Top 10 Tips for Your Design Business’ E-newsletter

E-mail marketing is like Chinese water torture, but less painful. It works drip by drip, message by message, reaching your most qualified prospects and showing them what you can do for them.

The goal? Staying on their radar so that when they have a need, they think of you and they already trust you. Familiarity breeds trust, and they know how to reach you.

Here are 10 simple guidelines to follow to help you revitalize your design business’ e-news communique:

1. Tailor Your Content to Your Target Market.

While your e-newsletter is a self-promotional tool, it shouldn’t be all about you. Focus on your best prospects, on what they want to hear, what will be of value to them. Provide useful information. One way to come up with content: ask yourself, “What don’t they understand? What questions do they have about the work we do together?” There are bound to be more who also don’t understand and would appreciate clarification.
Click here (and scroll down) for more samples.

2. Keep it Short.
People don’t have time to read. They skim instead so don’t write too much. Make it as easy as possible for them to get your message. Two to three paragraphs are plenty, plus an image or two. That’s it.

Lucy and Henny of D*LSH Design nicely balance text and images in a short, easy-to-read message for their e-newsletter (above).

3. Show Examples of Your Recent Work.
But don’t just show pretty pictures. Help them understand how you work and how you solved a problem for another client just like them. Use a case study format to describe a challenging project and your solutions. Plus, your prospects want to see what their competition or others in their field are doing. If you are in a position to show that, go ahead.

4. Include Your Voice and Your Photo.
Bring your personality through your email marketing by writing in your own voice and my including a photo of you. That way, when they finally meet you or speak to you, they’ll say, “I feel like I know you.”

5. Give it a Name and a Tagline.

Your e-newsletter needs a name to tell recipients what they’re getting and a tagline that elaborates on it. This reminds recipients what your newsletter is providing, because people may have forgotten. For example, illustrator Tim Read of 5 Fingers Creative in Ames, Iowa, publishes “Digits” (left) with the tagline, “A creative newsletter from the fine voices in the head of illustrator, Tim Read.”

6. Focus on The Subject Line.
Copywriter Conrad Winter of Backpocket Copywriter suggests that for best readability, keep your subject line no longer than 69 characters (including spaces) and be sure to include a benefit to your recipient, giving them a reason to read.  Action verbs are best, e.g., learn, see or start.

7. Make it Easy to Reply.
E-mail is the perfect medium to engage dialogue with your best prospects. So make an offer. Take a poll. Ask for feedback or examples of their success stories or struggles. Anything to get a little back and forth going. You never know where that may lead.

8. Send it Out Consistently and Regularly—at Least Quarterly.
Don’t let yourself get out of sight and out of mind. Make yourself do it (try chocolate as a reward) or find someone you can be accountable to.

9. Always be Growing Your List.
Ask everyone you meet. “Would you like to stay in touch via email so we don’t forget about each other?” (Don’t ask, “Do you want to be on our email list.” No one would say yes to that.) Learn more about finding and reaching the right prospects.

10. Don’t Worry About What to Say or Whether They Read It.
Don’t get so obsessed about “what to send” that you end up not sending anything at all. What’s more important than what you send is that they hear something from you.

With that said, of course I’m going to ask, “Would you like to stay in touch via email so we don’t forget about each other?”

Next Step: Your time is valuable and there are many, many online marketing tools you COULD be using—but which ones SHOULD you be using? Easy: the ones that actually get you qualified, paying clients.

Ilise Benun is a national speaker and co-founder of Marketing Mentor and of the Creative Freelancer Conference with HOW. She coaches creative professionals who are serious about growing their business and she is the author of several books for creatives, including The Designer’s Guide to Marketing and Pricing and the forthcoming, The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money: How to Think About It, How to Talk About It and How to Manage It (Coming from HOW Books in 2011).





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