Maybe you already have an email newsletter, or maybe you’re just thinking about starting to send one. Either way, very few marketing channels, if any return results higher than email newsletters. They are without a doubt, the perfect way to communicate with prospects and customers on a consistent basis.
What is a newsletter really? Think of it as direct channel of communication between you and your audience, through their most personal channel, their inbox. The information you have to share can be about news, how-tos, tips, or anything else, but there is one golden rule, it needs to help your subscribers in some way.
In this post, we’ll dive into actionable tips and insights for creating email newsletters that your subscribers will want to read, ones that will help you boost engagement rates, make people want to share your content and keep unsubscribes at bay.
WHY EMAIL NEWSLETTERS?
Why am I and everyone in the digital marketing business saying you need to start a newsletter right now? Simple. Successful marketing is built on visibility and a qualified audience — two things newsletters give you.
As a marketer, it’s your job to make sure you’re constantly keep your numbers moving up and to the right. Newsletters help to increase exposure for your brand, product or service, adding fresh contacts to your email marketing campaigns is an essential part of this process. Side note: This should NEVER be done by purchasing email lists. Anyone who says you should, clearly doesn’t know the first thing about product market fit.
WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA?
If you’re taking your business seriously, you should be very cautious about where to invest your time and marketing dollars. The first step would be by moving your social media followers to your newsletter. Rethinking your email marketing strategy will give you better control over your marketing assets. Here’s why…
- It’s been proven that 90% choose to receive email newsletters, whereas only 10% want updates on Facebook.
- You’re 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet.
- Email is also 40x more effective than social media when it comes to acquiring new clients.
- Organic reach of content brands published in Facebook is destined to hit zero.
These are all great points, but my personal favorite is…
- 71% consumers favor email as their first online “check” of the day.
The bottom line is; Email is a far more effective sales and communications channel than social networking sites. Even if you are very active in engaging with your Facebook page or Twitter followers, the potential return is much lower than using opt-in email lists. Does that mean you should give up on Social media channels? Not at all, they’re still great for outreach, but the logical next step would be to lead your audience where it matters most, to your email list.
Still raising the ‘Social Media’ is king card? Besides getting more engagement people consider email as the main commercial channel. An ExactTarget study found that more than three quarters (77%) of people surveyed responded that email is the preferred channel for permission-based promotional messages. Only 4% of respondents said that about Facebook and for Twitter it was measly 1%
LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS
So far we’re looked at what newsletters are, and why they’re so important to you as a marketer, but you’re really reading this post looking for ways to increase your distribution list, right? So let me share with you how I did it for my site, OrenTodoros.com.
#1 Choose the Right Service for you
The very first thing you need to do is is to make sure you’re signed up to one of the newsletter distribution services available online. My personal favorite is MailChimp. But you can also check out Aweber, MadMimi, Target Hero and other free email distribution solutions out there such as:
- Constant Contact
- Exact Target
- Emma Mail
- Graphic Mail
#2 Don’t Ask People to ‘Join Your Newsletter’
This sounds a little counterproductive, right? But the reality is, people don’t want to join another newsletter. They don’t have time to consume more content. Instead of asking them to join, give them reasons they can’t refuse. Or in other words, clearly define what they can expect if they did join.
#3 Give Value, and Lots of it.
One of the best tactics to build your list is to give something in exchange for the email address. Create a white paper or short course and let people sign up to get that material. Again, you will see very substantial increase in sign up rate. Giving value that is specific to your industry ensures that people who sign up are members of your target group. Start by thinking about some of the pain points you face every day, and figure out how you can help solve these issues. Some of the ideas you can implement is by offering a collection of tools or links that may assist your readers, industry related stats or trends, a collection of downloadable images, or an invite to VIP events. Make it worth their time to sign up and you’re half way there.
#4 Make it Super Easy to Join
One of the reasons I love MailChimp so much is because it’s incredibly customizable, and gives content creators dozens of ways to integrate the signup page into content, templates, guides, images, etc. Always consider signup form placement. There are a few main spots most marketers choose to place their newsletter signup forms. While all these options can work if done right, the optimal signup placement can vary depending on your site design, audience, and industry. These are some of the most highly recommended spots for placing your newsletter. A/B test different placements and see what works for you.
- Top of the sidebar
- Top header
- After a post
- Pop-up box
My personal favorite is the bottom of blog posts. Not all of them, but the good ones at least. Chances are that if your readers have read post all the way through, they’re probably interested in what you have to say, and are hungry for more.
#5 Invite Within Great Content
Visitors to your site or blog are already engaged in the process of buying or reading your content, somewhere in the back of their mind’s there’s already a big positive YES brewing up. Use that positive state of mind to ask for a small yes of joining your mailing list. It’s a quick task they’ll gladly follow through with.
#6 Titles Matter
Words related to current events always attract a lot of attention, so try take advantage of this in your titles if it makes sense for your content. Using words such as recession, elections, etc. will work wonders for your open rates. That being said, short and sweet is always a good rule to go by.
I should stress that, simply because you think you’ve found a great headline, that doesn’t necessarily mean you did. This goes for your blog posts aimed at increasing your initial readers as well as newsletters you sent out. Take for example this post you’re reading. I could have called it
- X Tips to Include Your Newsletter Subscribers
- Quick Ways to Boost Your Newsletter Subscribers
But I decided to go with
- How To Boost Your Brand’s Newsletter Subscribers 10x in 7 Days
The reason for this is that I tested the tile on a headline analyzer
Three of my favorites are
#7 Close The Sale
You’ve done the work. You’ve written a fantastic blog post, created a how-to guide, infographic, video, any content that you feel delivers value to your readers, end it by inviting your readers to discover more. Link them over to your signup form and deliver more of that fantastic content that you worked so hard on.
#8 Welcome Emails
You’ve done all of the above, tested it across several posts and started feeling good about your distribution list? Now you can double up on every new subscriber through your Welcome Page. A welcome message is the message that’s sent out to your new subscriber immediately after they sign up, thanking them for joining. This will help you weed out those people who are not interested enough and want to unsubscribe immediately as well as build up your list by inviting them to refer a friend. You may see a unsubscribe at this stage, but in the long run, the remaining list will be of much higher quality.
You think that transactions, specially buying process, are so important that you have to remove all clutter, even the check box for the mailing list. No worries, add the mailing list sign up to the thank you page. It works the same way as previous point, if you got the big yes of transaction the small yes is easy to come.
AVOID THESE MISTAKES!
Repetitive subject lines. If every email newsletter you send has the same subject line, it’s going to be hard for subscribers to get excited. Change up the subject line every time you send to compel your subscribers to open and engage with your newsletter. Score extra points for using preheader text too.
Lack of focus. Some newsletters include everything that happened in a given week or month. Make sure your newsletter is laser-focused, giving subscribers what they really need to know.
Unclear call-to-actions. What do you want subscribers to do when they receive your newsletter? You need clear calls to action that make this very obvious, encouraging users to click through to complete the action.
Bad design. Many email newsletters aren’t mobile-friendly or have designs that are all over the place, neglecting to help move the reader’s eye to the call to action.
GET YOUR UNFAIR ADVANTAGE
I’ll be sharing more tips on:
✔ How to write incredible headlines
✔ How to optimize your emails
✔ How to leverage your existing content
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