The world is in cyber mode, and the professional beauty industry is just as much a part of it as anyone else. According to NAILS 2005-2006 Big Book, 60.1% of you use a computer for your business, and of those, 94.5% have Internet access. And you can only imagine how many of your clients are plugged into their computers, checking their e-mail, and surfing the Internet.


If your clients are already going online, why not cater to them by sending a bit of your salon right to their inboxes? Plenty of salons are already sending their clients e-newsletters, not only saving money on the cost of paper and postage, but also effectively promoting their businesses in a fun, eye-catching way.


“An e-mail newsletter is an excellent, low-cost way of strengthening the relationship between you and the customer,” says Mark Brownlow of Email Marketing Reports. “Through your e-mail newsletter, the customer is getting relevant, useful information from you on a regular basis. And so, for example, whenever they think it’s time for a pedicure, your salon is the first place they think of.”


Rosemary Weiner, owner of The Brass Rose Spa & Salon in Blairstown, N.J., is certainly benefiting from sending out her e-newsletters, which she’s been doing since 1999. “We needed an economical way to communicate with a client base, which was in excess of 30,000 clients,” she says.


“Direct mail was killing our marketing budget. E-mail didn’t cost anything!”


So far, client feedback has been positive. “If I’m late getting out the e-mails, clients call us asking for them,” she says. “We also recognize that our e-mail campaign is directly responsible for clients trying out our high-end services.”


The good thing is that e-newsletters aren’t difficult to create. In fact, you can even do them yourself, and from the comfort of your own home. However, before you start coming up with ideas for your own e-newsletter, there are a few things to keep in mind.


Getting Started

Some salons prefer handing the work over to a professional rather than doing it themselves.


Iatria Day Spa, with several locations throughout North Carolina, creates their e-newsletter in-house, with contributions from therapists, health center staff, doctors, and spa directors. Once compiled, the spa uses an outside web-design service to create the actual e-mail that clients receive, says Diane Dennis, managing partner of the spa.


Getting an outside service to create your e-newsletter also has a lot to do with your salon’s budget, however.


“You could spend $30,000 a year or more to have a professional do it,” says Michael Katz, founder and CEO of Blue Penguin Development, a Boston-area consulting firm that specializes in e-newsletters. “If you’re a small business and just starting out, however, I recommend buying how-to products on e-newsletters, as well as signing up with an e-mail vendor for the formatting and delivery aspect. E-mail vendors are cheap, as low as $25 a month, depending on the size of your list.”


At Soothe Your Senses Day Spa, with locations in Chicago and Mandeveille, La., the spa’s creative director handles all e-newsletter duties. “We felt we knew our company and vision best and it keeps our message clear,” explains Gretchen Halpin, founder of the spa.


A big concern some salon owners might have, especially if they cannot afford to have someone else do the e-newsletter, is actually writing it.


“People worry they can’t write well or regularly, but it’s often just a matter of practice,” says Brownlow. “Besides, e-newsletters aren’t supposed to be candidates for a Nobel Prize in Literature. When you write, it’s your character and voice that shine through. Nobody knows nails and your clients as well as you, so who better to write the e-newsletter?”


Just make sure that before you send it out to clients, someone else proofreads your writing for any errors.


Sign Them Up

You’re itching to send out your e-newsletter, but first you need a group of clients to send it to. “Whatever you do, don’t simply collect e-mail addresses off websites, or buy lists of e-mail addresses from other people,” advises Brownlow. “You must get clear, explicit permission from the owner of the e-mail address before adding it to your list.”


Talk to clients about your upcoming e-newsletter, and encourage them to sign up. Have a stack of forms handy with space for clients to fill out their names and e-mail addresses. Include a clear indication of what you’ll be sending them, how often, and emphasize that the e-mail address will only be used for the e-newsletter subscription, and not passed on to anyone else. Keep the forms as a record, advises Brownlow.


Also, mention the e-newsletter in all of your salon literature, on receipts, etc. If you have a website, you should definitely have a sign-up form on every page.


Send It Out

You have a good amount of e-mail addresses to send your e-newsletter to and it’s all written and ready to go. Great! Now it’s time to start thinking of ideas for e-newsletter Volume 2.


“Keep to a regular schedule, though feel free to take a break for holidays or if you really have nothing to say,” advises Brownlow.


Katz suggests sending out an e-newsletter at least once a month. “After all, you’re trying to establish a relationship, and less than 12 times a year just isn’t enough to stay on anybody’s radar,” he says. “You can send one out more often, but for most businesses, just getting it out monthly is plenty. Pick a publication date (e.g. third Tuesday of each month) and stick to it.”


Weiner sends out an e-newsletter every two weeks. “The basic premise and ‘hook’ is the discount coupon,” she says. “It also reminds clients we’re here and what’s happened since their last visit.


“We also send out e-mails when we look at our advance bookings and see vacancies.”


Brownlow says it’s important not to write the e-newsletter at the last minute. Keep your eyes and ears open for new ideas to include in your next issue. “A client might ask about a new line of nail polish. When you’ve finished answering the question, write it down — you just came up with a topic for your next issue,” he says.


Besides consistency, another important thing to consider is length. “It needs to be long enough to offer some value but not so long that when it arrives people delete it without opening it,” says Katz.


Don’t worry if your e-newsletter is more focused on words than visuals. “There are lots of great e-newsletters that are text-only,” says Katz. “I prefer graphics (commonly referred to as an HTML newsletter) because they look more professional, are easier on the eyes, and provide tracking data regarding open rates, click rates, etc. But the words are what matter most, and if you find the graphics too challenging, start with text. You can always switch once you get the hang of it.”

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