A Different Kind Of E-Newsletter

I got a call last February from my client Bruce in Toronto. We had put together a Relationship Marketing Roadmap for his home renovation company the previous summer, and he was contacting me now to talk about possibly launching an E-Newsletter for his business.

Normally of course, it doesn’t take much to convince me that an E-Newsletter is one thing every business needs (in terms of prioritizing its contribution to ongoing profitability, I rank it somewhere between installing a phone system and having a working restroom on the premises). In Bruce’s case however, it quickly became clear that our standard E-Newsletter approach didn’t seem to be the right answer.

The problem was, home renovation information is not the kind of thing in which most homeowners have an ongoing interest. So while you might welcome hearing from your marketing consultant, attorney, financial planner, cable company, doctor or other professional with a short bit of useful information each month, most of us will only go through a major home renovation once or twice per lifetime.

According to Bruce therefore, the typical homeowner has an intense, but very brief (one or two month long) interest in learning as much as possible. After that, they tend to either move ahead with a project or abandon the idea entirely.

And that’s where the idea of, “a different kind of E-Newsletter” comes in. Because while the basic premise still made sense — give away useful information as a means of standing out from the pack and making the phone ring — it became clear that we had to alter the timing and sequence in which the information was delivered.

Here’s what I mean:

Standard E-Newsletter approach:

• On a monthly basis, provide useful, interesting, targeted information in your area of expertise to a group of people who fit the profile of those who buy your services.

• All subscribers receive the same newsletter at the same time, regardless of how long they’ve been on the list (i.e. everybody on my list is getting the June 4th newsletter today).

“Sequenced E-Newsletter” approach:

• Create a sequence of 8 newsletters, each of which offers useful, interesting, targeted information in your area of expertise to a group of people who fit the profile of those who buy your service.

• All subscribers receive the same 8 messages in the same order, regardless of when they sign up(i.e. if you sign up today you instantly get message #1, 3 days later you get message #2, 5 days after that you get message #3, etc.).

We placed ads in local newspapers offering a special home renovation report via email, and followed up with the prewritten, pre-sequenced newsletters. Each newsletter included an offer for a free, in-home assessment (Bruce’s primary means of generating projects), as well as links to more information about the company.

(To try it yourself, follow this link to the Walden Design Build web site and enter your information.)

Bottom Line: Certain businesses lend themselves better to this type of approach. Those that do involve high-risk and once-in-a-while purchases that occur over a relatively short period(such as home buying, auto buying, many types of medical surgery and significant home construction projects).

If your business fits this profile, you may want to think about putting such a sequence together (and if you need guidance in setting it all up, the bank holding my mortgage and I hope you’ll get in touch with us).

P.S. I’ve found that these sequenced emails are best delivered via an “autoresponder” service(i.e. by a company that specializes in sequenced message technology) rather than by an email marketing vendor. Although some companies claim to offer both types of services, they are really different animals, and I find that I get the best of both worlds by using Constant Contact for my regular newsletter and Aweber for my autoresponders.

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