Developing a strategy or vision for your eNewsletter
This is the first in an ongoing series of articles that will take you step-by-step through the process of setting up an e-Marketing program that has your eNewsletter at its core. We will use our newsletter, eWrite News, as an example and through guidelines and how-tos, we'll share with you what we did to date. Here, we start at the beginning, with developing a strategy or vision for your eNewsletter.
Here are the steps we went through to develop our?strategy or vision for?- eWrite News.
1. Determine a (corporate) vision for your newsletter.
It is important to establish up front what the primary business objectives are for your eNewsletter. Is it to be used for increasing sales? For cross-promoting a new product or service to?existing customers? For developing an awareness of your company within a new market segment? Your eNewsletter, if it is well orchestrated can accomplish several objectives, including any or all of the following:
- Build your brand
- Establish your company as a leader in your industry
- Build a broader base of customers or clients
- Keep current customers engaged on a regular basis with your company
- Move prospects through your selling cycle quicker
- Up- and cross-sell your current customers' use of your services and products
- Become more meaningful to customers and prospects by providing them with information that helps them do their jobs better.
You can determine which of these are important to your company by interviewing line and service management within your company to determine what?will benefit from your?eNewsletter. Depending on your company, these could include managers from marketing, sales, operations, customer service, and finance. For us, as well as carrying out a series of brainstorming sessions, we also asked?our sales and support representatives for their opinions and comments.
With this information in hand, your eNewsletter can start to become?an integral part of your e-Marketing strategy and?also an extension of your company's overall business communication strategy.
2. Find out what your visitors, customers and prospects want.
It is also important to get a reality check on what kind of information your visitors?really want and need from your company. You can find this out by talking to your customers and prospects themselves, if that's a viable option. Or you can talk to the people within your company such as customer service reps or technical support staff who engage with customers and prospects on a first-hand, regular basis. We gathered input from people in several departments and were able to come up with a laundry list of subscriber needs such as what information prospects need to make informed buying decisions and what information customers want in order to be able to use our services more effectively.
3. Have a brainstorming session with the internal stakeholders.
Most likely, there are a lot of people within your organization that will benefit from a comprehensive e-Marketing program and a monthly newsletter campaign. It was extremely helpful in the development of our strategy to dig a little deeper and get a handful of people together that had an inherent interest in what the final newsletter would look like. This group helped determine what an ideal IMN newsletter would look like including what type of information readers would want, what hierarchy was needed within the newsletter itself, what audience segments we wanted to target, and what specific information needs these segments might have.
4. Marry all this together and create a plan.
With the information in hand about the needs of your readers and the goals of your company for your newsletter, you are now able to build your strategy and develop an execution plan. For us, this involved developing and prioritizing the content buckets or sections that would be the backbone of the newsletter ? the news, strategy, tips and tricks, best practices, and industry perspectives sections that you see today.