Get your e-zine right and it acts as a source of highly qualified sales leads, orders, new clients, publicity and profits. Great, I hear you say. So we just migrate our current newsletter to the web then. Er, no. Here’s why.
Old-school company newsletters are usually stuffed with photos of people receiving awards or grinning uneasily at a computer screen pretending to work.
Typical articles focus on the company’s acquisition of a new photocopier. Or perhaps an office move. Often, the bulk is taken up by thinly disguised plugs for new products.
And who reads these slick epistles? I’ll tell you. Nobody, that’s who. OK, some people do…
…the marketing manager. Those members of the Board who don’t have enough to do that day. The proofreader (assuming they use one, which, to judge from the average issue, most don’t).
Here’s who you won’t find reading them. Customers. And do you know WHY they don’t read them?
Because they’re BORING.
But now all that’s changed. The internet has spawned a whole new breed of newsletters, often put out by smaller businesses and self-employed professionals. You know, copywriters, people like that.
Why publish an e-zine?
Whatever your line of business, you have a product or service that people want. Now, they pay for that, which is only fair. But why not give them something for nothing? Information.
Let’s look at what your e-zine could be about.
If you sell information, you’re home and dry. Just repurpose a few snippets of editorial and you have a readymade e-zine. Sell garden equipment? Your e-zine could give people tips on gardening. If you are a conference organiser, give them highlights from recent events you’ve run.
So why go to the (undoubted) time and trouble of publishing an e-zine? It’s simple.
Your subscribers are your best prospects. You have their permission to contact them regularly (could be weekly).
They will know, trust and respect you as a source of unbiased information on a subject that interests them.
My five top tips for e-zine copy
- Keep your tone of voice informal but authoritative
Nobody wants a lecture. And they don’t want advertising puff, either. You have to know your stuff and you need to communicate it as if you mean it.
- Keep your style tight and use Plain English
Remember your medium is e-mail. People feel busier than normal when they are reading their emails. So make it easy to understand.
Use simple words and short sentences. Break up your e-zine into short paragraphs and use section-heads to help your reader navigate quickly to the stuff that interests them.
- Think hard about your subject line
Once again, it’s all that stands between your e-zine and the trash. Namecheck your e-zine and try to give a flavour of the content, too.
And, for e-mail clients like Outlook that allow readers to see the email before opening it, your first six or seven lines are crucial since they act as a sneak preview of your content.
- Make sure you give practical information
Ultimately, this is a resource for your readers. They want something they can use in their work or personal lives.
So provide tips, tools and techniques. How to beat greenfly on competition roses. How to win the war for talent. How to stay well-informed about the web.
- Remember to sell
Make sure you don’t get so wrapped up in the journalism that you forget to sell. It doesn’t have to be a hard sell. This is in any case counterproductive.
Instead, remind people that you have products for sale that will help them even further to enjoy or benefit from this particular aspect of their lives.
And I’m telling you this because?
Publishing an e-zine is a relatively cheap way of staying in touch with a big group of people who might either be customers or turn into them.
It’s an excellent way to enhance your reputation and keep your name in front of people. But there’s a lot of ’em about. So yours needs to deliver standout content, and be easy, even entertaining, to read.