Marketing isn’t always a top priority in the pre-launch phase of a business startup. Your plate as a founder is beyond full. Your offering is still in development. People need to get to know you even when it’s early. This is where starting an email newsletter can help.
I can hear you from here. Email? Really? Hear me out. Adobe found the average consumer spends about 2.5 hours checking personal email on a typical weekday. More than three-fourths of marketers reported seeing an increase in email engagement in 2019. And return on investment for email marketing is impressive.
Email newsletters are a direct and low-cost way to get the attention of customers before and during launch. A good newsletter is not a sales tool; it brings your customers along on your journey and lets you tell your story without being sales-y. You also get to control your messaging and exactly who that message reaches.
Here’s a look at five reasons why your startup needs to have an email newsletter, as well as steps for getting started.
1. Share your story.
People like stories, especially stories about entrepreneurs like you. You could hire a public relations consultant or spin your wheels trying to land media coverage. Another (low-cost) option? Start an email newsletter to document your launch and bring others along for your entrepreneurial journey. Be open and honest. Share what’s keeping you up at night. Solicit stories or advice from readers (read: potential customers). The goal is to start a conversation that will last well beyond your launch.
Action Step: Research email services for your company emails, including your email newsletter. Luckily, there is a wealth of free options for startups and small firms with small subscribers lists.
2. Build a base of potential customers.
An email newsletter helps you gather a group of like-minded people. That includes people who will be interested in what you have to sell later on. To be clear, a good newsletter isn’t a pitch. A good newsletter creates a space for potential customers to get to know your brand and connect with it. It’s focused on building relationships. The more familiar people are with your brand, story and values, the more likely they are to enter into a business relationship with you.
Action Step: Include a form on your startup landing page asking visitors to sign up for your email newsletter list. You can also build a landing page specifically for email newsletter signups. Use these forms to start collecting email addresses to build your list. Go the extra mile by sending new subscribers a welcome email sequence introducing your startup, what it does and how often they can expect to hear from you.
3. Start delivering value to customers now.
An email newsletter can help you deliver value to potential customers well ahead of launch, even if you’re still in the product development stage. How do you do that? Fill your newsletter with information that your audience will find useful, including articles, videos and online guides. This should include content that is related to your business but not necessarily about your business. What business trends are you reading about? Share that info. Have good business advice from a favorite speaker? Share it. Good information is valuable; sharing it with others allows you to deliver value to consumers even before they are customers.
Action Step: Make a list of go-to sources for interesting articles, videos and other content you can share in your email newsletter. Think about the places you go to for information and the topics that interest you. Then start gathering links to share. This process — known as curation in marketing speak — is a way to stay relevant and deliver value to your audience without being sales-y.
4. Gather customer feedback.
Feedback is crucial, especially in the pre-launch phase of business. But it can be tough to generate consumer feedback on a product or service that has yet to launch. Having email subscribers and an email newsletter can work to your advantage. Once you’ve initiated a conversation with your subscribers, you can start including polls and surveys asking for feedback on their wants and needs. Tracking clicks can reveal what topics are interesting to consumers, and help you gain insight on the problems they might be facing, which can then inform your product or service. All of this is data you can feed back into your business, at little cost to you.
Action Step: Get immediate feedback by tracking key email newsletter metrics, including click-throughs (not just the number of clicks you’re getting on your newsletter, but what people are clicking on), list growth and forward rate. Monitor these metrics at least once a month.
5. Develop your brand voice.
What does your brand sound like? People like buying from brands that they connect with on a personal level. It’s tempting to put these questions off until you have more resources to devote to marketing, but it’s important to start shaping your brand identity early. Writing a regular email newsletter can give you a jumpstart. Look at your email newsletter as an opportunity to shape your brand voice on your own terms. Writing about your business on a regular basis also helps you sharpen your pitch and zero in on the details that make your entrepreneurial experience engaging. Make time in your week to jot down thoughts and notes for your newsletter content.
Action Step: Include team photos, behind-the-scenes images and other visual elements that add personality to your email newsletter. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Some of the most popular email newsletters out there regularly include simple, hand-drawn pie charts and graphics to illustrate their topics. The bottom line? Interesting content is interesting content. Don’t worry about being perfect; worry about being relevant.
Be thoughtful and consistent in your approach, and an email newsletter will allow you to stay in touch in a way that is relevant and authentic. A newsletter is an investment in your relationship with your customers, a valuable move whether your business is established or just starting up.