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email marketing best practicesToday more and more businesses are using newsletter marketing to keep in touch with their clients. In fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association, “National Client Email Report (2013) 67% of marketers agree that e-newsletters are the top email messages that help them achieve their business goals, up from 45% two years ago. Newsletter marketing is popular because it allows you to keep in touch with customers that are interested in your company, but in a less invasive way.  Typically, customers “opt-in” to receive a newsletter.  The customer is therefore most likely to open it and appreciate the content inside—as long as it is well presented and valuable to the subscriber.

Newsletter Marketing: Tips for Creating A Great Newsletter

After you’ve decided that your company needs a newsletter, the first thing we recommend is to find a newsletter marketing company that can supply you with expert content and design assistance. Look for signs that your chosen firm is indeed an expert:

1) Customized Newsletter Templates.

Most business newsletters, especially those done by the smallest companies, are template newsletters.  Businesses “fill in the blanks” by loading content into the open spaces and mailing it to their customers.  However, the same newsletter template may also be in use by hundreds of other companies. If you use the same template, you miss the opportunity to employ your brand to stand out from the crowd.  A good newsletter marketing company is able to create a customized template for your newsletter, featuring your corporate colors and logo. It should correspond with your brand and look like your website and promotional materials. Your customers should be able to identify your newsletter by its design alone.

2) Content Assistance.

Producing content regularly for a newsletter can be a daunting challenge. While some companies try to do it themselves, it is far easier and usually more cost efficient to outsource the content creation. A good newsletter marketing provider has access to content professionals who can perform the interviews, gather the research and produce the articles that will make your newsletter a stunning value to your readers. They can also provide important newsletter marketing tips born of experience to continuously improve the publication.

3) Email Marketing Companies.

Look for email marketing companies that can help you identify the most appropriate email marketing services for your newsletter. Depending on the client’s needs, at Design and Promote we usually recommend these services: Constant Contact, Mail Chimp and IContact because of their ease of use and reporting features. Which brings us to our final point…

4) Tracking and Reporting.

After you press “publish”, your firm should be able to help you track the progress of your newsletter and analyze the results. If your numbers for “Opens” and “Click-throughs” are not hitting projections, a good email marketing companies will have ideas on how to improve the newsletter’s performance. They should also be able to assist in email list management.

Best Email Marketing Practices to Get More Subscribers

To get more subscribers, you must develop a quality product.  Here are some ways to do it:

1) Start with a goal and establish your standards. 

There are many qualities that make a great newsletter, beginning with a focused, definitive goal for the publication.  What is your number one objective?  Educate the customer? Drive website traffic? Position yourself as a leader in the industry? Offer coupons and promotions? Introduce new products? Keep customers updated on the industry?  Even though you may answer “yes” to all of the above, if you set one goal above all others, it will help drive the content forward initially and build your audience by fulfilling their expectations. Write an editorial mission for your newsletter and include what percent of the newsletter will be informative (news about your business, industry news and trends, products, staff changes, etc.) and how much will be educational.  The most effective newsletters are those that offer true content VALUE to the recipient.  An 85% educational – 15% promotional mix is usually effective.  Also, give your newsletter a name. This gives the newsletter prominence and helps build the relationship with the mailing list.

2) Stay true to your mission.

If you’ve decided the mission of your newsletter is to educate your customer about industry trends, don’t do an about face in the second issue and fill the page with ads about your products.  Likewise, if your newsletter is for promotion and new ideas to use your product, don’t fill the next issue with statistics and long- winded copy about industry trends.

3) To get more subscribes, give them what they want.

Get into the heads of the people on your list.  What do they want to know about your company? If you could get all your customers in a room for five minutes, how would you answer their questions?  This is the content you should put in your newsletter. Become their trusted source on what is happening in the industry and how it affects their business.  Give them valuable content that will leave them looking forward to the next issue. Become a trusted source and they will trust you with their business.

4) Lead with a great subject line.

Without a good subject line, the recipient will not open your newsletter. Many companies ask…what’s a better subject line? Something catchy or something straightforward?  For example, let’s suppose the lead story in “The Latest Coat” newsletter from Wexford Stain Co.  gives tips on how to stain a deck. What would be the best subject line to entice the customer to open and read the email?  Here’s some options:

  1. This Month’s Latest Coat from Wexford Stain Co. Winter Issue
  2. Jump Ahead Into Spring Home Improvement.  Latest Coat from Wexford Stain’s Winter Issue
  3. When’s It Time to Give Your Deck the Brush? Latest Coat from Wexford Stain’s Winter Issue

All three are written to get the reader to open the email, but with different approaches. Obviously the first is straightforward. The second is meant to motivate them by evoking an emotion of urgency with the change of season. The third is written to mildly amuse, and tease them into opening the file. Which one is the best? According to the websites of some email marketing companies, the best subject line “describes what’s in the email.” However, we believe the best subject line is the one in a style that appeals most to your particular customer.  To find out, we often help clients test different subject lines to help them create more successful ones in the future. The results can be surprising!

5) Be Personal.

Make the newsletter easy for the reader to read. Speak to them in language they understand. Don’t use jargon.

6) Design the Page Well. 

Your newsletter should be inviting, not daunting.  Use images, bullet points and other devices to break up large portions of text so that it is easy to read. Link to your website for longer articles and postings.

7) Get More Subscribers Through Social Media.

If you want more subscribers, spread the word that you have a newsletter. Ask readers to tell others about your newsletter. Link an article or two to your social media sites. Be sure to offer an opt-in form to receive the newsletter on your website for people visiting.  If you can, post issues of your newsletter on your website so they can be accessed by site visitors. Keep your list pure and populated.

Complying with CAN-SPAM Laws

Any company with an email newsletter needs to comply with CAN-SPAM laws. The CAN-SPAM law of 2003 was signed to do just what the name implies: to “can spam”. The full actual name of the law is the “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing”. According to the full description of the CAN-SPAM law , fines can be up to $16,000 per each piece of email!  So before you send out that enewsletter, ask yourself these questions. If your answers are all “yes”, you are most likely CAN-SPAM compliant.

  • Does the subject line truthfully express what is in the email?
  • Have you accurately identified the sender of the email in the header information?
  • Have you accurately identified the “reply to” address within the email?
  • Have you included a physical address in the email?
  • Do you offer a clear and obvious way to opt-out in your newsletter, free of any additional effort required by the recipient?
  • Do you “unsubscribe” people within 10 days?
  • Are you sure that your newsletter marketing company is following the CAN-SPAM regulations?

Since you are legally liable whether or not your company is doing the actual mailing, it is important to find a company that is well versed in the CAN-SPAM laws. Disclaimer: While we like to share information on email marketing best practices, the advice on this website is not a substitute for legal advice. It always important to consult with your own legal counsel. If you are interested in newsletter marketing for your company, Design and Promote has years of experience doing it right with exciting design, engaging content and efficient mailing and reporting. Contact us today.