In today’s social network driven world, many people are quick to assert that email newsletters are not as important as they once were. It is true that we are constantly bombarded with email. In fact, one study reported that on average people spend somewhere around 15 hours per week dealing with essential emails, which doesn’t leave much time for opening and reading the non-essentials.
Email newsletters created by independent professionals can be powerful
As a specialist in your field you have the ability and the content to create an email newsletter that provides real value, not simply an extension of your social media presence. For example, marketing guru recently switched the bulk of his client and prospect engagement to his weekly newsletter. The reason? Chris realized that the newsletter is much more responsive. He’s more likely to receive a direct response from a newsletter reader (and he replies personally to every one) than a blog post. Subscribe to his newsletter and see how he does it.
But most of us don’t have Brogan’s following. We all have to work harder than ever before to cut through the noise.
What does this all mean? People may rely on email newsletters less than they did in the past but they are still a vital way to keep in touch with your customers and community. Many industries are still very email reliant and email newsletters are an excellent way to reach consumers who only want to receive the most important updates about your industry. The following tips can help you get the most out of your newsletter by improving your open and click through rates.
1. Put your customers first
This is the most important thing you can do to improve your newsletter. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking about what they want to say. But, it’s not about you…it’s always about them! . Instead, ask yourself the following questions, “What do my customers want to read about? What kind of content will engage them? What are my customers most likely to respond to?” Answering those questions before you get started will help you to provide your clients with an interesting and useful newsletter they are more likely to open and read.
2. Set goals
Think about your goals before you sit down to develop content. Choose a few concrete goals and write them down. Do you want readers to click through to your website? Do you want them to follow you on Facebook or fill out form? Do you want them to purchase something or watch a video? Refer to this written list when you begin to develop content. If you find that some of your content won’t help you reach your goals, eliminate it and add something that will.
3. Keep it short
Don’t try to cram too much in. If people open you newsletter and find an essay, their interest will be lost immediately. Include an average of only three stories per newsletter and never include more than five stories. The more stories you include, the shorter they should be. If you’ve already shared company news on Facebook or Twitter, don’t be repetitive and include it again in your newsletter. Instead, keep some original content back for your newsletter. If you would still like to mention a piece of news that was already mentioned on your company’s social networks, include brief one-liners about the topic along with an invitation to follow your company on Facebook for more information.
4. Choose the right layout
The right layout depends on your brand. For example, a financial service company might do well with short articles containing quick bullet points that link people back to their website. On the other hand, an engagement brand might do better by including images in a layout that looks something like a webpage. In order to choose the right layout, you must understand who your customers are and what they enjoy. If you feel that images will make your content more appealing to your clients, beware of embedding text in the images. Often, people open newsletters and read them without downloading images. Regardless of your brand or audience, always break your newsletter into clearly defined sections. It should appear organized and have clear calls to action in each section. In addition, make sure your newsletter is easy to read on a mobile device, since many of your customers open their email on their cell phones or tablets.
5. Get the subject line right
Your subject line will have quite an impact on your open rates. Use the from field to mention your brand, which will open up space in your subject line for convincing clients to open the email. Your subject line is short, so keep your message concise, compelling and valuable to your client. A subject line like “Brand XYZ Newsletter, October 2014” is not going to motivate people to open the email unless they already know that you always send excellent content. If your newsletter is relatively new, you will need to create a subject line that informs the customer what they will get from opening the newsletter and why it is of value to them.
6. Be realistic about your open and click through rates
Most business owners would like to see the majority of their email list opening their newsletter, but it simply doesn’t work like that. On average, decent open rates are rather low. In fact, if you are getting a 20 to 40 percent open rate, you are doing pretty well. Click through rates are generally even lower, averaging in at between 2 and 10 percent. Keep this in mind when looking at your rates. Not every reader opens every email. Varied content will appeal to varied customers. For example, contests are an excellent way to build your email list, but people who give their email address when signing up for a contest will probably only engage when there are competitions involved. They may not engage with the rest of your brand. Does this mean they are worthless contacts? Absolutely not. While they may not become leads or sales, they will probably share news of your contest on Facebook and other social networks, helping you to build brand awareness.
If you are unsure about how effective a certain aspect of your newsletter is, run a test. You can use MailChimp for example, to send out a newsletter with two different subject lines to 40 percent of your mail list. If one subject line shows better results, use that one when you send out the newsletter to the remaining 60 percent of your list. You can do this to test from email addresses, html vs plain text and even your newsletter layout. Remember to test only one aspect at a time to get accurate results.
8. Track your results
Your newsletter will not produce leads and conversions on its own, it must work with other channels. Use your newsletter to drive people back to your website. Track links in the email, like social buttons in the footer, hyperlinks to your website and the like to see if users are regularly engaged or never engaged. This will be helpful when making adjustments to your newsletter and when cleansing your data. MailChimp is a good tracking tool and you can link it with Google Analytics to find out who opened your newsletter, who followed links to your website and what they did once they got there.
Put these eight tips into practice and you will be on your way to delivering a better newsletter experience for your clients. And remember, creating an interesting, valuable newsletter for your clients is always worth your effort because it will result in higher opening rates, higher click through rates and better brand awareness for you.