What’s the point of your newsletter?

15th February 2011 | Posted in Marketing communications

I’ve been working on newsletters for several companies recently, and I’ve noticed a distinct change of approach from the marketing team.

Old-style newsletters were generally a hard sell. “You’ve bought this product from us. Now you need add-ons and upgrades to get something even better.”

Others were full of company news. It was about the company telling the customer what the company wanted to say, rather than what the customer wanted to hear.

Today though the focus is increasingly on “customer engagement”. Companies want to add value to the service they offer customers. So they’ll give hints and tips on making the most of their purchases. eSpares is a good example. The company has uploaded videos onto its site showing how to carry out DIY maintenance. Then it sends out brief e-newsletters highlighting one of these, such as “How to replace washing machine hoses”. That works, because they’re offer a free service to help me save money, and I will no doubt end up going to their site first when I need the parts.

Another approach that’s working well is to spark ideas in the customer as to how they can use their purchase. Lakeland, for example, has been known to provide recipes in the newsletters promoting its jam-making equipment during the summer.

And that’s another point. Nearly everyone now hangs their newsletters on a date, a season or an event. Valentine’s Day was yesterday, and I was inundated with Valentine’s linked emails. This can be done to overkill though, and some of those links were very tenuous indeed! In fact my favourite was from Skyscanner that offered an anti-Valentine’s service, and listed the top most unromatic places to visit in the world.

So what we’re looking at is a big step towards putting the customer at the centre of the newsletter. What would interest and help them? What would make them feel good about our company as a service provider and a knowledge leader? What would ultimately encourage them to buy from us because they trust us to understand what they need?

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