When done well, Newsletters offer a fantastic way for any business to keep their growing customer base interested in them and aware of every big event and promotion they strategize. They provide a direct feed to advertise that more fully sticks in people’s minds than simply glossing over the random update on facebook and twitter; the personal actions of receiving and reading an email that was sent directly to YOU always gets us more intrigued. If you haven’t done it already, it is certainly something that should be considered for your Food Truck’s business and marketing strategy.
So, how do we go about getting this put into action, and what important considerations are there to be made?
Choosing Your Service
No, you will NOT want to try and send these mass-emails out to a hand-compiled list of addresses all by yourself. Luckily for us, there are plenty of programs and services out there that offer a quick and easy way of sending this out for us. Once you’ve got it set-up (which can be quite a bit of work for some, won’t lie) and linked to whichever page customers insert their emails, subscription becomes immediately entered and automatically added to the mass crowds that receive the newsletter.
There are plenty of providers out there, each with their own little pros and cons, some for free and some which charge; deciding will be up to your needs and preferences. Some of the more popular include AWeber, MailChimp, and Campaign Monitor; these are also followed by Email Brain, Stream Send, Mad Mimi, Graphic Mail, and Boomerang (I feel like I’ve seen commercials on these guys..).
After that’s set up, we need to find a way to get people actually on the list; which means not only a way for them to sign up, but also giving them a REASON to do so.
This first part is usually rather automatic; you’ll mostly want to get an RSS Subscription Page on your Website that people can go to if they’re actually interested. Don’t stop here though; the best thing you can do is to make sure they see this on every social media aspect of your Truck you use. Put the link to the subscription page on your Facebook and other Profiles; put reminder links on Twitter at least once every 1-2 weeks; get the fact that you have one pasted up on your truck next to the Facebook and Twitter Handles. You can even have a reminder sign up in the service window along with a sign-up sheet, sort of like an impulse buy; if it’s not busy and slamming, and you’re dealing with some of the more eager foodie and regular customers (you know the ones, they often really like conversation), actually bring the topic up with them. GET THIS OUT THERE.
Not every customer and fan will just go and signup out of interest and loyalty simply because they know they can, however; and opposite that, there will ALWAYS be people who will never do an email newsletter no matter what you do. But there’s a large potential crowd that one can garner more subscriptions, given added incentive of course.
One of the suggestions later on involves including a promotional service, such as free goods or other coupons, in with your first newsletter to newcomers. This could be kept secret, an unexpected little bonus, or one could make mention of it on your truck and social media to get potentially more people add their names on. Or simply make people aware of FUTURE promotions, deals, and other benefits that only Member of their email listing will be able to receive before anyone else. Which is another thing; Members, Partners, strong words and valuable titles, no matter how much we ourselves are aware about it, still appeal to our own senses. It lets them feel how important they are being a part of this.
The first thing to ask when we get to this point, what ARE we writing and sending out? For Food Trucks, the best feature of this is to be able to get upcoming month’s special events up and informed to their collective fans. But that sort of update gets boring fast, and doesn’t fill much of the email notification; we want to keep people interested, entertained, curious and willing to open up the next newsletter they’re sent. So have some sort of additional filler is practically required to keep a successful subscription.
Whatever you choose to add for this, whether it’s noting new menu changes, amusing quotes, jokes, an actual ‘newsletter’ section of recent events in the food truck’s life, etc, the one constant importance is that it’s DIFFERENT than what is normally posted on your Facebook and other social media. Heck, you can even use it to upload blog posts if your Truck does that kind of thing. So long as it’s not the same, for why should the customers be interested in signing up if they can read about everything you said somewhere else?
If anything, one of the most important things to write up well is the “Welcome Letter.” Upon signing up to one of these things, the new subscriber is automatically sent an email by whichever service you’ve signed up for, an initial ‘Thank You’ and ‘Welcome’ to the Newsletter. These are customizable. You should customize it. Don’t be a lazy truck owner and make yourself look like you don’t care.
These are going to be their first impressions of the subscription, so it needs to catch their eye. Rewrite it with a personal message to show that actual thought, interest, and gratitude is going into it, rather than looking like it just came from a machine. This is also an ideal location to put a promotion of some kind, an initial ‘reward’ for signing up and reading the email which will have a higher chance of getting people to read more later on. If you’re able, and have the time, to go back and make revisions later on, pasting upcoming events to this can create that good interest and awareness we’re looking for, and also offers more proof that the newsletter is personal and actually has effort put into it.
Through all of these write-ups and revisions, the best thing to do is, simply and pure, FORMAT. After putting together the first couple drafts, see what overall style, patterning, and formatting you like, and STICK with it. Copy, paste, and use this automatic outline as the base for all newsletters to come. Not only does it make it a little easier and quicker to write in the future, instead of adding extra time to make them all completely different and from scratch, the consistency simply looks better for customers. They know what to expect and how to read through it to get to their important points.
How often these are sent out is up to your business and what exactly you have to say. That said, I would NOT do anything LESS than Once a Month. At least get those monthly schedules out with other happenings. Plenty others may send something out once every 2 weeks, weekly, or even more frequently depending on the focus of their newsletters (another point, ‘choose your purpose’ and what you want to accomplish with these, and center your format and voice on that). One simply needs to make sure they have the TIME for these more heavily-outputted strategies.
But the fact is you WILL need to have time in your schedule to do this, so set some aside every month to ensure this gets done and out there. You’ll thank yourself once you do.
Links on the Matter
Beginner’s Guide – A great article going over Newsletter How-to’s, including a well-detailed guide to installing AWeber.
How to Start – WikiHow’s simple, casual guide to starting up your newsletter
4 Steps to Start your Newsletter Right – Flippa’s similarly detailed explanation of benefits and considerations
These are just ones I used to help start off this article, there are plenty of other posts on the matter as well. Good luck in your research and business!