To all website owners, this will sound familiar. You’re sitting around by yourself, or with friends, family, or coworkers. You are trying to figure out how to best engage your leads and customers, sell more products, or just “stay top-of-mind” for your target audience, and someone decides there’s a solution that can solve all of those problems at once: an email newsletter! You think, “I know you/I am right about this, but:
How do I start? | Who has the time? | How much is this going to cost? | Do I have the programming skills? | Will my newsletter and hard work get rejected?
Ok, maybe we will never admit that last one to others, however most of these questions are valid points.
Newsletter Stats to chew on:
- Companies who send automated emails are 133% more likely to send relevant messages that correspond with a customer’s purchase cycle. – Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups
- About 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices. – Campaign Monitor
- 23% of readers who open an email on a mobile device open it again later. –Campaign Monitor
- Personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. – Aberdeen
- 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement. – eConsultancy
- When it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social, direct mail and more. – DMA
- Email subscribers are 3 times more likely to share your content via social media than visitors from other sources. – QuickSprout
- 72% people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media. – MarketingSherpa
- Including a call to action button instead of a text link can increase conversion rates by as much as 28%. – Campaign Monitor
- A message is 5x more likely to be seen in email than via Facebook. – Radicati
- Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. – Campaign Monitor
- You are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet.- Campaign Monitor
- Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. – McKinsey
- 81% of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous shopping habits were at least somewhat likely to make a purchase as a result of targeted email. -eMarketer
- 24% of visitors from email marketing buy something as compared to 2.49% of visitors from search engines and 0.59% from social media. – Monetate
- Sending four emails in a month instead of one significantly increases the number of consumers opening more than one email – WhoIsHostingThis “Email Deliverability 101”
- The average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media. – McKinsey
- 57% of email subscribers spend 10-60 minutes browsing marketing emails during the week. – ChoozOn
Truthfully, we at turnkey web and marketing have never seen a successful website without an effective email marketing campaign. It is a key fundamental that is absolutely necessary to SUSTAIN PROFIT AND GROWTH. Even we have been in this situation before, and we were all terrified at first. Even though e-newsletters are one of the most common types of emails to send, they are actually some of the hardest to do.
OK let’s first talk about what should be in a newsletter:
- Brief feature article – This first element is the most important. A feature article only needs to be around 400 – 750 words. However, pack the article with helpful information for the reader. Use bulleted lists to make reading easier. Don’t talk about yourself. Be brief, pithy, and focus on helping the reader solve a specific problem.
- Value statements – Sometime, people who read your newsletter may not be familiar with you. So, display a brief list of bulleted phrases that explains the benefits you provide to your audience. These key statements should explain what sets you apart from others and why your expertise is so helpful. Focus on short phrases that communicate the “life-change” you make happen for your audience. These statements can also be a testimonial from a well-known company or leader talking about your company.
- Upcoming events calendar – Create a small box or listing of where you’ll be speaking over the next 3 months. Include the date, location, and contact information for each event. This shows readers how active you are in the marketplace and reinforces the fact that other people request you. Also, include any national or regional media appearances (radio and TV). If you are a strictly web based business, then create a small box announcing what next week’s/month’s article will cover.
- Featured product – Show a small picture and provide brief description of a featured product, such as a book, webinar, video course, keynote speech, etc. Secret tip: Create urgency in the reader’s mind by offering a coupon or discounted price if they order within 48 hours. Give people a reason to buy now. Be sure to include a website link to purchase your products, and test it for accuracy before sending out your newsletter.
- Full contact information – Give your readers a list of all the possible ways to reach you, including phone, email, website, address, etc. For a print newsletter, list this information near the header and under your return address.
- Include Social Share/Follow Buttons – Engage your subscribers to share and post your content. This will strengthen your SEO and draw more customers to your website by using your subscribers to help you. If you don’t, you are giving up on free advertising.
- Professional-looking layout – Important Tip: Many people read email newsletters on their tiny smartphone screens. So, only use an email template that displays ONE column. Don’t use two or three columns. In addition, compliment your good content with good graphics. If you’re comfortable with publishing and graphics software, try doing it yourself. Or, hire a graphic artist to make a template for you. Then, you can quickly drop new content into each future issue.
Now for logistics. You can send out emails manually one by one or you need an email service. Here is the reason why an email service is better.
- You don’t get blacklisted – If you use your own Gmail, yahoo, even @yourdomain.com email account to send out your mass marketing messages, you put your own IP address at risk for being blacklisted by Internet Service Providers if you get flagged as spammy. What the heck does that mean? That means your regular everyday communications could have a harder time getting to your customers, partners and everyone else. Definitely not a situation you want to find yourself in! Email service providers like MailChimp or Aweber have best practices in place to make sure this doesn’t happen. They keep a record of the opt-in when your subscriber signs up and also have things like spam filter checks to help you avoid the junk folder and being reported as spam.
