Customer Newsletters: The 7 Deadly Sins

If you’re about to create your newsletter or are having someone else do it for you (perhaps using a writer/designer or a newsletter company) check out the following mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

1) From Corporate HQ: Your newsletter doesn’t need to look like it was created by the design department of a Fortune 500 company. Actually, it’s better if it looks a little more homemade. Why? Because people like to do business with people, not faceless organizations. Show your (or your company’s) human side in your newsletter.

2) Cookie-Cutter Blahs: The danger of using an off-the-peg newsletter company is that you get the same newsletter as everyone else – just with your name and picture inserted. While it’s the easy solution, it fails in one of the main goals of any newsletter program: to build a relationship with your client. After all, it’s difficult to forge a genuine relationship with cut-and-paste solutions. (If you want to use a newsletter provider, make sure you have the chance to customize at least some of the content.)

3) Me, Me, Me: Does anyone really care about how great you are? Does it matter than you have a new logo or a new office? Make your newsletter about your readers, not about you. Put articles that help your readers front and center; relegate the corporate PR to an inside page.

4) So What? Our mailboxes are stuffed and our email fills the screen. So why should anyone read yet another newsletter? The thing is, you have to earn the right to be read. And that means you need to make the content so interesting, so useful and so engaging that people look forward to reading your newsletter, just like they enjoy reading their favorite magazine.

5) Blanket Distribution: Printed newsletters are relatively expensive to print and mail. So don’t waste your money by sending your newsletter to people unless they’ve expressed an interest in what you have to offer. So focus on using your newsletter to keep in touch with past clients (after all, they’ve bought from one once, so why not a second time?) and with leads and prospects. You’ll get a much better return on investment that way.

6) Bulk Mail Blindness: It might seem a lot cheaper to mail your newsletters in bulk, but if your goal is to get your newsletter read and to build a relationship with your readers, it’s often better to put your newsletter in an envelope and mail it first class. Not only will you get the benefit of returns (so you know if addresses are bad and so should be struck off your list) but your mail stops being lumped in with the other junk we get in our mailboxes. Instead, it becomes more of a personal communication. Better still, hand address your envelope. Then you’ll be sure it will get opened.

7) I Tried it Once And…: If your newsletter is interesting, sent to the right people, and you are using devices to encourage readers to interact with you, you’ll get response right away. But if you are serious about building a relationship with your clients for the long term – and get the benefit of the entire lifetime value of your client – you need to keep doing it, month after month after month. Be encouraged by your early successes and know that they are just the start – success multiplies as the relationship builds.