By · 27 October, 2015

Do you think the era of enewsletter has been driven away by the arrival of social media marketing? Do you feel that creating enewsletters is a waste of time, since no one opens them anyway? Well, let me tell you this: You are wrong.

Your experience has proven you right? Okay, so you must have taken the wrong turn at some point. Whether your existing enewsletter has not lived up to your hopes or you still haven’t even launched your enewsletter yet, after reading this article you are all set to creating an enewsletter that does the trick.

Still not going along with me saying “Hell yeah! Let’s do this!”? Alright, I got another persuasion strategy up my sleeve. Have a look at these stats that were published by Vero in 2014.
91% Consumers check their email at least daily
60% Marketers believe email is an ROI-producing activity
66% Online consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email
I’d say, the figures speak for themselves.

What stands in the way of making your enewsletter successful?

Why is it so hard though to create an enewsletter that people are actually going to read or even be waiting for?
To put it in a nutshell: sending out a single enewsletter that interests every person on your email list is impossible. No reason to fall into despair though. There are ways to make it interesting for everyone. (Keep on reading- I’ll get to it.)

Furthermore, an enewsletter is not right for every business or industry. So, the first thing you might want to do is trying to figure out whether communicating to your clients via this channel can work for you. How are you supposed to figure that out? Take a look at what your competition is doing and how it works for them.

Find your central theme!

Once you decided you going to give it a try, do it the right way. An enewsletter can consist of a variety of content types and it can have a variety of purposes. Don’t just throw junks of different information packed into one huge and caotic newsletter at your subscribers. Make it easy for them to understand what your newsletter is about.

You can choose to have a newsletter that promotes one article you published – i.e. the most popular post of the week or month.

This is how David Meerman Scott promotes his article on real-time communication marketing:
David Meerman Scott Newsletter Promotion

Another option is to put together a selection of posts published throughout the week or month which Observer/ Short List manages to do very nicely:
Post Compilation Newsletter

You can also promote a special deal as Copyblogger does in this newsletter:
Special Deal Promotion via Newsletter

Also event reminders are common in enewsletters. This is the email Content Marketing Institute sent out to remind their subscribers of the webinar on Content Marketing Strategy:
Event Reminder via Newsletter

As you see, there are a lot of purposes you can asign to your enewsletters. And you can obviously asign them all, but make sure there’s only one purpose for one e-newsletter. Otherwise things will get quite confusing for your subscribers.
So far, so good. You made up your mind about having an e-newsletter. You asigned a purpose to it. So what’s next.
Let’s walk through the process step by step.

Step 1: Sign Up Spur

Having an e-newsletter requires having subscribers- obvious. How do you get people to sign up though?

  • Do you have a special piece of content you could give away in return for your users signing up? Any other goodies as for instance a discount, coupon, free content templates, etc. you could provide? Your users might be more likely to hand in their email address to you, if you give something back to them. The principle of give and take is a nice one. Let’s stick to it. This is how HubSpot applied it:

Subscription Magnet Example: Free Templates

  • Are you planning on hosting a webinar? Or any other online or real-life event? Take the opportunity and get your participants emails when they register for the event.
  • You can also turn contests and sweepstakes into a fun and original incentive to sign up for your e-newsletter.

Step 2: Subscribe Landing Page

What do you have to keep in mind when creating your subscribe landing page? Get some answers here:

  • First and foremost: make it clear and offer value!
  • If they don’t learn about the benefit they are going to get out of subscribing, why would they consider doing it?
  • If the signup takes too long and there are too many fields to fill out, why bother take the time? Make it short!
  • Tell users which topics they can expect to read about in your newsletters.
  • How often are they going to find news from you in their inbox.
  • Give them a little insight into what their soon-to-be favorite newsletter looks like. Show them a picture of a previous newsletter.
  • Make sure your e-newsletter doesn’t defy any law. Respect the rules imposed by CAN-SPAM. HubSpot published an article for more information on this act passed in 2003. Read it here. To sum it up, it requires you to include the following aspects in every newsletter:
    1. Postal address
    2. Opt-out option/Unsubscribe button
  • You can also include some options to enable your subscribers to determine their preferences as for instance topics they want to be informed about and how often they would like to get your newsletter.

Step 3: It All Comes Down to the Subject Line

People subscribed to your e-newsletter? Yay! But hold on a second: You haven’t hit the jackpot yet! Now, it’s up to your subject line if your subscribers are actually going to read what they signed up for. So how do you draw up a subject line that really grasps their attention? Try this:

  • Use actionable language, use verbs and address the subscribers directly and personally.
  • Segment your e-newsletters to make sure that everybody gets exactly what she or he wants. According to HubSpot highly segmented mails achieve 39% higher open rates than mails that aren’t segmented. So it’s definitely worth it!
  • Make it sound as if your subscribers were receiving an email from a friend.
  • Do something unexpected.
  • Keep your subscribers in suspense.
  • Know your subscribers and create a subject line they definitely identify with.
  • Play with psychological triggers. Fear, social acceptance, feeling of belonging, etc. always work.
  • Consider the time of the day you are sending your newsletter. If your sending out a newsletter on where to get the best breakfast to-go deal in town, it might not be the best idea to hit send at 7pm.
  • Include the preview text in your subject line concept. How? Post a question in the subject line and give the answer in the preview. Or make a dialogue out of it.
  • You can also combine subject lines with unlikely or unexpected sender names. The surpise effect keeps your readers stuck to your mail.

