Using Newsletter Email Marketing to Build Relationships
Newsletter e-mail marketing can be an effective way for accounting firms to stay in touch with their clients and prospects. By sending strategic, valuable, relevant, and timely messages to your audience, you have an opportunity to position yourself as an expert, gain trust, and remain top of mind when the right project comes along.
However, this marketing method is not without its challenges.
Consider the number of e-mails you receive every day in your personal and business inboxes. The number could be anywhere from 50 to several hundred. Your audience is managing the same short attention span and mailbox overload as you are. How can you stand out in the sea of spam, special offers, and urgent messages? Here are the steps for developing a newsletter e-mail campaign that connects with your audience and gets results.
- Get permission
It should go without saying. However, a quick look at the infamous junk folder in your mailbox will confirm that not everyone follows the simple rule of getting permission before sending email. No matter how you capture the email address, be sure to get the individual’s permission to use it for occasional newsletter updates. Remember that you are legally required to include the option to unsubscribe from your mailing list at the bottom of every email you send. You would not want for your clients and prospects to feel like they are held hostage!
- Commit to a plan
As with any marketing vehicle, begin with a strategy and develop a plan. Whether you decide to send monthly or quarterly newsletters, get them on your marketing calendar. Having concrete deliverable dates will help you persist and deliver on schedule.
- Include relevant, timely, valuable content
Newsletters are only effective when they are relevant, timely, and valuable to the audience. Tune into pain points and tailor the content to educate, entertain, and share resources. Your goal is to send a newsletter that your clients want to read, keep, and forward to their network.
Keep the content interesting. Focus on relevance and impact. Limit the use of technical jargon and include clear actionable steps and takeaways. Consider including human details about your practice in addition to technical content. Did someone on your team recently pass a CPA exam, get married, or take an exotic vacation?
- Be careful in setting the newsletter frequency
Consider the optimal frequency of newsletter communications by taking into account all other messages your clients might be receiving from your firm. Your goal is to strike the balance between staying in touch and flooding the inbox.
- Start with the end in mind: clear call to action.
Think about what you want the reader to do after reading the newsletter. Structure the rest of the content to support that goal, and be sure that the call to action is clear.
- Develop a pre-launch checklist
Create a checklist for proof-reading and checking the newsletter before you send it out. Be sure that someone other than the original writer reads it thoroughly and tests every hyperlink to make sure it works. Crafting a formal “style guide” for the firm can help multiple team members co-create article that flow well together.
- Maintain your unsubscribe database meticulously
No matter how well-crafted, thoughtful, and relevant you make your newsletter, some clients and prospects will inevitably opt out. When it happens, accept it graciously. Be diligent about maintaining the unsubscribe database – remember, it’s the law!
- Optimize for the recipient
Study and track how your audience reads your newsletter (laptop vs. mobile device), then tailor your formatting to look great for the majority of your readers. Small details such as font size, layout, and length of links can make a difference in creating a pleasant reader experience.
- Track results and optimize as you go.
Track the success of your newsletter (open rate, click-through rates, number of unsubscribes). Test different headlines and monitor the topics that seem to strike true with the audience.
- Consider using an email marketing firm
Because of CAN-SPAM rules, you may consider enlisting the help of an email marketing service provider.
CAN-SPAN regulations require business to comply with a series of rules grouped broadly into 3 categories:
- Unsubscribe compliance, including the requirement to include a visible “unsubscribe” option on every email, and to honor a customer’s request to unsubscribe within 10 business days.
- Content compliance, including an accurate “from” line, a relevant subject line, and a physical address for the publisher.
- Sending behavior compliance.
A considerable benefit of using an email marketing service is that the platform will maintain the unsubscribe list for you, ensuring that you never send another email to someone who had requested that you take him or her off the list. Constant Contact, Vertical Response, GetResponse, and iContact are just some of the options. Consider the features you need, the quality of customer support, as well as the cost of subscribing.
On the subject of automation, consider one of the many services that rely on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to craft “smart” newsletters that adapt to the needs of your audience. Platforms such as Grapevine6 or Vestorly come in a range of price brackets and may offer an impressive (and efficient) alternative to creating your own newsletters from scratch.