The newness of social media makes us sometimes forget that email is a strong channel to communicate with your customers, fans and enthusiasts. Email is also a great way to keep a community in the minds of your members - think of how much email you get from Twitter, Facebook and especially LinkedIn. Here are some tips to get you started.
Choose The Right Tools For Your Newsletter
While you may consider using the email tools built into your community platform, consider a service like MailChimp that can keep track of emails, unsubscribes, stats and more. A tool like MailChimp also makes email template creation super easy and will take care of all the subscriber list headaches. Best of all it ensures greater deliverability.
Another benefit of using email marketing software is that you can integrate it with other parts of your business and make it easy to segment your audience, and track what content engages your audience.
Creating the Content For Your Community Newsletter
While coming up with newsletter content each month might seem like a daunting task, the community itself is a great source of content. For example you can do an interview with a popular member of the forum, or highlight discussions that received lots of varied opinion. Curating your community's activity into a monthly 'best of' is a great exercise even if you aren't doing an email campaign.
Most importantly keep the newsletter focused and digestible. You will want to choose no more than 5 topics, and ensure you add a link to it so members can join the on-going discussion. Add a captivating title and a small blurb of 150 -200 words to entice your audience to follow through and engage.
If you feel don't have the right content, skip a month. Take that time to work on creating the type of content that drives the kind of interactions you want. It's better than wait than send out a sub-par product that could lead to a large amount of unsubscribes.
Tracking The Results of Your Community Newsletter
Regardless if you use email software or something like Google Analytics, you will want to see what content resonates with your community. For example, some content might resonate with the more junior members of your community. Using stats and a proper software will allow you to ensure you engage better with your community. For example when you are looking to create content in your community, or the kinds of content you should be promoting, this data can help in the decision process.
A monthly newsletter is a great way to highlight great content in your community, learn more about what engages your members and remind those that visit more infrequently to visit again. Sending out a community newsletter is also a great way to increase the bond of connection between you and your community. It's really easy to get started, and your community will greatly benefit by you adding this to your marketing mix.
Vanilla Forums offers a cloud based solution has MailChimp Integration which make it even easier to communicate and connect with your community with a monthly newsletter. Try Vanilla Forums Cloud Solution free for 30-days.