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You’ve Got Mail — 5 Tips for a Successful Newsletter

Email campaigns and digital newsletters are tricky but powerful marketing tools. They have their own etiquette, technological constraints, and methods of interaction which is largely reliant on the individual user (and their mail client of choice).  Always push your email campaigns further with vision and strategy, but don’t lose sight of these basics:

  1. Frequency isn’t King

Don’t think of email as a channel, like you would YouTube or Facebook. You don’t need (or want) a constant feed being sent out to all of your list. Instead, use it to build and enhance relationships at scale. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters – so many I created a separate email so I can sort things properly. But no matter how much I try to stay on top of that inbox, it seems if I take a break for 5 minutes I have 50 new emails – most from only a handful of companies. It reminds me of winning solitaire on the computer — watching all the cards bounce around the screen until it’s full of pixels. It feels like something is happening, but usually it is an illusion of engagement and productivity. No one trusts a needy newsletter flooding an already out-of-control inbox. Think as someone who receives the newsletter rather than someone who is sending it. This mindset will guide your messaging and future campaigns, especially when you can tailor several variants of a campaign based on the end viewer. Which brings me to my next point…

  1. Context is King

The true core of any marketing piece is the context. What environment is your user in when they interact with your marketing? What are their goals and obstacles in that moment? For example, most emails are read on mobile first, sorted or filed, then read later at a desktop. This means your campaign likely touches your user in two distinct contexts – first when they’re busy or on the move. This means your initial impact has to be loud, appropriate, and helpful enough to get filed or saved. Then, in the usually slower environment of checking email at the desktop, the user will click around, read and digest the information. Consider this information along with the industries your clients are a part of, their viewing habits, and the situations they access your message when crafting your call to action. Think less of what you want to say, and more of what you’d want to read.

  1. Know Your Data, Know Your Audience

Regardless of the email platform you’re using, there are numerous data and reporting features you may be missing out on. Quick email capture is great for onboarding potential clients, but you should further the relationship by encouraging and guiding your subscribers through a profile setup. You will be able to send them more tailored newsletters, and they won’t be inundated with irrelevant (or too frequent) emails. Make sure you let your subscribers know what information you’ll be collecting and for what reason and have an easily accessible privacy policy. Everyone wins.

  1. Deliver Value, Always.

Lead with content but show how your service or product can help users achieve their goals. Curate case studies, industry news, unique uses, and glimpses into company culture to provide a genuinely useful feed of information. Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of showcasing information more interesting to your employees than your customers. For example, I won’t save an email listing off features missing from my favorite software, but I will save an email with a list of additional plugins that expand those capabilities. Straight information is OK, but information your viewers want to respond to or interact with is a stronger bridge.

  1. Create A Schedule And Stick To It.

You know when your favorite show is going to be on tv (or when Netflix is releasing the next season of Orange is the New Black). If you know when to expect something, you’re more likely to set aside the time for it. Newsletters with a promised timeline (i.e. a Sunday dispatch, a biweekly report, a monthly review etc.) have higher success rates, but only if they stick to that promise. Remember, your goal is to reinforce your brand’s reliability. 

Email is a growing medium in the mobile world, with mobile email opens growing 180% in three years[1]. Most subscription newsletters fall apart because they aren’t implemented with strategy and solid understanding of goals. Gathering content and deploying a newsletter aren’t very difficult things to do. But implementing a newsletter that stays true to the brand, provides significant value to your client base, and continues to bring in measurable results is a perpetual process. Don’t worry — we’re here to help.

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