Email newsletters help you build brand recognition by keeping your name in the forefront of your customers’ minds. However, done incorrectly, email campaigns can result in readers adding you to their spam folder. How can you produce engaging content people want to open?
It all begins with keeping your audience in mind. What kind of content do they search for? How long do they typically spend reading each article? What type of template appeals to the eye? The 12 tips below answer these questions and more.
1. Use a Consistent Template
Your template acts as your signature — when a reader clicks open on a new email notification, they should immediately know the sender from the format. Fortunately, if budgetary concerns are foremost, you can find free email templates online. Many of these include only a small advertisement link at the end of each correspondence.
As your business and online presence grow, you’ll want to invest in a paid template service or hire someone in-house to design one. If you possess basic coding skills, you may create your own templates — if related to your niche, you can offer these for reader use on your website.
You’ll also want to switch to a paid email service to assist in automating your email marketing campaign. When you’re small, it’s easier to stay on top of sending out weekly or biweekly correspondence. As you grow, automated services allow you to reach readers quickly so you can focus on producing or finding quality content. This helps you become an authority in your field more quickly.
2. Decide on Contact Timing
Have you ever signed up for a website only to receive a flood of emails, sometimes more than two or three per day from the same sender? What do you do with them? If you’re a busy business owner, chances are the answer is, “I bulk-delete that noise.” That’s exactly what a glut of emails feels like to your reader, especially if they fail to disable phone notifications during the workday — noise that interrupts their productivity.
A recent survey found 61 percent of users prefer to receive a promotional email at least once per week. You may wish to send emails weekly, biweekly or monthly.
Another method involves allowing readers to specify how often they’d like to receive correspondence when they sign up for your contact list. You can let them receive emails daily if that’s their druthers and you have adequate time and content to send, or base the choices upon how frequently you create new content.
Avoid sending content simply to get emails out — focus on producing quality content that answers a user’s questions. This potentially can grow your contact list more quickly as readers feel empowered by selecting the appropriate contact level for themselves.
3. Find Your Niche
There are many websites out there promising to show you how to make money at home in your spare time. If working remotely falls under your purview, offering quality information about real opportunities can get you traffic. However, be aware the competition is stiff.
To grow traffic quickly, find your niche. Tons of tax advice newsletters exist, for example, but if you specialize in resolving controversies or are licensed to practice before in court, make this the slant of your newsletter. While it’s true you may attract fewer users seeking information on how to file a 1040 using tax preparation software, you’ll connect with a greater readership who may need the precise services you offer.
4. Keep It Focused and Professional
Once you find your niche, write with authority on your topic and keep your writing focused. It’s OK to occasionally throw a human interest story in the sidebar, but if your legal advice readers wanted to look at kitty pics, they’d hop on social media.
Use a professional tone regardless if you’re writing from first- or third-person point-of-view. If you choose to use popular acronyms, stick to those that users of all ages understand — avoid sounding like a teenager on Twitter. Be sure to proofread all correspondence before hitting send or uploading it to your automated mailer. The president may survive “covfefe” with hardly a raised brow, but your readers will think you less intelligent if you cover your correspondence with typos.
5. Personalize Your Subject
If you’re using paid contact management software, make sure it enables you to personalize your email subject lines. They enjoy 29 percent higher open rates than bland, generic ones. Readers also tend to click through nearly twice as often when the email subject is personalized.
Take personalizing your emails a step further by allowing users to enter details such as their birth date on their contact form. Design a special thank you newsletter to commemorate each anniversary of reader signup. This lets customers know you care about them, and when they feel you respect them as individuals, they are more likely to buy from you when the need arises.
6. Create Content Guidelines
When the time comes to solicit outside content due to growing so profitable, you can hire outside help. Create solid guidelines to help writers know what to submit. If you have industry-specific terminology writers must use, state so prominently on your submission guidelines pages.
Determine rates you’ll pay for quality content in advance. Freelancers worry about receiving payments just like bigger businesses embrace entire accounts receivable departments. Let them know what compensation they can expect for their labor — and pay them promptly.
7. Keep It Positive
Keep the tone of your publication positive. Everyone fluent in English knows to stay away from double negatives, but even simple ones can lead to confusion and excess wordiness.
For example, instead of saying, “In the absence of a distinct and separate home office location, users should not claim the deduction, as inspection from IRS may lead to them being disallowed the claim and owing costly penalties,” simply say, “You do not qualify for the home office deduction if you use the space for other purposes.” Bam. Short, sweet and clear.
8. Reach a Diverse Audience
What does your audience want? What questions do they need to be answered? Tons of free and paid tools exist to help you find out.
Start with your own website search bar. What do users type into the query box? If you have the budget, expand into third-party software that can track what your target demographic searches most for online, and tailor your content to answer their inquiries.
9. Track Your Open Rate
You can’t track how well a newsletter campaign helps your growth without tracking technology. Take note of which articles readers click through most often. This also provides valuable insight into what type of future content to create.
10. Think Original
Try asking Alexa a series of questions. Are there any the tech giant has difficulty answering? If so, here’s your opportunity to provide insight.
Some of the most shared content online is that which answers a question few have attempted to tackle. Even if you’re writing about a topic with extensive coverage, try to find a unique slant that offers readers new ways of looking at old information.
11. Keep It Brief
Today’s generation grew up on cellphones and social media. They’re accustomed to getting sound bites, not the complete works of Shakespeare in their inbox. Therefore, keep your newsletters brief. If you do produce long-form content, this is fine.
However, use a “read more…” at the end of the intro to allow readers to decide whether the rest of the content will benefit them. Shorter attention spans mean saying more in a short space, so eliminate fluff words. Be direct.
12. Let Your Personality Shine
Your newsletter is your opportunity to connect with your readers on a more intimate level than on your site. Readers sign up because they appreciate your value. Let your personality shine through a bit in gentle humor. Remain conscientious that what is funny to you may be offensive to others, so keep all jokes clean. A good rule of thumb is when in doubt, leave it out.
If you’re an advanced writer, break some writing rules by throwing in a fragment or two for emphasis. Do keep your audience in mind — if your target group is Generation Z, it’s OK to use more hip slang than you’d use with an older crowd. If you market primarily to seniors, they may appreciate a touch of wry humor.
Email Newsletters Made Easy
Putting together an email newsletter for the first time appears daunting, but with practice, it gets easier. Follow the tips above, and you can use your newsletter to grow your bottom line.