Friday , 17 September 2021
Yes, a newsletter is "one more thing to do," but it can be one of your best marketing tools. You have a unique product, one that many people may not understand. Your newsletter is how you explain what you do and create interest that leads to sales.

Marketing 101: Niche Markets Part 4 : Have You Done Your Newsletter?

Marketing 101: Niche Markets Part 4

Have You Done Your Newsletter?

Part 1: Niche Markets

Part 2: What is your wackiest marketing idea?

Part 3:  Getting out there

Yes, a newsletter is “one more thing to do,” but it can be one of your best marketing
tools. You have a unique product, one that many people may not understand. Your
newsletter is how you explain what you do and create interest that leads to sales.

I’ll take you through our own journey with Marble-T Design. If there are mistakes to
make, we’ve made them. We’ve read a lot about doing newsletters, looked at programs
available, and just generally put off doing this important piece of marketing.

We started with a general monthly newsletter, sent as a regular email. Nothing fancy
at all. We figured out how to keep an email list of preferred customers, and we figured
out how to send to groups, without having to do each one separately. This was 15 years
ago, and trust me, initially we sent them one at a time to every single person. Thankfully,
email programs and online assistance have come a LONG way since then!

However, we had probably $75 in sales every single month. We had about 300
subscribers (all opt-in off the website), and we had a wider variety of items available
from our website.

Then we just stopped. We kept meaning to get back to doing the newsletter, but it never
happened. We went through two computers and new email programs, and we transferred
the names each time. Now we’re with a new program on line, we’re up to just over 200
subscribers, and we have a nice, new format that is developing.

What are we doing now that seems to be working?

1. We made the commitment to do a monthly newsletter. This may seem pretty easy
to do, but we had problems. We wanted something classier than just a plain ole email.
So it meant looking at various email programs available on line. We have now done
April, May, and June for this year, and the July newsletter is now in draft form. If you
procrastinate, then this is not something easy to accomplish.

2. We looked at several of the various email/marketing programs available and
tried two of them. A lot of internet marketers recommend Aweber, but there is a cost
involved. More importantly, I didn’t feel it would work for us. There were a lot of options
we didn’t need, and probably won’t need, so we eliminated that. We initially went with
Constant Contact, monthly for $15, with a sixty-day free trial period (that’s what sold
us). Technical support was fabulous, and they designed a template for us (free of charge)
that complemented our website. We had a few concerns: the learning curve was steeper
than I would have liked (especially since I was still working full time and was limited
in marketing time). The main concern was that I couldn’t put more than 5 pictures in a

newsletter without having to go to a premium plan. Let’s face it, niche markets have to be
very visual, and the limited number of photos just didn’t work for us.

3. Decide on a program to use, even if it is just doing a monthly email from your
regular email program. We decided on Mail Chimp, completely free up to several
thousand subscribers. It subscribes people very easily, sends you notifications, and
provides some really good, easy-to-interpret stats on how your newsletter is doing.
And….I don’t seem to be limited in pictures. The learning curve may seem steep if you
haven’t used the program before, but it didn’t take me long, and now I have a set template
to use each time.

4. Make sure all the names/subscribers are “opt-in.” You can have problems with
sending spam emails if you just randomly send to people who haven’t subscribed. Don’t
bombard folks with unwanted emails. If folks have signed up for (in our case) free fabric,
I’ve included a note on the sign-up form that they will be added to our data base and
receive emails of coupons and news about marbling.

5. Put up subscription forms on your blog, website, Facebook page. Mail Chimp
gives you code to add easily. For your blog, you probably just need a widget for the side
bar. Facebook has a link to get Mail Chimp on your business page. You might have to
have your web host do the code to get your sign-up form on your website. Have your
sign-up everywhere you can.

6. Think about consistency in your newsletters. Physical appearance lets you brand
yourself through your newsletter. Let people see the same layout and features each time
they receive a mailing from you. Be consistent with the time of month you send the
newsletter. We schedule in our datebooks to be sure the newsletter gets written in the
third week of the month and then goes out on a Tuesday the last week of the month. This
is based on research showing when it is best to send a mailing, including what time of the
day has a higher opening rate.

7. Think about each part of the newsletter as you format it. I’ll show pieces of the
previous newsletter for examples. Make yours uniquely yours.
* First, have a heading that won’t automatically send your newsletter into a spam
folder. Stay away from “free” and words that could hint of spam. We finally decided
on “Out of the Marbling Tray,” so that it would be obvious the newsletter came from us.
Also, work your elevator pitch into your heading. Keep reminding people of what you’re
about. Ours is “An Ancient Art Made Modern.”

* Second, keep the obvious sales pitch for the end of the newsletter. We put our
Monthly Special at the very bottom, as we want folks to get to know us and our art; that’s
more important to us.

