Start a newsletter for your Lac du Bonnet Business

Starting an email newsletter can seem like a daunting task, but it is by far the most affordable form of marketing and, if done right, can have a dramatic effect on your revenue streams and customer loyalty.

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I love the marketing power of email newsletters! They are simple to create, don’t require much time, are very affordable and often free, and they are sent directly to people you have done business with or people who have chosen to receive solicitations from you. It doesn’t get any better than that.

For a long time, eCommerce giants and Big Box stores have effectively used email newsletters to convert casual visitors into buyers and recapture sales from abandoned online shopping carts. Often email newsletters are in the form of “Hot Deals” or the “Don’t Forget About these Items in Your Cart,” making it all too simple for consumers to make purchases. Email newsletters have changed the nature of impulse purchases as retailers have made it easy to purchase a new pair of shoes or a new fishing lure from the comfort of their homes.

Do you want to increase your revenue with the push of a button?

I’ll assume you said yes to that questions, so let’s look at how you can implement an email newsletter to enhance your marketing mix, increase your sales, and generate a better relationship with your customers.

1. Decide how you will use your email newsletter

The first step in developing a great email newsletter that will help you get results is knowing what results you want to achieve. There are many objectives, such as:

  • sending customers product information,
  • promoting new arrivals,
  • spreading the word about new content you’ve released on your blog,
  • providing details about new services you’re offering,
  • attracting more visitors to your website,
  • building a loyal following,
  • enhancing customer loyalty, and many more.

As with all goal setting, it is important to be specific about what you want to achieve. Setting SMART goals for your email newsletter will help you determine the type of information to share, how frequently you should send out an email newsletter, the depth of list segmentation you need to create, the tools you may need to develop to capture sales, and so on.

For example, let’s say you are a restaurant owner who wants to increase lunch revenue by 10%. You’ve developed daily lunch specials, printed them on your in-store special board, and maybe even shared your specials on social media. An email newsletter can help you reach people who frequent your restaurant, providing them with the details about your Lunch Special list and enticing them to come to your restaurant instead of the competition.

For this to be successful, you will want to consider:

Frequency of newsletter delivery: Once a week would be a great schedule for this. An email newsletter waiting in your customers’ inbox first thing Monday morning would be appropriate, as sending an email a day would be overwhelming for you and your customer.

Information to Share: Weekly Lunch Specials, complete with an image of the plated dish, as people eat with their eyes first. Include the details about the special and the price.

Tools you may need to develop: A Lunch Special Menu Schedule that will provide you with the information you need to share with your customers and images of the specials. If you create your schedule far enough in advance, you’ll be able to create and schedule your newsletter to deliver weekly. Your images can be kept on file for the next time that item will be on the Lunch Special Menu.

In addition to using the images in your newsletter, you can also schedule your Daily Lunch Specials on your social media accounts to promote the specials to customers who follow you online.

List Segmentation: You can choose to send your Lunch Special newsletter to everyone who has signed up for your newsletter, or you could take your newsletter skills to the next level and create list segments that would include only people who are interested in receiving details about your Lunch Specials.

2. Set a Schedule

Now that you know your goal, it’s time to make a content schedule, called a campaign in the marketing world, that outlines what you will be sharing and when. As in our previous example, the schedule was set by the weekly lunch special schedule. Thinking about the goals you want to achieve with your newsletter should help you create a list of topics, sales, information and details to share with your readers.

The most important thing to keep in mind while developing your schedule is that while you are using your email newsletter as a promotional tool for your business, to increase your revenue stream, you must provide your reader with something of value. In our restaurant example, the value is in the variety of lunch specials you are providing, as well as the deals that are often present with Specials.

Let’s look at another example. Let’s say you own an auto repair business, and you want to enhance customer loyalty with your business. You are in a position to use your newsletter to provide customers with valuable information about vehicle maintenance. Instead of your customers watching or reading some random article from an unknown source online, you can become the go-to expert for vehicle maintenance.

For this to be successful, you will want to consider:

Frequency of newsletter delivery: At a minimum, once a month, but you can increase your schedule as it works for you.

Information to Share: Think of sharing things like DIY maintenance, proper tire maintenance, or the importance of regular oil changes, pre-travel maintenance checks, and so on. When you share this information with your readers, you provide them with expert advice that will help develop customer loyalty and build trust. Of course, each newsletter topic should also include a gentle call to action that invites customers to book an appointment with you should they not want to conduct their vehicle maintenance.

Tools you may need to develop: Images of vehicles being worked on in your shop or images of your mechanics working on vehicles. If you want to advance to the next level, how-to videos can be a great addition to information presentation.

