Newsletters have incredible potential to deliver consistent awareness and actions around your products and services. But if you’re struggling to create consistency with getting your A&D readers to open and click on your newsletter, you’re not alone. Most building materials companies are doing newsletters completely wrong.
The key is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. No one wants to waste time on emails that have nothing in it for them. If you want to create a newsletter that A&D people want to read and that can even drive sales, it has to deliver value, not just product information.
While your newsletter is a great place to talk about new product launches or new projects that you're working on, you also need to have a balance. People want to know what you’re up to, but if you just talk about yourself, you’re going to lose their attention.
Create a newsletter that focuses on creating value for your A&D audience instead of self-promotion of your company and products.
Including content that features relevant industry news and updates is a great way to gain and retain your audience and show your relevance within the building materials industry.
Using the “3-to-1 Rule” can help ensure you have the right balance of value-driven content versus information about your company products.
Here is how your newsletter content should break down using the 3-to-1 Rule:
- 1/3 Products and Services: This is the more obvious content you want to include like company updates, product launches, special projects and other company-related information.
- 1/3 Interacting With Others: It’s ok to feature your business partners, clients or anything else that would be relevant to the A&D community. This can also include attending trade shows or any type of collaborating or co-branding you are doing with another company.
- 1/3 Sharing Industry Related News: This shows you are an active member of the building materials industry and have a solid understanding of several different areas of business that are relevant to your customers.
How do you know if you’re getting it right? Pay attention to your open rates, your click-through rate, and your unsubscribe rate. A quick benchmark for the building materials industry: Open rate should be between 15% to 25% and click-through rate should be between 10% to 15%. If you're within these ranges, you should feel good about your content.
One of the best ways to build relationships with your customers is to provide them with unbiased, valuable information that is relevant to their needs. Your newsletter content should show that you are a trusted resource for information on industry topics related to their business.
Whatever you choose for content, remember that your newsletter will be read on several different devices (desktop, tablet, phone), so you need to check the formatting for each screen size, as well as on different email servers. For instance, your formatting may look fine on Outlook but need tweaks on Gmail. You also need to be sure your content is clear, concise, accurate and engaging to hold the attention of your audience.
Here are a few examples of content that would be relevant to the A&D community.
Think about the questions and topics that are most important to your products and services. This is a great opportunity to catch customers in several areas of the marketing funnel and help them choose your company.
- Show them how to look for specific products and services. Be the resource that leads them to the things they are looking for and helps their decision-making process.
- Create post-purchase content. Make sure you have content available that will give them tips and examples for how to best use your products and services.
- Show them extra skills. If your audience isn’t actively looking for your products, you can still engage them with how-to information about related topics.
Industry Standards and Regulations
Show the A&D Community you are up to date on current standards and regulations, especially during times when codes and standards are renewed or changed. Make sure you time these updates so they occur before the changes take place. You may also include tips on how to keep up with regulatory standards, especially if you have a product or service available to help with compliance.
Product Category News
You can become a go-to resource within the A&D community by offering information that will educate them about your product category, not just your products.
By supplying them with the information they need to complete their projects successfully, you position yourself as an industry expert and most importantly, a partner they can rely on and trust. They will remember this, even if they aren’t in the market for your specific products at the time.
Interview industry experts and discuss the latest news and trends. People love to hear from experts in their channel. Architects, for example, will always listen to and read about other seasoned architects to learn how they're innovating and solving problems. Interviews capture your audience’s attention and show that you’re a collaborative company that is interested in the success of the industry as a whole.
Your audience wants to see other people doing things successfully. If done right, your product will be a solution to a problem your audience has. Just make sure that the content is always solution-focused.
Here’s a good example of a solution-based title: How One Building Owner Saved $5 Million in Her New York Highrise. A solution-focused case study grabs a reader’s attention better than saying How Our Product Was Used in a New York Building.
One thing you don’t want to do with your company’s newsletter is be inconsistent. You know how this story goes: You start sending a newsletter every two weeks for a few months, but then four months will go by without anything, then you forget altogether, and so does your customer base. This is something that can happen easily if your newsletter isn’t part of your marketing and communication plan.
Consistency is key because it tells your audience that your company has it together. Your newsletter can serve as a constant point of contact with your customers and leads. And when you do it well, it becomes something your audience looks forward to reading.
