comicbook woman at computer reading blog by Columbus Ohio website design firm

If you've ever wondered whether your company should have an e-newsletter to communicate with your customers and prospects, the answer is probably “yes.” But there are times when the answer is “no.” Simply put: if you don't have the time to invest in e-newsletters, you probably shouldn't bother, because e-mail, like any marketing effort, needs to be consistent.

Being a Columbus Ohio website design firm, we like to "market by example," so the e-newsletters we send out tend to be a bit more unique. See a recent e-newsletter of ours here. The issue with having a unique format, means it takes more time to put together than most people want to invest.

To see the kinds of e-newsletters we do for our clients, see Dr. Brett Osborn’s e-newsletter here, and our section on e-newsletter examples of here.

Why you should have an e-newsletter

According to Kissmetrics, there are nearly three times as many users of email than there are user accounts on Facebook and Twitter combined, so email is getting way more attention than social media.

With all the attention given to email, the reasons to stay in touch with clients and prospects are fairly obvious. It allows you to:

• Share your expertise, positioning you as an expert in your industry

• Highlight services you offer that clients and prospects might be aware of, and

• Keeps you top-of-mind for prospects and clients, both old and new

We got $13,000 in new projects from one of our e-newsletters

As you saw in our e-newsletter example above, we recently shared the fact we offered low-cost website templates in an e-newsletter. Within one month, we received in $13,000 in new projects for low-cost website templates!

In another instance, we created a website for a client we hadn’t done work or in over 2 years. Our newsletters kept our name in front of them, so when the time came for American Heritage Homes to build a new website, they contacted us.

If your first e-newsletter isn’t good, no one will want to see your second e-newsletter.

Like any marketing effort, but especially ones that come out on a regular basis, newsletters and social media have to be great right out of the gate. Each of us has seen a fairly crappy e-newsletter that was poorly designed, too sales-oriented and poorly written.

And like most marketing, your e-newsletter shouldn't be too sales-oriented. What it SHOULD focus on is educating your audience by providing information they can use. Information that either:

  • educates them
  • makes their lives easier
  • gives them ideas they can use, or
  • makes them look better in the eyes of their bosses, friends or family...

...they’ll be much more likely to look forward to your newsletters, instead of just clicking “Delete.”

mean biker dude sitting in movie theaterAs you've seen if you clicked the link above to one of our e-newsletters, ours e-newsletter consist of three areas: one showing a recent project and two sharing cool things we’ve found in the world of marketing, social media, and our favorite, guerrilla marketing.

What is Guerrilla Marketing? Basically, it's marketing that creeps up on you when you least expect it. Here are three of our favorite guerrilla marketing examples, surprisingly, none of them having been created or executed in the United States. Amazingly, all three were done in Brussels, Belgium!

1. Carlsberg Beer goes to the movies

2. Febelfin banking using a psychic to show how easy your personal information can be accessed

3. TNT channel promoting their drama shows

E-newsletters are also good for SEO

The copy in your e-newsletter should be brief. There should only be a few teaser sentences, which, when the "Learn More" link is clicked, takes people back to your website. That landing page would be where they view the stories you post (which are, no doubt, tremendously interesting!), So e-newsletters are a way to get more visitors to your website.

And when you get more visitors, three things happen:

  1. You get bonus points from Google for having more people checking out your website,
  2. People will see your work and expertise, and
  3. You just might spark the interest of a prospect or client to give you a call.

sideways hourglass indicated stopped timeE-newsletters take time

In addition to sending out your newsletter, the other big steps you need to take:

  1. Adding a page on your website for the teasers from the e-newsletter to link to,
  2. Adding social media posts that link back to the same website pages your newsletter links to,
  3. Communicating with people who comment on your posts letting them know you appreciate their comments, and
  4. Following others who follow you.

By adding social media posts, you expand the reach of your posts and your audience. For every blog post and e-newsletter we do, we also post on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter. That's because there are different audiences paying attention to each of those different platforms. Each of our social media posts have a link back to our website, which has the main stories from our newsletters.

Another big benefit of posting your links on social media is sharing. While someone might forward your newsletter to someone else, that forward usually gets you to one other person. However, one share on Facebook or Twitter might expose you to dozens or hundreds of people (depending on the sharers following). So social media has the potential to be a good avenue for getting your story out.

We have a lovely friend who lives in Salt Lake City who is one of our biggest LinkedIn fans. She shares our posts and compliments us in the comment section. She probably would never see our social media posts, but LinkedIn works well for other professionals. And she occasionally shares our LinkedIn posts with others in her circle.

E-newsletters work in conjunction with blogs

In a perfect world, your e-newsletters would work hand-in-hand with your blog posts.

Here’s what we do:

  1. Every week, we blog on 1,000+ word articles on our website subjects we believe our audience will find of interest (like this one), and
  2. Every month, we send out e-newsletters, often with the stories we’ve blogged about

Blogging, like newsletters, are good for SEO

The more you update your website by blogging, the more Google re-indexes your website, keeping it relevant in their results.

But blogging, like newsletters, have their own set of rules besides not being sales-oriented. They are:

  1. You must research, and use, keywords in the copy of your blogs
  2. You must add Page Titles and Meta Descriptions in your blogs (these are what shows up in Google’s search results)
  3. If you have images (see below), you must name them with keywords
    (i.e. “man_smoking_pipe_in_front_of_fire_while_reading_blog_from_Columbus_Ohio_website_design_firm”)
  4. If you have images, you must fill in the Alternative Text field, also called “Alt Text fields." (See text below outlined in the red box.)
    For example, an Alt Text field might describe the image below as “Man smoking a pipe in front of a fire while reading a blog from Columbus Ohio website design firm”
    This is for sight-impaired people who might not be able to see images. They have software that speaks the words you put in the Alt Text fields. Even if you don’t have sight-impaired prospect or clients, Google and other search engines want you to have them in there to bring your website up to world-wide standards.
  5. Adding the latitude and longitude of your main office.

man smoking pipe in front of fire while reading a blog from a Columbus Ohio website design firm

Alternative text example describing an image for signt-impaired peopleHaving all these items in your blog post is critical for SEO, and you can read more about it here.

You can get help with your newsletters and blogs

If you don't have the time, or inclination, to write your own newsletter and post it on social media platforms, there’s still a way you can benefit from this form of marketing.

Hire someone who can do it for you. Someone who knows your industry, if not your company. A writer who understands they can keep up on the trends and issues of your industry by subscribing to your industry's blogs.

Every industry has bloggers who know more than you. WE subscribe to bloggers who are smarter than us (and there’s a lot of them out there!) for our newsletter and blogging inspiration. Having this information constantly sparks ideas for what we should write about.

For us, once we're inspired, it’s easy to write. And for the most part, we get to inject about our personal experiences working in the industry for 30+ years. So when another blogger's insights might get us started on a new blog post, we can easily put our own perspective on a topic, just like this one.

Best of luck with your e-newsletter marketing efforts!