Some of you may be asking why you’re setting a schedule before you have any sign-ups for a newsletter. The answer to that is so that you can start delivering information to your customers as soon as they start signing up. As business owners, our time is valuable, and adding things to the to-do list can seem impossible. Setting yourself up with a content schedule can alleviate some of the stresses by allowing you to prep the newsletter in advance. With a schedule, you can write in advance. It’s February, but nothing stops you from drafting a newsletter that you want to deliver in April, or even December if your schedule goes that far.

3. Choose a newsletter delivery service

Once you’re confident in your ability to maintain an email newsletter schedule and have content ready to deliver to customers, it’s time to find the right email newsletter service provider. There are hundreds of service providers to choose from. The service provider you choose should enable you to:

  • create engaging email newsletters that allow you to easily share your images, videos, links, articles and more.
  • ideally, the user interface is simple to navigate and use – this will vary depending on your comfort and skill levels.
  • send bulk emails that can be personalized (addressed to each of your subscribers by name) and targeted (send certain information to particular people, not everyone on the list).
  • easily manage your contact list, give you the option to segment users into groups, and provide you with performance statistics for each of your email campaigns.

Having said all of that, here is a list of three great options that you can explore further:

1. MailChimp: is one of the most popular email marketing service providers, primarily because it is free unless you choose to upgrade. The interface is an easy drag-and-drop format, which makes it easy to use too. MailChimp provides autoresponders, list segmenting, and analytic tracking. It does lack advanced features but is perfect for creating simple email newsletters.

2. Constant Contact: is one of the largest email marketing service providers in the world. It is famous for its easy to use interface that is very beginner-friendly. Constant Contact allows you to easily manage your email lists, contacts, email templates, marketing calendar and more. Constant Contact offers a 60-day free trial; after that, pricing starts at $26 per month.

3. AWeber: is one of the oldest and most popular email marketing service providers. It is well known for its variety of tools for small and medium-sized businesses and seamless connection to most platforms, such as WordPress. Along with the basics, AWeber offers powerful email marketing features such as AMP emails, automatic RSS-to-email for bloggers, and tag-based subscriber segmentation. A limited free plan for up to 500 subscribers is available; after that, pricing starts at $19 per month.

4. Thinking about list segmentation

We’ve used the phrase list segmentation a few times in this article; now, we’ll explain exactly what that means and how you can use it to communicate more effectively with your customers.

List segmentation attempts to add personalization to your newsletters, sending appropriate information to specific people on your newsletter list instead of sending the information to everyone.

Let’s go back to our restaurant example. Lac du Bonnet businesses have many customers who are seasonal residents or visitors to our community. A weekly Lunch Special newsletter delivered to people who live in Winnipeg is not going to boost your sales and will not provide value for those customers. However, knowing that our seasonal residents arrive in Town on Thursday and Friday evenings, providing them with a dinner special newsletter may entice them to stop in for a meal before hitting the cottage. This example is segmenting by geography.

There are many ways to segment your list, and we’re not going to lie, it can get complicated depending on how far down the proverbial rabbit hole you want to travel. On the flip side, though, the more targeted message you can deliver to the right people, the better chance you have to engage your customer and get them to take action.

Knowing how you would like to segment your list will help you collect the information you need from subscribers. Lists can be segmented by age, geography, sex, interests, purchasing behaviour, buying frequency, purchase cycle, engagement level and more.

Think of what you would like to know about your customers, and make sure to ask the questions that will get you the answers you need on your newsletter sign-up form.

Sticking with our restaurant example, we could ask:

  1. City/Town of residence
  2. age
  3. if they would like to receive information on specific deals or specials such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, special events, etc.

5. Generate a list of readers

By now, you know why you want to send people email newsletters, you have a schedule of content to deliver, you have drafts written, and you’ve selected your delivery service provider. Now it’s time to start generating an audience of readers. Start collecting those subscribers. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Asking people to provide their email address at check out,
  • integrate a newsletter sign-up section on your website
  • use your social media to direct people to your newsletter sign-up
  • email your current customer list and encourage them to sign-up for your newsletter.

While you encourage people to sign-up for this regular communication from you, tell them what they can expect to receive and how frequently they can expect to hear from you.

6. Start delivering your content

As soon as you have some people signed up for your newsletter, start delivering it to inboxes and watch your goals become achievements!

Starting an email newsletter can seem like a daunting task, but it is by far the most affordable form of marketing and, if done right, can have a dramatic effect on your revenue streams and customer loyalty.

The CDC is here to help

The Lac du Bonnet CDC is committed to helping local businesses grow and succeed. If you would like help to start an email newsletter for your Lac du Bonnet business, give us a call. This service is free and just one of the ways we are working for Lac du Bonnet!

Before you go, sign-up for the CDC’s weekly newsletter and have business tips, ideas, and resources delivered right to your inbox!