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The Ultimate Guide to Sending Your First Email Newsletter

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The Ultimate Guide to Sending Your First Email Newsletter

Email marketing is an essential part of any online business’s digital marketing plan. But if it doesn’t result in instant conversions or purchases, is launching an email campaign even worthwhile? How do you keep track of your subscriber list? And where do you obtain subscribers, to begin with?

This post offers everything you need to know and provides step-by-step instructions for designing and sending newsletters.

What Is an Email Newsletter?

Emails sent out regularly, at equal intervals, are called newsletters. These can be designed in HTML or sent out as plain old text.

Email newsletters are an essential marketing tool for companies, and 81% of B2B marketers use them as their primary form of content marketing.

For the most part, newsletters focus on delivering helpful information to their readers, covering one topic or multiple themes.

Newsletters differ from transactional, autoresponders, and triggered/automated emails, although they may overlap from time to time. A successful email marketing campaign relies heavily on all of them. Thus newsletters should be utilized as a supplement rather than an alternative to these types of mail.

7 Tips To Write Your First Email Newsletter

Creating an email newsletter involves many tiny steps, but each one is critical to the campaign’s success. Here are 7 things to consider when writing your first newsletter email.

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1. Determine the Goal

How do you choose the subject matter for your newsletter?

Identify a few essential subjects or a central theme for your newsletter and focus on a suitable call-to-action. Instead of linking to a random blog article about company updates, events, and PR announcements, focus on high-quality content organized around your chosen theme.

A clear emphasis allows your readers to understand what they’re reading and quickly direct them to actions you want them to take, such as reading a blog post or visiting a specific page on your website.

2. Consider Subscribing to an E-Newsletter Service

Every marketer should know that sending newsletters manually through Gmail, Outlook, or other email service providers is inefficient. These platforms and others like Google Workspace restrict the number of external recipients per message to 500 and the number of recipients per day to 3,000. Moreover, it doesn’t have any analytics, email templates, or segmentation options. So, you can’t depend on them.

On the other hand, email marketing tools offer various features to make your campaigns more successful. If you’ve ever used a drag-and-drop page editor on a content management system, the email newsletter tool should be a breeze to master. You can use it to send subscribers a stream of well-designed newsletters that have been optimized for their inboxes.

3. Decide on a Template

Choosing a template and writing content are the next steps after determining the purpose of your newsletter. If you have no prior experience with email design, it is highly recommended to check out pre-made templates. Many examples are available online, from invoice templates on Google Docs to newsletter wireframes that you can use to streamline email design. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration this way!

Creating an email template that you can reuse is a smart move. Saving time and ensuring consistency are two advantages. Using a professional email template designer is the best way to develop a superb template because of its drag-and-drop editor.

In addition to the built-in templates, you can also develop a template with an email builder to design a personalized and branded look.

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4. The Content Should Be Valuable and Interesting

Newsletters are designed to disseminate information. You must ensure that the information you intend to provide your audience is worth reading.

There are a few elements you should consider to see if the stuff you’re planning to publish provides value to your subscribers:

  • Is the content relevant to your brand? If your company sells garden furniture, don’t write about politics or sports.
  • Is the topic newsworthy? Nobody wants to read boring emails about company stats or receive the same “10% off on all stock” message repeatedly. Always make sure you have something interesting to say!
  • Have you personalized the email? Personalized emails stand out in your subscribers’ inboxes and are more likely to be opened and clicked. You may not have the time or skills to create highly personalized emails yet, but you should at least use customers’ names to connect with your readers.

5. Set Time And Frequency

Sending emails too frequently or irregularly can upset your subscribers and cause them to forget why they signed up for your list. Just make sure you are consistent.

Avoid being a ghost, but also don’t be an email spammer. Decide when to send your email and how frequently to send them, then stick to the plan. Make sure you don’t send three emails in one week and none the next. Maintain a steady course of action in sending your newsletters.

Regarding timing your newsletter emails, best practices vary, but the general consensus is that Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays work the best. Send your newsletters during the day, and make sure to mail out event notifications a few days earlier.

6. Build and Segment Your List

If you want a newsletter to be effective for your marketing efforts, you need subscribers first. Here are a few effective methods you can use to build your email list:

  • Encourage the signing up of new members
  • Run sweepstakes or contests
  • Your website and landing pages should have data-capture forms and pop-ups installed
  • Incorporate social media into your daily routine

But building a list is not enough; you also need to segment it to reach the right people. Segmenting your audience is the key to successful email marketing! You’re wasting your time even if you have excellent content that has no bearing on the audience you’re trying to reach.

