With so many new digital marketing options for businesses to choose from, newsletters have given way to social media, organic search, paid advertising, re-targeting, artificial intelligence, and other online marketing efforts. Isn’t sending a newsletter old-fashioned and a dead-end marketing tactic?
Not so fast.
Newsletters are still important. How important? According to multiple studies, email marketing has the highest return of investment within digital marketing, oftentimes returning $38-44 for every $1 spent. That makes it more effective than all the previously mentioned digital marketing channels.
Email is not going away anytime soon—and in fact, is still the most popular form of communication, especially in our connected world. 81% of smartphone users say email is their most popular phone activity.
81% of smartphone users say email is their most popular phone activity.
If email is still an important means of marketing to potential buyers, then how do we leverage it? Below are some tips to get you started.
Your newsletter strategy
Newsletters have historically been emails that humble-brag about internal company achievements, updates, and generic information. How excited would you be to hear about a company’s new hire or a recent company picnic?
Your content should help, guide, and engage readers, not sell to them. Providing valuable, relevant information builds trust, authority, and credibility.
The goal of your newsletter is to stay top of mind with readers. Your newsletter, using the right strategy, can lead to more website traffic, greater conversion efficiency, and increased sales revenue with existing and new customers.
Your newsletter content
Utilizing your new content strategy of helping, guiding, and engaging readers, tailor messages with topics your audience is interested in. Is your content (and your authoritative knowledge) saving them time, money or pain? What’s the value for the reader? Maybe it’s a reminder about tax deadlines. Or a healthy recipe that saves them hundreds of calories. What about a handy checklist for their car maintenance? Perhaps it’s as simple as putting a smile on their face with a funny GIF or video. Your newsletter should provide something of value to the reader.
Your newsletter should provide something of value to the reader.
The email subject line for your newsletter should be strong and interesting, but not misleading. People don’t like to be fooled into opening emails. If the subject line of your current newsletter landed in your inbox, would you open the email? More importantly, would your clients or prospects see the value by reading your subject line? Of all of the considerations when creating a newsletter, the subject line should be very high on your list of importance. After all, if the reader won’t open your email then everything else is a waste.
LENGTH AND TONE
When creating the main message of your newsletter, use concise content, as most people are busy and they scan-read anyway. If possible, personalize the content by using the recipient’s first name. Many of today’s email marketing programs have the functionality to add the first name merge tags into newsletter templates. Lastly, remember that you are communicating with humans, so avoid corporate jargon when possible.
Your newsletter format & design
Your newsletter should be visually appealing, so add graphics or images when appropriate, but don’t overdo it. Too many images reduce click-through rate, so use three or less. Using headers with larger font and bold type, along with appropriate spacing, makes content easier to consume. Use a maximum of two font styles. A good rule of thumb is using one type for the headers and another for the text body. Your color scheme should be simple with a light background and dark text. Too many colors will come across as disorganized. Additionally, make sure your newsletter template is mobile-friendly, as more than 50% of all emails are now read using a mobile device.
FROM EMAIL ADDRESS
Readers are more likely to open an email from a real person’s email address, (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) and not a corporate email address, such as email@example.com.
Updating or redesigning your newsletter layout can be a healthy change for your business, but consistency in appearance helps your readers identify with your brand. Keep layout changes to a minimum. Always include your contact information, and provide the ability for readers to share your newsletter with their own network using social links or a shareable URL.
Each newsletter should have a primary call-to-action (CTA), and preferably it should be understood by the reader within a few seconds of opening your newsletter. For example, if the call-to-action is encouraging them to click a link to your latest blog post, then don’t make readers scroll to the bottom to see it. If the call-to-action is offering a special coupon or promotion then make it known right away. Do not bombard your readers with numerous call-to-actions within a newsletter, as that will dilute the effectiveness of your main objective.
DON’T OVERTHINK IT
Constant Contact, a popular email marketing application, has a simple, yet powerful rule for newsletter content and layout:
Headline – What are you offering?
Message body – How will it help the reader?
Call to action – What should they do next?
SUMMING IT UP
Building a better newsletter for your business doesn’t have to be complicated. Providing value to your readers with a clearly-defined call-to-action, and implementing a “less is more” content strategy can yield effective results.