We all know that most people in the home improvement industry will do anything to generate leads, up to and including creative use of body paint and the local highway. Compared to that, sending out a regular newsletter by email is both much less work and much less likely to land you in front of a judge. But how effective is it?
Unfortunately, I can’t give you a straightforward, statistical answer. There are a lot of variables, and only some of them are in your hands. Obviously, the quality of the newsletter is a big one. But there’s more to quality than just looking professional – you need to think long and hard about your content. Avoid fluff pieces and material that’s only tangentially related to your industry. Every word should be about something your business can offer the reader. That doesn’t mean you should write nothing but ads, but if your newsletter includes a piece on the different kinds of bathroom tile out there make sure the reader knows you’d be happy to install any of them.
It’s also important to ensure that you get your newsletter in front of the right eyeballs. Encourage current, former and potential future customers to sign up, and make sure anyone who visits your website knows about it. Does the latest issue include some great tips on home maintenance? Tweet one and mention that more can be found in your newsletter. Maybe someone who just wanted to learn how to keep their aging patio in shape will be intrigued by the prospect of refurbishing it. You never know where a lead might emerge from.
Just keep in mind that no matter how brilliantly your newsletter is put together, it’s not going to become a massive lead generator – the biggest benefits of newsletters are intangible. They’re great for brand recognition, because even if a customer doesn’t read a word they’ll start to know your brand since they see your name in their inbox every month. And because it’s in their inbox they’re free to read it at their own pace. Maybe they don’t have time when they first see it in the morning, but when they check back in the evening now they’ve got a few spare minutes to browse it. Other forms of advertising don’t offer that kind of flexibility.
Newsletters are also much, much cheaper than those other forms. It’s not free – you might need to pay for a distribution system, formatting software or professional writing services – but compared to, say, a banner ad campaign it’s a drop in your budget bucket.
Newsletters won’t generate oodles of leads overnight. It takes time to learn how to write a good one and build up a solid base of subscribers. But if you’re looking to diversify your lead generation and have the time to put in the effort, the other marketing benefits and the low cost make them an appealing option. Just make sure they don’t end up in the spam folder.