There are many ways to reach a customer these days. Between social media, display ads and direct email newsletters, the possibilities are almost endless. And overwhelming too. How do you choose which marketing channel to focus on?
Marketing email newsletters have been around for decades. Receiving these e-mails was a novelty in the beginning, but our inboxes are now overcrowded. Trying to see what is necessary and what is junk is a challenge. Email marketers are constantly trying to make sure their email is the one you are opening.
From a brand perspective, we will examine what constitutes an email newsletter, the advantages and disadvantages of such and how to fill it with engaging content.
An email newsletter is a digital communication sent by a company to its list of subscribers. Newsletter software and templates are widely used and are usually sent out on a set schedule.
Companies use email newsletters for a number of reasons:
- Announce sales and discounts
- Find out about company news and updates
- Summarize published stories and content
- Convert customers to a paid tier or subscription
- Cultivate leads
- Keeping existing customers
In a 2020 study, 81% of B2B marketers have used email newsletters for content marketing in the past 12 months. The same study also found that 87% of B2B marketers rank email as one of their top free organic sales channels.
In a survey of email marketing success, the average ROI was $ 42 for every dollar the brand invests in email marketing. This is by far the highest of any marketing channel available.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Email Newsletters for Marketing
Multichannel marketing is a strategy that encompasses multiple channels and platforms with individualized messaging. Email marketing is just one of the channels that you can use in a multichannel approach. As with any marketing channel, there are advantages and disadvantages to using it.
Advantages of newsletters for marketing
- Saves money: As for the investment, there is a wide variety of email software to choose from, from free to fairly expensive. As mentioned earlier, the ROI will outperform any marketing channels you might be using, which means you will already be saving money in the long run.
- Connects you with your customers: 59% of customers say that marketing emails influence their purchasing decisions and 50.7% of them shop with them at least once a month. E-mail newsletters keep you in direct contact with existing customers and reach new ones.
- Measurable performance: Statistics are created for every e-mail newsletter you send. Depending on the tools you use, you can view the performance of each individual send or get metrics per subscriber. With open and click rates readily available, you can compare your own performance with the average in your industry.
- Drives traffic: E-mail newsletters are essentially another way of distributing existing content. If you’re a publisher, sending top stories will increase traffic to your website. If you’re a B2C business, announcing sales will attract customers to shop on your website.
- Takes time to learn and create: Every new marketing channel has a learning curve. You need time to research software, plan content, and draft an edition.
- Can get lost in the noise: With so many e-mail newsletters sent out these days, it’s very easy for your newsletter to be ignored or deleted outright.
6 Necessary components of an email newsletter
Business newsletters are different in design and type, but some things won’t change. Below are some of the basic components of an email newsletter. Often times you will find that you test each component to see which changes are most successful.
1. Subject line
The very first thing someone reads in a newsletter is the subject line. It’s an important part of your marketing messages as 47% of email recipients use it to decide whether or not to open your email. If that doesn’t convince you, note that 69% report you as spam based on the subject line only.
Subject lines are an art form of copywriting, and there are many different ways to write them. Personalization by using the customer’s name has an open rate of 46.21%, while naming a product has an open rate of 44.01%. In addition to the actual words in the subject line, you also need to consider length. Different devices and email programs have their own character limit.
2. Broadcast times
Just like on social media, email newsletters have their own optimal days and times to be sent. Similar to the best times to post on social media, there isn’t just a single answer to when to send it either, as days and times change depending on the industry and company. One study found that 21.49% of all email openings occur within the first hour. You need to experiment to find out when is best for your customer base and industry.
You cannot have an email newsletter with no content. And a story with great, engaging newsletter content just encourages your subscribers to open more often. But what should you put in there? There’s no need to start over and create a ton of new material in a hurry – you can repurpose your existing content to maximize its distribution.
Here are different topics to get you started:
- Sales and discounts
- Summary of popular or new blog posts like the Resy example above
- Recently published videos
- New case studies or product launches
- Membership / customer offers and promotions
- Industry news
- Customer references
- Behind the scenes of your company
- New job offers in your company
- Product training
- FAQs and their answers
- Upcoming webinars or recordings of past webinars
4. Templates & Designs
An appealing, brand-appropriate design for a newsletter helps to stand out and attract attention. But no marketer wants to start a newsletter design from scratch with every new mailing. The solution? Templates. These can often change as the type changes. For example, you have one template for announcing a new product and another for sharing story links. Templates make your life easier.
5. Call-to-Action or Links
In any newsletter, a call-to-action button or link is essential in order to actually generate conversions from your efforts. The CTA is tied to the goal of your current issue and often links to your website. If your goal is to get your blog posts more widely known, then you have CTAs for every post. If your goal is to report on a new product, your CTA will look like the example above and encourage customers to try it out.
Another important link that you should include in your email newsletter is the unsubscribe link. You don’t want people to unsubscribe, but you also don’t want them to mark you as spam when there is no way to unsubscribe. A simple unsubscribe feature instills trust with your audience and can make it easier to get back to their inbox at a later time.
6. Registration forms
How do you get subscribers when they don’t know you are sending email? Email newsletter subscription forms are often embedded in websites, advertised in social posts or profiles, and also displayed when you visit a new website.
For example, Sprout positions the form on the right article rail. If you’ve enjoyed reading this article so far, you can sign up for the Sprout newsletter for additional marketing tips and resources. Do you see how natural this registration form looked?
How to create engaging newsletters
Now that you understand the importance of email newsletters and the components they need, it is time to start thinking about how to make them as engaging as possible. Remember, a company’s engagement strategy may not work for you.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Be on the mark
Hand in hand with design, you want your newsletters to be as brand-compliant as on any other marketing channel. That means consistent fonts, colors, logos and yes, voice. When you get text heavy it is important to stick to your brand voice.
A / B test as often as possible
They don’t know what customers like unless you’ve tested them. Do you like short subject lines? Does using their names increase the open rate? Do videos get more clicks than buttons? Newsletter tools and software offer many ways to A / B test your email.
Of the number of emails opened, 81% are on mobile devices, a number that has increased dramatically from 27% in 2011. It is said that you need to optimize for mobile devices. If not optimized, 80% of recipients delete the email immediately.
Segment your target groups
Have you ever received an email that absolutely didn’t fit the topic for you? Or maybe one from a company that knew exactly what type of product you were interested in? By segmenting your audiences, you can deliver more targeted content to those who want them most. One company found that segmented campaigns generated 30% more openings and 50% more clicks.
Set newsletter goals
Why are you sending out an email newsletter at all? It can’t be because you read you need it. Define goals for your newsletter channel per issue and the corresponding metrics of the goals. If you need a starting point, research your own industry benchmarks on open rates and CTRs.
Time to start
Email newsletters are a powerful tool in any marketer’s toolkit. It can be used for content marketing, sales nurturing, and customer conversions. While it can be difficult to stand out from the noise, using the necessary newsletter components and trying them out can help you find out what is best for your business.
Ready to get started with email newsletters? Take a look at these free email marketing tools to help you with this first step.