More than 80 percent of marketers report that their organization has an email newsletter, according to the Content Marketing Institute. So odds are fairly good that your organization produces one too, whether it's weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even more or less frequently than that. But how do you ensure that your newsletter is the best that it can be? Below are some tips for improving your email newsletter.
But first, ask yourself one important question – particularly if your newsletter hasn't been performing as well as you would like it to. Given the popularity of e-newsletters in organizations today, this might be a tough question to ask, but it's important to ask anyway: Does your organization even need an email newsletter? While the answer that immediately comes to mind might be a resounding, "Yes," take a moment to really think about it. Consider what your goals are for the newsletter – qualifying or nurturing leads, customer retention, etc. – and whether your email newsletter is helping you achieve those goals. Also, look at what other businesses in your industry are doing. Do they have effective email newsletters? What kind of content is included in the successful ones? If an email newsletter doesn't suit your organization's goals or it isn't something that audiences for your industry respond to, your time and energy might be better spent on other marketing initiatives.
If after asking that question, you know that an email newsletter is an effective tactic for your organization, here are six tips for making it better than ever:
1. Keep it short and simple. We get it; your company has a lot to say. But an email newsletter isn't the place to say everything. While scrolling to view the content in an email newsletter is fine, try to keep the amount of times a reader would need to scroll down in the email to three or four scrolls. To avoid scrolling, you could also utilize a table of contents format, which we discuss in more detail in this previous blog post. Also, be sure to keep your design simple and uncluttered. It should be easy for your readers to see and consume all of the information you have presented.
2. Use links to your advantage. In keeping with the tip above, cut down on the amount of copy in your email newsletter by making use of links. Rather than including the copy for a full article, provide a teaser and then link to the full story hosted elsewhere. As you can see in the screenshot below from the ClickDimensions newsletter, for much of our monthly newsletter content, we include the title of an article and then link to that piece on our blog.
3. Be helpful. Earlier in this post, we discussed determining your goals for your email newsletter. Even if that goal is to sell or cross-sell, you can still provide helpful information to your newsletter recipients. For example, a home security company could provide information on how to choose the right security technology for your home along with a promotional offer. Or a women's clothing retailer could provide styling tips for the top looks of the season and provide a promo code for items featured in that content. In other words, pair deals with content that helps people make the most of those deals. And always ask yourself, "Is this a newsletter I would want to receive and read?"
4. Shake up your subject lines and preheaders. It can be easy to get into a rut with email subject lines for a reoccurring piece like newsletters. After all, you want your newsletter to be easily recognizable to recipients. Even if you use a variation on the same subject line, such as "ClickDimensions February 2017 Newsletter" vs. "ClickDimensions Newsletter: February 2017," there are ways to switch up what your recipients see when they first spot your email in their inbox. Preheaders are a great place to preview to recipients the content of the email. So, using the ClickDimensions newsletter example, the preheader could be something like "Get a sneak peek of our new release." You could also try switching the sender name to reflect that it's your newsletter – City Zoo News or City Zoo Monthly, for example – which would free up space to be more creative in your subject lines.
5. Try A/B testing. Once you've tried some variations on those subject lines, preheaders, sender names or other content within your email, try A/B or split testing to see which changes make a difference to your audience and your email performance. Split testing, also known as A/B testing, through ClickDimensions allows you to send two versions of your email with varying content to determine which version gets the most opens when sent to a set number of your overall recipients. The winning version is then sent to the remainder of your full list. This process can give you great insight into what is and isn't working in your email newsletter.
6. Utilize subscription management. Subscription management allows your email recipients to choose which emails they would like to receive from your organization by opting in to some and opting out of others. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by all of the different messages that can come from one company, your subscribers get to choose the types of messages they receive, which improves the chances they will interact with those messages. This can help improve the performance of your newsletter, and the other emails that your organization sends, by ensuring that it only goes to people that truly want to receive it and reducing global unsubscribes. In addition, as seen in the screenshot below, subscription management can help manage expectations on how frequently communications are sent, further increasing subscriber satisfaction.