Business owners who see a high clickthrough rate on their newsletters say it's all about their customers. The successful marketers send out good content, have an opt-in model and create a personal connection with potential subscribers. They know what people are looking for and sometimes they use good marketing services.
Focus on your customers
Lisa Scalia, co-founder of Melting Pot Food Tours, boasts a 30 percent clickthrough rate on her monthly newsletter. She achieves this impressive number with an intense focus on the core objective of the mailing: to give something back to current and potential customers.
“It’s not about us; it’s about them,” says Scalia (right, with her co-founder and sister). “It’s about fulfilling their needs and desires. When you care about people, they come back for more.”
Scalia shows starts each newsletter with a warm greeting and news about the company. Next, readers find an original recipe, along with information about the ingredients. A tour guide who leads international culinary trips contributes a column.
“She writes about her upcoming trips and about the culture of the countries she’ll visit,” Scalia says
Scalia includes a short company promotion, such as photos from a tour guide’s wedding, with a personal note. Not included in the newsletter from the Beverly Hills, California, company is any evidence of a hard sell or boastful phrases and testimonials.
Why does it work so well?
Keep it personal
“We have a strong feel for what our subscribers are looking for—recipes and fun facts,” Scalia says. “Since we are opt-in only, the people who sign up have a personal connection with us. They’ve most likely been on a tour.”
Cindy Tollen takes a similar approach. As founder of Sudz N Bubbles, a handmade soap company in El Paso, Texas, she tries to keep her newsletters personal, not sales-y.
She includes contests from time to time, but mostly she keeps content simple and includes recipes in each mailing. Like Scalia, she recommends staying away from promotions and aggressive selling.
Pay attention to format
Mike Scanlin sees two common problems with small-business e-mail newsletters. Attaching a newsletter as a PDF to an e-mail is discouraging.
“The minute I receive an e-mail with a PDF newsletter attached, I unsubscribe even if I’m really interested,” Scanlin says. “I’m not going to go through the trouble of saving and opening it.”
But what if you aren’t a master of HTML and saving to a PDF saves you time? Scanlin, CEO of Born to Sell, in Los Altos, California, says don’t do it. No one will read your message. Instead, he recommends low-cost e-mail marketing services such as MailChimp and Constant Contact.
“I’m not a technology guru, so [Constant Contact] allows us to create a well-designed newsletter in a template,” says Scalia, who also a fan of the service. “It’s really easy to use.”
Send good content
Sending out mailings without meaty content “[is] a lightweight form of spam,” Scanlin says. Make your content worth reading. Stay away from blasting your base with musings on trivial topics such as the weather.
Scanlin also recommends against using embedded advertisements from other companies and sensational headlines.
“You don’t want to distract a user with an advertisement from another company, even if you may get paid for their clickthroughs,” he says. “And don’t write headlines with too many adjectives or exclamation points—it can be a turnoff.”
Photo credit: Melting Pot Food Tours