In the course of preparing for a round table I recently moderated on Marketing with Enewsletters, I reviewed as many gardening enewsletters as I could find. Many were excellent. Others contained good material, poorly presented. The majority were flagrant self-promotion with no useful content.
Then I discovered that Home Depot publishes a gardening enewsletter. I figured I was in for more blatant promotion. I was wrong.
First, their signup process is impressive. The entry page offers a list of benefits and links to message boards, events calendars, past articles, plant care guides, and a searchable library of thousands of questions answered by gardening experts. Benefits are reinforced on the registration page, and you can sign up to receive newsletters and promotions independently.
Between the wealth of available information and the concern for preferences, the sign-up process alone helps nurture customer relationships. What’s more, some 250,000 people signed up for it the very first day it was offered.
The newsletter is also impressive. Among the things it has going for it are:
- A single, clear focus
- Good balance of information to promotion (about 80%/20%)
- Easy to scan subheads and photos that invite you to read further
- One dominant visual element
- Multiple links to the web site
- A conversational tone
- Prominent navigation bars top and bottom
Home Depot’s enewsletter stands head and shoulders above the majority of enewsletters I reviewed, yet the reasons why have nothing to do with Home Depot’s size. Any smaller company that devoted attention to their marketing could produce an equally impressive newsletter, or close to it.
There’s one more ace in the hole that smaller companies have – the ability to stand behind their products personally. When I get an enewsletter from Papa Geno of Papa Geno’s Herb Farm or Dick Chamberlin of Harris Seeds, I know I’m hearing from a fellow gardener who genuinely cares about making my garden thrive.
That’s something that Home Depot can never replicate. But if we want to hold our own, we can’t let them outdo us at every other turn.
If you offer an enewsletter, ask yourself if you’re publishing useful information…invitingly presented…that readers will find valuable. And if you’re not offering an enewsletter, ask yourself why you’re missing out on such an effective, economical way to nurture customer relationships.
When it comes to knowledge and service, don’t let Home Depot beat us at our own game.