Social media is big business for marketers these days, but it’s only part of the picture. A good e-newsletter can complement your efforts, enabling you to connect with readers and market your products on a wider scale.
Whether you’re a small business looking to connect with potential customers or an organisation aiming for world domination, your e-newsletter can be used to extend your reach and present your messages the way you want them to be presented.
An e-newsletter can be a cost-effective vehicle for sharing blog posts and weblinks, a product catalogue, a survey or advocacy tool, a subscription form or any number of things. It gives your audience a window to what you all about.
But what makes an amazing e-newsletter, and how do you get started? Here’s some advice gleaned from our experience in setting up and distributing a multitude of e-newsletters across many different industries.
Have a newsletter strategy
Understanding what you’re trying to achieve is the best place to start, especially if you are working with others.
Having a newsletter plan creates consistency and makes it clear who is responsible for what so you can work together effectively. Figuring out how your e-newsletter complements your existing marketing and communications activities will go a long way toward establishing a consistent brand voice and maximising its effectiveness.
Start by establishing a plan that identifies your objectives, target audiences, frequency and the kinds of content you will include in each e-newsletter.
Choose your weapon
There are a lot of email marketing platforms out there, so knowing what you’re after can go a long way.
Something like MailChimp is a good place to start for small businesses as it has free plans as well as attractive templates and amazing automation. It’s also powerful enough to perform well for larger organisations and can support growing businesses and large organisations equally well. WordFly is also good, although the templates are less flexible for the end user (this can be a good thing), while Campaign Monitor has a great analytics platform.
Create an attractive e-newsletter template
A bespoke and attractive newsletter template can work wonders for your readership. Once you have chosen your preferred platform and identified what the pieces of the puzzle are, you can get started putting them together in a newsletter template.
Consistency is very important. Having too many different image sizes looks messy and amateurish, so it’s important to consider what sort of images you’re likely to have available to you when putting together your template. For instance, portrait layout won’t work well to showcase photos of panoramic views from your tourism business. Setting a preferred word count for each item will be crucial when it comes to design.
Keeping things simple helps too. Fancy animations are all well and good, but different email clients render emails in different ways, so it’s wise not to put too much effort into a graphic that half of your audience may not be able to see.
Mobile phones will also often render emails differently depending on their age and screen size, so unless you have the resource for comprehensive mobile testing, it might pay to consider if the effort involved in creating custom animations or gifs for your newsletter is worth it.
Gather your content
Remember that plan? Now is the time to put it into action. Keep focussed and remember what you are aiming to achieve and what fits into the segments of the newsletter you defined in your plan.
Consider whether your message is appropriate and interesting to your audience, and make sure you are targeting your email messages to the right people.
Come up with a content plan for every newsletter edition so everyone understands content deadlines and distribution dates, as well as what’s being sent out and how they are expected to contribute.
Establish a good mailing list
People are facing an ever-increasing barrage of email marketing campaigns. Analysts predict the number of emails received by consumers will reach a global number of 319.6 billion annually by 2021 - that’s around 50 emails for every person in the world, every day. The sheer number of e-newsletters being sent means it’s critical yours stands out from the crowd if you want people to read your message.
The more targeted your newsletters are, the better the response from your audience. As well as considering what you want to tell them, consider what they want to read. Don’t just expect they will be interested – establish an audience that you know is interested in the messages you are sending by segmenting your mailing lists and setting up good subscriber forms in all the right places (handy hint: you can integrate newsletter signup with your website and even social media accounts using built in features in most email marketing programs).
Analyse results for constant improvement
Most decent email marketing platforms have comprehensive reporting and analytics built in. Through reporting, you can better understand how your audience is connecting with the messages you’re sending them, including who has opened the newsletter, which items they have read, whether they have shared the newsletter and even which geographic location your readers are based in.
Advice on establishing a high performing e-newsletter:
- Know your audience. The more targeted your newsletters are, the better the response. As well as considering what you want to tell your audience, consider what they want to read. It can be tempting to cram as much as possible in, but your main consideration should always be what matters to the reader. If you put the reader first with interesting, readable and concise content, you’re on the right track.
- Consider how content will be sourced. Sourcing content can be one of the biggest frustrations in newsletter production. Make sure you know who will provide the content for your e-newsletter, and that they understand when it is needed.
- Be consistent. Consistency is the key to an appealing e-newsletter. Presenting images at a range of sizes or a blog where some posts appear much longer than others can be jarring if it’s not properly thought out. It’s fine to have defined segments to present different messages, but these should be thought out ahead of time rather than created on an ad-hoc basis.
- Don’t force it. Trying to shoehorn ill-fitting content into a newsletter template has undermined the readability of many a good e-newsletter. If content doesn’t fit your template, figure out whether it’s because it doesn’t belong in the e-newsletter or because your template doesn’t meet your needs.
Last Word supports newsletter creation from planning and template design to content production and distribution. If you’re looking to create an amazing newsletter or improve the messages you’re sending to your readers, get in touch and see how we can help you out.