Thinking of starting an email newsletter? It’s easy.
Planning the newsletter is probably the most time-consuming part – preparing the type of content in each newsletter, creating your list of email addresses and newsletter templates. After that, each newsletter shouldn’t take very long to create.
Why should you consider an email campaign?
Most email subscribers have given you permission to send them a newsletter – it is an invitation that they want information from you (and treat this invitation with respect).
An email newsletter provides helpful content to your list of customers, prospects or target audience and gets your brand back in front of them in a non-sales way.
Email subscribers check their emails several times a day, chances are they may just see your email, your brand and even better, open it and action it!
Before you get started
You need to decide what the purpose of the email newsletter is – is it to generate traffic to your website, get your brand in front of prospects, or notify your customers of new products or services?
Once you have this worked out, creating the content for each newsletter will become clear and give you the direction you need.
Follow these steps for a great newsletter program you can start today -
• Responsibility – who has the ultimate responsibility for the email newsletter.
This person will oversee that the content is written and produced into a newsletter, the database is updated on a regular basis and the data analysed so continual improvements can be made often.
• Frequency – how often will you send out your email newsletter?
Too often and you will annoy your subscribers. Choose a frequency that gives you enough time to collate the content into an interesting newsletter that will be valued. If your business has lots of specials and new product offerings, and your customers may buy often, plan on a weekly or fortnightly newsletter. If your product or service offering is purchased less often plan for a reduced frequency.
• Content – what content will you put into the email newsletter?
Talk to a few customers to see what they would like to see. This will depend on the product or service your business sells and a realistic view of your company’s’ capability to produce the newsletter to the frequency. Based on my experience with small business owners or companies with limited marketing resources, I would suggest you start smaller until you get the hang of it, you can always tweak it and add to it as you get more experienced. You can use a copywriter (like me to help) or there are companies who specialise in email campaigns.
HINT: Using the same layout for each publication and the same kind of content, helps your recipients know what valuable content will be in it. For example, you may want to have the first section for the specials for the month, the second section as answering a question from your readers and the third section is something about an employee. It doesn’t matter, use your imagination but using the same format every newsletter, helps keep it consistent.
• Database – how will email addresses be captured?
Will they be collated through the website when they purchase an item, as a website inquiry or from the clipboard at the register at the shop front? It doesn’t really matter as long as there is a method to collect them. A useful tip would be to segment the subscriber list from the start. Down the track, when you start implementing targeted email campaigns you can easily select the target email addresses from the total subscriber list, that is, customers, inquirers, or prospects.
2. Find the right email marketing software
There are many email marketing software (EMS) companies in the marketplace to choose from. Some are free for a certain number of email addresses and charge for larger lists, some will charge for certain features. Decide on your budget and features that you will use and design your newsletter into a worthy publication that your recipients will want to open.
Why use email marketing software?
• Professional – the software produces professional looking publications complete with graphics, colours, and images.
• Easy to Use – most are very easy to use, and only require a limited amount of technical knowledge. Some include features such as free newsletter templates, the ability to manage your subscriber lists and the ability to integrate with your business software or third-party plug-ins.
• Build & Organise Lists – include contact management features. You can integrate it with social media and other applications to build your subscriber list.
• Spam settings – most email marketing software comply with anti-spam regulations, which reduces your chances of your newsletter ending up in the recipients’ junk mail as spam.
• Analytics – they will produce statistics regarding each newsletter sent, such as how many were sent, how many opened them and how many clicked on it, how many purchased or requested further information. This is valuable information to guide you on how to improve your newsletters, so they become an email that your recipients look forward to receiving and increase your sales.
For companies that deal with international customers, some email marketing software allows you to produce newsletters in multiple languages.
3. Get Creative
Write content that you know your target audience with find interesting and want to know about. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but always keep your audience in mind. Keep it consistent so they know what to expect. If they opened the previous one and liked it, they will want to read similar great content in the same format.
Some examples include –
• If you want to draw traffic to your website, summarise a recent blog from your website that has a link to your website.
• Use industry or news articles as content and comment on them, provide community issues for local businesses, provide information that will help the readers in their job or home life.
• Try new offers, new product offerings, quotes, jokes, competitions or write about a complimentary business. – anything that adds value and your reader will appreciate.
Don’t forget the call to action (CTA). What do you want your readers to do? This should be consistent with the purpose of your newsletter. Pick one CTA and stick to it, don’t confuse your readers.
The most important aspect of the email newsletter is the subject line.
Remember, each reader has hundreds of emails vying for their attention, you want your email to be the one they open. Your subject line will determine whether it is opened or not.
Make sure your subject ties in with the content in the newsletter and is in line with your brand.
Write the subject line last, after all the content has been created. Have a look at the email newsletters you receive, the ones that you opened and the ones that are now sitting in your trash. As you get more experienced in email marketing, you can see what subject lines had the most clicks and see the pattern that may be developing.
4. Analyse the data
No need to cross your fingers, hoping your readers open your newsletter, there is software that tells you. If you used an email marketing software all the stats will be there. Wait a few days after sending out the newsletter to check how well your email newsletter has gone. Have a look at the number of opens and clicks and compare against other newsletters to get a feel for the type of subject lines and content that your email list is responding to.
Still unsure whether you have the skills or perhaps, the time to start an email newsletter? Talk to me and I can run through the process and the benefits for your type of business.
Need some inspiration before you get started? Have a look at these great examples of design and content from other companies email newsletters.