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Newsletters: A Boost For Business Or An Inbox Blocker?

Not so long ago, getting an email newsletter from a business was a novelty – a glimpse into something otherwise unknown. Today, in contrast, our inboxes are bombarded 24 hours a day by solicited and unsolicited emails trying to get us to buy into something. Businesses curate complex brand identities in order to stand out from the crowd, to which we pay attention briefly – in between other items on our social media feed and everything else that’s clamouring for our attention. So, does this mean that the newsletter is dead?

The answer is no – and in fact far from it! The latest stats tell us that email campaigning has evolved into one of the most powerful marketing tools available to modern businesses, when applied correctly, (and that’s the golden nugget of information to digest here). As of this year, depending where you look, reports surface of average ROIs (return on investment) of 3200-4400% for money spent on email marketing. Impressive numbers!

Within the current technological era, the spectrum from great to disastrous, when we consider using newsletters as a marketing tool is a broad one. With this in mind, let’s look at what makes an email newsletter a worthwhile endeavour, while establishing some of the major email marketing faux pas to avoid!

Why Send A Newsletter?

The first question to ask yourself is why you want to send a newsletter, because if you don’t have a good answer, then step away from that send button! If you’re imagining firing out a long-winded update on what you and your staff have been up to, plus your future brand aspirations, I’m going to stop you right there. In reality, the people who find your email in their inbox are not going to be interested in what gets your juices flowing. What will grab their attention, however, is something that meets their needs.

Your marketing emails need to provide real, meaningful value, otherwise they will likely be left unopened, or even worse – they’ll be relegated to the spam folder or unsubscribed from all together. Newsletters that successfully get opened, generate click-through, and ultimately draw sales, focus on content that contributes to the lives of their readers in some way. This means valuable access to promotions, high-calibre snippets of amusement, essential information, and perhaps the latest how-to or recipe.

Your Customers, Front and Centre

What do you enjoy finding in your inbox? For most of us, we don’t have the time to scroll through endless bodies of text trying to find something we are actually interested in. Effective newsletters are a well packaged delivery of bite-size chunks. A newsletter that consistently delivers small features that we can speedily scroll over, and usually holds something to make one reader or another’s eyes light up, is one that we are far more likely to take a moment to check out.

While you’re considering your customers, recognising their individuality is key. Research from Campaign Monitor tells us that emails with personalised subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, while personalised emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates. Thanks to current email marketing tools, it is relatively easy to ensure that all email newsletters address subscribers by name both in the subject line and content. There’s a lot more power to “Dear Jane,” than “Dear customer,”!

Businesses can easily segment their audience by interests, or stage in the process from lead to loyal customer. In fact, the same body of research found that marketers experienced a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns. Ultimately, the better we can zero in on delivering exactly what people want and need, the better we can connect them with the product or service we provide.

Track Your Results

Quality email marketing tools – which don’t have to be expensive, and for smaller businesses, may even be free, will allow you immediate access to the performance stats of your email campaigns. You can use these metrics to tweak and polish your marketing approach and maximise the effectiveness of your newsletters.

Fundamentals to pay attention to are:

Open rate – What percentage of the people you sent the message to actually opened it?

Click-through – Of the people who opened your newsletter, how many clicked on your calls to action: links to articles, products, or to initiate contact? Once they clicked, did they linger on the destination page, or bounce right back?

Conversions – How many, on clicking through, then went on to make a purchase?

Unsubscribes – How many chose to opt out of your mailing list.

Spam Reports – Have you been relegated to the spam folder?

Poor open rates likely indicate that your subject line is letting the side down. You need to find the sweet-spot between a dull subject line such as “Monthly newsletter” (boring), and an overly pushy one like “Sale, Sale, SALE! Buy NOW!” which is going to annoy more than entice. Click-throughs will tell you how on-point your content is, and the bounce rate will tell you if you are accurately targeting and representing your product or service. Tracking conversions will help you improve the presentation of your website, e-shop or online content in other places.

Each unsubscribe may feel like a bit of a kick in the stomach, and is obviously something we want to avoid, but when it does happen, try not to take it too personally. We all have the right to curate our inboxes! Because you likely pay per-email for your campaigns, do be efficient in stripping out subscribers that repeatedly allow your newsletters to be filtered to spam. Subscribers that leave emails unopened every time can be appealed to with a personally targeted call to action: “We noticed that you haven’t opened our last few emails. We’d love your feedback! Do you still want to be a subscriber?”. Fundamentally, the only valuable part of your audience is the part that engages, so do what you can to grow that number, but don’t pay to send things to people that won’t open them!

Quality, Not Quantity

From your overall design, logo, and images, through to the readability of your content, and relevantly placed calls to action, an outstanding newsletter calls for emphasis on quality above all else. Don’t ram your email with every flashing bell, button and whistle you can come up with, but go for a polished, consistent aesthetic throughout, with a few professional looking images, and small bodies of text. You can always introduce the topic of your latest marketing blog or product range and link on to the heavy weight stuff elsewhere.

To summarise: newsletters can work marketing wonders, with a well thought out strategy in place. Focus on a subject line that feels personal and triggers the imagination, and content that holds real, meaningful value to your readers. If content feels lacking in direction, then skip it all together, and stay on top of those metrics to make sure you grab every cue for improvement. In this way, you can make sure your newsletters are the business boost they should be and remain welcome in the inboxes they land in!

About alastair

Self-proclaimed Lord Adwordz, I manage our client’s PPC campaigns and SEO accounts. Google is a huge part of my work, even more so as a recent Android convert. When not digging through data, you’ll find me beating the office at puzzle bubble or raiding villages on Clash of Clans.

Give us a call on 01460 281865 or email us to see how we can help you!