3 Reasons To Start Using a Print Newsletter

There’s no doubt that the function of print has changed substantially in the digital age. Print has to be more direct and more effective than ever before. So where is print’s place today? Personally, I think it should be rooted firmly in the content marketer’s toolbox. From what I’ve seen and heard from clients of my own, I believe that newsletters are a valuable content marketing tool, and here’s 3 reasons why:

Print newsletters are an economical supplement to the other content marketing strategies you might already employ.
A newsletter can be used to serve as a sort of collection point for several recent, service/product-related pieces (such as blog posts and infographics) that current clients and prospects will immediately see the value in. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 Report reveals that content marketers are creating more content than ever before and print newsletters, for one, excel at getting valuable content into your customer’s hands in a non-invasive, approachable way. Moreover, print has become a somewhat “unexpected” medium by today’s terms, which leads me to my second point:

Print newsletters deliver timely and valuable content in an “unexpected” format.
As the old adage goes, “timing is everything”. You never know when you could receive a call or an e-mail from a prospect about working with you simply because they received your message at the right time. You recognized/addressed one or many of their needs while also demonstrating that you have what it take to help them with their problems. In addition, you’ve pleasantly surprised them by providing them with something in print, rather than a run-of-the-mill e-mail that may have easily been overlooked. Four-fifths (79%) of consumers will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45% who say they deal with e-mail straightaway. That’s why it’s crucial to deliver your newsletter on a consistent basis: to ensure that you’re top of mind if and when your customer/prospect has a need for your products/services.

Print newsletters provide the tactile experience that people still look forward to.
Print has an added value that online content simply can’t deliver. The fact that you can touch print is what still makes it so effective today. A recent study conducted for the U.S. Postal Service concluded that physical media influenced brain activity in more powerful ways than digital media. The study concluded that while participants processed digital content more quickly than print, participants spent more time with physical content, had a stronger emotional response to this content and also remembered it better. For long-lasting impact and easy recollection, it seems a printed piece is a better option than digital counterparts in many circumstances.

If you’re ready to get started using a print newsletter, the good news is you don’t have to break the bank to do so! If you’re a small business owner like myself, you want every dollar spent on your marketing to be effective. Fortunately there are several ways you can keep the costs of printing and mailing your newsletter low. Here’s a few tips:
• Instead of renting/buying a mailing list, look to your network to create your own. Start with your current and past clients, prospects, social network connections, associates and family members, and continue to grow the list from there.
• Instead of printing in full color, consider printing black and white copies of the newsletter to keep costs down.
• If you’re mailing your newsletter in an envelope, experiment with using a unique envelope (such as a transparent or colored one) to make it stand out in that pile of mail.
• Self-mailers eliminate the added cost of an envelope. Experiment with using a brightly colored paper (one that doesn’t make your newsletter difficult to read though) to grab their attention.
• Consider using some of your newsletter “real estate” for advertising space. If your recipient list is in-line with the same types of customers a client of yours is pursuing, they might be interested in advertising in your newsletter. Charging a fee for this ad space can help keep your production costs down and may even result in new business for the advertiser.
• If you have an e-mail counterpart to your print newsletter, give your recipients the option to sign up for that version as well.
• Save several copies of your newsletter to use as leave-behinds at networking events, office visits and meetings.

Of course, all your hard work spent gathering and/or creating content will all be wasted if the newsletter is poorly designed or difficult to read. If you’re not confident that you have the layout skills and experience to design a newsletter yourself or don’t have the time to do so, I would encourage you to speak with a print designer that has experience working with newsletters to do the job for you.

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Don’t Click ‘Send’ Until You’ve Answered These 5 Questions About Your E-mail Marketing Campaign

There’s no doubt that e-mail marketing can be an effective way to engage your customers and provide prospects with valuable information about you products/services. As a small business owner myself, I can’t stress enough how integral e-mail marketing has been in my own marketing strategy. In fact, much of the business I receive comes from the people that subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

I’ve been using e-mail marketing for several years and over that time, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to set expectations and do what I can to make my email marketing messages as effective as they can be. If you’re reading this, it could be that you’ve never used e-mail marketing before or you would like to know how to make your next campaign more successful. Here’s a few things I suggest that you think about before clicking ‘send’:

Where is your call to action?
What do you want your your recipients to do after receiving your message? Whether it’s contacting you for more information about a product/service, downloading a content marketing piece or buying a product/service, your call to action should be easy to find and act on. Include a prominent link or button for it. As many of your recipients will spend only a few moments looking at your message, situate your CTA near the top of your e-mail: you want it to be easy to find and one of the first things they see.

