Humankind was forced to make plenty of adjustments with regards to living, learning, and working in the last year.
Customer shopping habits took a major turn. It could be out of desire or needs or both.
Moreover, businesses have also understood strategies that worked two years back won’t be good enough for the current circumstances.
Yet, in the digital marketing world, email marketing is still considered one of the leading strategies for brands to generate leads and sales. Approximately, 83% of marketers use email outreach for their lead generation strategies.
In email marketing, email newsletters play a major role for marketers.
From building relationships with customers to boosting web traffic, from generating qualified leads to driving sales, email newsletters have proven to be advantageous for businesses.
However, in order for it to work, it’s important for your email newsletters to be on point. After all, there are 4.04 billion people using emails. The chances of your emails ending up in the email graveyard are pretty high if they are of poor quality or irrelevant.
We have prepared this comprehensive guide on best practices for sending email newsletters and help you figure out the top methods to outshine others in your prospect’s inbox. Read on to know the tactics you can include in your strategy and make your newsletters work for you.
What should your newsletters talk about?
Before we head to the strategy, let’s talk about the important elements that should be included in the newsletters.
Firstly, your newsletter series should circle a certain theme or a particular topic. This helps keep everything systematic and allows you to work on your messaging accordingly.
Take this newsletter by Nik Sharma, for instance.
The theme of this newsletter series was ‘welcome series’. If you are a new subscriber, Nik will send you a couple of welcome email newsletters to help you understand what to expect and also the days you will be receiving his newsletter (for him it’s Sundays).
Such information helps subscribers understand if this was what they wanted and then, make an informed decision. It also fuels their anticipation which works in the favor of the brand.
Also, the messaging direction of the welcome series will be different from the newsletters you send afterward.
This is why you should identify the topic/theme of discussion way before you start with the series.
Next, your newsletter must have a compelling subject line. It should be informative yet creative. Around 47% of individuals open emails solely on the basis of subject lines and thus, you should make sure it gives them a sneak-peek into the subject matter of your newsletter.
As far as the content is concerned, ensure it’s concise yet educational. Your newsletters must be value-driven. Consumers today are finding a solution and not just another product or service to spend money on.
Your aim should be to help them find what they are looking for, even if it means adding links to external websites that can assist subscribers to achieve their goals.
Lastly, you should be adding all the contact information, social media links, and other relevant business information to the newsletter. This will make it easy for subscribers to reach out to you and also, help improve your social presence.
Best Practices To Email Newsletters
Now that we have a fair idea of the elements of newsletters, let’s get on with how these newsletters should be strategized.
Do your research
Research is perhaps the most crucial yet most overlooked aspect of email newsletter strategy.
Before you start planning your own newsletter, there is no harm in scouting for what’s already being shared in the market. Your first step should be to go through the newsletters that are others are sharing with their subscribers.
This will help you understand two things.
Firstly, you’ll understand the kind of content, tone, and messaging others are using that the subscribers prefer.
Secondly, you’ll get to know the content you can skip altogether. This means if there are certain topics or areas that are already being covered in abundance, there’s no point starting another one altogether. Thus, you can simply skip it.
Hence, doing your research is the first and most important step.
Establish your goal and develop a plan
Setting your goals initially helps give direction to your entire strategy including your theme, messaging, and tone.
If you don’t know what you want to achieve with your newsletter, it will be very easy for things to spiral out of control. You will not have a flow of content, you will not be able to determine how often you should be sending your newsletter, and figuring out what you’ll say with your newsletter are a few of the many issues you might have to face.
Thus, start by establishing your goals. Think about what you want your customers to know when they come across your content. Ask yourself what value are you adding to your customer’s lives with your newsletter?
Once you have this in place, start planning.
Think about the frequency, create your content buckets, and plan how you will inform your subscribers about the newsletter.
Build and categorize the email list
Without an email list in place, you won’t really know where you should be sending your emails. You can use social media platforms and websites to spread the news about your newsletter.
You can even use tools like a free keyword research tool to use those phrases and words in your URLs that will help attract your target audience.
After getting a good chunk of subscribers, there comes a time when you will be required to segment your list. You can categorize your subscribers based on different factors including demographics, customer journey, purchase history, and more.
This gives you a chance to reach out to a different set of individuals with a different newsletter. You can make edits to your messaging, the peak hours, and other variables using this tactic. It enables you to keep your strategy laser-focused.
Keep your newsletter short and precise
You must understand, human’s attentive span is pretty short. In fact, it only lasts a few seconds. It can get very easy for them to get distracted.
Plus, no one has enough time on their hands nowadays. This is why you need to ensure the newsletters that you are sending are simple and easy to understand.
Keep your newsletter long enough to incorporate everything that needs to be communicated to the audience but short enough to ensure it’s within their attention span.
Also, your design should also be simple and inclusive.
You should use just the right size of the font, contrasting colors, and proper placement of content to make sure prospects with disabilities are also able to go through the content you’ve shared.
Keeping the design simple will help minimize distractions and enable prospects to complete the task more quickly, thus improving the overall experience.
Balance out the content you are adding
The content you are adding is one of the most important elements of your newsletter. It will make or break your strategy.
Your content should be around 90 percent educational and just 10 percent promotional. Your subscribers might not want to hear about your products or your services every single time they open your newsletter.
Let us take an example.
Suppose you sell T-shirts. Now, if you keep sending them a newsletter with the same CTA to ‘buy the product’, chances are there will come a point where they would just want to avoid your emails.
You can instead talk about how your t-shirts can be paired with certain outfits, the kind of shoes that go with them, the occasions, any DIY routes that can be taken with that T-shirt, and more.
Thus, always balance out your content. This will help attract a larger audience and also improve your open rate.
Work a lot on your subject lines
Your subject lines are important.
