by Marcia Yudkin
With the ever-rising tide of email most business users are experiencing, the challenge to gain space in prospective customers' in-boxes and to sustain their loyal readership over time is growing, too. Now that my free weekly email newsletter, The Marketing Minute (http://www.yudkin.com/marksynd.htm), is celebrating its 300th issue, I'd like to offer these guidelines for creating a newsletter that can outshine the competition.
* Be brief. When subscribers know that a publication that's just arrived in their in-box will take more than 20 minutes to read and digest, they get into the habit of putting it aside till later. It's two more short steps from that to deleting it without reading and then unsubscribing. The Marketing Minute is just 180 words or so each week, truly readable in one minute. Subscribers tell me again and again they appreciate its conciseness.
* Be fresh and different. It's imperative to offer content that readers aren't getting elsewhere - original ideas or anecdotes, an entertaining spin on industry news, surprising case studies or controversial advice.
* Focus on readers. No one cares about your company's dog, your travel schedule, a computer melt-down or unusual weather in your part of the world. It's true that a personal tone appeals to readers, but usefulness to readers is the key to an email publication's longevity.
* Make a sample copy available. You don't have to bare your entire archive of past issues for free (I don't), but let visitors to your web site see at least one representative copy of your publication before they subscribe. Even though you're not charging for your ezine, people don't want to expend even a little bit of energy on something they might not like.
* Limit promotional contents. No more than 20 percent of your email newsletter should be special offers, with 80 percent or more substantive, non-promotional material. Depend on time rather than offer upon offer in each issue to turn readers into buyers.
* Stay on schedule. Since the ulterior motive behind an email newsletter is building a positive reputation with one's customer base, stop-and-start scheduling of a newsletter undermines perceived reliability. Consistent publication boosts credibility.
The Marketing Minute originated as the written version of a one-minute weekly spot for a TV show seen on WABU TV in Boston and other New England stations, and I'm delighted that hundreds of my charter subscribers remain with me nearly six years later. Follow these guidelines and you too could become one of the online publishers with staying power!
Marcia Yudkin is the publisher of The Marketing Minute (http://www.yudkin.com/marksynd.htm),
as well as the author of 6 Steps to Free Publicity and 10
other books. Her new mentoring program, Marketing for More
(http://www.marketingformore.com), helps business owners and self-employed professionals grow their operations with less effort.