With the amount of content already available online, it is fair to question the utility of an online newsletter at all; however, according to the New York Times, (and the MediaDesk team agrees) “at a time when lots of news and information is whizzing by online, email newsletters—some free, some not—help us figure out what’s worth paying attention to.”
By following these five rules, you can increase the effectiveness of your email newsletters.
1.) Have one main goal that each eNews should accomplish
One of the most common—and most damaging—mistakes are providing too much content. The newsletter should feature one main point, event, or call to action in order to optimize its readability. By overloading on content, you run the risk of losing your viewer’s interest altogether. Blogspot Marketing points out that “part of what makes a newsletter a newsletter is that you’re featuring multiple pieces of content with multiple calls-to-action (CTAs). But, that doesn’t mean you should let those CTAs share equal prominence. Instead, let there be one head honcho CTA—just one main thing that you would like your subscribers to do…Whether it’s simply to click through to see a blog post or just to forward the email to a friend, make it super simple for your subscribers to know what you want them to do.” This adds simplicity and a sense of direction for your eNews, which makes it easier for your viewers to understand why it was sent to them in the first place. You also don’t want to overload them with text because the goal of an eNews should be to briefly inform, spark their interest in the topic, and direct them to your website (or whatever social media platform you use most) to learn more information. By enticing viewers to click on an embedded link (like your website), you will be able to track that information and be able to see that your eNews was successful in creating interest in what your organization is up to.
2.) Use your subject line wisely
Your subject line is the first impression that your eNews will have on your clients—and what inspires them to open the email, or not—so it’s important to take advantage of its utility. MailChimp, an email marketing platform, has found that a “successful campaign starts with a subject line that grabs the attention of your subscribers. Good subject lines are often personal or descriptive and give the recipient a reason to check out your content. Whatever your approach, it’s important to keep your audience in mind.” You have a lot of freedom to choose how you’d like your subject line to perform and what personality you’d like it to have (i.e. funny, informative, action-oriented, etc…), but you need to figure out what will work best for your audience while also achieving your organization’s goals. For example when the Albuquerque Living Cities Integration Initiative recently launched their new name, City Alive, the email subject line read: “Goodbye Albuquerque Living Cities Integration Initiative”, implying that either the author or the organization was going away, when in fact saying goodbye to Living Cities was just a way to say hello to City Alive. That month’s eNews had an open rate that was 10% higher than the average.
3.) Use alt text
Alt text: necessary to include, but easy to forget. Alternative text, or alt text, is the text you provide that coincides with an image. This is useful for people who are visually impaired and need to use a screen reader, but it’s also useful for when your image doesn’t fully load on your email. In that case, the text will provide the viewer with the context of what the image would’ve provided. Blogspot Marketing addresses the fact that since “visual content is incredibly important to the rest of your marketing activities, it’d make sense that you’d want to include them in your emails…right? Right. But email’s a little bit trickier. Most of the time, people won’t have images enabled, so you’ve got to make sure your images have one essential component: alt text.” By the time someone clicks on your email, you’ve already done an incredible amount of strategic work to make that happen, and you don’t want to lose their attention or interest because the images won’t load! Capturing and maintaining the interest of your audience is vital, and providing alt text helps make sure that happens—even if the images aren’t loading on their browser or mobile device.
4.) Keep track of what’s working
Most email platforms have a way for you to keep track of how many people are opening your emails, how many of those people click on the embedded links, what time of day they click on your email, etc, etc… With that information, you can test to see what works best for your viewers and what tends to be a waste of time. Marketing Land suggests that you take it a step further and “segment your database based on email engagement (highly engaged, limited engagement, no engagement). Test to understand what is optimal for each group, and define a threshold of emails that ensures engagement but leaves no money on the table. Monitor the number of emails sent at the prospect level. If the threshold is met (on a daily, weekly or monthly basis) stop sending more emails to that prospect.” Finding the different levels of engagement that people have, putting them into groups and finding their respective thresholds can have a lasting impact on your eNews campaigns. They also noted that “an Adobe case study found that by decreasing total emails sent by 16 percent (and including more relevant content), they realized a 60-percent improvement in open rates.” So pay attention to who is engaging with your eNews, what content is working, what isn’t working and – most importantly – adapt your approach when necessary.
5.) Optimize your eNews for mobile devices
Consumers are using mobile devices to view their emails more than ever before, so you need to make sure that your eNews is optimized to work on various mobile devices. According to Impact Marketing, “79% of people surveyed use their smartphone for reading email” and “70% of consumers delete emails immediately that don’t render well on a mobile device.” Even if your eNews looks beautiful and has perfect messaging, it might be useless on a mobile device if it’s not optimized for mobile. Accessing email on mobile devices is an unrelenting trend, and it is your organization’s best interest to get on board. MailChimp and Constant Contact are two straightforward and inexpensive platforms that send emails that can be optimized for mobile devices.