Regardless of how infamous email is for spam, phishing, and misdirection, an email newsletter is still the most effective business communication and lead generation tool for marketers. However, a bitter truth is that not all companies and marketers devote adequate time to create a powerful newsletter strategy.
This negligence leads to the poor execution and performance of the newsletter which eventually adversely affects the growth and profitability of the business. Whether you have just kicked off a new email newsletter project or are planning to rejuvenate an old one, adding these industry best practices to your strategy will definitely turn your mediocre, spam-like newsletter into a client-attracting, lead nurturing machine.
Identify Your Purpose and Define Your Audience
The first and foremost step to create a successful e-newsletter is identifying what you want to accomplish and whom you want to reach with the newsletter. Without these two things, your newsletter wouldn’t be as effective and efficient as it can be. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is the primary purpose of my newsletter?
- Who is my target audience?
- What does my audience want to know?
- What relevant information can I share?
- How often do I need to send the newsletter?
Getting the right answers to all these questions will help you find out what kind of e-newsletter you really need and accordingly, you’ll able to create relevant and interesting content for your specific audience.
Keep the Newsletter Design Clean and Minimal
The design of your newsletter plays a vital role in determining whether or not your audience will stay subscribed to your newsletter. Whether you’re building a newsletter on your own or getting it done professionally through a PSD to email newsletter conversion service provider, streamline the design of your newsletter to focus on the key message, instead of style. Follow these simple tips to keep your newsletter design elegant and simple:
- Use sufficient white space in the design
- Offer both HTML and plain text versions
- Keep your paragraphs short up to two or three sentences.
- Use easy to read, regular fonts such as Arial or Courier.
- Limit the number of characters in a line to 60 characters
- Keeping your content scannable with headers, content blocks, and bullet points!
- Do not use too many images
Always remember, a clean, straight-to-the-point layout is the only way to keep people happy and subscribed to your e-newsletter.
Create Informative, Customer-Focused Content
No matter how captivating is the design of your newsletter or how you organize your information, nothing will help you if your content is not relevant to what the subscriber was promised to receive at the time of subscription. Concentrate on creating engaging, digestible, and informative content that builds authority, instead of writing low-quality content solely focused on selling your products or services. To help get you started, below are a few examples of valuable, customer-focused email newsletter content:
- Blog posts – useful tips, how-to’s, tutorials and resources
- Company news and updates
- Upcoming events
- Product changes or improvements
- Case studies and Infographics
- Industry news and trends
When crafting the content for your newsletter, always follow the e-newsletter 80-20 rule. This refers to keeping your newsletter content 80% informative and 10% promotional. In other words, give your audience what they actually need before trying to sell what you want them to buy.
Write Compelling Subject Lines
Whether it’s a virtual world or the realistic one, you never get a second chance to make the first impression. The same goes for the subject line of your email newsletter. According to the Convince and Convert, a renowned social media and content marketing company, 35% of people open an email based purely on its subject line. So if your subject line is not creative, compelling and intriguing, there is a high chance that your subscribers will not open your newsletter even if they have signed up for it in the past. Here are some suggestions on how to create thought provoking subject lines:
- Keep your subject line short up to 50 characters
- Personalize it using the recipient’s first name
- Avoid using generic words and phrases
- Use Emoji and symbols
- Keep the tone casual and relevant
- If possible, also use numbers in your subject lines
As subject lines play a pivotal role in determining whether or not your recipients will open the newsletter, make sure to craft them very carefully.
Take a Personalized Approach
A recent study done by VentureBeat shows that marketers who use personalization in their newsletters not only experience 2.5x higher click-through rates but also they generate 6x more sales from their campaigns. This demonstrates how crucial personalization is to make an email newsletter stand out and successful. Personalize your newsletter as much as possible because this is also one and the only way to establish a genuine emotional connection with your audience.
Until now, we have been customizing our emails by dynamically inserting the reader’s first name at the beginning, but today personalization is not just about that. Nowadays, you need to reach your customers on a much more personal level by customizing your emails based on the preferences such as user’s behavior, interest, age, gender, geographic location, etc. You can easily accomplish this by taking advantage of any segmenting tools offered by your email marketing service provider and creating multiple versions of the same newsletter accordingly.
Make Mobile a Priority
No matter how spiffy your e-newsletter looks on a 4k monitor, it will never be successful if doesn’t render flawlessly on the tiny screens of mobile and tablet devices. The reason; over 50% of all email opens take place on mobile and tablet devices, according to the leading email marketing firm Litmus. Follow these proven practices to make your newsletter extremely friendly to mobile and tablet devices:
- Use a single-column layout
- Bump up the font size for improved readability
- Keep your email under 600 pixels wide
- Avoid using tiny navigation or menu bars
- Always use touch-friendly buttons and links
- Don’t make your call-to-action an image
- Leave enough breathing and clicking room (white space)
- Test your emails across multiple devices
In other words, design responsively to ensure your newsletter looks nice on all mobile, tablet and desktop devices. Otherwise, it will be sent straight to the trash folder – even by your own loyal readers.
Pay Attention to Your CTAs
A call to action (CTA) is a special phrase or button in the newsletter which encourages the reader to perform the desired action. Depending on the number of content blocks you have, you can incorporate as many calls to action as you need into your newsletter, but the best thing would be to keep the numbers as relevant as possible. That’s because using too many calls-to-action can confuse your subscribers as well as distract them from fulfilling the main purpose of your newsletter.
As per the design and copy of your newsletter, you may have multiple calls-to-action but that doesn’t mean all those CTAs should share equal prominence. To make your newsletter more engaging and conversion-friendly, set one CTA as primary and others as the ‘just in-case-you-have-time’ like options. Also, make your primary call to action clearly visible and easily distinguishable since it contains the main action that you want your subscribers to take.
Track Your Newsletter Performance
Don’t fire and forget! Once you’ve launched your newsletter, track and analyze its performance like a bloodhound to see what works best and what areas you need to improve. Constantly perform A/B testing and try different subject lines and CTAs to see which approach resonates best with your target audience. While there’s practically no limit to the number of things you can test in a newsletter, you should always measure these three key variables to assess the success of your email campaign:
- Open rate – how many subscribers open the newsletter
- Overall click-throughs – how many times the reader clicks links within email to read the desired content
- The number of unsubscribes – how many people unsubscribe the newsletter
Luckily, all these metrics can easily be measured through the reporting tools offered by your email service provider or marketing automation software. However, if you wish to gain deep insight into the performance of your newsletter, you can always take advantage of Google Analytics.