Email marketing gets overshadowed by social media a lot these days, which is a great shame because email is a terrific marketing workhorse—free or low-cost, targeted, and much less time-intensive than social media.
Why Use an E-Newsletter
Here are four reasons you should put out an email newsletter:
- Sell your services. Being front-of-mind increases the likelihood of sales. Yes, existing clients know what you offer and can use your services whenever they need to. But so many things vie for time, attention, and resources these days it’s easy to be forgotten. Getting back on people’s radar can mean getting back on their priority list.
- Get repeat business. Clients are a built-in audience for new services. Already loyal to you, they’re the most likely to try the latest thing you’ve added. Assuming they’ll find out through other channels is risky, and people are more likely to respond to a direct message from someone they know.
- Build customer loyalty. Checking in creates a sense of community and increases brand loyalty, which means you’re the one they come to when they need dog-related services.
- Get referrals. The combination of brand loyalty and a gentle nudge that you’re there makes it more likely clients will think to refer a fellow dog lover to you. If their experience with your company is buried in the past, referral opportunities are easily missed. Staying in your clients’ consciousness keeps you on the tip of their tongues.
Be useful and entertaining. If your newsletter doesn’t provide information and entertainment, people won’t keep reading. Talking too much about your business and services turns your newsletter into a glorified brochure. Yes, these topics belong in your newsletter. But unless you also include articles of general interest people will soon treat your newsletter as they would any other advertising material: Maybe a glance, then the trash button. Your end of the deal is to entertain and inform, not just sell your services.
Sell your services. Though you want to avoid too much focus on your business, the purpose of the newsletter is to promote your business. Don’t make the mistake of not including information about your services—particularly their benefits. Make contact information—website, email, and phone—clearly visible. Don’t hesitate to include a call to action. For example, “Fall classes are filling quickly—sign up now!” Or “The holidays are just around the corner—make your boarding reservations early to ensure your dog’s spot with us.”
Keep it short. Your email newsletter should be monthly and short. Share a quick tip, or an excerpt from an interesting article about dogs, or a humorous or thoughtful anecdote from one of your walks. Put together a fun profile of one of your daycare dogs, complete with a picture. Include a short call for referrals to friends and family or a schedule of upcoming classes. That’s it. Keeping each e-newsletter short and entertaining means clients are more likely to read the next one—and hopefully to pass it along, too.
Actively build your list. You’re going to put some work into getting your newsletter out each month, so the more people reading it the better. First of all, have a prominently displayed sign-up field on your website. Also include a ‘Forward to a Friend’ button in the newsletter itself. Most e-mail marketing services (and you should always use a service, such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp, for example) offer this option as standard.
Also include a benefits-oriented call to sign up for your newsletter on all your materials, however mundane. Class sign-up sheets, handouts, brochures, postcards, rack cards, even business cards and invoices. Include it in your email signature and on your stationary. If you write an article for a local paper, mention it in your bio blurb. If you are on Twitter, tweet about an interesting newsletter item and link to the sign-up box on your site. On Facebook, post the entire newsletter and include a sign-up box beside it (a free, downloadable application lets you do this). Ask your brick-and-mortar referral sources (vets, shelters, pet supply stores, for example) to keep a sign-up sheet on their counter or in their lobby. And don’t forget to include it in your printed newsletters, too. In other words, never miss an opportunity.