Learn what everyone’s favorite boss would look for if he was tasked with picking an email newsletter service.
Michael Scott, a character from the hit TV show The Office, is best known for his inappropriate (though humorous) office conduct. And while it’s probably not recommended to do most things he does, we can learn a thing or two from him. There are a lot of hard decisions to make when you run a business like Dunder Mifflin, and Scott takes on each one with a fresh and enthusiastic approach.
One of the most crucial decisions a company can make is choosing the right email newsletter service. A strong email newsletter is essential to growing your business. It is one of only a few owned media channels companies have. Email allows you to directly and consistently reach prospects and customers without the limitations of a hosting platform’s algorithm or other limitations.
Basically, your email newsletter service is a big deal. And as Scott says, when it comes to growing your business, the only time you should set the bar low is for limbo. To set the bar high for your email newsletter service, look at the core functions that contribute to a great email newsletter.
“In the end, life and business are about human connections,” says Scott, which couldn’t be more true when it comes to email marketing campaigns. Without the ability to collaborate easily, teams will find themselves duplicating work, producing less diverse or less inspiring content, and ultimately becoming less effective.
According to Gartner, “building more synergistic relationships across the organization to better communicate digital marketing vision” was cited as marketing leaders’ greatest challenge. The ability to connect with your team and collaborate on content is essential to producing timely and impactful newsletters.
So, when choosing your email marketing service, look for one that provides easy collaboration among your team. In Campaign Monitor’s email marketing software, you can use tags to assign team members and categorize campaigns by date, type, audience segments, and more. This makes it easy for team members to find relevant email campaigns and work together on content.
2. Signup forms
If Scott learned anything from trying to get an intern to sign up at a job fair, it’s the importance of an effective signup form. “[People] are very wary of being lured,” Scott points out. Your signup form represents your company. Its importance is equivalent to Dunder Mifflin having their signup sheet on their own quality paper — not “some Pendleton crap.” If your audience doesn’t immediately see the value of sharing their personal information with you, they’re not likely to sign up for your newsletter.
The basis of a great newsletter is an engaged subscriber list, which starts with intuitive signup forms. Intuitive signup forms are easy to navigate and integrate with multiple marketing channel platforms to draw your audience in wherever they find you. For example, maybe your newsletter sign-up is in the form of a website pop-up, or maybe it’s a branded landing page that you link to on social media.
Look for an email service provider that offers fully-customizable signup forms and landing pages that will reflect your brand image and value. Your signup form and landing page should make a promise to your audience about what they can expect from subscribing and showcase quality design and content.
Scott dances to the beat of his own drum. If there’s a standard way of doing something, he will do the exact opposite. He’ll always find a way to be the center of attention. In the words of his alter-ego “date Mike,” “let me do my thang!” In email marketing, you need to be able to “do your thang” to stand out in a crowded medium by customizing your emails.
With a forecasted 333.2 billion emails sent every day, you need to compete for your audience’s attention. Being competitive in email marketing includes customizing each email message to the individual subscriber. To customize your email messages, you’ll need to use an email marketing platform that enables you to segment your subscriber list and tailor the design to your brand.
Campaign Monitor’s email builder allows you to customize your email newsletters with the customer’s name, location, gender, interests, or other custom fields. Instead of a generic greeting in yet another marketing email, your subscribers can be invited in by a subject line that features their name and content tailored to their needs and wants. And personalization can have a significant impact on consumers. In fact, according to Accenture, consumers are over 90% more likely to shop when they have an experience personalized to them.
Whether it’s paper or his infamous catchphrase “that’s what she said,” Scott is always keen on delivery. Similarly, email delivery takes finesse to achieve the greatest impact. Marketing automation is the key to delivering email at the most opportune moment in your customer’s journey. Automation takes email list segmentation to the next level by personalizing the timeliness of delivery through app integrations.
For example, through e-commerce store integrations, you can automate transactional emails after a purchase is made or with CRM integrations that automate welcome emails. Automation features can send emails at the most crucial moments in the customer journey. Automation frees your team up to focus on larger initiatives like long-term retention and product offers while still maintaining the customer connection.
In addition, automation can improve email deliverability rates by enabling delivery throttling. Delivery throttling is when you send your email in small waves to avoid hitting rate limits or getting marked as spam by email service providers (ESPs). With automation, you can easily set the parameters for send times, hit play, and get back to running your business.
