One of the most prevalent problems with e-newsletters is that they're often cluttered, unfocused and they overtly promote every product/service offered by a micro market’s business. Product news is right next to promotions, which are right next to recycled blog posts, event listings and more. Email marketing – whether it’s a newsletter or not – should have a common thread that holds it together.
Stick with one specific topic. Instead of your micro market e-newsletter being focused on everything happening in your company this month or next, it should be focused on a very specific topic. And because that topic is aligned with a specific interest, the articles should result in more engagement than they would a newsletter featuring bits of content from every corner of your website or market.
Balance newsletter content. Shoot for 80-90 percent educational copy and 10-20 promotional. Chances are, your e-newsletter subscribers don't want to hear about your products and services every time they open an email from you. They may love your micro market, but there’s only so much self-promotion you can do before they hit the delete button.
Don’t be that company. In your e-newsletters, downplay self-promotion in favor of sending your subscribers educational, relevant, timely information. Unless you actually have an exciting piece of news about your products, service or company, leave out the promotional copy.
Set appropriate expectations. Once you’ve figured out your e-newsletter’s focus and content balance, make sure you’re properly communicating about them on your landing page for subscribers. Get specific. Tell your market’s customers and prospects exactly what will be in the e-newsletter as well as how often they should expect to receive it.
Segment your lists by audience. Sending the same newsletter to different audiences is a no-no. Existing customers should be receiving content that’s different from prospects, referral sources, industry partners and so on. So segment your lists, and tailor content appropriately. (Hint: In some cases, it can be the same content, just written differently.)
Be creative with email subject lines. Even if your readers voluntarily opt in for your newsletters, you can’t be sure they will open them once they hit their inboxes. Many marketers attempt consistency by keeping the subject line the same each day, week, or month that they send it. Reality check: those subject lines get old fast. Why? Because there’s no incentive to click on that specific email, and chances are, it will feel like a "rerun." A better approach would be to try to have a different, engaging subject line for each e-newsletter.
Find a great "sender name." If your micro market has a name associated with it that commands attention, then use it. If not, test different sender names to find the one that results in the greatest number of "opens."
Keep design and copy minimal. To achieve an uncluttered look and feel involves two things: concisely written copy and white space. Short chunks of copy about your market are critical because you want your customers and prospects to read them, then click through to your website, a micro market-specific landing page or a blog to actually consume a longer piece of content. White space is key in e-newsletters because it helps to visually achieve an uncluttered feel. And on a mobile device, it ‘s much easier for people to find and click the right link.
Make your newsletter’s call-to-action (CTA) clear and actionable. Part of what makes an e-newsletter effective is that it can feature short pieces of content with corresponding CTAs. Feature one primary CTA in each market’s e-newsletter, with others being “optional” for those who have time to read more and click on a secondary CTA.
Run a test, then do it again. Regardless of whether you have an existing e-newsletter or a new one, to be successful you should run A/B split tests. Simply put, write two different subject lines and send each to half of your list, then determine which one results in more opens and click throughs. The same holds true for different types of content.
Maybe your readers like a bold, in-your-face CTA – or maybe they prefer one that’s more straightforward. Maybe they prefer really fun, excitable, action-oriented copy – or maybe a simple "click here" works. At a minimum, test different CTA language to see what resonates best.
Use Alt text for pics and graphics. Not every device or browser used by your e-newsletter recipients will display pictures and graphics the same way. In some cases, the images may not load at all. That’s why every image in your micro market newsletter should have Alt text embedded – so even if your images don’t display, the Alt text will.
Make Unsubscribe visible and easy. The worst outcome for your micro market newsletter is for it to be designated as Spam. If you’re using a third party provider, such as Constant Contact, You will be penalized for too many Spam designations, not a third party provider.
And just in case you were wondering about the effectiveness of e-newsletters, here are some stats from FulcrumTech, an e-newsletter provider:
- In 2016, more than 80 percent of marketers used email newsletters for content marketing.
- Email newsletters top the list of email-marketing uses at 66 percent, followed by promotional content (54 percent), and welcome email series (42 percent).
- When consumers were asked which medium they prefer to get updates from, 90 percent of respondents said email newsletters, compared to only 10 percent who chose Facebook.
- 19 percent of consumers reported that they read every email newsletter that they receive to see if “something is on offer,” according to Forrester research.
About The Author
John Healy is Co-Founder of The Vending Marketer – www.vendingmarketer.com – a digital marketing agency that exclusively serves vending, OCS, micro market and other refreshment services businesses. He is also CEO of Healy Consulting & Communications Inc., a traditional, digital and social media marketing firm that strives to ensure its clients’ relevance while fueling their growth and success. His affiliation with the industry dates back to 2009, and he currently serves as a NAMA Knowledge Source Partner. Reach him at email@example.com.