So you have this beautiful new website that a superb website design studio just launched for you and your trying to figure out how to best engage your leads and customers, sell more products, or just “stay top-of-mind” for your target audience? Well there’s a solution that can solve all of those problems at once: an email newsletter! If done right, you could develop a really engaged subscriber base and potentially nurture them into qualified leads and customers. That’s not something you want to miss out on.
Want to ace your new email newsletter project, or rejuvenate an old one? Below are 10 things you need to make sure to do.
1. Do you even need an email newsletter?
To figure out what you need to do, first do some research. In your industry, are there successful email newsletters that people like to subscribe to? What’s in them? With the resources you have available to you – could you be successful?
Then, re-examine your business’ goals. Are they trying to increase the number of leads? Better qualify leads to speak with salespeople? Close more deals? Retain more customers?
If your industry isn’t really interested in email newsletters, or if your goals don’t line up with what a newsletter could accomplish, your time might be better spent creating something else like a lead nurturing email workflow or content for your blog.
Okay, let’s say you’ve found that you should do an email newsletter. What next?
2. What kind of online newsletter you want to send
One of the biggest problems with email newsletters is that they’re often cluttered and unfocused because they’re supporting every aspect of your business. Product news goes right next to PR stories, blog posts go next to a random event week … it’s kind of a mess. Email, whether it’s a newsletter or not, needs one common thread to hold it together.
One way to help reduce the randomness of an email newsletter is by keeping it to one very specific topic. So instead of it being about your company in general, dedicate it to something specific like a special promotion, a new product or service launch, etc.
This will get you way more engagement than they would in a newsletter featuring content from all over the website.
3. Your newsletter content should be 90% educational and 10% promotional
Chances are, your email newsletter subscribers don’t want to hear about your products and services 100% of the time. While they may love you and want to hear from you, there’s only so much enticing you can do before they tune out.
Case in point: My girlfriend has a thing for shoes (I know what girl doesn’t), and she especially loves this one shoe site. She willingly opted in to the company’s email list, but it now sends her emails 2-3 times a day to buy, buy, buy … and when she sees it’s sender name pop up in her inbox, she wants to scream. If they sent her educational content, maybe about the latest styles of shoes, or how to pair certain styles with certain outfits, she might be more inclined to buy from them, or at least start opening their emails again.
Don’t be that company. In your email newsletters, get rid of the self-promotion (most of the time) and focus on sending your subscribers educational, relevant, timely information. Unless you actually have an exciting, big piece of news about your product, service, or company, leave out the promotional parts.
4. Set expectations on your “Subscribe” page
Once you’ve figured out your newsletter’s focus and content balance, make sure you’re properly communicating about them on your subscribe landing page.
Get specific. Tell potential subscribers exactly what will be in the newsletter as well as how often they should expect to hear from you.
As a subscriber, wouldn’t that be awesome? You’d go in with open eyes knowing exactly who you’ll be receiving email from, what they’ll be sending you, and how often they’ll be sending it. As a marketer, having this information up front will help diminish your unsubscribe and spam rates as well.
5. Get creative with email subject lines
Even if your subscribers sign up for your emails, there’s no guarantee that they will open your emails once they get them in their inbox. Many marketers try increasing familiarity with their subscribers by keeping the subject line the same each day, week, or month that they send it.
But let’s face it, those subject lines get old for subscribers, and fast. Why? Because there’s no incentive from the subject line to click on that specific email right this instant. A better approach would be to try to have a different, creative, engaging subject line for each newsletter you send.
6. Pick one primary call-to-action
Okay, part of what makes a newsletter a newsletter is that you’re featuring multiple pieces of content with multiple calls-to-action (CTAs). But, that doesn’t mean you should let those CTAs share equal prominence.
Instead, let there be one main CTA, just one main thing that you would like your subscribers to do. The rest of the CTAs should be “in-case-you-have-time” options. Whether it’s simply to click through to see a blog post or just to forward the email to a friend, make it super simple for your subscribers to know what you want them to do.
7. Keep design and copy minimal
Like we said before, a newsletter can easily feel cluttered because of its nature. The trick to uncluttered email newsletters revolves around two things: concise copy and enough white space in the design.
Concise copy is key, because you don’t actually want to have your subscribers hang out and read your email all day. You want to send them elsewhere (your website or blog, for instance) to actually consume the whole piece of content. Concise copy gives your subscribers a taste of your content, just enough that they want to click and learn more.
White space is key in email newsletters because it helps visually alleviate the cluttered feel, and on mobile, makes it much easier for people to click the right link.
8. Make sure images have alt text
Given that visual content is incredibly important to the rest of your marketing activities, it’d make sense that you’d want to include them in your emails … right?
Right. But email’s a little bit trickier. Most of the time, people won’t have images enabled, so you’ve got to make sure your images have one essential component: alt text. Alt text is the alternative text that appears when images aren’t loaded in an email. This is especially important if your CTAs are images — you want to make sure people are clicking even without the image enabled.
9. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe
This seems kinda counter-intuitive, but it’s key if you want to maintain an active, engaged subscriber list. Don’t use weird language like “Alter your communication with us.” Don’t hide an unsubscribe button behind an image without alt text. Besides keeping your list healthy, having a clear unsubscribe process will help ensure your email isn’t marked SPAM before it hits the rest of your list’s inbox.
10. Test, test, test
I know I just listed out nine things you should do to make sure you’re doing email newsletters right, but you’ve also got to find out what works for your company and your list. Just like different cultures of people prefer different things, different groups of email subscribers prefer different things.
So use these email newsletter best practices as a launching point … and then experiment to find what works best.
What tips does your business have for sending a successful email newsletter? We’d love to hear them!