Loyal customers are essential to the success of a small business. In fact, nearly all small business owners agree that keeping current customers happy is a top priority. In a recent American Express survey, 98% of small business owners reported that serving customers well is essential to their success.
An email newsletter is an easy and inexpensive way to build customer loyalty. Your newsletter can provide customers with helpful tips and advice or simply interesting information related to your offerings to demonstrate your expertise and passion.
There are plenty of email newsletter services, Constant Contact®, Mad Mimi, MailChimp® and Vertical Response are a few popular ones. These services generally make it easy to upload and maintain your email list. They also provide newsletter templates into which you can add your articles, photos, promotions and other content to create your newsletter.
To create an effective newsletter, the key is to develop the right content for your audience. Use these tips to guide your effort:
1. Demonstrate why you are the right choice
When customers understand the value you provide they are more likely to be loyal to your company. Features that can help to communicate why you are uniquely valuable include:
- Industry perspectives. Providing data and trends from your industry demonstrates your expertise and passion for your business – which increases the likelihood people will read your newsletter and promotions. For example, if you’re a wine merchant, giving your customers information on the overall state of the industry positions you as an authority. Just be sure to give the sources of any data and facts you mention.
- Supplier Q&A. Chances are that some of your vendors have interesting perspectives to share on industry trends and other aspects of business in your industry. If you sell clothing, for example, their insights on trends in fabrics, colors and cuts can be fascinating to your readers. Interviewing your suppliers — a few questions are plenty — can be an easy way to create a unique and interesting piece.
- Customer stories. Talking to your customers and sharing their stories can showcase how wonderful your company is at solving customer problems.
2. Give a sneak peek inside your business
Everyone wants to work with companies that are on the move, so look for ways to highlight your successes. For example, tell your readers about your important presentation at an upcoming conference, awards you have won, or innovative new products or partnerships you’ve developed. Keep it brief and make sure this information will be interesting and valuable to them, not just of interest to you.
3. Use visuals
Visuals are powerful storytellers, so look for opportunities to communicate through pictures, charts, videos or other graphics. For example, if your hair salon recently sent its team to New York to learn new hair cutting techniques, feature a picture of the team in action. Or, if your outdoor gear company is the go-to for camping equipment, share photos of customers or staff members on a camping outing. Visuals like this make your newsletter more appealing and reaffirm your commitment to your business and your customers.
4. Ask for input
Newsletters are more fun for readers if they can join a conversation with you. Invite them to share their ideas and expertise whether in the comment area of your blog, on your Facebook page, or at a dedicated email address that you include in the newsletter. Letting customers know you care about what they have to say is one of the best ways to turn them into passionate promoters of your business.
As you plan your newsletter, balance your desire to connect with customers and prospects with a reality check on how often you will be able to create a quality newsletter. For example, it’s better to do a short, high–quality newsletter once a month than to try to get a robust newsletter out each week – and never have it actually get out the door.
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