Email newsletters that don’t suck – Part 1

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Most marketers have been there — you’re sitting around a conference room, trying to figure out how to best engage leads and customers, sell more product, or just “stay top-of-mind” for your target audience, and someone decides there’s a solution that can solve all of those problems at once: an email newsletter!

And then suddenly it’s you that’s been chosen to do it. Oh, and make sure that open and clickthrough rates don’t dip. That sound good?

I’ve been in that situation before, and I was worried. Even though email newsletters are one of the most common types of emails to send, they are actually some of the hardest to do right.

It’s hard because it includes a mix of different types of content about different parts of your business, including event reminders, surveys, educational information about your product, service, or industry, and promotions.

And because it’s not an email designed to serve one purpose — say, about one promotion, one digest of previously published content, one lead nurturing email, or one transactional email providing order information, email newsletters have a difficult time trying to get readers to complete a call-to-action.

… But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them. If done right, you could develop a really engaged subscriber base, and potentially nurture them into qualified leads and customers.

At the very “least,” you could engage your company’s evangelists, and they could help bring in business. And that’s definitely something you don’t want to miss out on. Repeat after me:

Not everyone needs a newsletter.

Actually, most people don’t need a newsletter. In fact, most of you marketers out there probably have better things to do with your time than search for content and compile it into a messy template that no one’s going to read in the first place.

Or your newsletter might be wildly successful and an integral part of your marketing strategy.

Here’s how to determine if you should have a newsletter:

REASONS You Might Need a Newsletter:

1) Your boss is making you send one out. (my fave)

2) You have an internal newsletter (in which case this guide isn’t all that relevant).

3) You have had recent proven success with newsletters.

1)You think you will have success with this method and it is the best use of your time (you have nothing else to do?).

Advantages of Newsletters:

1) Spread brand awareness.

2) By building habitual communication with your email subscribers, you enable them to recognize your brand and associate it with a positive sentiment.

3) Leverage existing content.

Many companies do quick summaries of their most popular blog posts and link to the articles from their newsletter.

4) Include different types of content.

For instance, the same newsletter can contain a popular blog post, a new offer, an announcement of an upcoming event, information about a discount, and a link to a survey.

5) Guaranteed reach (unlike social media).

Things to Consider When Deciding:

1) In your industry, are there successful email newsletters that people like to subscribe to?

2) What’s in them?

With the resources you have available to you — budget, time and internal support — could you be successful?

It’s a lot of work, you will need the time and manpower to:

1) Proofread copy

Unlike blogging, there’s no redo or update button for newsletters

2) Create compelling calls-to-action

3) Design it to work for multiple inboxes and devices

4) Avoid spam triggers

5) Brainstorm clickable subject lines

You need to have a lot of content/other stuff going on for a good newsletter.

You shouldn’t waste your time working on an email newsletter if it isn’t right for your marketing. So do some research.

Re-examine your business’ goals.

Are they trying to increase the number of leads? Better qualify leads to speak with salespeople? Close more deals? Or retain more customers?

If your industry isn’t really interested in email newsletters or you lack the internal support to send them out, it might be time to reconsider.

Or if your goals don’t line up with what a newsletter could accomplish, your time might be better spent setting up lead nurturing email workflows, or not even sending emails in the first place — perhaps creating content for your blog, instead.

So gather some data, create a plan of action (either for a successful newsletter, or another activity), and go chat with your superior.

Even if you disagree with his or her vision in an email newsletter, your boss will be glad you came prepared with a plan for success.

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