Here are a few tips on creating a schedule that will help prove your company is a reliable source of valuable information for the A&D Community.
- Evaluate your marketing calendar: Look at your marketing calendar to get an understanding of timing, workload, events, etc. that will impact your ability to gather content for your newsletter and get it delivered, especially if you have a small team responsible for the work.
- Create an attainable and sustainable goal: Be realistic when it comes to how often you can produce your newsletter and stick with that number. Set your goals solely based on what your team can honestly achieve.
- Schedule your newsletter: Once you have a good idea of your marketing calendar and newsletter goal, scheduling will make it all happen. Start thinking about key dates throughout the process and begin allotting and scheduling the amount of time it will take to make everything come together. Here are some things you should schedule for each newsletter:
- Determine content/topics
- Writing and completion of first draft
- Edits and approvals of content
- Images selected
- All content finalized and added to design
- Send date
Make Sure You Have Content for Each Audience
Most of the time, newsletters serve as a main point of contact with current customers and new leads. You are also likely speaking to a mix of new industry professionals and seasoned pros that will need to find value in reading your content.
When planning your content, always think about the following:
- Do you have something for every experience level?
- What kind of content does each audience find valuable?
- Does your content answer their specific needs?
Be sure to use your data and research to strengthen the content in your newsletter. Depending on how you are deploying it, you should have some ability to track your content and learn more about how different audiences are engaging with specific content. This will be a good indicator of what is working best for specific audiences.
Social media can play a big role in growing your newsletter. When newsletter subscribers share your content online, you are getting free endorsements from other industry experts which helps position you as a trusted partner.
If you are regularly active on social media, take a good look at your accounts and followers.
- Which posts have the most “likes”?
- What are they saying in the comments?
- What are they sharing with their followers?
This will give you a great view into what your followers are interested in and want to know more about. Use this information when creating your content calendar so you know your newsletter will resonate with your subscribers.
Also, remember to make your newsletter easy to share by keeping your content clear, organized, and digestible. It is also a good idea to include multiple opportunities to share content throughout your newsletter. Every share on social media creates an opportunity to attract more subscribers, it’s a win/win situation.
As we have learned, newsletters that are well done and contain valuable industry insights help establish you as a reliable source within the industry. Here are three newsletter examples that do a great job of positioning companies as a trusted partner within the A&D community.
Arch Daily – Materials Newsletter
Arch Daily’s Materials Newsletter gives readers easy access to the latest information about the construction and building materials industry. It provides a solid mix of industry updates, news, and case studies that feature specific products and materials.
Architect interviews and case studies are also included to offer readers an in-depth, expert-driven look inside a project. They also highlight the most innovative products to provide more inspiration for current and future projects. Their content is clear, organized, and digestible, and features many visual elements to engage readers to learn more.
Hardware Building Supply – HBS Dealer Newsletter
Hardware Building Supply is widely known as a major source of news, knowledge, and networking and the HBS Dealer Newsletter helps take their reputation to the next level by using great design and content to offer comprehensive coverage of the latest news in building materials and manufacturing.
From corporate campaigns and goodwill initiatives to the latest updates on how industry players are working harder to go green, HBS Dealer offers a nice roundup of everything that is going on in the industry. They also have a “Product Central” area to feature the newest products on the market.
Their format increases engagement with a photo-rich design, an expanded newsfeed and easier navigation of all forms of digital media. HBD Dealer also provides an optimized user experience that makes it easy to read and navigate across multiple platforms.
Green Building News – The Vert
Green Building News’ monthly newsletter is packed with valuable news about sustainable design and construction. The Vert does a great job of providing snapshots of the industry including the latest news, trends and best practices that help readers learn more about making more environmentally conscious business and operational choices.
They feature a range of topics that appeal to a wide audience including management, facility operations, the A&D community, suppliers and contractors. While their newsletter always has content for all interests, they also have designated themes each month that focus on important topics within each part of the industry.
It is also worth noting that The Vert uses their social media presence to determine the content readers want to see. By evaluating the behavior of their 50K+ Twitter followers, Green Building News curates their newsletter content to create a focused, feature-rich experience they know users want to engage with and will share out.