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277. Is the Newsletter Making a Comeback & Should You Try One in Your eCommerce Business?

277. Is the Newsletter Making a Comeback & Should You Try One in Your eCommerce Business?

Raise your hand if you ever struggle to stay consistent with your email marketing and you don’t always know what to say.

This is a common struggle among eCommerce business owners and one of the easiest ways you can overcome this is by implementing a newsletter.

Before we get into the details, I want to define what I mean by newsletter. This can be confusing because newsletter has become a term to describe any manual email you send to your list. The same way a tissue is called Kleenex or bandages a Band-aid.

What I’m referring to is a recurring email that gets sent on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis that covers multiple different topics or includes multiple pieces of content. If you’re on my email list you’ll recognize the Edit as a newsletter. 

Usually, I include some sort of update, story, biz tip, etc. I’ll reference that week’s podcast, share some email tips, and other random educational or fun things I find around the web. 

The idea of a newsletter has been pretty taboo in the email space for a while because the consensus was that you didn’t want to distract your subscribers with too much information; you wanted to focus on only ONE call to action in your email and to guide your subscriber into taking the action you want them to take. 

While that is definitely true for your email automations, such as your welcome series, checkout abandonment, etc. when it comes to your weekly campaign emails you do have a bit more leeway.

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What are the Benefits of Implementing a Recurring Newsletter in Your eCommerce Business?

As an eCommerce business it might seem strange to implement a newsletter, but when used with intention they can have a lot of positive effects on your business. 

Simplify Your Email Marketing

One of the number one struggles I hear from eCommerce busines owners when it comes to staying consistent with email is that they don’t know what to say, or they don’t want to be annoying. And I think the real reason for this is because so many of us think that every email needs to have a hard sell in it. That we have to ask for the sale every single time. 

And while asking for the sale is an important part of all marketing activities; you don’t always have to ask for it directly in order to get it. 

I talk more about this in episode 44, how to create an email marketing calendar with the STAR Method, but the general idea is that you want to think about what else your customers care about that you can talk to them about. For example, if you sell makeup your customers probably care about skincare, if you sell workout gear, your customers probably care about health and fitness. 

The other part of this is feeling like we always need something new to say because we don’t want to repeat ourselves too much. I also talk about this in that episode, because at the end of the day, most customers need to see and hear things multiple times before they’ll take action. So repetition is actually really important in business. 

But I realize that knowing these things intellectually and being able to stop letting us hold us back are two very different things. 

The nice thing about a recurring newsletter is it gives you structure, it gives you a clear outline of the type of content you need to put together which can remove a lot of guesswork and hesitation around I don’t know what to say. 

Trains & Engages Your Subcribers

Sending a recurring newsletter will also begin to train your subscribers. One of the key elements to a newsletter is the schedule of that email. No matter the frequency or day and time of the week you send it, your subscribers will start to look out for it. 

In the rare occasion that my newsletter went out late, there were always a handful of people who reached out asking if they had missed it. 

Not only have you trained them to expect your email, when they know there’s going to be something of value inside, you’ll have a much more engaged audience overall. 

Increase Email Engagement & Deliverability

The other nice thing about a newsletter format vs. a single call to action is that it allows you to reach a lot of different people on your list in one email. Now of course there is going to be a lot of overlap in your email marketing list, they’re all interested in your product and industry right? But you’re naturally going to have a lot of smaller niches within that overall list and while one topic might be super interesting to a part of your audience, the rest may have zero interest at all and now that email has become irrelevant to them. 

With a newsletter where you’re curating multiple different pieces of content you have a better chance that there’s something for everyone giving them more reasons to click and ultimately increasing your email engagement which is a great signal to the email service providers and has a positive impact on your deliverability. 

Drive More Revenue

And last but certainly not least is that with this increased attention and engagement from your audience, you’re likely to see an overall increase in revenue. As I mentioned earlier, the thing you can’t solve for people is timing. But committing to regularly showing up in their inbox, providing value, and positioning yourself as a resource means you’ll be top of mind and the first person they think of when they’re ready to buy. 

What Type of eCommerce Businesses Can Create a Newsletter & What Content Should it Include?

While I do think every eCommerce business has the opportunity to implement a newsletter in their business, there are a few specific cases where I think it will have the most impact. So let’s chat through those different scenarios and some ideas for the content you can include. 

Subscription businesses

If your business is subscription first, there’s a pretty good chance you don’t have a whole lot of new things happening to talk about. You’re likely not doing new collection launches, or have new products to talk about. You probably don’t have a lot of sales and promotions happening either. In that case a newsletter can be a great option for you. 

If you’re not sure what to include, go back to the STAR Method I mentioned earlier which you can learn more about in episode 44, and the non-salesy email ideas I give you in episode 31

What else does your customer care about that you can talk about? What other content can you curate for them?