What are you doing to get people excited about receiving your message?
The “If you build it, they will come” mentality generally doesn’t work for e-mail campaigns. Hopefully your recipients are looking forward to receiving your e-mails, but it’s not top-of-mind for them as they go about their daily routine. In the hours and days leading up to the launch of your e-mail campaign, I suggest reminding your recipients that they’ll be receiving your message soon.

Use your social media accounts to spread the word to a large online audience. You might also consider providing content teasers and a link to subscribe to your newsletter. Getting people excited about the prospect of receiving your message could actually increase the chance of them responding to your offers.

Have you optimized your campaign for mobile devices?
As nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone today, optimizing your e-mail marketing messages so they can be read quickly and easily on mobile devices is a necessity. Multiple column layouts are better suited to tablets or desktop computers; a single-column layout is best for mobile devices (recipients shouldn’t need to zoom in or do much scrolling on their mobile device to your e-mail). It’s best to keep the e-mail design simple, using a single column layout that’s flexible for all screen sizes with text at a point size that’s easy to read.

How do you plan to measure the success of your e-mail campaign?
If the goal is to ultimately sell your product/service, what do you do when your e-mail campaign doesn’t result in sales? Call it quits? Hopefully not. E-mail marketing is by no means a sure-thing in terms of results. Some campaigns will be a great success while others will fall short of the mark. Set clear and attainable goals for each campaign aside from sales goals alone. Such goals could be a high open or click-thru rate, driving more traffic to your website, responses to an offer via e-mail, etc.

What will you do if you’re not happy with the results?
E-mail marketing experts have done loads of research and have shared a multitude of findings on how to get the most out of campaigns, including when the best time to send and even what day to send a message. While researching send times, implementing A/B testing, CTA placement, etc. can help you get the most out of a campaign, the simple truth is that some campaigns will be successful and others will not – for reasons that were overlooked or beyond your control. What can you learn from a “failed” campaign?

If you’re seeing a low open rate, it could be your recipients can’t identify who or where the e-mail was sent by. Consider using your name in the “to” field, rather than your business’ name, to personalize your campaign. You might also try A/B testing (using two different subject lines) to reveal which subject lines are more effective than others in terms of open rates.

If you find that your recipients are beginning to opt-out of receiving your messages, it could be that they’re tired of receiving so many messages from you. Or if you’re not sending messages frequently enough, that they’ve forgotten why they signed up in the first place. In such cases, try adjusting the frequency/rate of your messages.

Whether you’re new to e-mail marketing or a seasoned veteran, keep these five questions in mind before you click ‘Send’ on your next e-mail marketing campaign. What methods have you used that led to a successful e-mail marketing campaign? Share your thoughts below!

Timely Print Design Projects Pay Off

RC-Remodeling-Flyer-Front

Here in the Omaha Metro Area, we recently had a surprise hail storm that struck parts of town. Realizing that homeowners effected by the storm would have a serious need for the construction and remodeling services that his company offers, Ryan Chappelear, owner of RC Remodeling contacted me for help with a project. Shortly after the storm, Ryan planned to canvas the areas of Omaha most effected by the storm with a simple marketing piece that communicated to homeowners on a personal level, informed them about the services he has to offer and urged them to contact the company for repairs to their home.

RC-Remodeling-Flyer-Back

The project needed to be completed quickly, so copy was written and the flyer was designed, printed and delivered to Ryan within a few days.  At the end of the following week, I learned that this simple marketing piece has been a huge success for RC Remodeling. By the end of the week following the storm, Ryan had 10 new roofing jobs as well as some deck repairs resulting directly from using the flyer. Just goes to show you that while timing definitely plays a role in your marketing decisions, marketing using print design components can still be extremely effective in meeting – or exceeding – your goals.

Do you have your own print marketing success story or advice/feedback to share? Leave a comment below!

4 Reasons To Have a Print Newsletter

For several years now, there’s been an ongoing discussion about print as a dying medium – this simply isn’t the case! The role of print has undoubtedly changed – evolved. The fact remains that people see real value in print. E-mail certainly has its advantages as a simple, low-cost method of communication, but its advantages are also the source of some of its greatest weaknesses (read the Four Pitfalls of an Email-only Approach). Here are some reasons why you should consider using a print newsletter:

1. The all-powerful ‘Delete’ button.

Whether it’s by accident or due to an overcrowded inbox or your client/prospect having a terrible case of the Mondays, your e-mail newsletter always faces the chance of being deleted before it’s even read.

2. E-mail addresses are subject to change.

What’s more likely to change: a recipient’s e-mail address or their business’ physical address? How many of your e-mail campaigns have bounced due to a bad e-mail address within the last six months? With a print version of a newsletter, your message has a high probability of reaching a lead/prospect at a company – even if a contact or e-mail address changes.

