By Kurt Beckstrom, Forever Outdoors Media
Electronic newsletters can be an excellent tool to help gamebird producers and hunting preserve operators keep in touch with customers.
Done right, e-newsletters can be something subscribers look forward to opening when it lands in their inbox. Emails can also bolster your website, strengthen your social network presence and expand the overall awareness of your brand.
Done wrong, however, it becomes another piece of virtual junk mail, and worse, a drain on your time and resources.
Here’s how to do it right.
Avoid The Hard-Sell
In creating an e-newsletter, as with most endeavors, bad practices far outnumber good ones and lead to traps and pitfalls that can doom the project before it gets wings. The largest trap, and the easiest to fall into, is succumbing to the temptation of lacing it with hard-sell pitches.
You want your communication to be welcome, and there’s nothing more unwelcome than an unwanted solicitor who bangs on the front door every day, or week, or month. Instead, populate your e-newsletter with information you know will be of interest to your customer. A good rule of thumb, in fact is: 90 percent informative, 10 percent marketing.
If you operate a shooting preserve, your customers might enjoy getting tips on wing shooting techniques, or dog training and handling tips. Recipes are a universal favorite. As a hatchery owner, you might offer a brief outline of how contracting for bird production and purchase greases the skids in both directions.
On the marketing side, there’s room for the traditional, such as pitching your facility as the perfect destination for a corporate retreat. But nothing works better in e-newsletters than the announcement of deals—coupons, special offers, unique offers for e-newsletter subscribers and clearance sales. They add spice to your communication and build anticipation for the next one to arrive. Just ensure marketing efforts don’t become the main focus.
Pitfalls can also appear in the form of frequency and length—that is, how often will you send an e-newsletter, and how much information will it contain.
Many internet marketing experts contend that daily contact is mandatory. But the truth is, you know the most about your industry and your customer, and more importantly, the resources you have available to execute the program. Take all that into consideration before you determine how often to send. But once you commit—daily, weekly or monthly—it’s critical to maintain the interval religiously and on time. Sloppiness results in loss of esteem for your digital product and your overall operation.
Content Is King
Marketing studies have shown that readers spend less than 60 seconds scanning a newly arrived e-newsletter, including those they look forward to and enjoy receiving. Thus, engaging headlines, fascinating photos and concise, intriguing copy are essential to getting the reader to pass the 60-second mark and invest time in deeper investigation.
Ideally, an e-newsletter item contains enough information to capture interest, and includes a definitive call-to-action button—Read More, Learn More, Watch The Video—that links back to your website or social network page for the full story.
If this system, for whatever reason, is out of reach and the e-newsletter must be the delivery system for the entire story, ensure its written is such a way that it gets your salient points across in a couple minutes reading time. Following the earlier examples, it may mean offering one shooting or dog care tip at a time.
Strong Subject Lines
Once you’ve established a format for frequency and length, take steps to make sure your e-newsletter gets opened to begin with. That responsibility falls almost entirely on the subject line.
The same subject line appearing over and over with each new arrival quickly gets boring. Instead, every e-newsletter should have its own subject line, one that provides the reader incentive to open and read it this very moment—“How to drop a rooster on the first shot, every time,” or “You’ve never tasted chukar like this before.” Think of the subject line as the key to your doorway, and without it your subscriber won’t come in.
There are three other must-haves when establishing an e-newsletter—an immediate and automatic response to a new subscriber, a “share with a friend” option and a conspicuous “opt-out” button.
Sending an immediate acknowledgement, and thank you, along with the latest version of your e-newsletter, to a newly-signed subscriber shows them that your operation is efficient and trustworthy, and gets the relationship off to a good start.
By offering a sharing option, you allow the e-newsletter to become its own marketing tool. When a subscriber shares a story with a friend, that person has incentive to subscribe, and might even share it as well—brand expansion through viral marketing! Finally, make sure there’s an obvious and easy avenue for opting out of your e-newsletter. If a subscriber becomes disinterested, the best outcome is a quick opt-out. Frustration here could lead to a spam report.
An e-newsletter is a good way to connect with your customers. Doing it right takes time and planning, but the rewards can far outweigh the investment.