Strategy Sessions: How to create awesome newsletters for your store

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This is part 2 in a series about effective e-mail communication with your customer.

Photo: TK artist/Bigstock.com

Photo: Rawpixel.com/Bigstock.com

Okay, you’ve convinced a customer to sign up for your newsletter. Now what?

To build lasting audience engagement, every single email you deliver should bring value. To determine how to bring value, think about this simple question: How does your company solve problems for your target customer?

Provide Solutions
The worst thing you can do is talk about how great your product, service or company is to them and why they should buy from you. Instead, give them solutions, no strings attached.

Your goal is this: Make every email interaction bring something new that makes your customer better.

What Do I Write in My Newsletter?
It may seem daunting at first, but you have lots of valuable intel to share that will entice people to visit your store. Some easy ideas:

  • News about new product arrivals
  • Profiles on store employee profiles and the great trips they are taking
  • Seasonal updates to the region you serve (your local ski area opening, conditions of local trails, etc.)
  • Special sales events and clinics that you host

Add “Bonus” Content
We all are receive a lot of email these days, so when something lands in your box with a special benefit, it really stands out. In email and content marketing, this is called “content plus.” For example, at the close of the backcountry ski season, you might create a downloadable PDF that teaches your readers how to best care for their skins in the off season. You can also drive readers back to your site to have access to more information. For example, you can provide a short summary sentence in your email to a new blog post, that has a link that leads your reader back to your website to read the full article on your blog. Get creative in understanding how to make your newsletter recipients feel that you’re going out of your way to serve them.

Get Customers in the Door
When you’re hosting events and clinics at your store, use your newsletter as a vehicle to get more people to show up live and don’t be bashful about asking them to share the news. Include a “call to action” that asks your readers to invite friends and family to your event and provide a sample Tweet or Facebook post that your reader can easily cut and paste right into their social feed.

Ask Your Customers What They Need
Don’t be afraid to survey your audience. Encourage them to hit reply to your newsletter and tell you their single biggest problem. You might discover a need for clinics on how to pack for an overnight or waterproof boots or cook lightweight backpacking meals. Be as responsive as you can be when someone on your list reaches out. The more you build a relationship with your clients, the more trust you will instill.

Send a Thank You Note
When a new person opts in to your list (agrees to exchange their email for what you’re offering to them), make sure that you send a thank-you/welcome email. Keep it short, and let them know what they can expect, how often you’ll be emailing them. It can be simple, something like this: “Thank you for joining our community! You’ll be receiving a note from us every other week sharing ideas on how to improve your (fill in the blank).” Be sure to follow through on that promise, as you’re building a trust-based relationship with every email. And give subscribers the choice for how often they receive your emails. You don’t want to inundate them if they only want to hear from you once a month.

Jimmy Fallon knows the value of thank you notes. Photo: Courtesy YouTube

Jimmy Fallon knows the value of thank you notes. Photo: Courtesy YouTube

Find Your Voice
Personalize the tone of your email. Avoid sounding sales-y or corporate. Instead, aim for a conversational tone, like you’re writing to a friend. Many email marketers are now sending plain text emails to their lists, instead of fancy branded email templates. The reason? Plain text emails just feel more personal, while branded email templates feel like they’re going out to a mass audience. Make your customer feel like an individual, not a member of a giant list.

Email marketing is a fantastic way to create a pipeline and audience for your business, and it can be fun, too, once you get your tone and content offering/approach down. Let me know where you are with email marketing – add your comments below or drop me an email at questions@intrepidentrepreneur.net.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden is founder and CEO of Verde Brand Communications, one of the leading brand communications agencies in the outdoor active lifestyle markets, and the Intrepid Entrepreneur, a consulting business dedicated to supporting independent and small companies in the outdoor markets. Kristin produces a weekly podcast and offers free content created to help entrepreneurs and small business owners grow (www.intrepidentrepreneur.net). She's also just launched a private mentorship and business training community in the A-Game Alliance. To learn about Kristin's work with Intrepid and the Alliance, click here to receive a free training on brand storytelling.

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