3. Print has a higher-perceived value than e-mail.

Because a newsletter can be easily kept within reach, shared with friends/associates, and doesn’t involve accessing a computer to read, print versions are more effective in the long-term. Additionally, the quality of a printed piece has shown to speak value of a company’s products or services. According to the fourth annual Signs of the Times report by Fed Ex, over 90% of small business owners believe that a company’s print marketing/advertising materials reflects the value of the company’s products and services. Read more about additional findings of that report here.

4. Print is still preferred by many.

The fact is that while some people prefer to receive an e-mail, others would much rather receive something in print. It’s likely that a person’s age, profession and proficiency with a computer will to some degree influence his/her delivery preference for marketing materials. Interestingly enough, even young, tech-savvy adults still prefer to receive marketing offers in print, rather by e-mail. For example, a 2010 survey by ICOM (a division of Epsilon Targeting) found that by a wide margin, 18-34 year-olds prefer to learn about marketing offers via mail rather than through online sources.

What Should My Print Newsletter Include?

Aside from collecting content, the most difficult or time-consuming task will be designing your newsletter. For this,  it would be wise to consult a design professional; someone who can present you with several concepts, design around your copy & images, and also provide more information on printing & production. If you’re already sending out an e-newsletter with some success, then you probably have a very good idea of what constitutes creating a print version, but whatever the case, here are a few key components that your print newsletter should include:

1. More about you.

If you’re implementing a print newsletter to generate more business, try not to be too “salesy” in your approach. Look for a good balance of marketing/sales content and personal content. Aside from showing recipients what you have to offer, use the newsletter to reveal more about you. They may not want to hear your life story, but a personal touch to your content will give them a better idea of who you are.

2. Case studies using work that you’ve done for past/current clients.

These are integral to your newsletter because they provide insight into how you’ve successfully addressed your others needs. Your newsletter recipients need to know that you have a history of helping others with their needs before they can trust you with their own.

3. Client testimonials that speak for themselves.

What your clients have reveal about working with you is much more powerful than what you have to say about yourself. Ask your clients for their endorsement/recommendation in writing and then use these in your newsletter to establish credibility.

4. Loads of valuable content.

Provide your recipients with valuable information that they would have difficulty obtaining on their own. You’re ultimately the judge of what you feel is important enough to make it into your newsletter,  but your content should focus on content that’s relevant to your recipients. There are plenty of ways to go about collecting/creating content for your newsletter – here are just a few:

  •  Start a blog and write your own content that addresses the problems and concerns of your clients, leads & prospects.
  • Write a white paper dealing with a specific subject, then use that content elsewhere.
  • Subscribe to several industry newsletters, RSS feeds and publications. These are great sources of content for your own newsletter – just remember to cite the source!
  • Invite guest writers to write about a subject.
  • Hire a ghost writer to generate content for you.

5. A call to action.

Case studies, client testimonials and other content gives you credibility, but more importantly it shows recipients that you have something valuable to offer them. A call to action (CTA) encourages your recipients to take the next step through a simple, focused command. “E-mail me for your chance to win”, “Call for a brochure” and “Use this code with your next online order” are examples. A CTA can take several forms, depending on how and through what medium you would like your recipients to respond. Whichever medium(s) you choose, make sure you can measure the results.

6. Other ways to connect with you.

Along with your street address and phone number, be sure to include the URLs of any social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) that you presently use along with your website and e-mail address. Show your recipients that there are several ways to engage with you on their own terms, online or off.

7. Ask for feedback.

Requesting feedback may be the best way to tell whether or not your readership is finding your newsletter as resourceful as you hope it is. Feedback you collect can be used to fine-tune your newsletter or make drastic improvements if necessary.

Other things to consider:

1. Send your newsletter as bulk mail.

If you are mailing out 200 or more pieces, you may be able to send your newsletter as standard mail at a significantly lower, bulk mail rate.

2. Have both print and e-mail versions of your newsletter.

Not only are you giving recipients control over how they would like to receive information from you, but you can then tailor future campaigns based on their preferences.

3. Offer your newsletter for free.

This sounds a little ridiculous as you probably already offer it for free, but doing so means it will be perceived with additional value.

4. Encourage referrals.

Asking current clients or associates for referrals via phone or e-mail can sometimes be uncomfortable and may take a great deal of time, whereas a print newsletter can do the job for you.

5. Print your newsletter on recycled paper.

When it’s possible, consider printing your newsletter on paper containing post consumer waste (PCW). You should also encourage them to recycle your newsletter once they’re finished with it.

6. Keep copies of your newsletter on hand.

For all of its valuable information, your print newsletter may be one of your most powerful marketing pieces. Consider distributing your newsletter by hand around town or as handouts at networking events, conferences and similar events. Providing new contacts with highly valuable information is a great way to make an introduction.