We talk to each of our clients about their mailing lists, and while most are totally on board and use theirs as a valuable marketing tool, some people are understandably less enthusiastic. Bonnie told us,
“I have spent a couple hours reading about MailChimp [that’s an affiliate link to the software we recommend to send newsletters], and I have to admit I hit a mental roadblock every time I visit this topic. My plan for staying connected to my followers is to blog (and repost this on my business Facebook page). I keep thinking that adding MailChimp, and creating newsletters would be an extra busy detail that my heart isn’t into. I know from receiving letters that I rarely, if ever, read them (the only exceptions are Aeolidia and Michael Hyatt).
Am I missing something if I do not send out newsletters? Is there a way to send the blog posts in newsletter format or as the newsletter?”
I told Bonnie that I would be remiss to not push her to reconsider a newsletter! And if you, too, are on the fence, let’s talk: your mailing list subscribers are going to be your most valuable asset, once you’ve built up a list.
What is a newsletter for?
Imagine if you were launching a new product line next week. Would you rather have a mailing list of 10,000 interested fans to tell about the new products? Or would you rather post to the blog, mention it on Facebook, and hope people will find it? Facebook only shows your posts to a small amount of people who have liked your page, even when you pay to promote each post.
With a newsletter, everyone who wants to hear from you can hear from you, without Facebook getting in the way and blocking them, and without making your customers have to remember to check your blog out regularly.
Remember that Facebook can totally change the rules at any time, or even shut your account down. You don’t own your space on Facebook. Your mailing list is yours.
Why would people want to hear from you regularly?
I imagine you probably have a core group of big fans or loyal customers (if not, you want one!). They want to hear from you, and it’s a shame that you aren’t communicating regularly with them. Maybe, like Bonnie, the only newsletters you read are mine (thank you!) and other business mentors. If so, it’s because your business is what you’re so strongly interested in growing right now.
Your customers aren’t interested in a growing a business, and would be totally bored by the newsletters you like. Bonnie sells skincare products, and her customers, for example, want to hear about living their best, most healthy and glowing lives. They are as interested in it as she is, and I recommended that she get in touch with them a couple of times a month to tell them what’s interesting her, and how they can improve their wellbeing.
Your best customers also share an interest with you, and you should spend some time figuring out what that is and how to use the commonality.
How can you make a newsletter fit your interests and your customers’ needs?
For Bonnie in particular, a newsletter seems really natural for her. She told us she has a personal touch, loves educating, and that she sees all her customers via personal, one-on-one appointments. Believe it or not, that’s what a newsletter is! It’s a chance to have those personal appointments, little check-ins over email. The things Bonnie offers during her appointments are what her customers are seeking from her, and if she can find a way to translate it to email, she’ll be golden.
What do your best customers want from you? What do they appreciate hearing about? How can that be turned into an email?
What about a blog?
The advantage of a newsletter is that people will receive it automatically, without having to remember about it and search you out again. The disadvantage is that it’s private and Google will never know about it, and if readers share, they’ll likely just forward it to one person, rather than many. Your blog is the opposite of this. People need to seek it out, and you need to promote it to get people to check it out. But Google loves blogs, and it’s easy to share blog posts all over social media.
Do both! I know it sounds like a lot, but once you’ve written one or the other, you’re 85% of the way to having both done.
I’d absolutely use the blog posts as a springboard for the newsletters. Rather than posting the whole article, post a teaser, get people interested, link them to the website, and while they’re there, they can go shopping. That’s the beauty of it! It doesn’t have to be a lot of extra work. You’ll just write a friendly letter about how enthusiastic you are about your latest updates to the blog and site.
How do I get started?
I strongly recommend a newsletter for every business selling anything online. I know it feels like a hassle, but it’s one of the best hassles to keep up with.
We offer Abby Glassenberg’s wonderful ebook about planning a newsletter here on our site, and include it in our clients’ product packages. Reading just the first couple of pages will explain the WHY behind the mailing list, and then if you read on, you get the HOW. Also, Abby has a great class you can take to improve your mailing list strategy, too.
Remember that if you’d like to get your existing and past customers on the list, you need to get their permission. So, rather than just adding them to a list and emailing, send a one-shot email where you invite them to join your list, with a link to subscribe. Here are MailChimp’s guidelines about this: The Importance of Permission and I like their article, Examples of Compliant and Non-Compliant Lists.
Even if your list starts out as just 10 people, set up a regular schedule to send an update, and go ahead and do it. I wouldn’t space emails out more than a month or so apart, otherwise people will forget they subscribed.
I know it’s a lot to do, but it will pay off! Happy emailing!
260 Blog Post (and Newsletter) Ideas for E-Commerce Businesses
In this downloadable PDF, I’ve put together 260 blog post ideas (which you could also use for your newsletter or Instagram), introduce you to 9 ecommerce blogs that are absolutely killing it, and give you an action plan for generating more ideas of your own and getting started.
Get your 260 blog post ideas PDF here: