A couple of months ago, I signed on for a few newsletters from various t-shirt websites who were just starting out (but were open and ready for business). So far (after 3 months), I have only received a few random emails from them.
If your newsletter campaign sounds similar, here's a few thoughts on newsletters, from the customer's point of view.
If you are just using your newsletter to collect email addresses and thinking to yourself, "Well, that's great, I have all these people signed up in case I ever have anything to email to them in the future", you are on the wrong track. By the time you think of something to send, those customers have already forgotten why they signed up for your newsletter in the first place. Actually, I can't even remember the names of the websites I signed up at!
A better thing to do would be to constantly keep in touch with your customers. That way, your name will be the first thing that pops into their head when they think "I need a t-shirt".
My personal definition of "spam" is an email which contains no useful information. Content is key. If you send me one that is nothing but a hard-sell sales pitch, I am probably going to read it once and delete it. If you send me an email with a general update of "What's going on", with an invitation to visit your website, I'll read it and I might visit your website. But, if you send me an email that is full of useful, interesting, or entertaining content, not only am I going to read it, I am going to look forward to the next one!
If you don't have any good content, create some.
- Have a 10% off sale just for the people on your mailing list. That's useful, and makes me feel special.
- If you are an expert on something, send out a list of helpful tips and advice. Also very useful.
- Spotlight a particular design and tell me what inspired you to make it. That's interesting.
- Sponsor a great event and tell me about it, and invite me to see some pictures of it on your website. That's entertaining.
- Have a contest of some kind, and invite me to participate. That's exciting.
Are you getting the picture? Any kind of content is good, but the more helpful and relevant it is to my life, the better. Don't worry about crafting a perfectly worded email, either - sometimes just reminding your customers that you still exist will be enough to generate a few sales.
If you are wondering why you should do all this work, remember that it is 10 times harder to attract a new customer than it is to hold on to the one you already have.
Since this is all from the customer's point of view, I'd like to hear from those of you who use newsletters in your marketing campaign. I am sure you have some useful information for those who are considering starting one up for themselves.