Your existing customers are your best source of future revenue. Here’s a proven way to kick up income and increase customer loyalty.
Mail Is Alive and Well
Before we get into the heart of this article—how a direct mail newsletter can bring you more money—we’re going to debunk the myth that the internet killed direct mail advertising.
For those not familiar with the term, “direct mail” is any kind of advertising piece—letter, postcard, etc.—that is sent via postal mail. Like any good advertising method, it provides information about a product or service and a way for the recipient to respond.
The “direct mail is dead” myth is perpetuated by certain ill-informed online marketers and people who sell online advertising. Go out to your mailbox this afternoon or evening and see if there isn’t at least one piece of advertising in there.
If you need some hard data about it, the Direct Marketing Association reported that in the U.S. alone, spending for direct mail advertising has climbed steadily since 2009, up to $44.5 billion in 2014 and was predicted to hit $45.7 in 2015.
Newsletters Are for Customers
Regardless of your industry, a customer is anyone who has given you money in exchange for your product of service. So, even if you call them “affiliates,” “partners,” or something else, we will refer to them as “customers.”
You likely send out email regularly to your entire list—probably one kind of message to your leads and another kind to your customers.
So why would you want to also send a newsletter to customers? There are three good reasons:
- It shows your customers they are valued
- It increases customer loyalty
- Customers are your best source of revenue
These three reasons are best understood as an interactive cycle: A customer is more loyal than a lead or prospect. Because they’ve bought from you, it’s natural to reward their support. You can do that with an exclusive (“for valued customers only”) newsletter with special content. This shows them they are valued and increases their loyalty, which leads to future purchases. And because they bought from you, it’s natural to reward their support … and the cycle repeats.
Customers who have provided a mailing address are showing you a higher level and trust and receptiveness. You can increase your mailing address list by emailing your customers about your exclusive-for-paid-customers-only newsletter. You can count on a good percentage to opt in if your message makes the newsletter attractive and desirable to them.
Why Not an E-Newsletter?
It comes down to response rate. If you’re using a snail-mail newsletter to build customer loyalty (and ultimately to increase sales for your business), e-mail is easier, faster, and much cheaper, but direct mail gets a better response rate: You can expect an average of 3-5% response rate with a good snail mail newsletter, while an email only gets a 0.5% response.
Probably the biggest reason for this is the built-in emotional effect of mailbox mail. “What digital media hasn’t changed is people,” states the UK Royal Mail’s 2015 Private Life of Mail study, which focused on the resurgence of direct mail. “Giving, receiving and handling tangible objects remain deep and intuitive parts of the human experience.”
Fifty-seven percent of the study’s respondents said that mail makes them feel more valued and creates a more genuine relationship. Marketing campaigns that included mail were significantly more likely to result in sales.
What Do I Put in a Newsletter?
The primary purpose of a customer newsletter is to reward your paid customers, not to market to them. That’s not to say that you can’t make offers in your newsletter, but the main reason for the newsletter is to give your customers something extra, such as:
- Case studies–Provide a brief before-and-after case study showing how your product or service helped a customer.
- Interviews or “spotlights” with particular customers – How do customers use your products, help others with them, contribute to their communities, etc.?
- Industry news–Is there something happening in your city, state, or the broader world that affects your business or your customers?
- Useful info, history, and facts–Provide tips or tricks to make something easier for your customers. Spice up your newsletter with some interesting history, Q&A, or fun facts about your industry, profession, or a related subject.
- Human interest–People are naturally interested in other people and your customers will appreciate anything that makes you more real to them, such as bios of company founders, employee profiles, or peeks into what goes on behind the scenes.
You can also include an exclusive offer. Again, sales should not be the focus of your newsletter, but you should offer customers bargains, advance order discounts, or other purchase-related benefits that are only available through the newsletter.
How Long and How Often?
You want to retain the exclusive and special nature of your customer newsletter, so it’s not the kind of thing you will send out weekly or monthly. Quarterly or semi-annually should be sufficient. If you’re unsure, there’s no harm in surveying your customers to see how often they would be comfortable receiving a print newsletter.
Newsletter length is also a subjective question and will depend on your resources, the size of your audience, and the price of your product or service. A local business could have very good success with a four-page, two-color letter. A larger company, selling a premium product would probably need to produce something bigger and fancier. For instance, Taylor Guitar Company’s “newsletter” is a 36-page glossy magazine published in five languages.
If you’ve got existing paid customers, you’ve got some guarantee of future income. Direct mail is a proven method of both deepening the customer relationship and driving sales. Don’t underestimate its effectiveness.