Volta Strategies

How to Send a Killer Newsletter

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Most contractors have the sense that they should send a newsletter, but they can’t seem to find the time to do it. I’m here to say that you should just do it.

Sending a regular newsletter is one of the most cost-effective things you can do to build an audience of people that know and trust you. That’s all that you need boost both referrals and repeat business.

Of course there are better and worse ways to do a newsletter. I’ll get into some of the details here:

The right mindset

I’d like to say a few words about the mindset that helps with newsletters in particular and marketing in general.

First, your mindset is really important. If you’re only about making money, your customers are going to feel that right away, and it’s not going to feel good. To them it’s going to feel like spam.

On the other hand, good marketing is pretty much invisible. You may notice an emotional connection. It feels genuinely helpful.

I think that good marketing comes from working towards a larger mission. Serve a community in an open handed way to help them find outcomes that support the mission. ​

It goes without saying that you have to make money, but instead of making that your top priority, focus on your mission and your audience. I promise, you’ll go further that way.

Why send a newsletter?

Carrying that thinking to your newsletter, the goal is to serve your audience.

Address the questions and concerns that they have related to your work. Over time, you’ll build an audience of people who trust you and think of you first when they think of solar or energy efficiency.

This is an important point: Every newsletter references your referral offer at the bottom. Of course this positions you to get the call or earn the referral when the time comes.

But it’s not just about referrals. Your newsletter should go out to all of the people who made contact with you, including people who got estimates but not projects. Remember that in my case study, the average close rate jumped by five percentage points across the company.

We did that in part by staying in touch with people who were considering a project but hadn’t committed yet.

Here’s what it looks like – Imagine you’re a homeowner who gets estimates from three companies. Let’s say it’s a bigger project, so you take up to a year to make a final decision.

Throughout the year, one company follows up with you, not to close the deal, but to keep you up-to-date about changing incentives and strategies to save energy at home. Maybe you even look forward to reading their newsletters.

Which company would earn your trust and probably get your business? I think it’s clear, and the results from my clients are pretty compelling.

How often should I send a newsletter?

You’ll see the best results by sending one email newsletter every week. That can be intimidating if you’re just starting, so think about what’s realistic for you, then commit to it for at least three months. Sending a newsletter every other week or even once a month is far better than nothing at all.

I also recommend sending a newsletter around the same time on the same day. Predictability is key. Don’t surprise your clients by sending a newsletter whenever you feel like it. You want them to anticipate and look forward to reading what you have to say.

What should I write about?

Another common question I get is, “What should I write about?”

Create a content calendar to plan topics and schedule your newsletters. A content calendar can be as simple as a spreadsheet where the emails or articles go down the rows, and the columns include variables like: Publication Date, Description, Sources, Status, Target Keyword, that sort of thing.

The quickest way to start :: Talk with your scheduler and sales team. What questions consistently come up? Make a list and look for patterns.

If you’re going to do nothing else, do this, and get started.

Going a little bit deeper, consider the goals and challenges that your customers face at each of the three stages in their buying cycle.

Awareness: Realized that they have a potential problem or opportunity. Example: Someone notices that their energy bills are really high. It sure would be great if they could pay less.

Consideration: Clearly defined or given a name to their problem or opportunity. Example: A person definitely wants to reduce their energy bills. BUT they’re concerned about putting money into energy efficiency and not seeing a noticeable decrease.

Decision: Defined the strategy or approach that they’re going to use to solve their problem. A person gets an estimate, but they feel like they can’t afford a system right now.

You may be tempted to write only about concerns faced by customers in the final decision-making stage of their buying cycle – concerns like costs and payback. This would be a mistake. It’s important to spread out your content so that you’re also addressing the goals and concerns of customers in the first two stages.

I recommend adding a column to your content calendar to track the buying cycle stage for your intended audience in each newsletter.

Here’s an example of a series I recently did on ductless heat pumps:

  • Awareness: Why’s it so cold upstairs? I wrote about the problem, the causes, and what people can do about it.
  • Consideration: What’s the best ductless heat pump? There’s some really interesting research out there comparing Mitsubishi, Daikin, Fujitsu, and LG.
  • Decision: How much does a ductless heat pump cost: Break down the costs and savings from incentives and energy efficiency.

This kind of content gets a huge amount of engagement from customers, and it’s a really important if you’re serious about increasing referrals and repeat business.

Bill Hoelzer

Bill is the Principal at Volta Strategies. He’s spent almost a decade marketing solar and energy efficiency companies, driving sustained, double-digit growth and millions of dollars in new revenue for his clients.