5. A/B Testing
A/B testing (also called split testing) is to marketing teams what gift-giving is to Scott. It’s a litmus test for what your audience is responding to. A strong email marketing tool should give clear attribution to specific elements so you can optimize your marketing strategy accordingly. In the immortal words of Scott, “It’s like this tangible thing that you can point to and say ‘hey, man, I love you this many dollars worth.’”
Rather than making assumptions based on general email performance, A/B testing allows teams to optimize based on tangible data. It’s imperative your email newsletter service has the capability to run A/B tests, determine results, and automate optimization accordingly.
This means you should be able to send two versions of an email campaign to a portion of your subscriber list. And then, after a set period, the platform should be able to determine the best one based on whatever KPI you set. Once it determines a winner, automation should trigger the winning email to be sent to the remaining audience.
A/B testing allows you to create something your audience engages with and continually improve upon it. Just like Scott’s advice to beet-farming Dwight Shrute, “Nobody likes beets boring emails, Dwight! Why don’t you grow send something that everybody does like? You should grow candy send something that’s proven to be engaging.”
6. Real-time analytics
The success of your email campaigns will only be as strong as your ability to track overall performance and conversions. If you can’t track this data in real time, it’s difficult to estimate the business impact of your newsletter. And if there’s one thing Scott hates, it’s being underestimated. To grow your audience and business, you need granular information about engagement and performance.
A good email service will make analyzing your email performance easy by not just measuring KPIs but surfacing actionable insights to build on. Email analytics should allow you to compare your email marketing performance to other channels so you can gain a holistic view of audience engagement. With a complete view, you can then build comprehensive strategies to increase your bottom line.
For example, when you have annual data in view, you can uncover seasonal trends in the data. Once you identify trends, you can better understand what type of content will perform the best and adjust your content calendar to optimize for conversions.
7. Email templates
While Scott definitely has his fair share of unique ideas (i.e., fake firings, the golden ticket idea), when he needs an idea with a quick turnaround, he often will look outside himself. For example, when he needs help coming up with an idea to fulfill his lifelong dream of leaving his mark in wet cement, he asks his employees.
When it comes to delivering impactful email marketing, quick turnarounds are often the name of the game, which is where email templates come in. Rather than wasting time building every email from scratch, email templates provide proven designs you can customize on the fly.
Better yet, if you use an email marketing tool like Campaign Monitor’s custom template builder, all you have to do to get a customized template is enter your company’s URL. The tool will identify logos, brand colors, and fonts and then build a template perfectly tailored to your brand.
8. Ease of use
Scott is not a man of nuance, and when it comes to technical explanations, he’d rather just keep it simple. Preferably the kind of simple that also helps him avoid working or thinking too hard. In Scott’s own words, “Why don’t you explain this to me like I’m five.” If he were choosing an email service provider, it would be one with a simple, easy-to-use interface.
Your email service provider should be making your life easier, not causing more headaches. If you want to customize something, you should be able to drag and drop exactly what you need without complicated HTML or CSS codes or a janky workaround. You’re a professional with too many things on your plate to be wasting time on an email service platform that doesn’t work for you.
9. Automated link review
We’ve all been there: you work for days on perfecting the design and messaging of an email newsletter, do a final grammar check, and hit send. And then you get a response. Only it’s not the response you’re hoping for; it’s the dreaded “ Ummm… the link isn’t working” response. After all that effort, all you can do is shake your head in defeat with Scott and say, “I tried!”
But there’s a better way. With automated link review, your email service provider can catch those broken links before you ever hit send. So, when you do hit send, you can rest assured the only responses you’ll get are the ones saying how great your newsletter was. To which you can reply as confidently as Scott, “I am Beyonce, always.”
If there’s one thing Michael values, it’s a good deal. “I basically decorated my condo for free with all of my swag,” Scott brags after sharing the true definition of SWAG (Stuff We All Get). While a strong email marketing platform is invaluable, it is important to know that your investment is worth it. It’s especially important for small businesses and startups that have to be extra budget-conscious.
Campaign Monitor allows you to try its tool out with a free plan, so you can be certain it’s a good fit before making the investment. And, if you choose to move to a paid plan, pricing is based on the size of your email list, so you’re not paying for what you don’t need.
Build your brand without wasting time and energy
If you have an inefficient email service provider, you might be “working so hard, [you] forgot what it’s like to be hardly working,” in the words of Scott. What you need is an email service provider built for busy professionals who have stuff to do. Campaign Monitor is here to make building high-converting email campaigns easy.