Segmenting means dividing your list into smaller groups based on shared criteria. Most beginners segment their lists by demographic data such as age and gender. No matter how you decide to divide your audience, make sure you are sending your newsletters to people who’ve shown interest in reading them.

7. Maintain Legal Compliance

Before hitting “Send,” ensure your emails pass the standards for CAN-SCAM  and GDPR.

  • CAN-SPAM requires you to put your address and an obvious choice to unsubscribe in the footer.
  • GDPR mandates email marketers to only deliver newsletters to those who have opted in. In other words, you can’t automatically tick the “add” box for European email subscribers. They must choose this option by themselves.

Conclusion

A scalable email marketing strategy must include email newsletters. Ensure your email newsletter follows the procedures outlined above, and you’ll be well on your way to growing your business.

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When it comes to sending a well-designed, high-quality newsletter, it can take some time to get the hang of it. However, you can always tweak your guidelines and make changes if they don’t work out as you intended. Consider experimenting with new material or removing areas that don’t resonate with your readers.

You might find it challenging to create a high-quality newsletter initially, and fresh attempts may take some time to produce results. As long as you keep updating your process based on the response, you have nothing to worry about.

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MARKETING

8 major email marketing mistakes and how to avoid them

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8 major email marketing mistakes and how to avoid them

As email marketers, we know we need to personalize the messages we send to subscribers and customers. I can’t think of a single statistic, case study or survey claiming an email program of one-to-everyone campaigns outperforms personalization.

Instead, you’ll find statistics like these:

  • 72% of customers will engage only with personalized messages (Wunderkind Audiences, formerly SmarterHQ)
  • 70% of consumers say that how well a company understands their individual needs affects their loyalty (Salesforce)
  • 71% of customers are frustrated by impersonal shopping experiences (Segment)

But what marketers often don’t understand, especially if they’re new to personalization, is that personalization is not an end in itself. Your objective is not to personalize your email campaigns and lifecycle messages. 

Rather, your objective is to enhance your customer’s experience with your brand. Personalization is one method that can do that, but it’s more than just another tactic. 

It is both an art and a science. The science is having the data and automations to create personalized, one-to-one messages at scale. The art is knowing when and how to use it.

We run into trouble when we think of personalization as the goal instead of the means to achieve a goal. In my work consulting with marketers for both business and consumer brands, I find this misunderstanding leads to eight major marketing mistakes – any of which can prevent you from realizing the immense benefits of personalization.

Mistake #1. Operating without an overall personalization strategy

I see this all too often: marketers find themselves overwhelmed by all the choices they face: 

  • Which personalization technologies to use
  • What to do with all the data they have
  • How to use their data and technology effectively
  • Whether their personalization efforts are paying off

This stems from jumping headfirst into personalization without thinking about how to use it to meet customers’ needs or help them solve problems. 

To avoid being overwhelmed with the mechanics of personalization, follow this three-step process:

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  • Start small. If you aren’t using personalization now, don’t try to set up a full-fledged program right away. Instead, look for quick wins – small areas where you can use basic personalized data to begin creating one-to-one messages. That will get you into the swing of things quickly, without significant investment in time and money. Adding personal data to the body of an email is about as basic as you’ll get, but it can be a start.
  • Test each tactic. See whether that new tactic helps or hurts your work toward your goal. Does adding personal data to each message correlate with higher clicks to your landing page, more conversion or whatever success metric you have chosen?
  • Optimize and move on. Use your testing results to improve each tactic. Then, take what you learned to select and add another personalization tactic, such as adding a module of dynamic content to a broadcast (one to everyone) campaign. 

Mistake #2. Not using both overt and covert personalization

Up to now, you might have thought of in specific terms: personalized subject lines, data reflecting specific actions in the email copy, triggered messages that launch when a customer’s behavior matches your automation settings and other “overt” (or visible) personalization tactics.

“Covert” personalization also employs customer preference or behavior data but doesn’t draw attention to it. Instead of sending an abandoned-browse message that says “We noticed you were viewing this item on our website,” you could add a content module in your next campaign that features those browsed items as recommended purchases, without calling attention to their behavior. It’s a great tactic to use to avoid being seen as creepy.

Think back to my opening statement that personalization is both an art and a science. Here, the art of personalization is knowing when to use overt personalization – purchase and shipping confirmations come to mind – and when you want to take a more covert route. 

Mistake #3. Not maximizing lifecycle automations

Lifecycle automations such as onboarding/first-purchase programs, win-back and reactivation campaigns and other programs tied to the customer lifecycle are innately personalized. 

The copy will be highly personal and the timing spot-on because they are based on customer actions (opting in, purchases, downloads) or inactions (not opening emails, not buying for the first time or showing signs of lapsing after purchasing). 

