In my previous post, I talked about how I have started sending out regular newsletters to my old customers and future prospects. Today, I wanted to cover why, who and how.
Keeping In touch – The Why and Who
I have no doubt that when it comes to marketing, out of sight is also out of mind. Which is why I wanted to start sending out newsletters. But I am also a believer that its easier to win back old customers that it is to find new customers – you never know when that old customer will need some help on a new project, or some additional consultancy time or help on a new project.
With this in mind, I decided that the initial target of my newsletters would be my old customers. So a quick email went to each of them saying that I had been working recently on some exciting other projects and I thought that some of the things I had created whilst working on these other tasks could benefit them to (pretty much those exact words). I said that I was going to be sending out a regular update of some useful routines and tips, and also stressed that the updates would only come from me every 2 weeks or so – so it would not be overload. I also pointed out that if they were not relevant, they could unsubscribe at any time.
My feedback was good – I got 100% sign up on everybody I emailed (although it did help that I had worked with them in the past, therefore they knew what I did and how I liked to share useful information).
Of course, I then took the opportunity to contact my current handful of prospects and offered to sign them up in the same way. So far, the uptake from prospects has been 45% – which I am fairly happy about.
The newsletter – The How
From the beginning, I wanted my newsletter to be no effort for me. I also wanted to keep track of my subscribers, and see if anybody was actually reading the newsletters (no point in wasting time producing something that nobody was reading). After a quick bit of research, I decided that I would use the marketing email system – mailchimp.
Mailchimp is an internet based mass emailing system. It is really designed for sending out large numbers of emails as part of a marketing campaign (you know the ones, the ones we all get every day and curse (50% off sprockets in our Spring sale)). But it works just as well for sending out newsletters.
Mailchimp is not designed to be a free service, but it is free for the first 2000 subscribers with 12,000 emails a month (enough for everybody who could run a small business to keep in contact). If your newsletter gets more than 2000 subscribers or needs that number of emails, you are doing so well you can probably afford to may the $10 a month usage fee.
Setting up a newsletter is a snip – you can quickly design a sign-up form, manually add your subscribers if needed, and then design your newsletter (in terms of Mailchimp, each fortnightly email I want to send I setup as a campaign so I can track who is reading it).
One of the magical things about Mailchimp is that when you register, you give it your personal details including web site, and it does so much work for you – it goes to your web site and finds your web site style sheet and graphics – so straight away it sets up a template with your company logo, fonts and address. All I had to do was enter the text. Text editing is a breeze – you can change the look feel, fonts, colours and so much more within your text. you can also include graphics if required.
Once you have your first newsletter done, you can then duplicate it for the next week, and the next – and just have to paste in the text you need – for that weeks edition. The creation of a newsletter really just takes me 4 or 5 minutes (once I have the text from my Evernote files – see my previous entry).
Once defined, the mail can then be sent straight away, or (as I do) scheduled to be sent at a point in the future. I already have newsletters set up taking me into the summer.
When the emails are sent, MailChimp takes care of everything – the email is sent from your email address, and appears in both text and HTML format (depending on the recipients email client and preferences). Once sent, everything is tracked – for each weeks newsletter, MailChimp tells me how many emails it went out to, how many people it was sent to, how many opened the email , how many clicked embedded links in your mail, how many unsubscribed and how many people it was forwarded on to.
I am sure if I was a big company, I would be using MailChimp for sending offer and sales emails – but even for something as modest as my newsletter, it does everything I need.
So everybody’s happy. My old customers and prospects get some (hopefully) useful information, I get to be noticed by them every week (which should lead to more work), and I get to get on with my day job, leaving Mailchimp to track how well my newsletter is performing.
If you would like to take a look at my sign-up form or even read what I am sending out (my tips are about SQL Server databases tips and useful functions), my sign up form is here.