Wednesday, May 05, 2010
10 Ways to Promote Your Email Newsletters
Last week, at the New Jersey Library Association's annual conference, I had the pleasure of co-presenting a program about promoting electronic newsletters, along with NJLA's president Susan Briant and NJLA's outgoing newsletter editor Jane Crocker. (In the photo above, Jane is on the left, Susan in the middle, and I -- sans jacket and badge! -- am on the right.)
Jane talked a little about her long tenure on the association's newsletter, which she recently chose to end since her library work has become so demanding. Susan creates her own email newsletters with Constant Contact software, which she discussed and demonstrated. I then chimed in about ways to promote electronic newsletters. I thought I'd share my list of 10 tips here.
1. People prefer to opt in. Don't send it to them unsolicited and then ask them to opt out.
2. When designing a way to opt out online, build in a pop-up question asking why. Give them multiple-choice answers, such as "I don't use the library" or "I get too much email already" or "I don't have time to read it" or "I'm not sure why it would be useful." Make sure to offer an option that says, "I changed my mind; I'll opt in."
3. When you're telling people about your newsletter and encouraging them to opt in or to subscribe, don't base your pitch on telling them what will be IN the newsletter. Don't answer the question "'What's in it?" – rather, answer the question, "What's in it for ME?" Everyone wants personalization. If the newsletter doesn't have anything of specific value to them, why should they opt in?
4. Try customizing your newsletter for different audiences. I recently attended a presentation at PLA where one library did this for its print newsletter. It changed only the cover story, using 4 different ones to go to 4 different audiences, trying to "get people's attention between the mailbox and the garbage can."
5. Use your social networks to announce that the new issue is coming out. Build anticipation with a teaser like "Wait till you see the story about the amazing cow in the next issue!"
6. Promote your online newsletter even inside your own library, by mentioning it on your flat-screen monitors, bookmarks, and especially the home pages on your public-use PCs. Try a line like, "If we don't have your email address, you're missing out on our newsletter!" and have a link to sign up of course.
7. Assure folks that your newsletter doesn't come out too often. People don't want to be bothered constantly.
8. Put something into every issue that you know people crave, such as your calendar of special programs. People also like jokes, witty quotes, quick tidbits, coupons, and personal profiles. (Hint: don't put these on the first page! Make people scroll down so they have to see other articles along the way.) Old publishing adage: Content is king.
9. Talk it up! Just because something exists online doesn't mean you can't talk about it in person or promote it in print. Print the opt-in link onto your bookmarks or your date-due slips. Ask circ workers to invite patrons to sign up. Try having a contest for the one who brings the most subscriptions.
10. To get people to look through the whole issue, have contests or scavenger hunts. Make the prizes worthwhile enough for readers to spend time finding answers and make it simple to enter the contest. Publicize the fact that the newsletter has contests to encourage subscriptions.
Bottom line: Make it relevant!! No matter what tactics you use to get people to sign up, if the info is not useful and worth their time, they're not going to read it. Ask your customers what they want in your newsletter, then deliver that.
Posted by ~Kathy Dempsey at 8:11 PM