Guest post by Prasad Reddy.
Newsletter marketing is the most effective way for business to stay “top-of-mind” with customers and sales prospects. Companies can send useful, informative content (with some product promotion mixed in) through an email newsletter to their list of opt-in subscribers, or better yet, send slightly different content to different segments of that list.
In today’s highly competitive business landscape, a well-crafted newsletter can enable companies to stay in constant touch with customers, establish authority, grab attention, and provide calls to action.
- Increased rate of subscribers – measures your reach
- Open rate of the newsletter – measures the performance of the newsletter content
- Click-through rate – measures the activity of readers (whether they performed the desired action)
- Revenue – If the readers make a purchase clicking through email newsletter
How do you improve on each of these metrics or make your newsletter more effective? This post explores ways to optimize the creativity and impact of your email newsletters.
If you’ve been doing email marketing for a while, chances are you’ve created quite a number of newsletters over time. But have you seen significant growth in your subscriber list? If not, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate performance—your content vs. performance metrics. This will give you an understanding of the type of content that is resonating well with your audience.
You can assess the following metrics:
- Email newsletters that people are subscribing to
- What content they are interested in
- What resources are available
- What is your goal – do you want to increase the number of leads, increase website visitors, better qualify leads, close more deals, retain customers etc.
Include tracking elements
It’s essential to incorporate tracking elements in the newsletter in order to assess its performance. One way is to make a note every time a customer opts in for the promotional item or offer from the newsletter. Your team can then calculate the return on investment for each offer. This helps in evaluating how each newsletter is performing so you can accordingly make required changes.
For sending and tracking emails to large numbers of customers or prospects, it’s best to use emailing software available on the market which is built after thorough research and implementation of whitelisting tactics.
Newsletters may include product news, product features, PR stories, blog posts, promotions, customer case studies, or even an upcoming event. But putting all of this into a single newsletter would be information overload.
Instead, limit each newsletter to a few content elements and a single theme, like this example. This helps you evaluate newsletter content and offers more accurately, and avoids overloading your subscribers. You may freeze your goal while setting up the newsletter. If your goal is to increase registrations for an upcoming webinar, you might not want to add staff news. Instead, if you focus your content on the topic and value of the webinar, and provide a link to the registration form, it can increase attendance.
Decrease the promotional factor
This might sound counterintuitive as the whole intent of sending newsletter is to promote your brand. But if the promotion is too blatant, you may lose customer interest. HubSpot suggests that the newsletter content should be 90% educational and 10% promotional.
Here’s one of my experiences with newsletters: I recently subscribed to one of the content websites because I was interested in their published content and was hoping to see one email per week. But I began receiving more than three emails each week. Because of the overwhelming frequency, I had to unsubscribe from the mailing list. Had they sent an email every week on marketing content (which is the topic I was interested in), I would have remained a subscriber.
Focus your newsletter content on being informative—tell subscribers why certain materials are better, some styles are popular, or a story about your brand. These give readers a reason to trust you and also tell a story that brings more personality to your brand.
Set expectations for your subscribers
In the example above, I opted out because I was not prepared to receive three (or more) emails each week. If the publisher had set my expectations properly in the first place, making me aware that I would receive (at least) three emails per week, I would have either opted in or would have chosen single email option.
Make sure you properly communicate to your prospective newsletter subscribers. Specify what kind of information will be included in the newsletter (or provide them alternatives to choose their topic of interest) and how often they should expect it. You can also list the topics from which a subscriber can choose topics of interest. Based on this information, you can create various newsletters (based on interest) and send them accordingly. Customers with a strong attachment to a particular company spend 23% more than average consumers, and the newsletter is a prime channel for distinguishing a brand from its competition.
Make it easy for people to unsubscribe
Though your goal is to maintain a large subscriber list, it is legally necessary to include an unsubscribe button. It’s also just sensible marketing practice. Avoid gimmicks to “hide” your unsubscribe button. Creating a clear unsubscribe process lets you know which subscribers are really interested in your brand. It also ensures you have a lower spam rate. Ff you complicate the unsubscribe process, you increase your risk of being flagged as a spammer.
Let your readers go easily if they desire so (the bright side is they can always come back!) and make your unsubscribe link easy to find. Uninterested subscribers in the list will only cause delivery, open, and click-through rates go down.
Test your content
Newsletters give online businesses an opportunity to demonstrate authority, expertise, and competitive differentiation. You can test various aspects of your content, like, subject lines, calls-to-action, design, images, even the content itself. Growing your subscription list is good, but not if recipients don’t open your emails. The first thing they look at is the subject line. Try different subject lines and change your subject lines every week or month.
Using multiple calls to action (CTAs) can confuse readers and may cause them not to click on anything. Instead, if you include a single CTA which leads to the single most valuable action from subscribers you are aiming at, you have a better chance of achieving your objective. Encourage people to complete your desired action through a single CTA, such as signing up for an event or increasing your social network followers.
Keep your email copy concise and increase white space in the design. Concise copy gives subscribers a taste of your content—just enough that they want to click and learn more. Regarding images, it’s good to include alt texts because many subscribers may disable images in their emails.
What works for you in sending email newsletters?
Prasad Reddy is a content analyst at Agile CRM.