On one of the forums I follow, there was a conversation about the best way to reach out to clients for new work, whether directly or as referral sources. The consensus was that they are a rich resource if approached correctly. Some felt that individualized outreach worked well.
For me personally, I have had very good response to my (mostly) monthly newsletter. I have found it to be an efficient way to remind my client base that I can help them with their design and communications challenges in more ways than one. The forum was for designers, but I think the principles hold for any professional service. Here is what I said:
Creating content that is meaningful and useful to your readers is at the core of newsletter effectiveness. So you need a very good handle on what motivates your readers and what their problems are. They are not interested in your accomplishments, except as it relates to the problems they want to solve. I have read that newsletter content should be no more than 15-20% promotional. I had mine down to less than 5%, and still got feedback that it was too “sales-y.” So now I let my readers connect their own dots and confine anything about me to a column about what I’m currently working on. Readers are quite able to see from that that I can provide services beyond what they may have already gotten from me.
My last newsletter had an example of content intended to be immediately useful to clients. It was about how not to make design decisions in a group setting. Besides being applicable to other types of decision-making, it was an opportunity to train my clients to behave in ways that work for me and also get them the best results. Besides having a pretty good open rate, I have gotten several positive emails about the article, which is usually the norm.
As far as tracking goes, if you use the MyEmma newsletter service, the stats are generated automatically and easily accessed. I have used Emma for over two years with great satisfaction. They have been especially helpful in customizing the template I use, and their customer service is great.
If you would like to see how I do my newsletter, this is a link to the last one, shown above.
And of course feedback and critiques are always welcome!