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E-mail newsletters still powerful tool

Good marketing plans are relying more and more on the effective use of information technology, ranging in scope from a good company website to taking advantage of social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. But, despite all the current hype for the “hot” social media outlets, the email newsletter remains the most effective way to directly build and maintain relationships with customers and prospects.

Check this out - virtually everyone looks at everything in their inbox, even if it’s limited to the subject line before they hit “delete.” Accordingly, e-mail newsletters are actually booming. Groupon, for example, is flying high primarily on the strength of its e-mail lists, according to the online marketing research firm, Econsultancy (econsultancy.com). But success doesn’t come by chance. Effective email newsletters require planning. Here are some helpful considerations:

The Critical Subject Line: To get the recipient to open your newsletter, it’s all about the subject line. If it doesn’t grab them right away . . . delete! For example, a subject line that says “Gas Discount This Month” is sure to get a better response than “The XYZ Marine Newsletter.”

The Sign Up: Permission to add someone’s name to an e-mail newsletter list is a must. So, if you want them to sign up you should offer some benefits for doing so, i.e. the promise of future discounts; contests and prizes; special insider tips on new equipment; info on cruising or fishing or other benefits. In essence, you’re enticing the subscribers to add you to their incoming e-mail.

Make It Personal: A good newsletter is personal – it must touch the subscriber’s interests. To do that, you need to know something about them. What kind of boat do they have? What do they like to do most? Any kids, etc? Basic information can be obtained from a short signup form on your website or on the store counter. A tip, however – experts advise to keep the form short and simple. You can learn more about them through surveys, comments and other ways later on.

Get Readers’ Feedback: This is where you learn more. There should be a set up for readers to communicate with you. You can use quick surveys or polls (“Rate these five local on-water restaurants,” for example, or “Rank your favorite boating activities in order?” etc.) Interacting with customers through the newsletter builds stronger relationships.

Vary The Content: Readers want subject matter that’s relevant to them. Content ideas include: Common problems customers encounter and how you or they can solve them; customer profiles, testimonials and success stories with pictures; review products and recommend books/articles relevant to their interests; provide relevant boating industry news, insights and trends that will impact boating activities and enhance enjoyment; use guest expert articles on anything from electronics to recipes, and so on.

Sometimes as fast a things change, some things remain the same. In the past, e-mail newsletters have been excellent vehicles for building customer relationships, and they’re still worth the effort today.

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