. In order to make this happen, you are going to have to collect more than just their email addresses from them. You’ll want to know more about their businesses, their customers, and what they are hoping to be able to accomplish. However, you have to be careful here. If you ask for too much information during signup, then people won’t complete the process. Instead, collect a minimal amount of information during the signup and then send them a request for more information after they have been onboard for a while. Get this balance right and you’ll have something to add to your product manager resume.

There is no reason that a newsletter has to be a just a one-way conversation. Instead, you can work with your readers to involve them in discussions. A great way to make this happen is to include links in your newsletter to online polls. Ask them questions and then have them complete the poll. This will provide you with topical information that you’ll then be able to include in the next edition of your newsletter.

The best written newsletter in the world won’t really count for much if your customer’s don’t read it. They are not going to read it if they don’t take the time to open the email in which you sent them the newsletter. What’s going to make them open the email will be the subject line that you use on your email. This means that when you create your email’s subject line, you are going to have to make it be attention grabbing. What seems to work the best is when you use a specific, succinct, phrase for your subject line that captures the most important information that is in your newsletter. Keep in mind that writing good subject lines is more of an art than a science!

What All Of This Means For You

In order to retain current customers, sell more things to current customers, and turn potential customers into customers, product managers should consider creating a product newsletter. This should really be a part of our product manager job description. Even in this era of Facebook and Twitter, studies show that email is still one of the most effective ways to get in touch with customers.

In order for your product newsletter to be successful, you are going to have to create a mailing list to send it out to. In order to get people to sign up for your newsletter, you are going to have to offer them a compelling reason to do so. Understanding how often your customers want to receive your newsletter will be key. Once or twice a month generally works the best. If we include graphics, we need to make sure that the newsletter still looks great if our customers turn images off. We’ll need to ask our customers what kind of content they want us to include in our newsletter in order to be interesting. By using devices such a polls we can transform a one-way conversation into a two-way discussion. Finally, in order to get people to read our newsletter we’re going to need to get good at creating compelling subject lines for our newsletter emails.

Outside of the cost of an email list management service, product email newsletters are basically free. These are a powerful tool that every product manager should tap in order to stay in touch with our customers. Make sure that you create interesting newsletters with compelling content and you’ll be able to capture and hold onto your customer’s interests.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should sent out a newsletter more frequently at different times of the year?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Once upon a time, the Keurig company, you know them – they are the ones who make that single sever coffee machine that uses those little plastic pouches, decided that they wanted to expand into new markets. Their product managers looked around and what they discovered is that the rest of us drink a great deal of soda. Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc. They figured that since they had mastered the art of brewing coffees, how hard could it be for them to expand their product development definition and create a machine that would conquer the world of soda?