- Manage subscribers – With an email service provider, subscribers can easily subscribe and unsubscribe to your list or sub lists without any manual data input needed therefore a lot less work for you to do
- Email Tracking – Email service providers can tell you EXACTLY how many people opened your email, which links they clicked on and even integrate with your website’s Google Analytics account. Bonus – they keep this data for ALL of your campaigns! So you can start to learn what is working and what’s not.
- Schedule in advance – With an email service provider, you can SCHEDULE your email to be sent ahead of time. Yes, for you overachievers out there, this means you could have your whole year scheduled out ahead of time if you were THAT on top of things.
- Run test emails – Email marketing service providers can help you with split tests – a scientific way of finding out how to improve your campaigns. MailChimp walks you through how it works with their service here. improved results and less guess work.
- Oh Yeah, It’s free until you get bigger – Most of the Email Service Providers out there offer free trials and the cost is minimal after that. My favorite email provider is MailChimp because they allow you to have a free account forever if you have under 2000 email addresses and send less than 12,000 emails a month. Truthfully if you have a larger email list than this and are sending more than 12,000 emails a month you must be growing a pretty decent business and can afford the $30/month for the next level. Constant Contact is fairly popular but does charge $15/month after the 60 day free trial period even for a small email list.
We at Turnkey have come up with simple tips to help you. They are easy to follow, therefore, no pain or agony over what to do or when to do it.
- Subscribe to your competitors and your industry news channels – To figure out what you need to do, first do some research. In your industry, are there successful email newsletters that people like to subscribe to? We live in an informational society. This will provide plenty of insight and content ideas that will help you keep your workflow easier
- Consistency through trials – For best results, send email newsletters at least every 30 days (weekly is best), and send a print newsletter to leaders every 90 days. Sorry to burst your bubble, but your first newsletter will not be perfect. You will not get $1 million in sales by your 3rd That’s ok. Look at the stats. it is constant and stable newsletters that yield the results. This is not the 100 yard dash, this is a marathon, and the spoils will continue to improve when you are consistent. Supporters won’t remember opting into your email list if you are not consistent. If you take too long to contact your subscribers, they may forget that they signed up in the first place. You don’t want to risk subscribers hitting the spam button after suddenly receiving a “random” newsletter. This is why a weekly newsletter is best.
- Informational – not promotional – Don’t make this mistake: Most newsletters are too promotional or tend to blather about the sender too much. That’s selfish and a turn-off to readers. Instead, use your expertise to create a newsletter that helps the reader improve their daily life. Try to focus 80 -90% of your newsletter content on helping the audience with information.
- Get creative with email subject lines. – Even if your subscribers sign up for your emails, there’s no guarantee that they will open your emails once they get them in their inbox. Many marketers try increasing familiarity with their subscribers by keeping the subject line the same each day, week, or month that they send it. Make it personal. Use their names and this will increase the response.
- Make sure images have alt text. – Given that visual content is incredibly important to the rest of your marketing activities, email’s a little bit trickier. Most of the time, people won’t have images enabled, so you’ve got to make sure your images have one essential component: alt text. Alt text is the alternative text that appears when images aren’t loaded in an email. This is especially important if your CTAs are images — you want to make sure people are clicking even without the image enabled.
- Make sure you are a subscriber and test – Send the newsletter to yourself. Turn on and off the image feature. Look at the newsletter on your computer, tablet, laptop, or mobile device. Does it look good?
- Test Your Optimal Mailing Time – According to MailChimp, a leading email marketing service, more emails are sent (and opened) during the weekdays than on the weekends. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday seem to have the highest open rate. Also, more subscribers tend to open email after 12 PM, with peak hours being 2-5 PM. This does not mean you have to wait til that time to create the newsletter, you can always preprogram it anytime and schedule the delivery time later if you are using a mail service
- Send a Personalized Email Immediately after Sign-Up -MailChimp also finds that subscribers are most engaged immediately after they sign up. After they subscribe to your newsletter, be sure to send them an email to begin the relationship right away. Acknowledge them and thank them for signing up before their interest has a chance to wane.
- Appearance – Keep everything within 600px wide and limit the columns – If there were just one email design guideline we could give you, it would be this one. Forcing your subscribers to scroll from side-to-side is the kiss of death for an email’s response rate. Multiple columns do not always look good on smaller devices like mobiles or tablets. Images on the left, text on the right. Or if you use multiple images, start with left and then move to right in the next section. And then back to the left and so on. Don’t use background images that only confuses the email and makes it messy.
- You need to optimize your email – Slow load times and the email response rate will drop quickly. Use optimized images and content. Refrain from any animation. Too much space and it may lose you subscribers. If you feel daring and want to use some type of animation, only the animated GIF will show on most devices
- Link it up – The more links to different places on your website, the better. Don’t get crazy, but up to 15 different links is acceptable and will help your response rate.
- Ramp Up The Color and Contrast – we want to catch their attention. Sometime too much color can come across as cartoonlike. Contrasting colors like extreme white and black can offer separation and a clearer newsletter. Graphic designers also know how to use color and contrast to direct the eye of the subscriber, so try to look at it from that perspective. Use RGB colors or it may not be seen on every device