A former client and biz friend started a newsletter in her subscription-first business a few months ago. Most if not all of her customers are women and so she started a newsletter called girl talk monthly. In this she shares a few of her fave internet product finds and other content around motherhood, and just getting through life. It’s a super fun email that I look forward to every month and she’s seen great engagement on it. 

Stores with Wide Product Assortments or A Lot to Talk About

On the flipside of that, what if you have so many new products and events, there’s always so much to tell people about? That’s another sign that a newsletter would be a good fit for you. Instead of having to send multiple emails about all the things… you can curate every on a weekly basis and put it all in the same email. 

One of my very first clients had been doing this for a long time and she was worried that they had too much information and she had to start separating the content out over different days. 

But those emails had such good engagement and generated so much revenue I recommended that she keep sending them. Over the years she had really trained her customers to expect them and I didn’t want her to interrupt that flow. 

To this day she still sends those emails and they still generate a ton of revenue. The only real change she made is that she resends the same email a few days later with a new subject line to anyone who didn’t engage with it the first time. 

You can also repurpose your newsletter content into other emails throughout the week.

For example, maybe you mention a new product that just released or give a sneak peek of something that will be releasing soon. In the newsletter version there’s only so much information you can include with the limited space you have for it. But now you can feature that product it’s own email on a different day and take a much deeper dive into it. 

Stores with a Heavy Local Presence

Store with a heavy local presence can take a similar approach as the store with a lot of information to share. Maybe you have a brick and mortar store with different events and exciting things that you want to share, but you also want to share community updates and happenings around town. 

You could even partner up with some of your other local businesses to swap newsletter shout outs about eachother. This is a great tactic even for online only businesses. 

An Industry with a Lot of Educational Information

If you’re in an industry that has a lot of educational information to share about your products or the lifestyle your products are a part of, then a newsletter might also be a great option for you. You can curate content from around the web, other people in your industry, and even just focus on sharing education on your own blog and sharing that with your email subscribers. 

How to Make Your Newsletter Exciting

Whichever category you fall into, one of the things you want to be careful about is that your newsletter doesn’t get stale and boring. Part of the joy of a newsletter for the subscriber is the surprise + delight that it can bring, so you’ll want to make sure you jazz it up when you can. 

Create Themes

The easiest way to do this is by creating themes throughout the year. If you do it monthly you can tie into the holidays. Even if it makes sense to send weekly, you can always make the first one of the month themed with the holidays. 

Add Personal Stories & Behind the Scenes

Another way to add some excitement is to include some of your own personal stories. This is especially powerful if you are the face of your brand in any way. We already know people buy from people, so if you can inject a bit of yourself in this newsletters that can go a long way to connect with your audience. 

Even if you’re not the direct face of the brand you can include some behind-the-scenes from your business or general updates about the brand.

Feature Vendors or Other Small Businesses

I’ve already mentioned the possibility of doing newsletter swaps or curating items and content from other small businesses, but you could even ask for newsletter contributions. So maybe they write up a short 500-word article that you feature, or give your subscribers a special discount. 

If you sell other people’s products consider doing a feature on the founder or the brands that you sell. 

How to Repurpose Your Newsletter Content

Another benefit of a newsletter that I want to touch on before we go, is that it can act as your one long-form piece of content that you then repurpose throughout the week on your other marketing channels. 

I already touched on it a bit with the idea of taking a deeper dive into a portion of your newsletter in another email, but the same concept can be applied to your social media content for example. 

In Content Badassery, that’s a mini-course I released a few months ago – I’ll stick a link in the show notes for it – I have a video lesson in there that shows you how to take one long-form piece of content like a blog post and repurpose it into 41 different social media posts. You can do that with your newsletter content too. 

How to Work Your Newsletter Into Your Existing Email Marketing Strategy

Is your newsletter going to replace all the other emails you send? Probably not. The only time it might come close is if you’re a subscription-first business or maybe you sell something that people don’t buy very often. For example, I worked with a client a few years ago who sold a cover to protect your car in a flood. Once someone buys one of those, they don’t need another for a long time if ever. 

For the rest of you, this is something you can add to your rotation. I recommend going weekly or monthly depending on how much information you have to send. But you’ll still want to do product features, product launches, and of course, promotions when it makes sense.

If you still struggle with what to say in between those newsletters, check out episodes 31, 32, and 34. And get your hands on Content Badassery which includes a ton of content prompts and subject lines that you can mix and match to create endless content ideas. 

One last note before we go. If you decide to give newsletters a try in your eCommerce business, please make sure you give them a fair shot before you give up. You’ll want at least a month if you’re doing it weekly and at least 3 months if you’re doing it monthly… maybe even a bit longer if your list is on the smaller side. Hell, just commit for a minimum of 6 months before you fully judge it. It takes time for people to catch on.

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Hey, I'm Jessica

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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