New marketing trends emerge every year and it’s hard to be up-to-date with every one of them, especially if you are running a small business. As technology becomes more and more intertwined with our everyday lives, people become more exposed to online forms of marketing, and it’s needless to say that they are annoyed. An average person’s inbox is cluttered with all kinds of messages and people find it hard to get through every e-mail they receive. But despite that fact, sending out a newsletter is still one of the best and cheapest direct marketing tactics. The thing you need to keep in mind is that every respectable business out there sends out some kind of a newsletter, and some do it more successfully than others. If you want to win the battle for customers’ inboxes, you need to step up your game and spruce up your newsletter.
Increase Your Signups
The first thing you need to improve is your signup form. Most people are hesitant to subscribe to a newsletter because they don’t know what to expect from it. Nobody wants to receive endless promotional e-mails three times a week. That’s why you need to create an appealing signup page or form where you will explain what the benefits of your newsletter are and how often your subscriber can expect to receive it. Explain what type of content you will send out and why that should be interesting or useful to your target audience.
When creating your signup form you will be tempted to ask for detailed information about your subscribers, but make sure you don’t ask for too much. You may be conflicted about this because on the one hand you want to gather as much information as you can about your clients and prospective customers, and on the other hand you don’t want to discourage them from signing up.
Frequency of sending is also an important thing you need to reconsider. There is no universal formula that will give you the exact answer, but there is a golden rule suggesting that once a week is an optimal regularity. However, if you’re running a small business you can send out your newsletter less often than that. The best solution will be different for every company and that’s why it’s best to test a couple of possibilities. You need to divide your mailing list in two or more groups before you send out your newsletter and then try out two or more sending patterns. For example, one group will receive your newsletter once a week and another once every two weeks. After running this test you need to check the open and click-through rates to see what frequency of sending has better results.
If you don’t have the time to run the tests or you don’t have that big of an audience, you should rely on the content to determine how often you need to send out your newsletter. In other words – don’t send it out if you don’t have anything useful to say.
Perfect Your Content
This all brings us to the substance of every newsletter – the content. What you write and how you present it will determine if people will actually look forward to your e-mails or are they just going to skim trough them. Content creation and curation for a newsletter is something where small business actually can have the upper hand in comparison to larger companies. This is because, usually, small businesses operate in specific market niches and consequentially have a more cohesive target audience. All this means is that if you are a small business owner, you have a better chance of tailoring your newsletter in a way that would appeal to your recipients.
It’s good to map out your content strategy in advance, so that you always know what you’re going to write. To achieve greater loyalty to the newsletter, you need to add value to your content. Don’t send out only sales offers and promotional content, instead you need to create content that your readers will appreciate. It will depend on the industry you are in, but there are a lot of things you can do to make your content more engaging. You can choose to write educational or entertaining newsletters, it’s up to you, but you need to come up with something that will make people read and share. If creativity isn’t your strong suit you can always write useful and educational tips from your niche. Whatever you decide to write about, you need to tie it all together with good design. Even if you are a small brand you need to establish your visual identity.
It doesn’t matter if your website is custom made, or you use some kind of a simple website builder, when designing a newsletter you should find a way to incorporate the same visual elements that exist on your website. Going overboard with design is never a good idea. It is tempting to include all the nice images and graphics, but just make sure the overall design looks attractive, tasteful and most importantly that it is easy to read. Disabling images in the e-mail is almost a trend now, so adding alt text for every graphic you include is almost mandatory. This is important because alternative text will appear instead of the images, and you don’t have to worry about whether your message will reach everyone.
Make it Appealing, Make it Shareable
There is no universal advice or formula that will make your newsletter successful. You need to do your research, get to know your audience and test different versions until you find the one that performs the best. With that in mind, there are still couple of things you can do to make the most out of your newsletter.
Pay attention to the format. You should consider writing a short summary at the beginning for those impatient readers.
Make sure that overall tone of your newsletter is warm and informal. If you want people to interact with your newsletter, you need to be friendly and inviting — not buttoned-up and distant.
Most newsletters have social share buttons at the bottom of the page, and a small percentage of reader actually read it all the way through. To increase your social shares consider putting share buttons under every story, this way readers will be encouraged to share your content.
Even though this may seem like the wrong thing to do, your unsubscribe button has to be visible and easily accessible – you’ll have a better chance to make people read your e-mails. You don’t want your readers feeling like you’re pressuring them to do something they don’t want to do.
Tamara Stavljanin is a professional content and copywriter and a part of ucraft.com team. She is passionate about digital marketing and technology trends, and she is always looking for ways to improve her content marketing and SEO skills.