Don’t be fooled into believing that an email newsletter is a relic of the past. In fact, our research proves that it can be a highly effective marketing tool.
When used as part of a comprehensive Internet marketing strategy, a well-designed newsletter can help build your brand and improve sales. It also can drive visitors to your website or landing pages to help convert prospects to customers.
Creating an effective newsletter requires a bit of planning, great design and content that keeps your readers wanting more.
But first, you have to find those readers.
Building Your Email Distribution List
A carefully curated email list is one of the most valuable digital assets a company can have today. This doesn’t mean buying lists or asking your entrepreneurial friends to share theirs. You must grow your own list organically, or you may be wasting your time and effort.
The many ways to leverage email marketing and grow your list is a topic of its own. Suffice it to say that quality trumps quantity every time. You want your newsletter to be welcomed, opened and read.
You will accomplish that most effectively by using thoughtful and well-targeted strategies for adding new names and email addresses.
The Importance of Great Design
We’ve all seen that email newsletter, and promptly deleted it before ever reading a word.
You know the one we’re talking about — it’s so jumbled up and busy that your eye can’t settle in one place. It looks dated, the colors and fonts make your eyes hurt, and the design is more Mrs. Davis’ Third Grade Class than Salon.
Don’t do that.
An effective email newsletter will be sleek and simple with lots of white space. Your calls to action will be easy to spot but not overwhelming. Use thoughtfully placed, carefully selected images (and don’t forget the alternate text).
One critical — but often overlooked — facet of design is focus. Figuring out your focus will dictate the way your content is organized. We’ll talk about creating great content in a moment, but whatever information you choose to include, make sure it aligns with your focus.
And for heaven’s sake, organize it in a way that makes sense!
When you throw text and graphics in willy-nilly, you’ll lose your audience. Consider using a theme for each issue, or dividing it into sections that make sense for your brand. For example, you might have a section dedicated to this month’s/season’s new products, another for new developments in your industry and yet another to highlight your customer and employee of the month.
Create Email Content Your Customers and Prospects Will Read
The biggest mistake companies make when writing newsletter content is trying too hard to advertise their products and services.
The rule of thumb is that newsletter content (almost any content, for that matter) should be 90 percent useful or educational and 10 percent promotional. It’s totally fine — necessary in fact — to tout your company at the end of a newsletter article or blog post.
Just remember, you want your recipients to read, keep and share your newsletter. You will accomplish this goal only by giving them content they can truly use.
We cannot emphasize this enough: Everyone who opens your email newsletter is going to give it a quick glance. Use creative headlines and short, engaging descriptions of your content. Then, depending on your design, readers can click “more” to expand an item or to access the full story.
For each issue, create one main piece that will be your lead story.
Use your lead story to summarize the theme of the current issue, and to keep readers wanting more. You can use it to tease your other content for the month, and provide hyperlinks to each of those items.
A final word about content: Proofread and edit everything at least twice. Then ask someone else to do it as well. You would be surprised how much correct grammar, spelling and punctuation matter to your prospects.
Use Email Newsletters with Blog Posts & Articles
Customers often ask whether an email newsletter is more effective than posting blog content. Our answer is almost always, “Why not do both?”
Although all three of these tools provide a great way to get your content out there, they each serve a different purpose in the marketing cycle. They also work together quite nicely to help you maximize reach.
Many of your customers and prospects enjoy getting newsletters in their inbox; consequently, they are more likely to sign up for your email list. Others prefer to visit your site’s blog to review your posts and related content.
By using these tools together, you can direct your prospects to additional information they may find helpful.
For example, you can tease a great blog post in your newsletter. Simply include a summary of the blog or article in the newsletter, paired with an effective call-to-action (“click here to learn how you can double your sales next month”) and an easy-to-follow link that leads them to the additional content.
At the end of each blog post, tell your customers they can receive even more valuable information and exclusive offers, delivered directly to their inboxes. Then, provide a quick link for newsletter sign-up.
Encourage Your Recipients to Spread the Wealth
You will maximize your newsletter’s effectiveness every time one of your customers or prospects shares it with someone else.
Make it easy by adding calls to action, social share and email widgets throughout the newsletter. That way, if a client sees content that she believes her sister would love, she can click a button to send an email.
We all love to share social networking content that makes our friends take notice. You can capitalize on this psychological phenomenon by including a witty and topical meme or single-panel comic, a useful “Top 10” list or a thoughtful quote.
Just remember, the more engaging and useful your content, the quicker it will spread throughout the Internet universe!
Finally, Let’s Talk Technical about Email Newsletter Design
You can lavish your time and money on creating the perfect newsletter, but it won’t be worth much unless you mind the technical details.
First, ensure that it’s optimized for reading on the mobile platform. Most of your customers will see it on their tablets or smartphones, so make sure it’s highly readable.
Test every single issue. That means doing A-B testing, testing different titles and headlines, and combing through each issue for layout errors, broken links and hard-to-find CTAs.
And, of course, don’t forget to optimize your email newsletter using today’s most effective SEO strategies. This includes everything from your alt-image text to your headlines and subheadings.
Ultimately, every business can benefit from publishing its own email newsletter as a part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
Be Locally is nationally recognized for our innovative approach to online marketing strategies and SEO, leveraging today’s most powerful tools to expand your reach and grow your business. Contact one of our Internet marketing experts today to learn more about how an email newsletter can help increase your bottom line.