Email marketing can be an extremely cost-effective and time-saving way to promote your small business; however the idea of emailing quality content to your contact list once or twice a month can seem like a daunting task.
The first step is to use the tools easily available to you: your own experiences and the conversations you've had with previous customers to develop a theme and content ideas.
Remember the tips and tricks you have heard about or the stories that have inspired you and collate these ideas. These will then act as your guide to take you through the next steps of creating compelling content for your newsletter.
Step 1: Choose a theme for your articles; something you know your subscribers will find valuable and that will enhance their experience when visiting your website and your business.
For example, sample themes for tourism business might include: best cafes, best outdoor eating spots, best beaches, art studios off the beaten path, restaurant reviews, decadent desserts, nature walks or museums and cultural attractions.
Create a reputation of a trusted expert in your local area or area of expertise, providing useful information which others may not know or want to provide.
Step 2: Brainstorm topics for your email newsletter. Make a list of all the possible topics you could cover under one subject. For example if you choose the theme of the Best Beaches in the Lower Mainland your potential articles could include: best beach to see a tidepool (Deep Cove), best beach for a picnic (Spanish Banks), best swimming beach for families (Locarno), best beach closest to a restaurant (Kitsilano), best beach with a pitch and putt (Ambleside), best beach with hamburgers (Dundarave).
When brainstorming your ideas for a subject, make your list longer than the number of articles you need. You never know if that recommended art studio will move to a different town or if that decadent dessert will no longer be on the menu, so give yourself the option to choose an alternate topic.
Step 3: Start gathering information you need for each article.
If you are recommending other businesses or locations, readers will want to know how to find them; link to Google Maps for each location. You can even embed a Google map in your newsletter by using the html code Google provides.
If you are recommending products, services or referencing another article, be sure to link to the relevant website and attribute the link.
Consider using photos to help readers visualize what you are writing about. Use online photo-sharing websites like http://www.flickr.com to find photos, however make sure you ask the permission of the photographer.
Step 4: Creating an article outline will take about 15 minutes. Having an outline of your article clear in your mind will ensure that the process of writing the article will be less painful. Keeping the example of the best beach theme, here is an example of an outline:
- Name of beach
- Why this beach was selected as the best for…
- Favourite personal memories of the beach
- What you anticipate the readers will experience when they visit this beach and any helpful tips
- How to get there and include the Google map link
- Invite them to email you back and share their favourite beach
- Link to your business’ website and an invitation to your reader to drop by when they're in your area
Keep the content relevant and interesting. A special event or seasonal offer can help make the article feel timely and useful.
Step 5: Writing the article will take 45 minutes. Start by drafting one to three sentences for each bullet point in the outline. Edit the sentences. Remember to make your sentences short and concise. White space between paragraphs will make your article easier to read online and easier to digest. Remove the bullet points from the final article. Insert the photo at the beginning of the article.
Be careful the article is not too long. People’s attention span on email is very low. Ensure there is a strong call to action which will make people engage with your business or the content in the newsletter.
If you do not have the time to dedicate to writing articles, consider forming strategic alliances with complementary businesses to supply articles for your newsletter. This will reduce the pressure of writing multiple pieces of content and will help develop a relationship with the other business owners who may refer your services. Alternatively you could consider hiring a freelance content writer (read How to Hire Content Writers).
Step 6: Proofread your article. Take a break from your article, either a few hours or overnight. Revisiting an article with fresh eyes always results in a couple of tweaks that improves the article.
Ask a friend or one of your employees, who has not read the article before, to proofread your content, because everyone has blind spots.
Have fun with it! Each email you send out should feel like a personal conversation with a potential customer. By engaging in that conversation you are developing your relationship with them and increasing your top of mind awareness.
By following these 6 steps you'll find when it's time to write your email newsletter you can sit down and start writing instead of staring at your computer screen.
Coming soon… Find out how to create, maintain and develop your email distribution lists and how to track and measure your email newsletter's impact.