Better yet, these emails launch automatically – you don’t have to create, schedule or send any of these emails because your marketing automation platform does that for you after you set it up. 

You squander these opportunities if you don’t do everything you can to understand your customer lifecycle and then create automated messaging that reaches out to your customers at these crucial points. This can cost you the customers you worked so hard to acquire, along with their revenue potential.

Mistake #4. Not testing effectively or for long-term gain

Testing helps you discover whether your personalization efforts are bearing fruit. But all too often, marketers test only individual elements of a specific campaign – subject lines, calls to action, images versus no images, personalization versus no personalization  – without looking at whether personalization enhances the customer experience in the long term.

How you measure success is a key part of this equation. The metrics you choose must line up with your objectives. That’s one reason I’ve warned marketers for years against relying on the open rate to measure campaign success. A 50% open rate might be fantastic, but if you didn’t make your goal for sales, revenue, downloads or other conversions, you can’t consider your campaign a success.

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As the objective of personalizing is to enhance the customer journey, it makes sense then that customer lifetime value is a valid metric to measure success on.  To measure how effective your personalization use is, use customer lifetime value over a long time period – months, even years – and compare the results with those from a control group, which receives no personalization. Don’t ignore campaign-level results, but log them and view them over time.

(For more detailed information on testing mistakes and how to avoid them, see my MarTech column 7 Common Problems that Derail A/B/N Email Testing Success.)

Mistake #5. Over-segmenting your customer base

Segmentation is a valuable form of personalization, but it’s easy to go too far with it. If you send only highly segmented campaigns, you could be exclude – and end up losing because of failure to contact – many customers who don’t fit your segmentation criteria. That costs you customers, their potential revenue and the data they would have generated to help you better understand your customer base.

You can avoid this problem with a data-guided segmentation plan that you review and test frequently, a set of automated triggers to enhance the customer’s lifecycle and a well-thought-out program of default or catch-all campaigns for subscribers who don’t meet your other criteria. 

Mistake #6. Not including dynamic content in general email campaigns

We usually think of personalized email as messages in which all the content lines up with customer behavior or preference data, whether overt, as in an abandoned-cart message, or covert, where the content is subtly relevant.

That’s one highly sophisticated approach. It incorporates real-time messaging driven by artificial intelligence and complex integrations with your ecommerce or CRM platforms. But a simple dynamic content module can help you achieve a similar result. I call that “serendipity.”  

When you weave this dynamic content into your general message, it can be a pleasant surprise for your customers and make your relevant content stand out even more. 

Let’s say your company is a cruise line. Customer A opens your emails from time to time but hasn’t booked a cruise yet or browsed different tours on your website. Your next email campaign to this customer – and to everyone else on whom you have little or no data – promotes discounted trips to Hawaii, Fiji and the Mediterranean.

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Customer B hasn’t booked a cruise either, but your data tells you she has browsed your Iceland-Denmark-Greenland cruise recently. With a dynamic content module, her email could show her your Hawaii and Mediterranean cruise offers – and a great price on a trip to Iceland, Denmark and Greenland. Fancy that! 

An email like this conveys the impression that your brand offers exactly what your customers are looking for (covert personalization) without the overt approach of an abandoned-browse email.

Mistake #7. Not using a personal tone in your copy

You can personalize your email copy without a single data point, simply by writing as if you were speaking to your customer face to face. Use a warm, human tone of voice, which ideally should reflect your brand voice. Write copy that sounds like a one-to-one conversation instead of a sales pitch. 

This is where my concept of “helpful marketing” comes into play. How does your brand help your customers achieve their own goals, solve their problems or make them understand you know them as people, not just data points?  

Mistake #8. Not personalizing the entire journey

Once again, this is a scenario in which you take a short-sighted view of personalization – “How do I add personalization to this email campaign?” – instead of looking at the long-term gain: “How can I use personalization to enhance my customer’s experience?”

Personalization doesn’t stop when your customer clicks on your email. It should continue on to your landing page and even be reflected in the website content your customer views. Remember, it’s all about enhancing your customer’s experience.

What happens when your customers click on a personalized offer? Does your landing page greet your customers by name? Show the items they clicked? Present copy that reflects their interests, their loyalty program standing or any other data that’s unique to them?  

Personalization is worth the effort

Yes, personalization takes both art and science into account. You need to handle it carefully so your messages come off as helpful and relevant without veering into creepy territory through data overreaches. But this strategic effort pays off when you can use the power of personalized email to reach out, connect with and retain customers – achieving your goal of enhancing the customer experience.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Kath Pay is CEO at Holistic Email Marketing and the author of the award-winning Amazon #1 best-seller “Holistic Email Marketing: A practical philosophy to revolutionise your business and delight your customers.”

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