Email newsletters were supposed to have died off by now, driven to the dustbin of history by hipper social media marketing tools. But like Lazarus himself, email newsletters have succeeded in cheating death over the years. In fact, email newsletters have proven to be so good at surviving and adapting that they have been called the cockroach of the internet.
So while it’s understandable if you took a pass on email marketing in the past, you also could be making a mistake. That’s because email marketing newsletters are:
- Versatile: Show me ten newsletters and I’ll show you a range of styles, voices or designs. Newsletters can be tailored to an organization’s editorial, design or branding objectives, and modified in everything from tone to length.
- Direct: Users can directly get information they’re interested in having—while simultaneously avoiding competing messages they are bombarded with all day.
- Cheap: You can get access to a basic newsletter platform for around $100 a month. Companies offer more expensive options that include advanced analytics, custom workflows, integration with Salesforce CRM software or Microsoft Dynamics and other bells and whistles.
- Trackable: Even basic email platforms allow you to track open rates and engagement rates, allowing you to see how effective your content or campaigns are. These analytics add another layer of insight to data coming from Google Analytics or social media analysis tools, and can help steer future content decisions.
- Successful: Email is 40x more successful at acquiring customers than either Facebook or Twitter, according to McKinsey and Company.
Whether you decide to implement an email strategy or want to improve the one you have, here are some quick tips for making the most out of your efforts:
- Have a Clear Focus: Before you start down the newsletter route, make sure you know who your target audience is and what you want to achieve. Are you trying to drive traffic to the website to download your latest report, or convert readers to register for a conference? What pain point are you focused on solving for your audience?
- Test: There are lots of best practices in the world of email marketing, but the approach that works best for you can be determined through testing. Use A/B testing to try different subject lines, newsletter lengths, images, topics or newsletter copy. Don’t just guess.
- Be Unique: Users will bolt if they don’t find your copy concise and interesting—as well as helpful and informative. Is your content interesting to your audience—or just you?
- Think Strategically: Figure out what will capture your readers’ interest, such as tying newsletter content to events or other newsworthy items. Use analytics tools to gain an understanding of what kind of content is faring best on your site, and use that, or related content, in newsletters. Just make sure your newsletter content is based on data and strategy—and not ever-changing whims.
- Optimize and Archive: Get the most mileage out of your newsletters by archiving or repurposing them on your site. But before you do that, optimize your content with targeted keywords. Having a steady stream of fresh, SEO-optimized content will help drive traffic to your site.
- Keep it Short: The point of the newsletter isn’t the newsletter itself (see “Have a Clear Focus” above). Keep your content brief and prompt users to go to your site or wherever else you want them to go for more information.
- Balance Change with Predictability: Be cautious and conservative with changing design or content directions. Implementing significant changes too frequently can erode user trust. Stick to a consistent publication schedule for the same reason.
Do you have any tips for getting the most out of email marketing? Have you used A/B testing to refine your email marketing strategy? Tell us about it in the comments below.