by Lisa McGrimmon
Before we jump into the benefits of email marketing and the fundamentals of how to develop a newsletter for your business, let's first look at what email marketing is, then we'll explore why it's a smart strategy for growing your craft business.
I've been sending out newsletters for over ten years now. Building a subscriber list, and sending regular emails has been one of the smartest and most consistently reliable business building strategies I have used over the past decade. Here's what you need to know to before you start an email marketing campaign for your own business.
Email marketing is simply communicating with a group of customers and potential customers via email. Specifically, email marketing strategies typically include the following features:
Sending a single email to an individual client or prospective client doesn't fall into the definition of email marketing that I'll use for this series. I'd consider that type of message within the realm of customer service or, perhaps, prospecting or networking.
An effective business newsletter:
Let's look at each of those points in some detail.
First and foremost, your newsletter needs to provide value to your customers. You may do that by sharing helpful tips of interest to people in your niche, providing discounts exclusive to your subscribers, or sharing studio news of interest to people who love your business.
Providing information your subscribers want to see builds relationships. It shows the degree of knowledge and care that you put into your business, and that builds the kind of trust that can turn subscribers into customers or first time customers into repeat customers.
I launched this site back in December 2006 and sent my first newsletter out to eight people in June 2007. Over that time, I've seen huge changes in the ways people reach customers, but my newsletter has remained fairly constant.
Google's search engine underwent fundamental changes beginning in 2011, and, as a result, some people lost massive amounts of visitors to their sites. Some people's businesses never recovered. You don't control Google, so if you depend solely on search engine traffic to reach customers, you have limited control of your business.
Social media sites can provide great opportunities to reach customers until they inevitably change their algorithm to make it tougher for your posts to be seen. Then you either need to start using paid advertising, or use savvier (or more dubious) strategies to get in front of your potential customer on social sites. You don't really "own" your list of Facebook or Instagram followers. Facebook "owns" them, and the company can chose to do whatever it wants with your account.
One of the big benefits of email marketing is your email list is owned by you. You control that list and how you use it. Your newsletter mailing list represents a group of people who have specifically said they are interested in your business and want to hear more from you. No one can take that list of loyal customers away from you.
There's nothing wrong with reaching customers online through search engines and social media. It's smart and necessary if you want to build your business online. However, the more potential customers you can move over to your email list, the more control you have over your own company, and the more insurance you have against changes to marketing platforms, like search engines and social sites, that are beyond your control.
In marketing, there's a concept that states customers need multiple touchpoints (7 to 13 is the range you'll often see quoted) before they will make a purchase. They need to hear your marketing message repeatedly over time and build trust.
A newsletter allows you to do just that.
If you send out a monthly newsletter, you'll have 12 opportunities each year to connect with your customers. A weekly newsletter gives you 52 opportunities to make a connection.
Over time, potential customers see your messages in their inboxes. They remember you in a way they wouldn't if they weren't a newsletter subscriber, and, if you're sending them helpful messages they want to read, they'll continue to open your emails and over time feel more connected and open to making purchases.
One of the more overlooked benefits of email marketing is the fact that communication with newsletter subscribers can go both ways. You can get fabulous, helpful information from your email subscribers.
I receive the kindest messages from my subscribers. When you work alone in isolation, as so many of us do, it's extremely helpful and motivating to hear from people who are enjoying your work.
I've also asked newsletter subscribers for guidance on the direction of my business. I asked them what topics they wanted me to write about, and I based a lot of my new content decisions on my readers' responses.
If you're thinking about developing a new product or moving your business in a specific direction, your email readers are a perfect group to go to for advice. They are your very best, most loyal customers, a perfect representation of your target market. I can't think of a better group of people to ask for input on new product development.
I'll avoid getting into a complex definition of business equity. Here, when I use the word "equity," I'm referring to the value of your business. When I say a healthy email subscriber list builds equity, what I mean is that your subscribers make your business more valuable. Your newsletter subscriber list may not have an actual dollar value, but it is definitely an asset.
If you have 1000 people subscribed to your newsletter, that means your business has 1000 built in, loyal customers who want to hear from you. You can use that fact to promote your business in other venues. For example, if you wanted to build a wholesale or consignment relationship with a brick and mortar retailer, you'll have a better chance of success if you can tell the shop owner you have a large mailing list and will promote the new partnership in your newsletter. The store owner will see you as someone who is able to bring customers into her shop, and that's where mutually beneficial business relationships can develop.
Now you know what email marketing is, and you have a good foundation in the benefits of email marketing. Next, check out how developing a business newsletter can boost your sales and why developing a newsletter is worthwhile even if you already connect with customers on social media.