You thought email newsletters were a marketing tool of the past? Replaced by social media? Think again. Newsletters can be highly effective—much more so than social media—especially for B2B audiences. So don't leave them out of your media mix.
Why do newsletters still work?
Social media is passive. Even if your audience members do visit a social platform, they may or may not see your posts, especially at the rate messages fly by. Email, however, is more active. Everyone checks email, and the reader must actively choose to ignore, delete, or open your message.
So if you've got a catchy subject line and interesting lead article, you have a much better chance of engaging your audience through an email newsletter instead of a social media post. Unless your top prospects and customers happen to be Twitter-holics, anxiously awaiting your next tweet. Doubtful.
In addition to being seen by businesspeople, newsletters are a great way to drive traffic to your site (which Google loves, and so will reward you with better rankings). Google uses traffic, engagement, and conversions on your website as part of its ranking algorithm. That means if you've posted new content to your website, such as an article or resource, emailing your customers and subscribers and linking them through to it is a great way to drive people to your site, resulting in brownie points from Google.
Your number-one email marketing strategy must be to deliver value
I'll give you some other pointers about newsletter structure and content; however, your number-one goal should be to deliver value. If it doesn't add value, don't include it in the newsletter.
Keep in mind that different things catch different people's attention. Some people will be looking to learn something new. Others might be looking for something free. Still others are nosy, like Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched, and want to hear all the latest gossip about your team. So, for a general newsletter, the best content strategy is to have a mix of content that will appeal to a wide range of people.
Just because I said a mix, however, doesn't mean you should write a three-page email. It means short teasers, or blurbs, that cover the above topics. Each blurb should have a button that links to your website so the recipient can read more or download a free resource.
Create a content blueprint
Before you hire a designer and programmer to create a custom branded HTML email template, you'll want to develop a general content blueprint.
You can type it up, or hand draw it as I have (see image) to give your designer and programmer a visual representation of the bits of content and functionality you want in your newsletter.
Many email marketing programs now let you design and build your own email newsletter. However, it's still a good idea to get your ideas on paper (or screen) first, so you have a gameplan. (We prefer to use Campaign Monitor because it's always provided us with more custom design capability. Here are some other top-rated email marketing platforms.)
In all your excitement to launch your first newsletter, don't forget the importance of brand. Ensure the look and feel of your design is consistent with your existing branding and your brand voice comes across—loud and clear.
Here are some other ways to make your email newsletter more effective
- Segment your list by region or industry, and tailor the content for that audience specifically.
- Plan to send your email at the right time (great infographic here on when to send depending on your audience type), and ensure you segment your list by time zone and send out your newsletter accordingly.
- Ensure your copy and brand voice are authentic, and don't be afraid to throw in some opinion. (You're the expert and authority in whatever it is you do!)
And here's what not to do
- A sales pitch: Leave that to your salespeople.
- Articles that are all about your products or services: If people like the content they're reading, they'll click around to see what you offer.
- Obscure headlines: Let people know what they should expect.
- Fluff: Make sure there's enough meat in your teaser to generate a clickthrough.
- Overly frequent emails: Don't send for the sake of sending... If there's no valuable content, send nothing!
- Super-long emails: You have only seconds to get people's attention, draw them in, and engage them... so practice your storytelling skills.
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A strategically designed newsletter will not only drive traffic to your website (which boosts your SEO) but also keep your brand top-of-mind and reinforce your authority in the industry. Relationships with customers and prospects will be kept warm and will flourish (and your sales team will love you, too). And your emails will generate inquiries and sales (that are easier to track).
So if you gave up collecting emails as a result of all the anti-spam legislation going into effect around the world, I suggest you get back on the bandwagon. The email addresses you have are like gold. Keep digging.
Take the first step (it's free).
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