You’ve decided that the best way to get your customers to notice and interact with you is through a marketing newsletter.
Maybe your company has tried various other forms of email marketing or even direct marketing, but now you’re ready to really engage with your customers by offering content and information that can help, inform, and even entertain.
Of course, this is in exchange for some action on their part (your call to action).
So, how do you create a marketing newsletter that is not only helpful, informative or fun, but is truly aimed at engaging your readers enough so they want to act?
Here is a rundown of the perfect marketing newsletter along with some helpful advice on optimizing the components, many of which are essential for success.
Anatomy of a Perfect Marketing Newsletter
Sender Name and Email Address
Think, you got two new mails. One from ‘PrinceCharming’ and one from ‘Michelle Obama’.
Which one are you likely to open?
Well, you know the answer yourself.
The key with your newsletter’s sender name and email address is to use a recognizable ‘From’ name.
Today’s Internet users are on alert for spam, and your subscribers will more readily open a newsletter from someone they know.
A safe approach is to always use your company name and email. If you want to add a personal touch, you can use real names, just be sure they come from a company email address.
But, using real names sometimes has a disadvantage.
What if the person leaves the company? You will be stuck. If you are following such a strategy, you should always add your company name in the sender’s name.
Foe example, if the sender name is “XYZ from WPeka” and if that XYZ plans to leave, then we can change the sender’s name to “PQR from WPeka”.
In addition, it’s important that the ‘Reply-To’ email address be from your company also. Many readers will be savvy enough to know that when the ‘Reply-To’ address is unknown, or from a different company, this is often a sign of a spam or phishing scheme.
Email Subject Line
While some marketers opt to use a standard subject line for each newsletter issue, there is plenty of data on the Internet about the effectiveness on open rates of well-written and engaging subject lines.
Subject of emails even more important that the email content. Nobody will be interested in reading your stellar email if they aren’t interested in opening your mail in the first place.
Below are some points you should consider while writing an email subject line:
- Keep you subject line short, remember to make it mobile friendly (more than 50% check mails on mobiles)
- Use actionable language, CTA in subject are awesome
- Personalize whenever possible, add user names to personalize
- Use visual elements like brackets, word capitalization, etc. to stand out
- Always test subject lines which works for you and use that
Therefore, make your subject line count and give your readers incentive to click on your email right in the moment. Be sure to entice and always base your subject line on a topic that is relevant to the readers. Make the most of this small piece of marketing real estate and stay away from fluff.
A snippet, also known as a pre-header, is now popular on mobile devices.
On smaller screens, a small blurb that is either pulled from the first few sentences of the body of the email or created and customized by code sometimes follows the email subject line. This is the snippet.
Check to see if your newsletter and/or email creation tools allow you to customize your snippet and use this area to grab your reader’s attention.
Don’t waste this opportunity to have eyeballs on your content and be sure to tie the snippet strongly to your subject line to encourage the reader to open the email.
Another often overlooked opportunity to grab the reader’s attention is the preview pane.
The preview pane lets recipients view part of the email before actually opening it. You can take advantage of this opportunity for brand recognition.
To ensure visibility, place important items like the company logo in the top left. Go ahead and be bold with color and design here. This is a great opportunity to reinforce who you are with the reader and entice them to open.
Design of a marketing newsletter is a balance between content and white space.
Without enough whitespace, the newsletter can feel cluttered and actually turn the reader off from opening and reading your content. And on mobile devices, a generous amount of white space makes it easier to click on links.
Here’s a template example provided by MailChimp.
Another principle of marketing newsletter design is the balance between images and text. Again, this balance ensures the reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the page and gives them just enough to ensure that they click on your links because they want to read more.
When it comes to content there are many opinions regarding the best approach to take. Therefore, you should analyze your particular situation and choose the best path for your company and the goal of your newsletter.
In addition, always measure the results of your efforts in order to make adjustments.
One approach is to keep the newsletter’s focus on one specific topic. This can be a particular vertical, a product or even one issue facing your customers.
Another approach is to focus on the company itself. One caveat, however, is to keep the self-promotion to a minimum. A good rule of them is to devote ninety percent of your newsletter to content that is educational, timely and relevant, and devote only ten percent to promotional content.
Images can make a strong impression in marketing newsletters, but be sure you have all bases covered. Many people have images disabled in their email apps in order to save bandwidth and time. These readers will therefore miss your images. It’s important to always provide Alt text for your images, especially CTA images, so that people can click even if they can’t see the image.
Lastly, know your receiver. Know who you are sending your newsletter to, what their interests, needs, and wants are and focus your newsletter on these. And, don’t be afraid to personalize your email, as long as you are certain you can do it correctly.
Call To Action (CTA)
The call to action, or CTA, is the focal point of your marketing newsletter. The CTA leads your readers to the goal. Therefore, be very, very clear about what it is you want your readers to do. Do you want them to buy? Do you want them to provide an email address? Do you want to drive traffic to a website?
A marketing newsletter features many pieces of content and each may have its own CTA. However, you should choose one CTA as the most prominent. You primary CTA should be absolutely clearly defined and actionable. A primary CTA should serve as inspiration to all the other components of your newsletter.
Secondary CTAs, should be just as clear and simple as your primary CTA. The most important point to remember with all CTAs is that you want to be sure your reader knows exactly what to do next and how to do it.
Buttons are a great visual tool for CTAs. Larger fonts and other visual design elements can also contribute to higher click-through rates.
Your footer is an often overlooked area of prime real estate for your marketing newsletter. Here is where you can relay essential information about you and your company, promote sharing, and allow readers to unsubscribe. Many readers will take a look at the footer to find out who you are, where you are, and how to contact you.
Here’s a screenshot of the footer of our marketing mailer:
Helpful elements of a footer can include:
- Company name and address
- Company contact info or link
- Social sharing buttons
- Unsubscribe link
- Email preference link
A/B Testing is a fast and simple way to gather data about what type of content works with your readers and what fails. There are a few steps to setting up a proper A/B test:
- Create Versions
First, define the variants of your marketing newsletter to be used in the test. You can change the subject line, change the call to action, or change the graphics. Be careful to measure one change at a time, however.
- Create a Recipient Sample Set
For each set of contacts you will be sending to, you can choose a subset that will be tested. This is usually between five and thirty percent of the total number of recipients.
- Determine What Success Looks Like
Depending on the variants you have created, you can choose to measure various reader actions such as open rate or click-through rate.
- Determine the Test Duration
Set a timeframe that lets you collect enough data to determine a clear winner. After the winner is determined, you can send the best performer to all your remaining recipients.
Perform a Final Check
As with any document that you publish, always make sure you run a final check before hitting the Send All button. Make sure you have the correct recipient list, the correct version of your content (A/B if testing), and that you have removed all temporary text and/or graphic placeholders.
Also, make double and triple sure that all of your links work, especially your CTA links. Of course, check for typos and grammar to put your company forward in the best light.
A good way to catch small or minor errors is to have several people read through the newsletter who have not been involved in the creation of the content. They will have ‘fresh eyes’ that are better able to see small errors.
Marketing Newsletters Can Help You Stay on Top
A marketing newsletter can be a very effective tool for staying “stay top-of-mind” with your target audience. The best marketing newsletters are a combination of text, graphics, and white space that display well on all types and sizes of screens.
By focusing on each aspect of your newsletter you can help ensure the best results for your next marketing newsletter campaign.