* Third, make the special offer something they won’t find on the website. Make it
very special for your subscribers. Consider a freebie – we do a monthly give-away of
marbled fabric.

* Fourth, use pictures of what you do! We always try to include some information
about marbling, including links to YouTube videos of exquisite Turkish marbling.

* Fifth, feel free to spotlight others. This raises your chances of getting your
newsletter passed along to others. We spotlighted our marbling supplier in our last
newsletter. Let folks know you’re willing to share information.

8. DO IT! Don’t keep putting it off. Move it to the top of your to-do list. Get people
used to seeing a newsletter from you on a regular basis. It helps branding, and people will
remember you’re out there when they want to buy.

What else would you recommend for newsletters? Share your experiences here:
problems, successes, ideas…….

PS. For those of you who made comments and asked some questions on the last blog
post about LinkedIn, I’m doing some more research, so I will have more to share
with you in another post.

Dean and Linda Moran are the owners of Marble-T Design and have been marbling
for 20 years. You can see their work at “The Art of Fabric,” follow their adventures on
their blog, see examples of their marbling in their Etsy shop, and watch their updates
on Facebook. They also sell on Tuesdays on Tophatter, an auction site, in the fabric and
textiles section at 11 AM PDT. 

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  1. I just signed my etsy shop up with mail chimp. Thanks for the motivation – now I’m going to figure out how to put this on my facebook!

  2. In MailChimp, under Account, you should see “Integrations,” and that will allow you to add to Facebook.

  3. Thanks for this article. I just recently started sending out a newsletter — I’m also using MailChimp and have been pleased — and have already had good results in terms of additional views and sales. It is definitely worth the effort!

  4. I’ve just signed up to Mail Chimp too even though many people say Aweber is the way to go. Mail Chimp links in to Hootesuite which was a big selling point for me as well as the no cost when I am just starting out. I have been working on my sign up form set up etc and brainstorming what I want my newsletter to be, how often I want to send it out and most importantly – how I can make it fun for me rather than it being another thing on my to do list that will stress me out. Loved the tips in your post – especially being committed to it every month.

  5. Way to go, Carol! I know many if the “industry folk” recommend Aweber, but so many of us are on a shoestring. I need to check my connection to Hootsuite and make sure that is working. And “fun” for us – key to marketing!! Thanks for commenting!

  6. Excellent article! I currently use MailChimp and have it setup to send new posts off my WordPress site once a week (Mondays at 8am EST if new content is available).

    If I understood correctly, you can create a specialized “opt-in” for specific interests, such as your free fabric (quoted below)? How can I do this?

    QUOTE: “If folks have signed up for (in our case) free fabric,
    I’ve included a note on the sign-up form that they will be added to our data base and
    receive emails of coupons and news about marbling.”

    • Hi Linnette – I see your confusion! When I send my newsletter, there is a spot on the template to remind people that they are getting the newsletter because they have subscribed or signed up at an event. I added the piece about signing up on the blog for free fabric to remind people that they did “opt in” for the newsletter. Hope this clarifies….

  7. Wow! Newsletters. Haven’t got one myself, but this article has inspired me. l don’t know if just having an Etsy shop is enough for having a newsletter though.

    • Hi Laura – don’t worry about just having the Etsy shop. Pick one of your cool pieces and tell its story – fabrics/materials, how you made it, how did you get started making your work……that’s what people want, not just what’s available in your shop. I have a section in my blog called Sunday Stories, where I spotlight the story behind a piece. You can do the same thing in your newsletter. Of course, also include at the bottom where they can find this amazing piece…..

  8. Okay, I have a really silly question! LOL

    What is the difference between having a blog and a newsletter, in terms of importance? Many people swear you need both…
    But if you are using your blog to discuss your latest pieces, doing tutorials, spotlighting suppliers, hosting giveaways, and all that jazz… How would you craft the newsletter to stand apart and entice subscribers?

  9. Good question!! Your newsletter is your personal connection to your subscribers. We don’t know who’s reading our blog, how often, are we regular in posting, and HOW are people reading our blog. I for one use Google Reader to skim my many blogs, and it has to be a really good blog posting for me to click and make a personal comment. My newsletter lets me reach out to the people who took the time to subscribe and let them know what is happening with me and my business. I’d say maybe half my blog people are subscribed to my newsletter, and maybe half my newsletter people read my blog. So I see them as two different groups. I keep a couple of special things just for newsletters – great videos on marbling, offers for fabric that don’t show up anywhere else, requests for pattern testers, and specials that aren’t on the website or the blog. I think primarily it is the more personal touch that a blog just doesn’t have. I’ll put this out in the next newsletter and see what other comments we get.

  10. Hi Linda:

    About what percentage of Etsy sellers do you think are currently using newsletters?

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