Online Newsletters Drive Traffic
Unless you've been in outer space the past few years, you already know what's going on in cyberspace! As the number of small businesses grows each year, so does the number of company websites. Chances are, your biz already has a website (or the idea for one). It may attract lots of visitors.
Then again, it may not.
Unless you've engraved your specific URL on customers' foreheads, you face the big task of driving traffic to your site. Need a bright idea to help? Start an online newsletter!
Publishing a newsletter on the Internet can daunt even the most enthusiastic entrepreneur, but it's worth considering. Even if you already publish a newsletter the old-fashioned way, consider the pros and cons of online versus traditional distribution.
Traditional: You can rely on layout and color to beef up your newsletter. Paper goes home with people.
Online: Since newsletters sent via email don't give you much opportunity to control the design, your words have to sparkle! (Even though technically you can add colored fonts, and include graphic images in your emailed newsletter, keep in mind that a lot of your recipients just won't see the fancy stuff you put in -- in fact, what's received could look like a big mess to some. So you might want to just play it straight, and let the message carry the ball.) But, with an online newsletter, you can produce up-to-the-minute information, and distribution becomes a virtual piece of cake.
Worth the Bother?
Basically, an online newsletter sets out to accomplish everything a regular newsletter does. It creates awareness about your business, reinforces your identity, distributes information, and advertises your biz. And by using it in connection with your website, it can also prompt people to go to your website. Bingo!
Unless people (like your Mom!) bookmark your site specifically, they may visit once, then forget about it, intoxicated by so many new sites. But by sending a newsletter, you remind them to "Come again!" -- and that your website is changing, growing, adding new reasons to visit.
One Idea Cafe regular we know of has reaped remarkable success from his online newsletter. Robert Middleton, a Bay Area marketing consultant specializing in service businesses, publishes by email his weekly "Action Plan Marketing Newsletter."
"It takes about an hour of my time every week to write it, edit it, and distribute it," he told us. From that hour, he yields about one new prospect every week from either his newsletter, website, or both.
More Benefits to Readers -- and You!
- Flexibility. By sending your newsletter electronically, you allow people the choice of reading it online or printing it out. You may get good word of mouth this way too -- most people are more likely to cut and paste something they read electronically and pass it on via email than to clip paper and spend a stamp.
- Reference source. On your website, you can give users easy access to the newsletter's back issues. (Robert Middleton does this sometimes, and he's built up a wealth of useful content on his website.) After you create each issue of your online newsletter, just post it to an archive on your webpage. An archive makes a good reference source for your biz and lets new visitors browse past issues to see if they want to subscribe.
- Sponsorships! If your online newsletter takes off and accrues a large following, another benefit enters the realm of possibilities -- Sponsors. How? By publishing an online newsletter, your site gets more traffic, and high traffic may get sponsors or advertisers interested in your site (particularly if you have a hard-to-reach market). Maybe they'll pay for visibility, or exchange goods, services, or hypertext links. This may not happen right away, but down the road, if you prove the success of your newsletter and website, you'll be popular.
Want to start your own online newsletter? Look for details on how to do it in Nuts & Bolts of Online Newsletter Publishing from the Fridge.
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