Your Email Newsletter Blueprint
“Email has an ability many channels don’t: creating valuable, personal touches — at scale.”
– David Newman
It’s hilarious when marketing pundits trash-talk email. It’s not new, flashy, or expensive, but it’s the single best digital vehicle you have for having a conversation with your customers.
Email marketing is about relationships. Every time someone expresses an interest in your business by subscribing, you have the opportunity to turn interest into patronage. You can speak directly to them in their inbox, which is an extension of their personal space.
There are many stats about email marketing, but I’m only going to use one. 77% of consumers cite email as their favourite way to consume offers and promotions. If you don’t have an email campaign, get one. Quickly.
Your Subject Line
These few words will determine if your email is given a chance or buried in the trash-heap. Make it simple and catchy. “Top 5…” lists work well, as do emotional words (as long as they aren’t over the top). Bookmark a free subject line tester (just google for one), and run through some names.
Make sure to include your business name or, if your business is tied to a certain spokeperson, her or his name. The more seasonal or local you can make it, the better.
AVOID ALL CAPS AND LOTS OF PUNCTUATION!!!!!!!!! Spam words like free, cash or “Call Now” will trigger red flags, as can exclamation marks. Stick to under 60 characters.
Most email service providers (MailChimp is the best for small business) provide easy drag-and-drop templates. If you’re not a designer, however, get one or hire one to do it for you. Your template needs to be as professional looking as your website.
Your template should reflect your brand with your colours and tone. Add lots of opportunities (top menu bars are popular) for people to click through to your site.
60% of people and rising are opening emails on their phones. Make sure it’s mobile friendly. Avoid excessive or small text and 1 column only. Send the template to yourself (and open it on your phone) first.
You want to focus readers on your message, so don’t get fancy with the background. Keep it clean and an easy to read colour. Black text on a red background may be cool to you, but you just lost any customers with poor eyesight.
This is why they subscribe and keep opening. Keep it tied to your Core Experience and keep it fresh. If your customers sniff stale they’ll stop opening.
Don’t post your entire blog. The point is to drive people to your platform (your website). They’ll also abandon death-by-scrolling emails. Post a 2-3 sentence teaser (make it juicy) and a visible link.
Videos are fabulous content, but embedding them into your email will trigger red flags like crazy.
Polls and Q and A’s are a great way to stay in touch with your customer, but keep it simple. Avoid long forms that people need to fill out and submit.
Pictures are a double edged sword in email. They’re the icing on the cake for content, especially for visually rich industries like restaurants and garden centres. Pictures are essential in emails, but keep them on the smaller side.
If pics are too large or numerous they’ll more likely to be considered spammy. Also remember that some email giants, notably gmail, block pictures by default. If your pics are too big, your email will show up as giant white space. A tech-y work-around for this is to put a text description of the email into your alt tag, because the reader always sees that.
You have a business to run and you need your people to see your promotional messages. I get it; it can’t all be about content. Think of your content as a trojan-horse. It’s the subject line and gets people to open, and when they do the first thing they see is your sale or other promotional offer (just make sure the content is second down).
While content based subject lines typically perform better than promotional ones, this isn’t always the case (especially if your list is mostly customers). Big and/or engaging sales perform well, as do invitations (“You’re Invited this Friday…”)