The biggest advantage that email newsletters bring to businesses is the steady contact with leads. Every week, a potential customer who has expressed an interest in the service you supply is reminded that you’re still there, still offering that service and still available for them.
It’s a method that can be hugely effective. Provided those leads read what you’re sending them.
But email isn’t the only way that businesses stay in touch with leads. They also write blog posts which they distribute through RSS. And they chat on Facebook and Twitter, a channel that allows for two-way communication and instant feedback.
All of those channels are useful but they also raise the risk that by the time the lead receives your newsletter, he will already have read your content when he clicked a link in Twitter or saw the post in his RSS reader.
In a recent newsletter, MarketingProfs, a marketing training company, described how sales firm The Loud Few raises its open and clickthrough rates above the industry average in part by ensuring that its newsletters contain exclusive content. “If blog visitors, Twitter followers, Facebook fans and email subscribers all get the same information, a customer has little incentive to interact with you in every channel,” warns MarketingProfs.
It’s sound advice and it clearly works for The Loud Few whose open and clickthrough rates are 40.99% and 32.01% respectively. But what sort of content should you put in each of those three channels to ensure that leads engage with all of them?
Dividing Your Content
Blog posts are the most flexible. You can write short posts announcing your firm’s latest developments or pointing out an article of interest elsewhere on the Web but they’re really at their best when they’re long — at least 500 words — and explain in detail what you want to say. They should be the results of incisive analysis and hard experience, planned in advance instead of written on an impulse.
That isn’t true of social media posts. These need to be brief — on Twitter, of course, no more than 140 characters — but they also have to be interactive and responsive. For leads, there are few things worse than asking a question of a company on Facebook and not receiving a reply. It’s a cold shoulder that makes them feel that the company doesn’t consider them important enough to bother answering. One way of writing social media posts then is to let readers guide the conversation by responding to their enquiries while still setting the agenda with small announcements and light comments about your products.
It’s finding original content for newsletters that’s hardest. The Loud Few actually varies its content as well as the layout of that content. One easy approach is to send articles that are too short for blog posts but which fit into the smaller format of an email. They could be tips to get more out of a product, a description of a new feature or a discount that isn’t available anywhere else.
As long as it’s different to content that you’re offering elsewhere, you’ll increase the chances that your leads will open it — and click it.