Behind every lousy newsletter, there is a prospect willing to mark your email as spam! Look at the newsletter you are drafting right now and ask yourself, will it become the beacon capable of attracting the results you seek?
You cannot precisely answer this question for your target audience. However, you can educate yourself on the best practices to draft a stellar newsletter to gain an inkling about the kind of traction it may create with the reader.
Before we begin, you must be sure of choosing the sub-medium of newsletters within the larger umbrella of email marketing to stay on top of your customer's mind. So, take a pause, strike a pose, and check out these best practices for drafting newsletters in 2021.
Draft a potent subject line. It is what creates the first impression and nudges the reader towards opening your newsletter. Seemingly short sentences, subject lines speak volumes. Try to craft a compelling subject line- one way of doing so is by creating a sense of urgency. Believe it or not, your newsletter subject line is arguably the most critical element of the entire email.
Draft an ambiguous subject line, and the prospect will never open your email, no matter how great the newsletter. How do you draft an eye-grabbing subject line? By asking the following questions.
- What do I wish to convey through it?
- Is it concise?
- Do I want to keep the tone formal or informal?
- Should I use empathetic language?
- Is it above or below 41 characters? Research reveals that the said figure is the optimal length for newsletter subject lines.
- Is it personalized?
- Am I misleading or overpromising my prospective reader?
- Am I using words that usually trigger a spam alarm in the reader’s mind?
- Am I using emojis? Avoid them as much as possible, no matter how casual your offering.
- Can I use a relevant statistic?
Sure, a subject line seems like a lot of effort for something that is not even in the newsletter. But, what good is a newsletter if the reader deletes it because of a sub-standard subject line. So, get a foolproof line locked-in before anything else. Here are a few examples of both good and bad subject lines to ramp up your open newsletter rates.
Over 1.7 billion netizens check emails on their smartphones. Want to know how many check on their desktops? Only 900 million. Of course, it is a significant number, but not when compared to smartphone email users. Whether you operate in a B2B or a B2C space, creating mobile-responsive newsletters is non-negotiable in 2021.
And, responsive doesn't just mean smartphones. You must ensure your email newsletter header works seamlessly on laptops, desktops, and tablets. So, get your UI design and coding team together and optimize newsletters for mobile and other handheld devices, if you haven't already. Remember, about 52% of prospects are far less likely to engage with your brand due to a bad mobile experience.
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Moving forward, if you think that your competitor’s newsletters look great across devices, keep in mind, it is not happening on its own. There is perhaps a small squad of experts ensuring this phenomenon.
Look at the sample images below to learn what happens when you don't optimize your newsletters across handheld devices.
Answer these critical questions, and you will not go wrong with your newsletter's craftsmanship.
- Is your newsletter optimally laid out?
- Can prospects read what it says with ease?
- Is the font legible and of the right size?
- Are the color combinations gelling well?
- Does it offer all the necessary information without becoming too heavy on content?
- Is the Call to Action or CTA button(s) in place?
- Is the imagery of the right size, and is loading fast?
- Are there videos, and GIFs and are they bogging down the load speed?
Check out this example, symbolizing a good newsletter design.
- It engages the reader instantly.
- Uses blocks of opposing color to highlight different categories of products.
- It Highlights relevant information, so it's hard to miss.
- It is not loaded with content, which makes it easy on the eyes.
- It carries a witty one-liner.
Since this newsletter only wishes to inform the reader of the brand's existence, it does not require a CTA button. But, if you are holding a sale, then the following sample works wonders as it also carries a timer along with relevant calls-to-action.
- It is elegant and unambiguous.
- It offers the perfect screenshot of the sale! How? You have your discount percentage, coupon code, sale timer, and sample products all on one page.
- Here, the CTAs are individually assigned to each item that informs the reader on what action to take after opening.
Even though both these examples are more suited to B2C organizations, the primaries about design, file size, CTA, and load speeds remain unchanged. If you operate within the B2B space, your newsletter must find a semblance, as shown in the examples above.
Sure, several newsletters will likely go to your entire client email list. For instance, season’s greetings, product launches, etc. are meant for the whole of the lot.
Alternatively, if your organization operates across diverse verticals, it is wise to articulate a newsletter for each industry. It is only fair to personalize as much as possible in this day and age of cutthroat competition.
Additionally, you can also geo-target your high-priority clients residing in, say, three provinces by sending out customized newsletters to those three key states.
Therefore, instead of doling out the same old newsletter with subject lines like "here are our latest company updates," use this tool to drill into your list and create hyper-personalized, thus highly immersive newsletter campaigns.
You can also harness the efficacy of cost-effective automated email marketing software that offers countless enticing newsletter templates along with various other features. These SaaS tools are also great for affiliate marketing, and you can find comparisons between them online.
