Top 7 tips on email marketing with newsletters

Email marketing is an important tool in marketing and can include blasts of ‘cold’ emails to prospects you’ve had no contact with in the past, which is sometimes known as spamming.  But we don’t do this nor endorse it within our client-base.

For us, email marketing is most effective to existing clients, partners, suppliers and some prospective clients.

Core to our business development is trust marketing – engaging with clients for the long-term relationship, not short-term transactions – by gaining their trust.  We become the technology expert in their community, their trusted adviser in this important part of running a business.  Sending a monthly email newsletter is one way we reinforce our expert status, or trusted technology adviser mantle, with our existing clients.

So here are our tips on how to run a successful email newsletter marketing campaign.

1) Content is King

Be sure the content you are putting out adds value to your audience.  It shouldn’t be full of inward-focused content about your company’s latest news; you need to put yourself in the shoes of a reader.  What are they getting out of what they read?  It may help to have a position statement around this regular communication.  What audience are you tending to?  What information do they find valuable AND which you have unique insight and access to?

For us, we focus on providing technology news and nuggets that help small businesses, those with 1-50 staff.

Think of the old marketing adage AIDA; ‘Attention, Interest, Desire, Action’

The most wonderful thing about email marketing is that ‘Action’ is acutely measure for you; you can see who clicks on links, what they like and what they don’t. You just need now to grab people’s attention, and create interest then desire in your stories.

2) Think about SPAM filters

Whether your email makes it through anti-SPAM can make the difference between success and failure. The latest anti-SPAM engines are frightfully complicated. There are though two main things you should worry about

1. Does it look like SPAM? If your email looks/feels like SPAM there is a high chance that SPAM filters will think its spam. It’s unfortunately not as simple as just avoiding selling Viagra or talking about your uncle in Nigeria whose dies leaving you $12 million. Spam filters are quite sophisticated and quite stupid.  Avoid where possible

Words/phrases pertinent to spam

Attachments

Badly constructed emails

Lots of images

No ‘text’ within the email

Lots of links

2. How good have you been? Mail companies such as Hotmail, Gmail etc now all build up a reputation of how your domains reputation (e.g. Lucidica.com) has been in the past. If you have done any of these in the past then it will lower the chances of your email being delivered

Sent emails repeatedly to email addresses that don’t exist

Had people click ‘junk’ within Hotmail etc

Sent emails repeatedly to email addresses where the account was full

Basically ignored any bounce-back from an email provider

Luckily companies like StreamSend and MailChimp (our two top recommendations) offer rigorous anti-spam help. They will report back to you if someone clicks on junk, and automatically stop sending emails to people based on bounce-back emails

3) Use a large and trusted online email marketing system

Don’t try and send your email marketing using your email client (e.g. Microsoft Outlook).  Use a professional email marketing system.  Here are the reasons why:

  • Greater chance of making it through spam filters - the larger email marketing systems refine their technology all the time, and are often “white listed” by email servers.  If the email servers see emails coming from these trusted
  • Better reporting – you can see how many people read the newsletter, how many articles were clicks, number of unsubscribes
  • Easy subscription and unsubscription - by having the subscribe box (which automatically puts subscribers emails into your email system) on your website you can let people manage their own subscriptions.  No only is this better service, it is one thing less you need to manage.  And in the email newsletter you must have an unsubscribe link (it is law in the UK now), and make it easy for people to remove themselves from your mailing list.  Again, letting people manage this themselevs reduces noise and work for yourself.
    • Nugget: if your email marketing is to consumers (B2C), under the Data Proetction Act you can now be fined £1,000 for every email you send someone who has requested you stop sending them emails.  So if you can automate the management of this, you should be covered

4) Use a professional designer

Invest in getting a good email newsletter design done, it will really show if you try and do it yourself.

Simply open up a Word document and scratch out the rough layout you’d like and send it to your designer. And/or, find newsletters you love and send them on, with comments about what you like and don’t like.

A design should cost you £50-£200 depending on how complex your request is, and how clear you are with the brief.  Once you have signed-off the design (usually presented in JPEGs), the designer can usually also cut-up into HTML so this is inserted into your email marketing system for you.

5) Keep it short, sharp and simple

Your newsletter as a whole should not be too long.  The reader should be able to scroll down 1 maybe 1.5 screens to read it entirely.  This is a great opportunity to add value to your audience.  Your newsletter should not contain 1-3 long articles, dry words of 300-400 each.

Instead, put the lengthy articles on your website and link to them from the newsletter.  Better still, after you’ve written the article step back from it, come back a little later and pick through or scan the article and craft a great 2-3 paragraphs to not only summarise the article but more importantly, entice the reader to click on the “read more” link so they read the entire article.

We recommend you have 5-9 article summaries in your newsletter.  People scan emails and newsletters, so your challenge is to firstly have interesting enough topics to write about in full on your site, and secondly to write excellent article summary titles and copy – so readers are genuinely keen to read more.

Why keep the newsletter full of bite-sized article intros?  For one, people are less likely to unsubscribe if they see the content is more “digestable” – that is, you have given them permission to scan and only find relevant topics.  Two, you can measure what were the most popular topics/articles, and therefore learn and adapt – or use this knowledge elsewhere in your marketing and communication.

6) Build your list

Pull together all the email addresses you have on file in one spreadsheet, so you can import into the email marketing system.  We send emails to clients, prospects, suppliers, partners and competitors.  Yes, even competitors.

If we meet them out networking – or they subscribe through our website – we don’t mind. With prospects we recommend you just add people.  It is “better to seek foregiveness than ask for permission”.  Our rule is – if you have met someone in person (during networking), then we add them to the mailing list “Met Networking”.  We can easily track how they got put on our list, and our list grows every week.  If your newsletters provide genuine value and are relevant to your audience then most people will be happy to receive it.

When building your list be sure to have 3 columns in your spreadsheet if you can: First Name, Company and Email.  Your email should include their first name in the salutation, as it is more personal.

7a) Timing is everything

Be sure to pick the right time to send your newsletter.  Many studies show Tuesday morning is the best time, but test what works for you.  Typically Monday or Friday mid-mornings are good as people are looking for excuses to procrastinate, so use the Monday or Weekend Syndrome that inflicts Fridays to indulge in newsletters that come in to their inbox.

For us, we have found the most effective time is 11am on the last Friday of the month.  It’s important you are consistent with when you send your newsletters, so your audience gets used to it.

7b) Monitor and adapt

A few days after you’ve sent a newsletter be sure to check on your key stats, so you can learn what has worked and what hasn’t.  If a newsletter was low on views or clicks compared to your average, explore why.

Here are some industry stats you should strive for, to know you are running successful email marketing campaigns:

  • 25% read rate - at a minimum, a quarter of your audience should be opening the newsletter and reading.  If not, either your content is not right for the audience and/or your audience is not targetted
  • 5%-10% article click rate - this is a really telling stat.  The closer to 10% the more traction your articles got with your audience.  If you are getting less than 5% you definitely need to look at your article summaries, as they won’t be engaging or interesting enough to capture a readers’ attention and get them to click through to the full article
  • 0.5%-1% unsubscribe rate - if you are getting more than 1 in 100 people unsubscribing with each newsletter then, again, your material and/or audience is wrong

Lucidica provide IT support for small businesses in Greater London.