The popularity of email newsletters continues to grow, and if you aren’t yet taking advantage of this incredibly easy, quick and often free way to keep in touch with your clients, I am here to tell you, it’s time! Print newsletters just aren’t cutting it any longer. Email newsletters can be delivered to anyone, around the world, with just one click, at a fraction of the cost – yes, even free – over print newsletters.
In a recent post, I talked about what the best opt-in form placement is, and to follow up on that post, today we’ll talk a bit about how to make your newsletter worth reading. Just because you send it, doesn’t mean it will get read, and there are steps you can take to help improve the odds here.
There are numerous studies that show that email newsletters can build your following, create loyalty among your readers, establish you as an expert in your field, increase revenue and grow your business. There really is no good reason to not be utilizing this technology to it’s fullest advantage.
With that in mind, I have 7 pretty hot tips for you, on how to get the most out of your newsletter, so that it will actually be opened up and read.
- Use a catchy title to help improve your open rate. If your title is boring, many people won’t even bother opening your newsletter to see the amazing content that your awesome self has created, so put some thought into this. Find some good power words to jazz it up.
- Your newsletter should be an extension of your website in many ways. Most email newsletters these days are created with HTML, so you can take full advantage of colors, images and CSS styles to make it really pop. Match your branding as closely as possible using background colors and a professionally designed header to match your website’s header, if possible. If people recognize it, they’re more apt to read it, and you come across much more professionally, than if you used a cookie-cutter template.
- Speaking of cookie cutter templates….. Here I will make a plug for my very favorite email newsletter website, MailChimp. That Chimp rocks. The user interface is very easy to figure out, they offer a variety of ready-made templates that can easily be customized to suit your needs, and you can also create a completely custom template, if you know HTML and CSS. Or, you can a hire a designer to help you out here, if you really want to go all out. We all need to set ourselves apart from the competition somehow, and one way we can do it is by sticking to our branding. How would it look if your email newsletter looks just like the newsletter that another businesses uses, because you didn’t brand your template? It will look more than a little unprofessional, so let the other guy look unprofessional, not you.
The other thing about MailChimp that sets them apart from the rest (who shall remain nameless), besides their easy-to-use program, is the fact that they are completely FREE for a list of up to 2000 names and 12,000 emails per month. Yes, you read that correctly, so do yourself (and your customers) a favor and check them out.
- Use <h> tags for section headers, for easier readability. The <h> tags, or header tags, are created by default in MailChimp, but you can customize them to suit your color scheme, and adjust the sizing and font style as needed for your design. Separating the sections of your newsletter in this fashion will make it easier for your reader to assimilate the information and browse through it more efficiently, not to mention make the content look more appetizing.
- Use images throughout your content for even more interest and texture. Who wants to read paragraphs of boring 11 point text? It can be a little overwhelming and many people just don’t have the time, or they won’t take the time because it doesn’t look interesting enough. Using photos and graphics throughout your newsletter will make it that much more interesting and easier to read. Don’t leave out this important step. There are many places online to get free and royalty free stock photos……no, you can’t just go grab whatever you want and use it! I have an extensive list on this blog post about Free Image Sites, and my favorite place to purchase stock images is Adobe Stock.
- Personalize the “To” field in your newsletter with the recipients first name. MailChimp makes this super easy. This is an option when setting up your campaign.
This will take the first name of the recipient from the database where it’s stored when people sign up for your newsletters, and pop it in your newsletter, as if you were personally addressing it just to them! This adds a nice personal touch and many people will ask just how you did that!
- Don’t forget a call to action! This step is often left out, but it’s important to include. While our newsletters are meant to keep communication open with our clients and readers, there’s no harm in letting them know what you have to offer them. Your call to action, doesn’t need to be a sales pitch. Maybe you have a great new free download that they might find helpful? Maybe you’d like to send them on to another article on your blog. Or maybe you are just launching the latest and greatest product that would really help them. Maybe you can even just recommend that they forward your newsletter to a friend. Whatever it might be, be sure to include it!
- Don’t forget the mandatory unsubscribe link, too. Most email marketing websites, such as MailChimp, include this by default on all their templates, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it, as sending emails without this link violates the anti-spam laws.
- Lastly, test your email! Most of us have secondary email accounts with other providers such as Gmail or Yahoo, so I recommend sending a test email out to yourself via as many different providers as you can. They will all display your email differently, including Microsoft Outlook, so take the time to test your email, to make sure that it will be viewed properly in many different email clients.