Making the most of email newsletters

It would be easy to write hundreds of pages about making the most of email newsletters but very few of us have time to read that much. For that reason this article summaries some of the key points, pitfalls and opportunities you should be aware of when creating your email newsletters.

Newsletters aren't sales pitches but they can produce sales
Many marketers fall into the trap of either selling too hard on their newsletters or not selling enough. There is no magic combination of words and images, nor is there a specific balance of sales and marketing that results in the perfect newsletter. However, there are some basic guidelines you should follow.
  1. A newsletter should be more editorial than advertorial. That means you should be marketing more than selling. 
  2. A newsletter should seek to build your brand values. Communicate what makes you special and re-enforce these points with examples and evidence of expertise. Recipients want to know what your unique selling points are. 
  3. Focus on the benefits of buying from you. You don't need to explicitly state these benefits, simply work them into your communications. Case studies are a great way to provide interesting content and feature benefits. 
  4. Don't forget to ask the recipient to take action. If you don't ask you won't get. It's important to tell the recipient what you want them to do.
  5. Train recipients to focus on the key areas of your communication. Try to create hot spots in your email newsletter design. Train the recipient to look at these areas on each communication and then utilise this behaviour when you want to sell to them. Featuring an offer in these hot spots can dramatically increase click through rates and exposure.
Never mislead your subscribers
If you promote an email as a newsletter, ensure that's exactly what you're sending. The modern consumer can see when they're being sold to, over step the mark and you could alienate your subscribers forever. When someone signs-up to your newsletter they build an expectation. Manage this expectation by explaining exactly what they will receive from you and how often.

Plan, test and review your newsletter
Plan your newsletters. This plan could be as simple as outlining when you will send your newsletter and who you will send it to. The aim is to ensure two things:
  • That you produce and send the newsletter regularly. Newsletters build business over time. They produce long term results if they're sent on a regular basis.
  • To outline who will receive the newsletter and help you plan content and resources accordingly.
Test your newsletter. The aim is to find out what content is most popular with your readers, when the best time is to send your newsletter and how you can improve and return more on your investment.

Review your newsletter. A yearly review will help you identify any shortfalls in your newsletter marketing. It will create a forum for discussion and can help maintain content quality and improve results. If possible, try to involve your readers in this process. Ask them what they like to read and what type of content they'd like to receive in the future.