It’s not a secret that I really, really believe in email marketing for small business. It’s low cost, big return, and your competition probably isn’t doing it.
But—I know you’re busy. The thought of adding a monthly marketing chore to your list sounds impossible.
Don’t worry. With a monthly email newsletter, it’s a set it up and autopilot kind of deal. Here’s how to use this great form of marketing in just 30 minutes a month.
First, the setup
To get started, you’ll need to take on a bit of extra time (just once!) to set up an email marketing account and template.
Step one: Sign up for an account on Mailchimp
You shouldn’t just send your email newsletter from your regular email account. You’ll miss out on all sorts of analytics, and most email programs limit how many people you can send to on one email.
Instead, sign up for a Mailchimp account. We like Mailchimp because it’s free if you have fewer than 2000 subscribers, which most of our clients do.
Step two: Create your subscriber list
We suggest sending your monthly newsletter to prospective clients, current clients, past clients, and key partners.
How many people can you think of? We suggest getting a list through your own customer database or by looking through past invoices.
To create them as subscribers in Mailchimp, put together a simple Excel spreadsheet with columns for First Name, Last Name, and Email Address.
Step three: create your email newsletter template
This is the most important part of the process, and here’s the most important thing to remember: don’t overcomplicate your newsletter.
A lot of our clients get really excited about all the things they could share in a newsletter. “Let’s have an employee spotlight! And our favorite links! And have each staff member write a tip!”
But remember, the more you design into this first newsletter, the more overwhelmed you’ll feel each month you have to fill it all in.
So keep it simple. Here’s the blueprint we like to use for a monthly newsletter:
- Your logo — Make sure everyone knows it’s you! Include your logo at the top of the email
- A helpful article — What valuable information or how-to can you share with your audience? The main content of your newsletter should focus on helping your target customer, not boasting about your own accomplishments. For example:
- A lawn care company might write “4 Tips to Get Your Lawn Greener Faster in the Spring”
- An electrician might write “How to Save Energy During the Winter”
- A veterinarian might write “7 Signs Your Dog Needs More Exercise”
- A local travel agency might write “How to Efficiently Pack For A Long Weekend Trip”
- A small personal/company update — New employee? New certification or award? Share a quick blurb at the bottom of the email. If you have a lot of information on your internal news, post a full blog post to your website. You can include a short excerpt and a link to the post in your email.
- A special offer (if you want to) — Email is a great way to spread the word about sales and discounts. You could even create an exclusive offer for newsletter subscribers. However, don’t feel like you can only send a newsletter when you have a discount. If you write helpful, useful content, your audience will appreciate hearing from you even without a coupon.
- Your contact information — Make it easy for your reader to contact you by including your business name, address, and phone number at the bottom of the email (For bonus points, invite them to just reply to the email if they have questions!)
To create this in MailChimp, start by creating a template. Choose one of the basic templates. For this simple monthly newsletter, the “1 Column – Banded” works well.
Then, just drag in content blocks. Use the Text, Boxed Text, and Divider blocks to create an organized newsletter. Check out this example:
Now, fill in your monthly newsletter (in just 30 minutes!)
It’s time to create your first month’s newsletter! Your template is set up. You simply need to fill it in.
- First, create a Campaign. Choose Regular Campaign.
- Choose the List you created.
- Use the title of your main article as the Subject line.
- Choose your template under “Saved Templates.”
- Fill the design in with this month’s content.
- Confirm that all is well and press Send!
Make it stick!
Consistency is so important on a monthly newsletter. Here are a few tips for keeping it going.
- Commit to sending your newsletter on a certain day. Decide now if it’s the 1st of the month, the second Monday of the month, the 5th day of the month, whatever. Just make it consistent and put it on your calendar.
- After the first time, simply replicate the campaign. Skip a few of the steps above by replicating last month’s newsletter and just changing the content in the design.
- Plan your articles now. Figuring out what helpful article to write will be the hardest part of the newsletter each month. Save yourself the hassle and brainstorm a list of at least 15 ideas now. Then decide on your four favorite ideas and assign them to the next four months. It’s way less stress than coming up with something last minute.
You can do it! Plan a couple hours to set up your newsletter this week, then put a plan in place to market to your email list every single month. You’ll be unforgettable to your prospects and past customers.
And of course, if you want help with the setup or even sending each month’s newsletter, we can help. Contact us for a quote.