13 April 2015
This may be KS Lesson #146, but it’s right at the beginning of my chronological checklist of things to do at least 6 months before you launch your first crowdfunding campaign. With over 10,000 subscribers, the Stonemaier Games e-newsletter continues to be a huge asset to engaging our fans and notifying them of new product launches.
Why Is an E-Newsletter Important?
Despite all the various forms of social media, e-mail is still the best way to communicate something specific (like a Kickstarter launch notification) to a big group of people. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are great, but only a small number of those fans and followers will see any post you make.
The other nice thing about an e-newsletter is you can start accepting subscribers at any time. You may not have a product or a company, but if you have an exciting pitch, people will start to sign up to learn more later. This is discussed in Funding the Dream podcast #237 with Joey Vigour, creator of the successful Chaosmos project.
Which Service Should I Use?
I’ve used MailChimp (referral code) for several years now, and I’ve been extremely happy with my experience. It’s easy to set up and use, offers plans ranging from free to affordable, and offers tons of data and analytics.
Of course, there are many other e-newsletter options out there. I’ve heard good things about TinyLetter. The only thing you really don’t want to do is send a mass e-mail through your normal e-mail client. People can’t unsubscribe from that, so they end up filtering all e-mails from that account.
How Do I Get Subscribers?
It helps to have a formal presence on the internet for people to discover so they know there’s something to sign up for. A blog, podcast, or YouTube channel are ideal, but you can also use Facebook and Twitter to direct people to the e-newsletter subscription page.
Keep in mind that people search for and discover random stuff all the time. You never know when one of those people might be a future backer, so give them the opportunity to stay in touch with you in the long run via your e-newsletter.
Do not pay for lists of subscribers, and do not subscribe people without asking for their permission.
How Can I Optimize the E-Newsletter (and Not Annoy Subscribers)?
The easiest way for you to answer this question for yourself is think about all the various e-newsletters you subscribe to. Which are the ones you actually read? What is it about them that makes you want to read them? Figure that out and do the same with yours.
Here are some specific tips:
- Write a compelling subject line, as it’s your first and only chance to get people to read more. Entrepreneur Alison Davis offers 5 great tips on writing effective subject lines here.
- Write like a person, not a company. Use the words “I” and “we,” not generic third person. Tell your story–Michael Mindes does this really well in the TMG e-newsletter. Write as if you’re talking to one specific reader, not “Hey everyone!”
- Include several images, but make sure the text stands on its own for people who can’t view the images in their e-mail client.
- Send the e-newsletter once a month and whenever you launch a new campaign or pre-order.
MailChimp sent me some interesting data about my campaigns from 2014. As the descriptions note, the data can be a little misleading, as it’s based on my own patterns of sending out e-newsletters on Monday more than other days and KS launch notifications at 9:30 am CST more than other times.
Also read: Post-Campaign Communication
What is your experience with e-newsletters, either as a creator or a subscriber? What elements of e-newsletters motivate you to actually read them?