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Debunking the Myth of the Newsletter

Businesses are always looking for ways to increase traffic and their following – at least, they should be. Why, then, is creating a newsletter campaign so often overlooked?

Working in Gnowit’s marketing department has given me the unique insight I need to be able to answer this question. Operating in close proximity to dozens of other startups at the ICBY Incubation Center, I have had the opportunity to interact with clients, potential customers, and marketing influencers to understand how small businesses and startups go about their email campaigns – or don’t go about them. In fact, entrepreneurs and marketing specialists often forego the practice altogether, feeling that the time and resources required are too great.

Easy Newsletter Campaign

But what happens when you do decide to send out news letters? We already know how important newsletters can be if used correctly. By not giving yourself enough time to consider the possibility, you may be missing a chance to build an engaged audience, drive website traffic, and increase overall product sales. By succumbing to the myth of the newsletter (avoiding or forgetting about this important channel), important leads may be slipping out of your funnel.

How do I start my newsletter campaign?

First, let’s review what makes a campaign effective and how to achieve success, then we can streamline the process to make it accessible for anybody reading this post.

There are several, equally important, keys to engagement that cannot be overlooked. I’ll be brief and review each:

  1. Have a goal in mind and track your progress: What is your end goal? Are you looking to bring new traffic to your website, or signups on a particular page? Once you know what you would like to achieve, measure it! Google Analytics, certain WordPress plugins, link trackers, and your own observation can all help measure the success of a campaign. Tracking your goals allows you to understand the effect that any changes you make to your campaign will have (such as different subject lines or the layout of your content). This point alone will not drive engagement from your audience, but it will allow you to better understand what they want in the future.
  2. Be credible and likeable: What kind of relationship do you have with your audience? Inject a bit of personality into your mailouts and keep it “human”. Being less stuffy and more approachable will encourage people to interact with you. Make it easy for people to contact you personally with topic ideas, requests, etc, to build a rapport. Similarly, position yourself as a thought-leader. This is a fancy way of saying that people should believe that you know what you are talking about. Your online presence (either yourself or your company) is paramount in coming across as an expert in your niche. Stay on top of the news, write about trending topics as they are emerging, have a fresh and interesting perspective, and supplement your efforts with at least one strong and active social media profile.
  3. Send the right emails to the right people: Have you ever received mail that you just weren’t interested in? Sure, the information was well-written, the ideas were fresh, but you just didn’t care about the subject – so it went in the trash. That same thing can happen with your newsletter if you don’t carve out a niche that compliments your following. Be sure that people who sign up for your emails know the kind of content that they are getting (don’t waste their time). Even if it is a “variety,” then be clear on topics you commonly speak about. If you have a hard time narrowing down your niche, try curating separate newsletters for separate audiences and do some testing and tracking (see #1) to determine which are performing best for your sales funnel.
  4. Find content that you know will resonate with your audience: This goes hand-in-hand with #3, but I wanted to dedicate a section to explain how content can be found and distributed. I assume that you have found a campaign tool suited to your needs or price range (such as MailChimp or Constant Contact). Most services allow you to insert RSS feeds (live streams of data) and automatically populate your newsletter with information. The problem is that they don’t help you find that content, and you can’t control the information coming through an RSS feed that you find online. That’s why using a content curation platform, such as Gnowit (www.gnow.it), puts you miles ahead of the curve. It only takes a couple of minutes to set up your very own RSS feed and find and push out timely, relevant content from around the web. Few newsletter creators have the time to produce enough of their own content to fill an entire email (or else more would be doing it), and most audiences want to get their information from a variety of voices. Well-curated content is the key to tying your whole campaign together, showing that you are indeed a thought leader, a credible source of valuable information. At the end of the day, that’s what keeps them coming back and waiting for more.

Now that we have built  an understanding of why newsletters can become effective marketing tools, as well as how you can start a campaign of your own, let’s talk about saving your most valuable resource: time.

Gnowit for Newsletters

Perfecting the Process

The key to distributing an effective, engaging newsletter is the same as the key to most of your digital marketing efforts: fill your toolbox with the right tools to do the job. Criteria for what the right tool is can depend on your own needs, but it usually involves some combination of saving time, being easy to use, and looking professional.

In this case, some of the most popular tools out there are some of the best: MailChimp and Constant Contact, as I mentioned above, seem to be leading the industry for all the right reasons (user interface, customer service, and overall polish). However, it’s not enough to have a way to distribute your newsletter; you also need valuable information to include in it. Difficulties producing this content is often a barrier to entry for marketers, as it can be too time-prohibitive to be worth it if done poorly.

This might go without saying, but without the right content in your newsletter, it might as well be empty. If your readers aren’t reading, if they’re not clicking and engaging, then they aren’t going to be interested in you or your business in the long run. There are a few ways that you can quickly fill your newsletter: providing updates on your brand/company, writing your own content, and finding relevant articles from around the web that you know will generate interest. The latter two of these tasks can be pretty time-consuming, taking brain-power to write thousands of your own words or scouring your bookmarked sites and search engines for something fresh and trending.

This difficulty is why content curation platforms are of increasing importance. A tool such as Gnowit is one that easily pairs with popular newsletter campaign apps and gives you an easy-to-control, high-quality stream of information to choose from so you can populate your mailout in only a couple of minutes. All you need to do is tell the platform what kind of content you want, and push the articles you like directly to your newsletter tool of choice.

Another way to leverage content curation is to understand what the trending topic of the day is, so you can write about it while it is still relevant. Content writers are always looking for the next best blog or article idea, so a tool to help with that can be indispensable. Gnowit aims to improve your workflow for the most important forms of newsletter content. Even better, for a limited time, Gnowit is providing free Beta access to its app so all interested users can immediately save time and provide engaging information to their audience!

I hope this article has helped to debunk the myth that newsletters are not worth it for small marketing teams. If you found this information useful, you might want to consider signing up for Gnowit’s monthly newsletter to receive expert tips, news, and updates on all things marketing.

 

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I truly believe that with the right plan and the right tools, running a consistent mailout campaign can provide long-term ROI without hogging your time. If you have any questions or comments on your own experience with newsletter campaigns, I would love to hear about them!

Eric Voyer is a Marketing and Product Specialist with Gnowit. Gnowit is a content discovery and publishing platform designed to increase your customer engagement and reach while saving you time. Gnowit helps you stay on top of your social media and news consumption, providing you with content that you can easily read and share.

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