Newsletters get a bad rep. They are the modern junk mail, the clutter in our inboxes—and yet they’re still the most effective form of digital marketing out there. (Hey, if you are reading this, you are already engaging.)
According to studies, $1 invested in email marketing turns into $38 for a biz, and email acquires 40 times the customers that social media does. The ROI for email marketing—ie, newsletters—is still the best in town (and by “town” we mean “the world”).
The reasons for the efficacy of newsletters are abound. For one, unlike other forms of marketing, you can guarantee you are reaching your target audience because the people who receive your emails actually signed up for them. Even in social media marketing, you’re drawing a really wide circle and throwing tiny darts at it; with email marketing, those darts hit home every time.
Newsletters also offer a value proposition absent from other forms of marketing. They are more than just an advertisement; newsletters provide a service—whether it’s deals or information—that the reader actually wants. And unlike ads, they garner more than a passing glance. A person looks at a static ad for two seconds at most, and even then the information rarely hits home. With newsletters, you hold your audience’s attention for not just seconds, but minutes, if you do it right.
Unfortunately, many outdoor retailers don’t dedicate the resources to their email marketing that take advantage of that impressive ROI. Do you recycle the same standard newsletter format? Is your newsletter haphazard and irregular? Or worst of all, do you not have email marketing at all?
If you want to capture your audience and those inherent advantages of newsletters, you’ve got to make it good—here’s how:
- Make it Informative
Your newsletter is the ideal long-form platform to showcase your business, especially your expertise and knowledge in the industry. It’s unlikely that a potential customer would listen to an employee rattle off 700 words on their favorite local trails or how to identify the best temperature grade of sleeping bags for camping trips—but they’ll read them and be grateful to do so. Use your newsletter not just to advertise, but to inform, which is the most trustworthy form of marketing out there. Share articles on subjects that highlight your expertise, as well as other info like upcoming classes and meet-ups or product highlights.
- Make it Valuable
If your potential customers are opening your newsletter, you need to give them a reason to do so again. That means providing value. Value can come in many shapes and sizes. Good information (as mentioned above) brings value to your readers, and so does exclusive offers and deals. Sales have been the cornerstone of marketing for decades, and modernizing the sales circular is as effective as ever (see below for what we mean by “modernizing”). Providing value to the customer who opens the newsletter ensures they’ll open it again.
- Make it Engaging
Even if the information you’re providing is valuable, it will fall flat if it’s not visually interesting. Let’s return to the sale example: Rather than using the same ho-hum format we’ve seen in circulars for decades (manufacturer photos aligned in rows), find fun ways to advertise sales and specials: have an employee model the items, or lay out a flatlay with the different products, then put the image in Photoshop and add captions describing the items in a fun font. You don’t need a professional photographer or design degree to make your photos and newsletter engaging, just a touch of creativity and a smartphone.
- Make it Consistent
The goal of email marketing is to make your customers recognize and even look forward to the arrival of your newsletter in their inbox. In order to make it recognizable, it needs to be regular. Whether consciously or subconsciously, if your newsletter arrives at the same time every week (yes, week), your readers will come to expect it. If it arrives on a Tuesday morning, and then on a Thursday afternoon, and then maybe not again for a few weeks—well, they’ve long forgotten about the great content they read and might just hit delete before opening. Cultivate recognition and habits with regularity.
- Make it Yours
Most retail newsletters look, feel, and read the same—but they don’t have to. Stand out from the crowd by infusing your vision, mission and personality into every newsletter. Write the articles and introductions with a recognizable brand voice. Take the time to make ads visually interesting. Ask employees to lend their own style to “guest spots” (maybe they write an article or highlight their favorite new product). Making your newsletter unique and special will help make it recognizable, engaging and valuable.
- Craft a Cool Subject Line
If your readers never open your newsletter, then all these tips are for naught—that’s why an engaging subject line is so important! Like the newsletter itself, it’s integral that the subject line showcases your brand’s personality (you can put the straightforward details in the preview text, or sub-subject line). We like to use idioms, puns, and emojis to get their attention, but experiment with different tactics to see what garners the most opens. If this article inspires you to revamp your email marketing, be sure to advertise your ~new~ newsletter in the subject line so that readers know it’s not the same old ad they’ve been deleting for months.
About The Mann Group: We are The Mann Group, a charmingly incongruous and blatantly genuine group of big thinkers and list makers. Get us together, and our ideas bloom into vibrant, sky-high projects; take us apart, and we work methodically and assiduously to accomplish the goals we created together. We create and implement practical courses and curriculum to help businesses and individuals grow.