A simple yet elegant user experience design trick, A/B testing in email marketing employs sending one variation of a campaign to a specific chunk of your customers and a different variant to another subset of buyers. The ultimate goal here is to gauge which campaign variant surfaces with better results and higher engagement rates.
A/B testing is a sure shot method to measure and thereby improve your newsletter campaign's click rates. Get your marketing team on the essential task of A/B testing by tracking reader updates and evaluating click-through and open rates.
Know the saying two heads are better than one, three heads are better than two? A/B testing is something like that. Why go to market with only one well-designed newsletter when you can test reactions with at least two if not three?
To sum up, you will know what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to your email newsletters with your target audiences with the help of A/B testing.
No point pitching even a hyper-personalized newsletter to a B2B customer who has exhausted their annual purchase budget. As for a B2C customer, imagine sharing a newsletter on Christmas decorations on January 1st. Simply put, timing and frequency remain cardinal to the success of an email newsletter campaign.
Also, bombarding your clients with too many emails will likely push them to unsubscribe from your newsletter communication. On the other hand, sending newsletters too infrequently will also lead to a severe loss of interest. The secret lies in striking the perfect balance between over and under.
It is also crucial to find the perfect time and day to share newsletters with your customers. Unfortunately, there is no one magical time figure to send out newsletters to your B2B or B2C customers. But, you can leverage data from A/B testing logs to figure out at what time most of your buyers check their emails.
If you operate in a B2B space and know your clients check their business emails between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm, there is not much point sharing your newsletter at 9:00 pm. However, if you wish to engage with them on their personal email address, then any time after 6:00 pm would become ideal.
Readers find dynamic newsletters more engaging than static ones. Anyway, short and light videos are a great way to tell your story. You can also use a bit of humor in said videos to connect and encourage both open and click-through rates.
Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, a video in an email newsletter is an efficient way to communicate volumes of information in the most concise manner possible. Here is a list of the kind of videos you can include in your brand's newsletters.
- Educational video
- ‘How to’ video
- Product description video
- How does a new feature work video or GIF?
- Testimonial video
- Video carrying niche advice from industry experts or executives
Each video type's nature can add substantial value to your customers’ lives, thus nudging them towards conversion and helping you build a more stable email marketing funnel. However, keep in mind that your multimedia newsletters are not too heavy for email, as a lag in load time will be the death of this novel idea. Now, check out the following example of a video newsletter selling a new cookbook on the block.
- It talks about the launch of a book by sharing a video recipe right below.
- The visual imagery is enticing.
- The entire layout is clean and comfortable on the eyes.
- The CTAs are highlighted and offer more than one option to buy.
Whether you operate in a B2B or a B2C space, your clients love deals and discounts. But, which ones? Little do we know, a cash discount doesn't work in many places, while at others, only cash discounts can help boost conversions.
People also like exclusivity. So, if you offer personalized incentives through your email newsletter, prospects will join to gain access to them. And, once you have built a subscriber base, your journey towards nurturing for future conversions begins. A popular process for this would be the Facebook Lead Ads and Mailchimp Integration where you can send newsletters to the leads generated from Facebook ads.
Another upside to incentives is that they let you collect valuable information about your leads. Prospects will likely have reservations about handing out personal information, but if you offer them a worthy incentive, they will see more reason to do so.
By incentivizing your potential or newly acquired customers through newsletters, you offer them something in return for subscribing and doling out personal details. They get something out of interacting with your brand, and you get to establish a future connection with them. Now, you have their permission and correct contact details to send them info on launches and other offers about your business.
Check out a simple example of an incentive-based newsletter by H&M.
- It offers a no-nonsense approach to incentives.
- There are no unnecessary terms and conditions or asterisk marks next to the discount figure.
- It only asks for the reader's email rather than making them fill out a long-form to avail of a 20% discount.
But, before we sign off, here is a quick recap:
- Be wise with subject lines to boost your open and click-through rates.
- Stick to the personalization of newsletter through line segmentation. Refrain from mass emailing.
- Make sure your newsletter is responsive on all handheld devices.
- Brainstorm an enticing design layout and include the right CTAs to enhance accessibility and create a sense of urgency.
- Do not forget A/B testing.
- Get your timing and frequency right.
- Embed videos and GIFs in newsletters where necessary but without increasing load times.
- Offer personalized incentives.
So, there you go! Consider these eight best practices as your 'it list’ for drafting the perfect email newsletter to boost conversion rates gradually. Even if you are new to this medium, these best practices starter toolkits lays the groundwork for building a solid campaign that draws in more subscribers that improves your company's metrics.
Do remember that these email newsletter best practices for 2021 are not a one-trick pony. You must apply, adjust, and re-adjust them to your liking each time you plan a newsletter campaign for your brand.