Email notification (Photo: Redlio Designs / iStock / Getty Images)

Photo: Redlio Designs / iStock / Getty Images

A few years ago my company, Landscape Digital Institute, and Landscape Management surveyed the industry on its use of digital marketing. Hundreds of responding companies reported plans to do more with it.

Surprisingly, email marketing was named among the least favored marketing channels. What’s puzzling about this is that email marketing is 400 percent more effective than social media marketing, the most favored channel for landscaping companies.

A newsletter should be much more than delivering the news. Even your local news station keeps it interesting with human interest stories. So, if you expect people to tune in, you need to somehow craft a newsletter that makes their lives a little better.

I’m going to lay out a framework for how you can do email marketing right. The benefits to your company are many, but here’s the short list. Email marketing can help nurture customer relationship, grow your audience, communicate relevant news, humanize your business and encourage conversations.

Here are the steps I follow to create an engaging newsletter:

Create a humanizing introduction

  • Sets the tone
  • Provides reassuring context
  • Identifies topics the audience can expect
  • Notes the delivery frequency
  • Shows how to subscribe if the current issue was forwarded

Here’s an example similar to what I use:

Welcome to the 33rd issue of (newsletter title), sent every week by me, (author’s name and maybe title). I focus on marketing, communication and customer experiences. I also like to comment on interesting human behavior. THANK YOU for being here. P.S. if this email was forwarded to you, get your own subscription! (link to subscribe)

The key is to communicate as a person, not a company.

Build The Style Guide

  • Create a thematic newsletter title.
  • Design a branded newsletter banner (preferably distinct from the company logo).
  • Select an appropriate paragraph format. Most audiences prefer paragraphs of no more than three short sentences.
  • Establish optimal image sizes and reliable royalty-free sources. Be sure you understand the royalty guidelines.
  • Choose the email subject line format and style, such as formal or informal. For example, “How To Market Your Business” or “Here’s a surprising business growth tactic.”
  • Create the signature close (e.g., Talk to you next week, See you on the 12th or something more descriptive).

Cultivate A Memorable Brand Voice

  • Email is the most intimate digital marketing channel. This makes it perfect for finding and perfecting the brand voice.
  • Determine personality qualities to emphasize (e.g., friendly, casual, confident, authoritative, authentic). People like authentic voices.
  • Craft the writings (or embedded videos) to speak to an audience of one. Imagine him or her having a conversation with you in a small room or coffee shop.
  • Use the active voice.
  • Include a photo of the author(s) in the banner or after the signature.

Encourage Conversations

  • Publish to a consistent schedule. Think of this as making an appointment with the audience.
  • Periodically ask the audience for feedback on ideas or offerings.
  • Schedule and limit promotions and to maintain a culture of “service before sales.”
  • Occasionally change up the content structure to keep it fresh.
  • Acknowledge timely industry issues. This is the time to adjust the tone and voice to show empathy and competency.

There may be more guidelines here than you need. However, they will be helpful if you outsource your newsletter or have multiple authors. Most important is to get started and build the practice. Your customers will be appreciative and that’s enough. You can subscribe to my newsletter here to see how this works in action.

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Jeff Korhan

About the Author:

Jeff Korhan is the owner of True Nature Marketing, a Naples, Fla.-based company helping entrepreneurs grow. Reach him at Jeff works with service companies that want to drive growth and enhance their brand experience with digital platforms.

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