Email marketing remains a highly effective way to engage and connect with clients, prospects and referral sources. Email marketing can take several forms and according to marketing experts, newsletters are the most effective format. There are few content marketing tactics that do a better job of attracting, retaining and even winning back lapsed clients than a newsletter that contains well-presented, relevant information that arrives on a regular basis.
Whether readers discover your newsletter while browsing your website or it’s delivered to inboxes by an email marketing service, a newsletter (or blog) will build and enhance your brand, keep your business at top-of-mind, drive traffic to your website and encourage prospective clients and referral sources to learn more about your products and services. Listed here are building blocks that will help you create a newsletter that will reflect well on your expertise, your business and your brand.
- Goals The newsletter will be one component of your overall marketing /content marketing strategy. Acknowledging that your newsletter is the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy and that your content marketing strategy plays a leading role in your overall marketing strategy will help you to identify appropriate goals and metrics that will monitor the success rate of your marketing activities. Consider how launching a newsletter will support your organization’s marketing goals. Are you looking to generate leads and sales? Or are you attempting to establish yourself as a thought-leader and expert as a way to build trust and attract more prestigious clients, expand referrals, get a teaching appointment, or speaking engagements?
- Frequency Decide what your schedule will allow you to do in terms of researching sources and publishing original content. Be realistic about your time, because sticking to a predictable publishing rhythm will be important to your readers. Choose as your publishing schedule a date (like the 1st, 15th, or 30th of the month) or a day (the 3rd Tuesday, for example). A monthly newsletter will help you to build readership most efficiently, but a bi-monthly schedule might be OK.
- Template Reinforce your visual brand and use the colors and graphic style elements used in your business cards and website also in your newsletter design. An online search will bring you to numerous free newsletter templates and email marketing services will have templates as well. Choose a template that you like and that will be easy to read. Readers should be able to quickly scan topic headlines. Make sure that your template will allow you to upload images as desired. Hubspot, the Cambridge, MA content marketing firm, in a recent survey found that 65% of email marketing readers prefer images to text when reading newsletters. It’s also important to choose a template that will give sufficient “above the fold” space for you to create headlines that encourage readers to dive in. “Above the fold” is a newspaper industry term that describes the area above the fold in the newspaper. In a digital newsletter, above the fold refers to what readers can see without scrolling. Place your best headlines above the fold to reel in readers.
- Mobile friendly A 2018 study by Adestra, a U.K.-based email marketing service, found that 59% of emails are first opened on mobile devices but according to Marketing Land, a digital publication whose target readers are marketing professionals, only 17% of marketers regularly send responsive emails. Take the steps to format your newsletter in responsive design, so that it will be easy to read on a smart phone or tablet.
- Newsletter content Create a newsletter that consistently delivers to readers information that they are likely to find interesting and useful. There are those whose idea of a newsletter consists of links to articles that have appeared in industry journals, sometimes accompanied by a personally written prelude. That’s probably OK to do two or three times a year, but I highly recommend that you research a topic or two and write 800 – 1500 words of original content. Your newsletter does not have to exceed two pages, including photos or short videos.
- Subscriber base Your mission will be to capture as many email addresses as ethical behavior allows (no spamming please!). Take a passive approach and make it possible for readers to subscribe on your website. Take an active approach and initiate a business card exchange as you meet people in your travels. Mention that you have a newsletter that covers a particular topic and ask if they’d like to receive it. If the answer is yes, then you’ll add a new name to your list. Include an unsubscribe feature in your newsletter template. Check the statistics of your newsletter, in particular the bounce rate and open rate. Correct or remove bad email addresses, to keep the list clean and your statistics accurate. According to Mailchimp, the average newsletter open rate is 20%. However, when you publish a newsletter that consists of original content that readers value, the open rate can be much higher. From 2012 – 2016, I was the principal author of a women’s club newsletter (I am still a member) and the open rate approached 70%.
Thanks for reading,
Photograph: Bob Bernstein (l) and Carl Woodward at The Washington Post in May 1973. The two won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1973 for their reporting on the Watergate story. ©Associated Press