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Updated: Dec 23, 2019
This is the first in a series of 3 articles about e-mail newsletters. Part 2 shares awesome examples of newsletters to inspire you and help you become a more interesting, well-informed person. Part 3 outlines strategies to help you grow your subscribers list.
It’s not uncommon to hear people say that email is ‘over’. The funny thing is, my email inbox is busier than ever, and I’d bet that yours is too. Email marketing is among the most successful forms of marketing there is, but this article isn’t necessarily about marketing your small business. At least not directly.
This article is about you. What do your customers know about you? How do you plan on telling them what you’re about? Email is one of the most personal ways that you can connect with people interested in your business or brand. What is the culture you want to create? Zoom out about 1000 feet and think about how your business looks from way out there. What’s going on in the world that intersects with your brand and the world that your customers live in? That’s where your email newsletter should exist.
The reason you should start an email newsletter is because you should be offering really valuable things to your customers at every available opportunity. You should not limit yourself to talking only about your business. In fact, a better strategy might be to avoid talking directly about your business altogether. What you want to do is give and give and keep on giving your customers reasons to value you and only ask for something from them when you’ve got something really great to offer them in return.
You can send out your email daily, weekly, monthly or whenever it strikes your fancy. The standard that you should aspire to is to make sure that if your readers don’t get it in their inbox when they expect it, they’d be sad.
Your email newsletter could be a compilation of interesting, fresh links to stuff from around the web that you feel captures your brand’s culture. It could be lifehacks or productivity tips or anything expressing your own unique outlook on the world surrounding your business. It doesn’t have to be any specific thing, as long as it’s genuinely valuable.
I prefer newsletters that have interesting links. I want to learn things that I wouldn’t find out on my own. Do you have customers that would like to know more about things that you know or follow?
Starting a newsletter is not complicated at all. There’s a wide range of services out there, but I’ll focus on just one. This is not a paid endorsement of this product, it’s simply far better than the alternatives. Tinyletter is a free newsletter-focused email service owned by Mailchimp (a more full-featured email provider better suited to professional email marketing).
Mailchimp has a host of relevant resources and research that will add convincing support if you’d like more information about why starting a newsletter for your business should be a no brainer or if you want to look at some open rates and click rates sorted by industry, size of company, and other useful dimensions. Again, I’m not shilling for the company — they’re just better.
It’s ridiculously easy to start your newsletter with Tinyletter. Simply import your existing contacts as a CSV or other accepted file format and you’re ready to go. If you don’t yet have an email list, you can create a landing page with a signup form to direct potential new subscribers to. Post that link to Twitter, Facebook or wherever else you currently connect with people. It’s also incredibly easy to get an embed code to put a signup form on your website. To learn more about how to grow your list, check out part 3 of this article.
Once you’re up and running, sending the actual email is similarly foolproof.
In no time at all, you could be creating an honest and sincere connection with your customers that will take you from simply another thing that they spend money on, to something that they truly value.
Samantha Novick is a senior editor at Funding Circle, specializing in small business financing. She has a bachelor's degree from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. Prior to Funding Circle, Samantha was a community manager at Marcus by Goldman Sachs. Her work has been featured in a number of top small business resource sites and publications.