Whatever style you go for: Try something fun, different and stir up curiosity.

Here a few examples of subject lines I recently have received and needed to click on:
Example for Subject Lines You Have to Click on

Notice how Jon Morrow creates curiosity with his combination of the subject line and the preview text. How doesn’t want those headlines you can’t help but click on?
Example Subject Line

With that one he drew me right into it. Its informal style made me feel like an old friend writing to me and the content was perfectly tailored to my interests. (And yes, I have to admit that I’m a big fan of Jon Morrow. Keep up the great work!)
Original Subject Line Jeff Bullas

The subject lines I tend to receive from Jeff Bullas are quite creative and original as well. He has a gift to be unexpected.
Shocking Subject Line Example

SumoMe sent me another unexpected, maybe even shocking one.
Try what works for you and your email list.

Step 4: Create the actual content

When writing the body of the newsletter, keep three main aspects in mind:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Keep it clear.
  3. Keep it 90 % educational and 10 % promotional.

State the reason you are writing the newsletter right at the beginning and make the value for the reader stand out.

Not only the subject line, but actually the whole message should make the readers feel like it were a personal note to them. Seems like I can’t say it often enough: Segment your e-newsletters. Create content for groups of people. Know the different groups. Make sure they get what they love.

There are marketing software tools that can help you with the personalization of your newsletters. And personalization is more than just adding a dynamic field with the name of the recipient. Ever heard of smart content? Smart content means content that adapts to the requirements of the reader- for instance depending on whether the email is sent to a lead or a customer the CTA is a different one.

Step 5: Choose One Supreme CTA

Even though most newsletters offer various pieces of content and therefore include various CTA, you should go for one main CTA. In order to do that you should be clear about one main thing you want your subscribers to do (examples: forward the newsletter to a friend, share it on social media, click to read the entire blog post, check out a special deal, etc.).
When it comes to your CTA it is very important to use clear verbs as well so that their is no doubt about what you want the readers to do. Make the CTA stand out through its design. If you are sending out a plain text newsletter, you can highlight the CTA by using a hyperlink.

Here’s how Jeff Bullas does it:
Plain Text Newsletter Example

Step 6: Design: Don’t gild the lily

Be aware of that, above all if you feature various pieces of content in your e-newsletter. Keep the design simple. Leave white space in order to give your newsletter a clear structure and to make sure your readers do not feel overwhelmed. That way you will also make it easier for your readers to click the right link and to not get lost even if they are using their mobile phone to read your newsletter (which more and more people do, as we saw above).
I really like the clear structure of Simply Measured’s newsletter:
Clear structured newsletter example

Step 7: Alt Text and Plain Text

Since different browsers and different email providers do not always display the content in the same way, you should have an alt text that appears if your images aren’t loaded.

If you write your newsletter in html format, make sure that it still looks nice and structured, if it’s not displayed properly. This is quite relevant, since some email providers cause problems when it comes to html. You want your readers to be able to understand the newsletter without pictures and the html format as well.

Step 8: Don’t Put Your Readers in Chains

As mentioned above, you should include an unsubscribe button in each of your newsletters. Don’t try to make it complicated for your readers to unsubscribe.

Step 9: Boost Your Newsletter with Social Media

Do you want your newsletter to have a broader audience? Include share buttons for social networks and a forward option in your newsletter and you will multiply your audience.

Step 10: 1, 2, Test, Test

Before hitting the send button, you should test how your newsletter is displayed in different browsers and email providers. Litmus is a quite handy tool you might want to try regarding email testing.

Since once you have sent out your newsletter, you can’t make any corrections concerning typos etc., ask one of your fellow team members to read through the texts. Four eyes see more than two.

Advantages of a Killer E-Newsletter:

These ten steps can take you to your killer e-newsletter. However, you should try a couple of different things in order to figure out what works best for you. If you’ve done it right, your e-newsletter can be a steep advantage for your business:

  • engage your subscribers
  • convert them first into leads and then into customers
  • stay present in the minds of your subscribers

If you want to dig further into the topic of creating the perfect e-newsletter, I can highly recommend the following HubSpot articles I’ve read in order to draw up this post:
http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/email-newsletter-examples-list
http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/guide-creating-email-newsletters-ht
http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-create-email-newsletters-ht
http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/best-email-subject-lines-list

What are your experiences with e-newsletters? Do you have any tips you would like to share with us? Please post them in the comments below!

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Gradiweb

Gradiweb Agency is a French company with extensive experience in Europe and Latin America. We are passionate about innovation, design and digital trend. The satisfaction of our customers is our biggest gift, and for that reason we have in mind to consolidate the digital strategy as a pioneer in the corporate vision of the companies. Our Digital Gradient shows you the direction in which your business grows more!

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8 Comments

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