Start Spreadin’ the News!
Heather Leavers explains how she started a newsletter and uses it to keep in touch with her customers.
Why send newsletters?
A newsletter is a great way for an online seller to keep in touch with customers and potential customers, or indeed to keep up to date with what other sellers are up to, and up-and-coming trends. If you’ve ever worked your socks off trying to meet critical deadlines (Mother’s Day, Christmas) and wished your customers had ordered earlier… here’s your opportunity. Check your diary. If there is an important marketing date coming up, plan to send a newsletter a month in advance of that date showing your customers what is available. Don’t wait for them to come to you!
Where do your newsletters go?
I email newsletters direct to the members of my mailing list (these are people who have chosen to receive it – more on this later). It’s also possible to send hard copies through the post, or to give them out at craft fairs. You can also send out links to an online newsletter by Twitter or Facebook. I email direct as it means the recipient doesn’t have to do anything except read. In my opinion, if you require the recipient to take an extra step, even as small a step as “click on this link to read”… it makes it a little less likely that they will take the time.
Who sends/receives newsletters?
Virtually anyone! One BIG warning though – don’t send unsolicited newsletters. People should opt-in, and must be given an opportunity to opt-out whenever they wish. Unsolicited email is spam, and will not win you many friends!
A Folksy user wrote to me saying “I hate getting unsolicited newsletters…someone on Folksy sent me one and I was annoyed, I’m not sure how they got my email unless it was from my website. I’d never buy from someone who did that. It’s like getting spam or junk mail.”
Remember people will choose to receive your newsletter for many reasons, not all of them will be potential customers – they might be competitors, they might just be curious about how newsletters work, they might be your mum! Equally, people unsubscribe for different reasons, it’s important not to take it personally. I sent out an update yesterday and had an unsubscribe notice within minutes… it’s quite difficult not to start wondering what I’d said!
So how can you build a mailing list?
First of all people need to know your mailing list exists, and how to join it. I have a message in my shop announcements, in my profiles, and as a signature on all emails I send.
My first few newsletters were simply composed in Word, on my pc, so all I needed was a list. I built my first list using a free template from Google and created an email group to which I sent the newsletter. A problem arose because some servers decided straight away that my newsletter was spam, because it went to multiple recipients. If you only have a few to send this should be ok, but remember to set up the group so that each recipient is NOT able to see everyone else’s address.
As my list grew, however, I wanted to move to a more sophisticated newsletter. After googling and checking out some of the many available services I chose MailChimp because it’s simple to use and free (I like free) and has LOTS of tutorials. Mailchimp also provides me with some useful statistics. I know how many people opened the letter, whether they clicked on any links and even if any sales resulted.
Written by Heather Leavers of Nifty Knits
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Featured image – Big News Birds on Bikes