Have you ever tried to get in touch with a business, get frustrated during the process and give up, never to visit their store or make a purchase? We've put together a few things you can do to make yourself easy to find & be in the forefront of the minds of your customers....
Be Open & Accessible
Where are you?
If you have a physical address, like a shopfront or office, make sure this information is easy to find. Having to navigate various pages to find out where you are is frustrating, especially if your potential customer is out and about and thinking of popping in to see what you have to offer. Many people use a mobile phone for this purpose so have a look at your own website from your mobile device to see what your customers can see. Then, ask a friend who is not familiar with your website to have a look and give you feedback.
Make your ‘Contact Us’ form easy to find – if people have to spend more than a few seconds finding your contact details they may just give up in frustration (remember we want everything at the touch of a button). It pays to have your actual email address on your contact form, not just a contact form to fill in. This shows you are accessible and easy to contact and makes the process less anonymous.
If you have a blog you might like to have a feedback form after each entry inviting comments from your readers. Opening yourself up to feedback means your readers feel like they are being heard and this is important for many people. If you know how to do this yourself then you probably already have done so, if not, ask your IT guru to install the module for you.
Composing a Newsletter
If you're daunted by the prospect of coming up with regular material for a newsletter it can seem like a better option not to have one at all. You really don’t have to put that much pressure on yourself to come up with a weekly publication jam packed full of nuggets of gold. And not many of us have the time even if we had the material.
Your newsletter can be fortnightly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or seasonally, it really doesn't matter as long as there's some regularity! The frequency will depend on the type of business you have. The most important part is being in the minds of your customers on a regular basis.
If you have a store (with either a shopfront or online) send out your newsletter when you have a sale or an exciting new product arrive (which you could blog about if you like), it could be the change of season as most things we buy or sell are seasonal (fruit & veg, home décor, fashion etc). Or if you just have lots to say and blog regularly you might prefer to stay in touch as often as weekly or monthly
Be Genuine & Be Helpful
It's important to be mindful of providing helpful information rather than just sales pitches. Include articles relevant to your industry, links to other businesses or blogs you like. Feature a product in an exciting way and it will sell itself. Becoming a leader in your industry means people will go to you and your business for help so being a rich source of information also positions you as an expert in your field.
Where to start
If you are going to do it yourself, the first thing that’s required is a commitment of time. If you can work a keyboard and send emails then you will be capable of many other things you never thought possible – including a newsletter. If you simply don’t have the time, you don’t have to spend a fortune, you can outsource and use a Virtual Assistant (VA) to do it for you or help you get started.
From my personal experience....“I had a newsletter through my Jellyfish Connection website but I wasn’t happy with the usability or aesthetics and wanted it to look a lot more professional. The first time I attempted to use Mailchimp I got a few steps in, freaked out and didn’t sign in again until Bloom came along which was about 18 months later. My confidence was gained after speaking to Anne from First Steps Virtual Assistant who helped me get started over the phone and presto, I love it, it’s customisable and it’s free”. We also use Laura from GrenDesign to help out with any 'issues' that may occur in the process of preparing 'Bloom Groove'. It's a good idea to have people available to help things run smoothly 🙂 Jo
Choose a newsletter service
Have a look at some of the newsletters you receive on a regular basis, there is usually some kind of branding or symbol at the bottom or perhaps on the subscription form where you sign up. The two most popular and user friendly newsletter services are Mailchimp and Constant Contact. And, until you get a huge subscriber base and send over 12,000 emails a month (with mailchimp), it's FREE! You have to love that.
To get things rolling, create yourself an account and have a look around. Each of them have reasonable support in case you get lost, or again, get in touch with a VA.
Import Your Contacts
This is where my initial attempt at using mailchimp came to a screaming halt, but it's actually very easy!! If you already have a mailing list, it's valuable and you don't want to lose it. To avoid confusion, follow the instructions provided by the mailing service you choose to use!
Find a template
There are many templates to choose from and it may take a bit of experimenting to get the one you are happy with, but the good new is, you don’t have to know how to write any code, it’s mostly cutting, pasting and inserting/uploading images as you would for a normal website Content Management System (CMS) or in some cases, it’s like using a normal word document.
Branding you business is important and your colours should always be consistent throughout each of your points of contacts including your newsletter. Ask your graphic designer for the html/hex colour codes used in your logo and/or website and use them in your newsletter (when selecting colours for fonts choose 'more colours' and cut & paste the code into the appropriate place), upload your banner or logo for your newsletter header and give it your own personal flair.
Make it easy to subscribe
Make your newsletter subscription form easy to find and easy to use, both on your website and facebook page – even though the majority of email newsletter subscriptions are free, using the word ‘FREE’ is always a winner. As well as a free newsletter, you might like to offer some kind of downloadable piece of information upon subscription as an extra incentive and another chance to give them a little bit more of you and your product.
So spread the news!
Give it a try and remember there is plenty of help available if you need it.
Next thing is to make your headlines catchy so your emails get opened, services like mailchimp allow you to test your headlines and over time you'll get to know (by viewing your stats) what gets opened and what really grab the attention of your subscribers.