Email marketing is considered one of the best methods for communicating with customers. It is one the most powerful forms of digital marketing, especially since 99% of email users check emails on a daily basis. However, it’s an element of digital marketing that can often takes second stage to social media or content marketing.
According to 75% of agency marketers, email marketing is rated as the most effective means of digital marketing in terms of return of investment (ROI). The benefits are extensive. Email marketing allows you to adapt your content to a specific audience, enabling you to communicate directly with your prospects and customers in a personalised way – in a way that other marketing methods cannot replicate.
Newsletter marketing provides a direct method for nurturing your audience, with a number of key benefits that include:
- Improved brand visibility
- Increased audience interaction and website traffic
- Creation of hyper-targeted and personalised content
- Cost-effective campaigns
- Opportunities for feedback and surveys
- Media and contact lists that you own
- Nurtured relationships and opportunities to add value
- Measurable analytics and proof of ROI
- Increased sales and leads
In order to reap the benefits of newsletter marketing, you will need to have a clear strategy. This will ensure that you see return on investment, and generate leads that will grow your business.
The Importance of Strategy
The advantages of email marketing are clear, but it is of utmost importance that you have a strategic approach to each newsletter campaign. Your strategy will define its overall purpose and each element of your newsletter campaign. Here are a few things you should understand and plan from the outset:
- Content & Frequency: What content will you include and how often will you communicate with your subscribers? Will the content structure change depending on the campaign? For example, you could provide product information, new features and helpful information in one campaign or separate this content into three. Take a look at how much information you have for each aspect that you would like to communicate. Don’t water down the details just so you can send out more newsletters, as this could lead your audience to become disinterested and cause them to unsubscribe. Instead include concise and compelling content in a monthly campaign.
- Personalisation: Segmenting your audience means that you’ll be able to communicate in a different way to each. You can segment your contacts into two groups for example. Those existing clients that you need to nurture and another contact list that you would like to convert to sales. Personalising your newsletter marketing will ensure that your messaging is targeted and specific.
- What you say and how you say it: As significant as a pick up line at the pub, your subject line can make all the difference to your open rate. With 34% of people checking the email subject line before deciding whether to open your email, it is vital to include an intriguing subject line. Of a number of notable A/B tests you can implement on campaigns, subject testing is recommended. If testing two subject line versions, the most successful subject is sent to the majority of your audience. This method aids in improving the open rate of your newsletter.
- Scheduling: The success of your newsletter can hinge on the day and time that you hit send. Definitely consider what works best for your audience, but Hubspot suggests that B2B emails for the average 8-5 office employee are best sent mid-week around 10 AM.
- Tailoring content: Creating newsletter content that caters to your audience needs and interests is important. Should the copy be long or short? What type of imagery should be included? How can you create an informative newsletter that adds value to your audience while showcasing your services/ products or nurturing relationships? Engage in an ideal client session to better understand your audience and identify the who, what, why and where.
What Email Marketing Service to Use?
There are a bunch of ways for you to create newsletters and a number of platforms to build your campaigns. They can be created by different methods. Plain text campaigns are simple, resembling an ordinary email. While an HTML rich newsletter is similar to a website landing page.
According to TechRadar the best newsletter platforms are: Constant Contact, Zoho Campaigns, MailChimp, Vertical Response and Get Response. Both MailChimp and Get Response offer free account options for up to 2000 and 500 contacts, respectively. Each has its strengths and limitations, figure out what works best for you and the strategy that you have created.
Design Tips and Tricks:
Now that you have your strategy and platform in place, it is time to make use of email marketing and start communicating directly with your prospects and customers.
Depending on which platform you have decided to use, you may be able to create your newsletters by dragging and dropping desired components. Platforms like MailChimp allow you to tailor arrangement, backgrounds, fonts, colours and more to suit your needs. However this may not be enough and you may want to purchase a template design or add HTML coding into your newsletter to make a bespoke design.
Whatever platform or template you may be using, it is important to consider the following when designing your newsletter campaign:
- Branding is everything. If your name and logo were removed from your design and you’re still recognisable, you have branded your email effectively.
- Design for mobile. More than 70% of people read their emails using a mobile app. Ensure that you are always designing for mobile devices and that your design is responsive. Preview or test your campaign on both desktop and mobile views to make sure it appears as it should.
- Keep it clean and simple. Embrace white space when designing and consider your layout carefully, so that information and images are structured with intention. Separate the parts of your newsletter into logical sections:– Header/logo
– Feature image,
– Top story
– Additional features
– Promotional content
– Call to actions
- UX is key. Consider how the user will experience your content, the journey and interactions they may have. Is the path clear? Are there any unnecessary elements that distract rather than direct?
- Keep text short & sweet. Research suggests that most people spend less than a minute looking at a newsletter, making the ideal length of email copy 200 words, so make every word count. Alternatively, prepare your newsletter with scannability in mind. Do not repeat the same information and avoid big walls of text, instead break up text with images or use images to support or replace text where possible.
- Create visual hierarchy. This can assist with UX , guiding the reader using layout, colours, sizes & shapes. A good example of visual hierarchy is the use of an inverted pyramid.
- Set the mood with colour. Depending on the topic of your newsletter, it may pay dividends to pick out a few colours that match your brand. Using colour psychology can also make all the difference and communicate a number of messages. For example, if you want your newsletter to appear luxurious, elegant and sophisticated, then you should use black or purple. As effective as colour can be in conveying messages, always ensure that your branding takes priority.
- Use a web safe font. Your brand will no doubt have a font outlined in its guidelines. This font is likely not web safe like; Arial, Verdana, Georgia, Times New Roman or Courier. When preparing your newsletter campaign consider that it will be sent via a number of email service providers that only have the capacity to display web safe fonts. This could mean that you make the most stunning newsletter using Raleway all for it to reach your customer’s inbox in Courier.
- Images make all the difference. The type of images you use can say a lot. Your design might work best with the addition of photographs, icons or illustrations. You could also use animated gifs that add some interactivity. . Depending on what images you use, your email will appear more structured or organic, but either way images will add personality. Gone are the days of a plain image block, consider using white space for the background of images or creating a more dynamic 3D image by layering image elements. You can do this by using programs like Adobe Photoshop or Canva.Remember that some email providers may block images. Avoid incorporating text in an image or where possible add “alt text” so that if the image is not included the user will not miss the information.
- Inform with infographics. Information is easier to digest in the form of images. Where you have a lot of complex information to convey, consider incorporating an infographic. This works especially well when you have a lot to say but need to keep it short. Remember that our brains are hardwired to register visual content. In fact, by one estimate, visuals communicate information 60,000 times faster than text.
- Create a compelling call to action. Possibly the final step of your newsletter UX, but potentially the first step to winning a new client. Guide your reader to that final step using a prominent call to action. It can take the form of a button or text, but either way make sure that they know to click and ensure that it is clear.
- Test your email! It cannot be stressed enough – test your email campaign! Check images, links and fonts before scheduling or sending your newsletter to your audience. Be sure to troubleshoot, as once it’s in their inbox it’s too late to fix.
Email marketing puts you right in front of your audience and gives you control over exactly what they see. You don’t have an algorithm to pander to and you can nurture the relationship with your readers directly. Leverage email marketing to strengthen your position, nurture leads and grow your business.