Let’s be real. Even if a subscriber joins your newsletter, keeping them hooked and making them open your emails every time is tricky.
It is your subject lines that can save the day. You cannot keep your subject lines the same throughout your campaigns. It simply won’t work. Your subscribers will get bored and won’t have any incentive to open your emails.
Be creative and experimental when it comes to your subject lines. Try to mold your approach with every subject line and make it better with every newsletter that you send to your subscribers.
Your subject lines should be convincing and enticing. They should make an individual think and persuade them to open your email. This only comes with practice and testing.
Integrate your brand elements
You want your newsletter to visually portray it’s from your brand. This is possible when you add your brand’s elements to your newsletters.
Brand identity plays a crucial role in improving the recall value of your brand.
If your subscriber keeps looking at your logo, color palette, or your typography, they will be able to identify your brand from afar.
Even when you are sending holiday special newsletters, ensure everything is done within the visual guidelines. You will have a strong brand presence and reputation when you show consistency across different channels.
Also, this consistency can help build credibility among your subscribers.
Make it responsive for other platforms
Now, you won’t know how occupied your subscriber is when they receive your newsletter.
This also means you don’t know the device they are using to go through your email. They could be using a laptop, but the higher chances are they could be using their phone.
Now, if your newsletter is not responsive i.e. it’s not optimized for mobile phones, it can get difficult for your subscribers to read what you send them. This will dissolve the purpose of your well-planned email newsletter strategy.
Thus, make sure your newsletter looks appealing and is legible, irrespective of the device being used, including a desktop, mobile phone, and even a tablet.
Make A/B testing your best friend
Testing is one of the most crucial strategies when sending newsletters.
Ironically, it is one of the most neglected too. Many brands avoid testing and trying out different variables. You shouldn’t.
A/B testing is, in fact, one of the best and most effective methods to make sure your open rate is improving with every campaign you send.
For testing, you should be checking different variables at different times. Do not change everything at once.
Let us take an example.
Suppose you are changing the subject line for the next email. Do not touch your CTA, buttons, or any other variables. This will help you in the long run. Here’s how.
If you edit all the variables at once and your open rate doesn’t improve, you won’t be able to identify what changes will help you achieve better results. You will also find it difficult to figure out what change helped improve your open rate, in case it happens.
Hence, if you take one step at a time, you will be able to deduce which variable is helping and which one is not.
You can then make a decision based on your findings.
Set your subscriber’s expectations right
Think of your new subscribers as new students in your class. When a student joins, they need to be told about the class, the subjects, their timetable, and most importantly, what they should be expecting.
That should be your aim with your subscribers as well.
When a new subscriber joins your team, you should make them feel welcomed and informed.
Let them know what they are in for, the topics you’ll cover, and how grateful you are they are a part of your journey. If possible, also share the days and time they will be receiving your mail at. This helps build anticipation and also ensures an improved open rate. After all, your subscribers would already know they will be receiving mail from you, it’ll keep them waiting.
If you just send them the same emails as your existing subscribers, the newbies won’t understand the flow or will not be able to connect with you/your brand. This is likely to make them unsubscribe.
Hence, always communicate with new subscribers and welcome them with open arms.
Share exclusive discounts and offers
Newsletters are also a great way to generate sales, we have already established that. However, your subscribers will need a few incentives to make the purchase. Your offers and special discounts could be those factors.
You could also offer discounts exclusively for your subscribers. This will make them feel special and make them stick around for longer.
Email newsletters are also a great way to promote giveaways and contests (if you are hosting any). You can give your subscribers a backdoor entry to these contests and giveaways as a token of appreciation for being a part of your community.
Keep it personalized
No one likes to communicate with a robot.
If you are planning to send newsletters, make sure you are putting all your efforts into them. This also means personalizing your email newsletters. According to a McKinsey report, a more personalized email brings 20% higher customer satisfaction and can also boost the conversion rate by 10% to 15%.
So, how can you personalize your newsletters?
Start from the subject line. Add the name of your subscriber to every subject line you send. It’s a pretty common practice. Now, what you can do to improve this is rephrasing the subject line based on their customer journey phase.
You can also take their past purchases as a basis of your subject line. For instance, if the customer has purchased heels from your website. You can write something like, ‘Stilettoes, wedges, and other hot drops this Spring’.
You should also make sure you are using their past purchase decisions to show them more similar options. This helps them understand you care about their tastes and preferences. This can also lead them to make more purchases if they come across products that reflect their likes or needs.
These are a few of the many ways to personalize your newsletters. Make sure your subscribers feel special by your exclusive efforts.
Track your efforts
Tracking and measuring results is THE most vital practice.
If you don’t measure your results, you won’t know how right or wrong your practices are. This just means if your open rate is poor, you won’t know and you’ll keep sending your subscribers the same emails. It will not solve any purpose for your business.
A poor open rate means no one is reading these emails you are sending. Consequently, all the efforts you are putting in crafting those emails are going in vain. Thus, you should keep a track of your emails, open rates, bounce rates, and more.
Also, don’t wait for till after the campaign is over to find out how fruitful or unfruitful your efforts have been. Instead, keep a check on efforts at every step of the campaign to take preemptive measures to correct the mistakes as you go.
Newsletters are among the most effective ways to build meaningful relationships with the audience. They’re a great source of sharing value, offer discounts, or maybe promote the new collection you are launching.
If your brand plans to send newsletters, make sure you are personalizing each one of them. Also, make it a point to not make your newsletters too promotional and focus on maintaining a balance. Keep it more inclined towards educational and valuable.
Moreover, your subject line should be compelling enough to persuade the subscribers to open your emails.
Keeping these best practices at your fingertips will certainly help give your efforts a boost and drive desired results.