Five steps to producing an effective email newsletter
Written by Nathan Bees
Last updated: 28/11/2017
With the plethora of modern marketing techniques available to businesses in 2017, the humble email newsletter is often overlooked, or undervalued.
There is a belief that business newsletters are unexciting, unimaginative and much less influential than they used to be - this is a common misconception. Truth is, email marketing remains a growing industry – in 2017 the average open rate of UK email marketing is 24.79% – so e-newsletters are as powerful now as they have ever been.
E-newsletters allow you to reinforce your brand and communicate key messages to clients, straight to a place you can be sure they will check several times every day: Their inbox. They are economical, personal and measurable – three characteristics that should make it an essential component in every business’s marketing strategy.
If you don’t currently distribute email newsletters, or do so with varying levels of success, this is the guide for you. We outline five key considerations that, if followed, will ensure your business produces a newsletter that clients want to read rather than routinely ignore, keeping you at the forefront of their minds when they next require a product or service.
1. Write short yet creative subject lines
Let’s start at the very top, shall we? Writing great email subject lines.
As obvious as this sounds, subject lines can be the difference between a recipient being intrigued enough to click into your email and deleting it without hesitation.
‘But if they are subscribed to our newsletter, surely they will read it regardless?’ I hear you cry. Not necessarily. People are busy; they have other emails they are looking out for as they scroll through their inbox. It means newsletters and other non-urgent mail can get lost – especially if the subject line is bland and unoriginal.
According to Invesp, 47% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone, while 69% report to flagging mail as spam based purely on this text. It’s vital, therefore, to create intriguing, snappy subject lines that will grab the reader’s attention.
Optinmonster suggests utilising psychological techniques, like inducing a ‘fear of missing out’ – which can be achieved by incorporating words that imply exclusivity or limited availability, for example – as this will often help your newsletter pique the interest of recipients.
2. Decide upon a consistent content structure and branding
We think that unstructured newsletters are as bad, if not worse, than sending no newsletter at all. A lengthy page full of different news items, stories and blog entries thrown together with no common theme is exactly the sort of thing readers don’t want to see. Worse still is a newsletter with no clear branding, leaving readers wondering where the email came from in the first place!
The key to avoiding this is having a clear idea of what you want your newsletter to say. Sticking to a consistent content structure will give your newsletter a sense of cohesion and, if done well, encourage the reader to fully explore every section on the page.
Obviously you don’t want your newsletters to be boring or predictable, so mix themes up where possible; have a clear idea of what message(s) you want to get across in each edition and stick to it, rather than cobbling together a random assortment of content.
3. Give, don’t take
This leads nicely on to our next point: Making it worth the reader’s time to invest the time in reading your newsletter. You’ve done the hard part and captured their attention with your snappy subject line, so now you have to make it count!
As tempting as it may be to write uninterrupted sales patter, it’s a sure-fire way to lose your position of influence as quickly as you seized it in the first place. Instead, your newsletter needs to be informative and tell the reader something they don’t already know, whether that’s news about your business or wider industry.
It’s about striking the right balance between education and promotion, and recognising that the former is actually far more important than the latter. Why? Having signed up to your newsletter, recipients likely already know what you do or sell and won’t need to be reminded. People will instead choose to read your content in the hope of learning something new, in finding an offer or promotion, or in the chance that they will be entertained, safe in the knowledge that you can provide them with a related product or service should they want it.
It gives the reader something to think about and inextricably links your business with the subject in their minds.
According to Hubspot, the perfect email content split is 90% educational and 10% promotional.
4. Newsletter design
Earlier on we explained how a cluttered newsletter is a real turn-off. While having a clear sections or strong content themes may help to negate this, it’s just as important to have an intuitive design that is practical, usable and pleasing on the eye.
A good starting point is considering both width and height. CrazyEgg suggest a fixed page width is preferable to a fluid layout, as it will prevent horizontal scroll bars that appear as a consequence of users not opening the window to view the full width of the page. It also recommends putting all notable information within the top 300 to 500 pixels of the newsletter, as this is the size of an average preview pane in most desktop email clients.
In terms of style, every business’s newsletter will be different depending on its brand, tone and business offerings, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach here. Therefore, the key advice is to not to get carried away. Minimalistic designs with just a few key colour themes, for example, are more aesthetically pleasing than a page awash with every colour in the rainbow. Remember: Less is quite often more. Readers want clear, organised, digestible content that entices them in. Over-the-top designs don’t usually deliver that.
Don’t forget to incorporate social media sharing options within your newsletter layout to make it easy for recipients to share your content with a wider audience –the primary objective of email marketing, and the all-important unsubscribe option.
5. Be consistent in scheduling
This is as simple as it sounds. Create and deliver your newsletters regularly for maximum impact.
Whether daily, weekly or monthly, devise a strategy that will see you distribute your newsletter at the same time on every due date. That way, your recipients will know exactly when to expect it in their inbox and may hopefully begin to seek it out.
Before distributing each newsletter, remember to get it proofed and sense checked by someone with an eye for detail, and ensure that all links point to the right place to prevent any embarrassing mistakes from being spotted by recipients. You don’t want to give the impression your newsletter has been put together in a rush, as it reflects badly on the professionalism of your business.
If you’d like help with your email marketing, get in touch today.