In an era dominated by cutting-edge platforms like Instagram and SnapChat, email may seem like an archaic digital medium (an oxymoron, to many of us). Yet, thousands of marketers continue to claim that email marketing isn’t just effective — but that it’s the highest-ROI strategy they use. In a recent study I conducted, email marketing came in 5th out of 10 marketing tactics in the survey, in terms of ROI. Still, it’s clear that email marketing is a solid tool in the marketer’s arsenal.
If you’re interested in getting started with email marketing, the best way to do so is with an email newsletter, where you’ll syndicate content posts from your blog (or news updates from your company). Why is this so beneficial? For starters, you’ll be mostly relying on content you’ve already created, saving you time and hassle. Plus, you’ll be providing real value to your users, keeping your brand top-of-mind for potential customers on your email list, and building all-important familiarity with your brand which improves conversion rates.
Still, it’s not as simple as sending out your blog posts in an email recap once a week. You need to be thoughtful and strategic about how you increase value for your users (and earn more value for your brand). Here are seven ways to perfect your email newsletter:
1. Focus on list building. Your first step comes before your first email newsletter ever goes out. Imagine sending out a newsletter to 100 average people. Now, imagine sending that same newsletter out to 1,000 average people. Which will give you better results? Now compare that to sending out a newsletter to 1,000 people who are already enthusiastic about your brand. How would those results stack up? Your first job as an email marketers is to focus on list building — and that means increasing both your quantity and quality of subscribers. This process deserves several articles dedicated to it, so unfortunately, I can’t get into much detail here, but using a pre-qualification process, funneling leads, and including your subscription box everywhere your customers and leads might lurk is a good start.
2. Include more exclusive values. People don’t just want value when receiving new email newsletters; what good are the latest blog posts when a user could just visit your blog every once in a while? If you want to make a bigger impact you need to give exclusive offers, which people can’t get unless they’re subscribers. This could be premium content, like an eBook, or discounts on your products and services. Make people feel appreciated, and part of the “in” crowd to keep them interested.
3. Cherry pick your content. Your content will serve as the fuel for your email newsletter campaign, so be sure you’re choosing the right content. A common practice for newsletters is to simply push out this week’s blog posts, but it’s a better strategy to choose this week’s “top performing” blog posts. Even if it means stretching back to a post from last week, or artificially narrowing down the content you share with your subscribers, choosing only the “best of the best” will help you provide additional value to your subscribers — and ultimately encourage more engagement. You can even experiment with using your email list to promote only your latest blog posts, as soon as they are published. WaitButWhy.com uses this approach to great effect, and it’s an approach I used with success at AudienceBloom as well. The only caveat is that each new post needs to be extraordinarily awesome if it’s going to be worthy of its own email blast, so make sure your posts are email-blast-worthy if you take this approach.
4. Encourage social actions. Including social media integrations won’t cost you an extra dime, and it could potentially generate tons of new brand visibility and engagements. Email recipients can’t easily share information or offers with one another (unless they forward your email, which is an unlikely event), so you need to incentivize the act of sharing your newsletter on social media channels. Make your social icons prominent at several points throughout your newsletter, and include calls-to-action that reward users for sharing, such as entering them in a contest or a drawing for the action.
5. Hone your calls to action. Your calls-to-action are where your email newsletter can drive the most revenue. They’re what will drive your subscribers to visit your brand on social media, visit your website, or purchase one of your products or services. You’ll need to take great consideration and effort in the development of your CTAs, choosing just the right words for your copy, just the right placement for your opportunities, and just the right colors and design.
6. Ask for feedback. Indirect indications, like engagements and reactions, can help you determine how your users feel about your content (and your strategy overall). However, you can take this a step further and glean more insights simply by asking your users directly what they think. Try to get honest feedback from your subscribers however you can. If you know some of them as clients in the real world, have a casual conversation asking for their thoughts on your material. Alternatively, you could conduct an online survey, using a tool like Typeform, discovering what people like and don’t like about your newsletter. Use this information to make yours even better.
7. Experiment and adjust. No email newsletter campaign starts off perfect. If you want to be successful, you need to commit yourself to consistent changes, tweaks, and observations. You’ll be experimenting here, and experimentation is always risky, but it’s well worth the risk to get to that next level of user engagement. Experiment with everything, from the placement of your calls-to-action, to the wording of your subject lines. You’ll be amazed what a few simple tweaks can do for your bottom-line results.
With these seven strategies, you should be able to take any email newsletter strategy to a much more profitable and efficient level. Your readers will be more engaged, you’ll earn more conversions and revenue, and you’ll build a meaningful bridge to any other email marketing campaigns you wish to pursue. If you’ve never tried email newsletter marketing before, I highly recommend you give it a try — it doesn’t take much additional effort if you’ve already got a solid content strategy.