Strategic or SPAM? Quick Tips for Economic Development E-Newsletters

December 12, 2014

E-newsletters are an effective marketing tool—they bring your organization’s news straight to your audience’s e-mail inbox. The challenge? Almost every economic developer is already doing it. Not to mention, you’re up against the estimated 416 commercial messages a month that the average e-mail subscriber receives.

Inspired by the notion that e-newsletters should delight readers, not bore them, we’ve put together a quick checklist of five tips to make sure your e-newsletters are effective (and not just SPAM):


1. Make it Ridiculously Easy to Sign-Up

Email Opt-Ins

As an economic developer, you should know that location is everything. So, why are you making your e-newsletter so hard to find? Don’t let your future subscriber search for it, make it come to them—put sign-up calls to action at the forefront of your website and on key pages. If they can’t find it in two clicks, you’re hiding it. Have multiple e-newsletters? Make sure to ask in the sign-up process which ones they’d like to receive. The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce does this well.

2. Give a Warm Welcome

City of Riverside e-newsletter

You wouldn’t give the cold shoulder to a prospect at an event, so why give your e-mail subscribers the same stale confirmation e-mail? Subscribers are people too. An automated warm welcome e-mail to subscribers immediately after they’ve signed up for your e-newsletter leaves a great impression of your organization and gains trust from the subscriber (meaning they’ll be more likely to open your next message). The content that goes into your welcome e-mails becomes even more important when you consider that welcome e-mails generate 4x the open rates and 5x the click rates of regular e-mails. You don’t need bells and whistles here—just a big “Thank You!” and short statement on what subscribers can expect in their inbox will do the trick. For example, take a look at this short and sweet welcome e-mail the City of Riverside Office of Economic Development sends to new subscribers:

3. Play the Role of Publisher

Convince and Convert E-newsletter One Thing e-newsletter Jay Baer

Like any ruthless editor for a publication, you should keep strict parameters on what content goes into your e-newsletter. One easy way to stick to your guidelines is to define the purpose for your e-newsletter:

o    Is the audience site selectors only, local thought leaders or prospective companies?

o    Is the content concise or more lengthy?

o    Is the frequency weekly, monthly or quarterly?

You’ll prevent a lot of un-subscribers by consistently delivering the content you promised to deliver.

A great example of an e-newsletter that has zeroed in on its purpose is this one from DCI’s digital marketing advisor, Convince and Convert, “One Thing—The News You Need and Nothing Else,” which offers a dose of one important social media or content marketing story every day. Another example is  this one from Columbus 2020, “Economic Development Matters,” which includes a weekly message from the organization’s CEO.

4. Looks Aren’t Everything, But It’s A lot

Colorado Space Coalition E-newsletter

Design isn’t just about making your e-newsletter “pretty”—it’s actually a powerful tool to help readers better digest your content and understand your brand. Always be sure, however, to create an HTML text-only version of your newsletter (your design may not translate to everyone’s e-mail inbox).

5. Track Successtracking success of digital media open rate

With the technology and data offered by e-mail blast systems such as Constant Contact, Stream Send, Mail Chimp and more, there’s no excuse to not improve the performance of your e-newsletters.Always checkstats like opens, clicks and unsubscribes after sending to see if your strategies are working (or not).

As most of us scramble for content to include in our weekly, monthly or quarterly e-newsletters, we hope these quick tips help you take a step back to make sure your e-newsletter “checks” out. Whether analyzing the content, visuals or frequency of your e-newsletter, remember put yourself in the shoes of the subscriber. 

Rebecca Gehman

Written by Rebecca Gehman

Rebecca Gehman is an Account Manager in DCI’s Economic Development division. Since joining DCI in 2012, Rebecca has played a pivotal role in content creation, media relations and marketing strategy work for clients across the globe.

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