Email Newsletters – 10 Best Practices You Need to Know
(Updated March 2017)
What’s one of the most effective marketing tools for building your brand, engaging with customers, and closing sales? An email newsletter. Sent on a regular basis, a content-based email newsletter not only helps your company stay top-of-mind, but also showcases your industry expertise.
What Is a Newsletter?
Simply put, email newsletters are a useful tool that can help market your product or services better. Whether you use it weekly, bimonthly, quarterly, etc.—newsletters are a great way to help engage and inform your customers and clients. Furthermore, it helps your organization form a more unique relationship with your users.
What Should Be Included in Your Newsletter?
In order to create a newsletter that will engage your users, it’s important to make sure you include these aspects when crafting your newsletter:
- Have a specific topic/theme in mind for each newsletter so ideas don’t get jumbled
- Devise creative and informative subject lines
- Ensure content is educational, informative, and concise
- Incorporate a section guiding users to your site where they can learn more
- Include your business and contact information.
Above all else, your newsletter should be personable and match your company’s branding and content.
Some Interesting Stats That Show How and Why E-Newsletters Are So Popular
Email newsletters are one of the most widely used types of emails. Here are a few statistics that demonstrate the popularity of email newsletters today:
- In 2016, more than 80% of marketers are using email newsletters for content marketing.
- Email newsletters top the list of email-marketing uses at 66%, followed by promotional content (54%), and welcome email series (42%).
- When consumers were asked which medium they prefer to get updates from, 90% of respondents said email newsletters, compared to only 10% who chose Facebook.
- 19% of consumers reported that they read every email newsletter that they receive to see if “something is on offer,” according to Forrester research.
How to Write a Newsletter
One of the first decisions you’ll have to make in writing an email newsletter is what template to use. When browsing your options, make sure that the template you choose is mobile friendly because many of your clients and customers read their emails on their phones.
Once you have decided on a template and layout, you have to determine the actual content. Successful newsletters are more educational than promotional—but be sure to include both types of content in your newsletters.
Map out what information you want to include and then condense it. Again, because the majority of your customers and clients read their emails on their phones, they may not have time to read all of your text. In addition, write a compelling snippet so your readers will be inclined to open your newsletter.
As you write your newsletters, always raise the quality of the content so you don’t risk losing readers. Also, be sure that you are personalizing subject lines and creating convincing calls to action. Lastly, the end of every newsletter should include links to your website and social media sites.
Email Newsletter Best Practices You Should Be Implementing
Whether you’re creating an entirely new email newsletter or revitalizing your current publication, here are 10 newsletter best practices to get you started:
- Set expectations from the start. When prospects and customers first sign up for your newsletter, be sure they know what to expect. In addition to letting subscribers know the type of content and offers they’ll be getting, tell them how often they’ll be hearing from you.
- Balance the content. A good email newsletter is filled with about 90% of educational content that is relevant to your target audience. For example, include articles on general topics that your target customer would likely be interested in, as well as useful information about how to get the most out of your products. So, that leaves you with about 10% of space to devote solely to promoting your business.
- Create enticing subject lines. Although your subscribers have signed up to receive your email newsletter, using the subject line to simply announce the publication title and date may not be enough to drive opens. Instead, give them a glimpse of the contents and what they’ll be getting by reading that issue. Click here for some useful tips on how to write subject lines that motivate action.
- Make your preheader count. How many times have you gotten an email newsletter with snippet text that includes verbiage such as, “If you are unable to read this email, click here to view.”? By customizing this prime piece of email real estate with information that grabs attention and informs, you’ll encourage more opens. Read this previous NewsLever article for tips on what to include in your email newsletter preheaders.
- Keep the copy and design short and simple. In other words, avoid having long and wordy full-length articles in your email newsletter that may overwhelm readers. Instead, produce concise, catchy, and tantalizing introductions that send subscribers to your website or blog. Don’t be afraid to develop customized graphics for your business to include in your newsletters. From charts to GIFs and photos—you have endless options when it comes to creating unique content. Furthermore, one email design best practice to live by is having enough white space within the overall newsletter design to help make the newsletter uncluttered and easy to read.
- Think mobile. Use responsive design for your email newsletters, which involves coding and optimizing the content for viewing across multiple screens and devices. What happens when your subscribers open an email newsletter that’s not optimized for mobile? One study showed that as many as 42% of subscribers delete emails that don’t display correctly on their mobile phones.
- Use alternative text for the images in your email newsletter. Likely, a large portion of your subscribers have images disabled on their computers and mobile devices. So, when they open your email newsletters, they’ll see only blank spaces in place of the images. That’s why it’s so important to use alternative text to let them know what they’re missing, unless they download images. And it’s especially important to make sure subscribers can click your calls to action, even if images aren’t enabled.
- Include offers and discount coupons that are exclusive for newsletter subscribers. This is key to keeping subscribers opening and clicking your newsletters.
- Deliver personalized content. As we’ve discussed in a previous NewsLever article, personalization pays off. Go beyond using a subscriber’s name by sending newsletters that are tailored to different segments of your email list. For example, segmentation can be based on demographics or purchase history. Also consider using your email newsletters in conjunction with a loyalty rewards program and provide a link that takes subscribers to their personal awards account.
- Track, test, and optimize your email newsletters. What works best for your target audience? When it comes to subject lines, for example, does short and funny drive more opens than long and informative? And what cadence and frequency result in optimum performance, without increasing the unsubscribe rate or spam complaints?
Monitoring your newsletter metrics and testing and optimizing various elements – such as subject lines, headlines, design, calls to action, and when and how often you send emails – is the best way to maximize the return on investment from your email newsletters.
Looking to design and implement an email newsletter from scratch? Or could your current publication use a makeover? At FulcrumTech, email newsletters are one of our top areas of expertise. Contact us today and we’ll help you create and implement an email newsletter that’s relevant, builds relationships with your customers, and helps you sell more product.