Welcome back to this short, two-part series about starting an e-newsletter/newsletter to market your practice. In case you just stumbled across this page and didn’t read the first article, you may want to go here to read part one.
When it comes to sending out newsletters, one of the big decisions is choosing an autoresponder. In my experience, all autoresponders have some form of a learning curve; all offer different features and price points.
What’s important is that you go with an email platform you’re comfortable with and meets your needs. Don’t allow yourself to be blinded by bells and whistles, because in all likeliness, you will never use them.
There are a lot of things to consider when selecting an autoresponder, and it might be a good idea to revisit the topic now.
Beyond the Autoresponder…
Let’s assume you’ve made your choice, and you’ve set up an account with an autoresponder company.
While you could start sending a newsletter to the email addresses you’ve collected, here are a few more things to think about before jumping in.
How will you add/import email addresses to your autoresponder? After all, you not only want to send newsletters to people on your current list but also use the newsletter to build your list and, ultimately, your practice.
How will you capture and collect email addresses?
What process will you implement to collect names and email addresses, and how will you integrate them with your existing list? You need a process to follow, either automated or manually. Most often, people add an email sign-up form to their website or use a sign-up via a standalone webpage.
What will you offer in exchange for an email address?
Some website owners simply publish a form on their website, offering a subscription to their free newsletter, without providing anything in exchange.
Other website owners offer an incentive, an opt-in offer, in exchange for the email. It may be a checklist, a short PDF guide, audio, a video, or anything of value to the subscriber. While not absolutely necessary, offering something in exchange for the email provides an incentive to subscribe to your newsletter.
What information will you ask from subscribers when they sign up for your email list?
It may be tempting to ask for all sorts of information, i.e., name, location, telephone number, etc. However, keep in mind most of us don’t like to give out more information than necessary, and that’s name and email address. If you ask for too much information, people will not subscribe.
Will you send a welcome message?
You now have the email address, what’s next? Is it necessary to send a welcome message after someone subscribes? Or can you wait to contact them again until the next edition of your newsletter?
While there are no set rules, a word of warning…
Today, we all have more emails landing in our inboxes than we care for. So if you wait too long to contact a subscriber after the initial sign-up, chances are they forget who you are or why they signed up in the first place. In some cases, your message may even end up as spam.
Staying the Course…
It’s one thing to start a newsletter; sticking with it is another thing altogether.
To set yourself up for success, I suggest you do the following.
Develop a publishing schedule for your newsletter; it doesn’t need to be complicated.
List the dates of publication and work backward from there. Think of different content topics and assign a date to each topic.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’ll publish your newsletter twice per month. Now you know you need topics and content for 24 issues to take you through the year. Create a list of content topics and article ideas and assign them to a date on your publishing schedule.
Set up an idea file or idea notebook. Whenever you come across something that might be newsworthy or beneficial to your readers, make a note of it. If you need ideas for your newsletter, peruse your file for inspiration.
Keep adding to your file. You’ll see that after just a short amount of time, you’ll have a valuable resource at your fingertips.
There will be times when you’ll be tempted to skip or delay sending out an issue. After all, you have too much other stuff going on or already.
Don’t give in to the temptation; stay the course; keep publishing. You won’t regret it!
And here is a strategy to help you prepare for this day.
Before publishing the first issue of your newsletter, be sure to set up a schedule AND create the first two, or better yet, four issues. If you prepare a few newsletter issues ahead of time, you create a buffer and give yourself extra time, should you find yourself in a pinch.
If starting an e-newsletter sounds complicated or too cumbersome, it’s because there are many moving parts to it.
However, if you’re willing and ready to climb the learning curve, get it set up, and put processes in place that make publishing your newsletters easier, you will find that adding a newsletter to build your practice will be well worth your time.
If done right and consistently, it can do a lot for your practice. Take the time to do a little planning and preparation at the beginning, and your newsletter will provide value to your readers, all while building your practice.
Join the conversation; leave your comment or question below…
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, MAc., EAMP; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“