High Quality Newsletter Development.
If you’re a marketer, the chances are you understand that having a strong newsletter development plan is a very important aspect to maintaining a relationship with your current and prospective customers. If you’re a business owner or executive, you also probably know that newsletters are a common tactic that companies employ to generate leads, stay on potential customers’ minds, and ultimately to aid in closing more deals.
The question remains, however, is newsletter development a priority for your business? And, what type of information should be included in a newsletter and what should be left out? These and other questions about content and timing will be answered below. The key is to identify your goals and create a sound newsletter strategy that will help you to meet those goals.
Is a Newsletter a Good Idea for Your Company?
First, determine what kind of resources you have internally to commit to a consistent newsletter. It is important to consider time, experience, and responsibility when qualifying your resources.
Then, Make sure that your business goals are in alignment with dedicating these resources to the newsletter. Ginny Mineo, on HubSpot, says you need to ask yourself the following questions, “Are they trying to increase the number of leads? Better qualify leads to speak with salespeople? Close more deals? Retain more customers?” The answers to these questions impact not only how to design your newsletter, but also if one is needed in the first place. If you don’t see any of these being important reasons why you would create a steady stream of content to be sent to users, you may want to consider if it is a good idea to use those resources at all.
Dean Levitt, Chief of Culture for MadMimi, in a post called 5 Reasons Why You Need an Email Newsletter, says, “Email newsletters can help your business connect with customers–and increase sales–as long as you make sure they’re effective.” He points out that email newsletters can help to drive sales and 44% of email recipients made a purchase based on a deal seen in a newsletter. Also, you can connect to your readers and build up your social media presence by including social media sharing buttons to encourage engagement outside of the newsletter itself. Don’t forget that this same strategy should be used on driving traffic to your website as well.
Who Is Your Newsletter Targeting?
Newsletter development includes identifying an audience and targeting them with valuable content – it is also frequently called customer segmentation analysis. Most companies that compile regular newsletters also have large, diverse audiences that are interested in sometimes vastly different aspects of the company and the information provided to them must be specific enough to grab and keep their attention. As Emily Dowdle explains on Optinmonster.com, “segmentation is dividing your audience or customer base into groups of similar individuals.” The main purpose of segmentation is to organize these groups and then send individualized, different information to each group.
Although it may seem daunting to separate out readers and then customize content, there can be significant result improvements. The first thing to consider is the size of your audience; if you only have 25 readers, it probably doesn’t make sense to do this and your focus should be on generating email account leads to send out your newsletter to. By individualizing your content, you can expect increased click-through and conversion rates.
Creating Audience Segments
Customer personas are created as fictional characters that represent the types of people that should be included in each group. Generally, there are about 4-6 different types of customers for each business. These should be created for your ideal customers and the more research you have, the better. You want their descriptions to be made through market research and actual customer surveys whenever possible. But, you can also make assumptions if necessary.
Each customer profile should include their background, demographics, interests, and their expected level and preferences for engagement.
How to Structure Your Newsletter
You must have a user-friendly structure, but also maintain the high quality content that readers expect. So, the key is in development of a strong, structurally balanced newsletter containing images, headlines and short descriptions without leaving out important details that the readers need. Email advertising experts AWeber quote a Nielsen study on email newsletter usability as saying, “Only 19% of newsletters are read, according to the Nielsen study – the rest are scanned. Introductions are skipped and headlines get the most attention.”
The term above-the-fold originally meant the top half of a newspaper because when folded, potential customers could only see the top portion when making their to decision to stop and pick it up or not. Nowadays, it means the top 600 pixels on a screen, which is the area a reader can see prior to having to scroll down on the page.
As the writers of Optimizely see it, “Because of its high visibility, the content that you place above the fold should be the content that is most important to achieving your business goals. The content should immediately grab the user’s attention and present them with the content that they are looking for so that they don’t bounce and visit another site.”
In the body of the email, it is important to show the reader valuable information. And, if that information is coming from a new piece of research or expert in the field, it is important to cite and link that information as well. This helps to earn credibility and allows the reader to learn more if desired. However, internally directed actions are also important. Specifically, the creation of a call to action is needed.
Good newsletter development includes only one call to action per email. Samples include “Learn More Here”, “Buy Now”, etc. Without this, the user has difficulty determining exactly how to engage. You want them taking the exact action that you are sending the email out for.
Do not make your newsletter too long! Juliana Weiss-Roessler is a marketing guru and says on her website, “There’s no hard-and-fast rule for email newsletter length, though a good general rule of thumb is no longer than one printed page or roughly 500 words.”
How Often to Send a Newsletter
Our opinion is that virtually every company in any industry can use the following as a minimum and maximum amount to start testing. But, ever company needs to test it to make sure they have optimized their conversions. Less than once a month is most likely not enough, more than once a week is most likely too much.
According to Anand Srinivasan on Entrepreneur.com, there is a simple 5 step approach to determining the correct frequency of emails.
- First, choose three or four different frequency rates to test.
- Segment your lists into groups of no less than 300 users.
- Subject lines, content, and time sent must all be the same to keep the frequency as the only independent variable.
- Send 10-20 emails per batch and measure click-thru rate and opt-outs for each segment.
- Rank them and replace the worst performing one with a new segment or narrow the segments by removing them.
By this time, you should have enough data and understanding of your audience to make an accurate assessment of the appropriate scheduling timeline. Remember, without a large enough sample, this research is pointless. So, if you don’t have thousands of followers yet, focus on getting them before doing this testing.
Education vs. Promotion
HubSpot says that newsletter content should consist of 90% education and 10% promotion. So, do not overload your readers by continuously bombarding them with a sales pitch. The call to action should be clear and should allow them to make the action you want them to take without having to jam a pitch down their neck. Subtle pitches are the best and should not even really be done in the newsletter. In fact, this should be done once they are driven to a landing page from the newsletter. It allows the reader to feel like they are in control. And, if they do not like being sold on the product/service from the landing page, you may add a bounce to your analysis, but will not lose a follower all together as they unsubscribe.
Make it User-Friendly
Use a Call-to-Action
Your readers must be able to determine why they are reading your newsletter and if they find it interesting, they need to be able to take further action from the newsletter itself.
Make Unsubscribing Easy
Unless you want a couple of uninterested readers who cannot remove themselves from your email list to control your messaging to the rest of your readers, you will immediately ad a very clear unsubscribe button. Otherwise, when your newsletter is marked as spam for a handful of people, that may end up flagging it as spam for all of your readers. Then, all of the content you have created is rather useless and can be incredibly counter-productive.