Given the ongoing success of online advertising and social media, no one could blame you for thinking newsletters are outdated—but don’t fall into that trap! Even with all the different avenues available to generate business, email marketing still remains one of the most effective ways to increase revenue. And neglecting your email newsletter will most certainly be bad for business.
So whether you’re in charge of the company newsletter, or you’re trying to convince your boss to include one, this article can help. Read on to learn what will make the best email newsletters in 2019.
Why send an email newsletter?
If you’re not already prioritizing email newsletters as part of your marketing mix, it’s time to consider them. Why?
These monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, or even daily emails are a powerful tool that allow you to engage your audience. Whether it be company-related updates or helpful tips and advice, they’re a fantastic way to boost brand advocacy, increase audience engagement, and drive more sales.
According to the Email Newsletter Usability Report produced by the Nielsen Norman Group, recipients feel emotionally attached to newsletters.
Newsletters are something your readers can expect regularly, and they help you develop an ongoing relationship with subscribers. This helps you establish a bond that goes far beyond a website alone.
Image Source: Really Good Emails
How to craft your most successful email newsletter
1. Figure out a strategy for your newsletter
Before you start putting together your content, consider what you want to achieve through this newsletter. This will help you tailor all aspects of the email so it focuses on your end goal.
For example, you may want to:
- Drive more traffic to your website
- Get customers to sign up for a new event
- Increase your email click-through or open rates
- Improve the number of times something is downloaded
- Get customers to interact with you on social media channels
You may then decide a one-off newsletter is the way to go, giving you the opportunity to showcase your latest product but without committing yourself to sending out regular newsletters.
Or, if you have lots of information to share with your email recipients, you may feel a subscription newsletter is ideal. This will allow you to send out a steady stream of useful content to customers who are interested in keeping up-to-date with you.
2. Find the best email newsletter design
Pre-made and customizable email templates are an advantageous aspect of using email marketing software. (You can find our email templates here.) Templates take much of the hard work out of designing your newsletter, while still allowing you to add those all-important, on-brand touches.
- Ensure your newsletter is mobile-friendly: Consider different screen sizes when developing your newsletter, using bullet points, short sentences, and headers to break up large chunks of text.
- Use photos: Photos are valuable but don’t go overboard. Some pictures may not load very quickly or they might not load at all. Always make sure your message is clear within your text and that any images have descriptive alt text—just in case they fail to load.
- Make sure your template is supported by the majority of email providers: Outlook is renowned for its rendering issues, so always double- and triple-check your emails. You want to ensure they’ll display correctly across different platforms.
- Place your logo at the top of your email: This will build brand loyalty and make ensure your recipients immediately associate the newsletter with you and your company.
- Try to keep things minimal. Newsletters can easily look cluttered and chaotic. While it would be ideal for recipients to read each word of a newsletter, emails are mostly scanned. Ultimately, you want readers to carry out an action (like a purchase or click-through), so be sure to get to the point.
3. Produce some attention-grabbing content
According to the Nielsen Norman Group study mentioned above, readers found the following items to be most valuable in a newsletter: company-related news, items about hobbies and personal interests, items about deadlines, dates, events, and reports on sales or prices.
Therefore, you could choose to include any of the following in your newsletter:
- Blog posts
- How-tos, tips, and tutorials
- Industry news
- Photos and/or videos
- Company news
- Interesting facts
- Customer photos
However, after a few months, even the most interesting information can become tiresome, which is why you need to keep things dynamic and unique to your company.
For example, this email by DPDK boasts a funky design, integrated videos, and human touches.
Image Source: Really Good Emails
4. Be creative with your subject line
Even with the most beautifully-designed, expertly written email, you still need readers to open it.
That’s why you need a thoroughly engaging, intriguing, and informative subject line.
Questions, answers, single words, sentences, and personalization are all fantastic approaches to your subject lines. You may also find that consistency is key to your newsletters, so customers can differentiate these from your usual emails—but be careful these don’t get boring and predictable.
One way to continually check whether your subject lines are performing as they should be is to use A/B testing. This allows you to put two subject lines up against each other to see which does best.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need to keep your subject line under 50 characters. You should also try to make it as engaging as possible, since engagement levels are a prominent indicator of spam.
5. Get the right balance between information and promotion
While the goal of your email may be to increase conversions, this shouldn’t be the sole focus of your email.
Newsletters are there to inform and educate, so it’s crucial they don’t feel “salesy.” Some A/B testing may be required to start off with, but if you aim for 9 parts information to 1 part promotion, you should create the right balance for your newsletter.
Ultimately, unless you have an exciting product/service announcement or event, try to steer clear of promotions. And when you do mention your promotions, try to do so in an approachable way (like a friend might).
6. Choose a standout call-to-action
You may have several calls-to-action (CTAs) within your email, but choose one that’s going to stand out and be your prominent focus (one relating to the key strategy of your newsletter).
This CTA may be to join you on a social media channel, share with a friend, or read more of a blog post.
For example, this email from Lily Lines places prominence on sharing CTAs by placing them at the top of all the content.
Image Source: Campaign Monitor
7. Make sure your email is legally compliant
When creating an email, it’s essential you’re complying with all of the necessary laws—especially with the recent emphasis on GDPR laws in Europe.
To ensure you’re adhering to all the rules and regulations you should, check out our resource on Understanding Email Laws and Regulations.
8. Ensure readers can easily unsubscribe
Despite wanting your readers to engage with you, you also need to make sure they can easily unsubscribe from your newsletters. An easy-to-use “unsubscribe” button makes users less likely to mark your email as spam. Plus, you’re legally required to allow users to unsubscribe.
In turn, this will help protect your sender reputation and will keep your click-through and open rates high.
9. Integrate social media
As we’ve seen, newsletters are perfect for getting readers to engage with you in numerous ways. So make sure it’s easy for them to continue the conversation by adding social media icons to your emails.
You may choose to add these to the top, side, or bottom of your newsletter. Or, like Handy, you may want to make one newsletter about your social media channels so readers can see where they need to follow you to access the information they’re looking for.
Image Source: Pinterest
10. Measure, measure, and measure your success
All emails are subject to a little trial and error, and what works for one company may not work for another. That’s why it’s imperative you measure the success of your emails so you know what is and isn’t working. This will allow you to tweak your emails, tailoring them to your unique audience.
Key metrics include:
- Open Rates: What subject lines are getting your emails opened and read?
- Click-Through Rates: Which CTAs in your emails are getting the most hits?
- Unsubscribe Rates: What content is really turning your recipients off?
- Shares: What content are your readers sharing with their friends and family?
Social Sign Ups: What information is getting people to join you on social media?
While crafting a unique email newsletter may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Rather, by breaking it down into the points listed above, you can create something that stands out from the crowd. You can establish ongoing communication with your customers that resonates well with them, building trust with your audience.
This, in turn, will drive forward your email marketing campaigns, increasing your revenue in the process.
To start crafting your own email newsletters, why not sign up with us for free?