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12 Tips to Getting the Most Out of Your Email Newsletter

One of the most effective forms of email marketing is the newsletter. It’s a way of providing subscribers with an in-depth look at your business. It’s also highly customizable, making it a great way to solidify your brand image by providing subscribers with useful, shareable information. Looking to start a newsletter or fine-tune an existing company newsletter? Consider the following tips.

Know Your Audience

Take a minute to clearly determine who is likely to be reading your newsletter. If, for instance, you’re inviting customers to sign-up for your newsletter via your blog, website or social media pages, consider adding some tips centered around services or products your business offers to generate interest and inspire readers to share and discuss your newsletter content.

Make Subscribing Easy

With increasing concern over identity theft, people are going to be naturally hesitant about giving too much information just to subscribe to a newsletter. One way to increase the comfort level is to solicit information such as birthdays, first and last names and email addresses for small giveaways to encourage people to subscribe.

Let Subscribers Know What’s Coming

While soliciting subscribers, let them know what they’ll get in the newsletter, how often it will be sent and whether or not you’ll add their name to your general email list and send them separate offers. The last thing you want to do is irritate a customer who already has some interest in your business by flooding their in-box with a bunch of solicitations they had no idea they’d be getting just for asking for your newsletter.

Send a Welcome Email with an Easy Out

Since people sometimes sign up for stuff and then quickly forget about it, send a welcome email to remind subscribers who you are and what you’ll be sending. Include an easy out option (as in a clickable link to unsubscribe at the bottom of the welcome email) for subscribers who have since changed their mind. Consider including special offers (like a discount on a future purchase) as part of your welcome email to thank new subscribers for their interest.

Match Your Brand’s Style

Consistency breeds familiarity, especially in the world of online marketing. Match the look of your brand — meaning your color scheme, logo, font, lettering size, etc. — with the layout and design of your newsletter. This will helps readers become more familiar with your brand across all platforms. Remember that part of the goal of soliciting newsletter subscribers is to solidify your brand’s image, which is especially important for small businesses competing with more established brands.

Make It Easy to Digest

In today’s busy world, even subscribers looking forward to your newsletter aren’t likely to have time to give every single work their undivided attention. Make your content as easily digestible as possible by breaking up content with subheadings and keeping paragraphs as short and concise as possible. If you have a long article to share, consider using a “read more” link to allow the reader to stop at a convenient place and come back and read the rest later. Offering hints at what’s inside of your new newsletter in your subject line can also encourage readers to click now rather than save it for later.

Send Relevant Content

Email newsletters can be segmented into specific groups rather than one big list. You can send newsletters to donors, repeat customers, preferred customers, volunteers, third-party vendors or any other group specific to your customer demographics. By grouping your newsletter list by specific segments within your audience, you can better target any related email marketing campaigns, often right down to a very specific geographic area since subscribers in Miami don’t care about an in-store special you have going on in Dallas. For some added relevance, consider including a customized greeting in the emails that attach your newsletters, which can be as simple as using the subscriber’s first name to establish a friendly tone.

Stick to a Publishing Schedule

Even eager subscribers are going to lose patience eventually, so sticking to a publishing schedule is essential to the success of your newsletter. If you start off sending a newsletter once a week and slack off to one a month followed by maybe a few times a year at best, you’re going to quickly lose subscribers. While it’s great to be ambitious, take some time to think about how often you can realistically get content together and publish your newsletter when determining your publication schedule. Make sure it’s a schedule you can stick to with some regularity to keep subscribers interested.

Think Mobile

Approximately 63 percent of Americans either refuse to read or delete emails and attachments that aren’t easy to read on a mobile device, according to a study of online habits. For this reason, your newsletter needs to be as mobile-friendly as possible with clear fonts and minimal use of bells and whistles like links, scrolling text, photos, images and video links that tend to increase page load times. Consider including a plain-text version of the emails attaching your newsletter in the event that a subscriber has issues reading the HTML version of your email.

Gage Tone Accordingly

Before putting together your newsletter, take some time to determine who will likely be reading it. There’s no use sending out a technical newsletter with lots of industry jargon if most of your subscribers are recent customers with no interest in the behind-the-scenes details of company operations. If you have subscribers who fit into very different categories, consider sending out different versions of your newsletter to maintain interest.

Test and Revise Internally

If you still have lingering doubts about how your newsletter is going to go over with your subscribers, do an internal test. This simply means sending a sample newsletter via email to employers, friends or colleagues to solicit feedback. Have some employees access the newsletter from their phone or tablet to determine how it looks on a smaller screen. This is also a good way to tell if newsletters are likely to end up in spam folders or have any other possible delivery issues, allowing for some time to make last-minute adjustments before officially sending out your newsletters.

Track Stats

Email newsletter services tend to include some type of stat tracking option or provide access to a report detailing information like when your newsletter was sent, whether or not it was opened and how many recipients decided to “unsubscribe” after receiving your newsletter. Take some time to familiarize yourself with such reports so you can use the results to fine-tune your newsletter. If you’re getting a high number of unopened emails, for instance, you probably need to do a better job writing email headlines to offer an enticement to read the attached newsletter.

Follow Spam Rules

The email attaching your newsletter can end up in the spam folder if you don’t following spam rules and guidelines. This can usually be avoided by ensuring that you only send newsletters to subscribers who clearly signed up to receive those newsletters. Avoid purchasing email lists, unless you plan to send initial emails asking if people on that list want to subscribe to your newsletter. If you’re a small business with a local customer base, you’re not likely to get much of a positive response from a random email list. Include an obvious unsubscribe option in the email attaching your newsletter.

Proofread and Edit

Newsletters need to contain meaningful information that’s easy to follow. Take time to proofread and edit. Spelling and grammar mistakes can also reflect poorly on your business, and possibly turn off some subscribers.

Don’t start a newsletter if you’re not sure it’s something you can commit to on a regular basis. Not only will you be doing a disservice to your subscribers, but you could also damage your brand’s image. A well-developed newsletter sent to subscribers likely to be responsive to your content can be a great way to establish productive relationships with existing customers, potential customers and “social influencers” likely to share your content and generate traffic back to your online content.

About Omar Kattan
Omar is MD & Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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