What makes a successful Email Newsletter?

What makes a successful Email Newsletter?

Posted on 30 March 2016 by Aaron

An Email Newsletter is a great way for you to communicate with your clients or customers, but get it wrong and all your effort might be going to waste. The recipients might take one look at the email and close it or worse still take one look and unsubscribe from your mailing list!

We’ve pulled together some information to explain what makes a good (or bad) email campaign. The more pieces of the jigsaw you can get right, the more successful your email newsletter campaigns will be.

On Brand

Firstly, your Email Newsletter should look like it has come from your company. It should be on-brand and of a high quality and standard you are happy to project to your clients and customers. An email or website may be the only experience a customer has with you so it is essential that they have a good user experience and form a positive view of your company.

Image Impact

Images are processed by the human brain tens of thousands of times faster than text and we all love visual stimulus. An inspirational or aspirational image, a beautiful product shot, something of intrigue or something to make our mouths water is always going to grab attention and help make sure that the email isn’t disregarded and the user reads on.

Commissioning photography can provide the best assets but may be outwith your budget. Sites like Shutterstock or iStockPhoto are a great alternative and can provide professional quality images - Steer clear of the cliche corporate shots though. 

You may be tempted to take your own shots as “Bob in accounts has got a good camera!” or “Hey, I’ve got a camera on my phone!”, but unless Bob is actually good with the camera then you may end up doing the impression of your business some harm by presenting unprofessional imagery.

Animation can be added to your Email Newsletter by using animated GIFs. It is worth noting that some email software like Outlook do not support animation and will simply display the first frame of your animated GIF so make sure any important messaging is on that frame.

Keeping Focus

Keep your content short and focussed. Each article or feature should be an easily digestible chunk. If you’ve got a lot to say then consider having an introduction paragraph with a link to continue reading the article on your website - it’s a great way to drive more traffic to your website too!

Really consider the content that you are putting into your Email Newsletters. Are your clients or customers actually going to be interested in what you are saying or are you talking in ‘in-house’ jargon that is of no interest to anyone outwith the company? Sometimes what’s important to you is not what’s important to the customer. Put yourself in their shoes.

The headlines or sub-headlines within your email play a large part in grabbing someone’s interest. It’s important that the headlines state any benefits to the user or describe the content rather than being misleading, abstract or are trying to be too creative with wordplay.

Steer users towards end goals that you have established. These end goals should be highlighted by large call-to-action buttons that stand out and prompt a click rather than relying on links within body copy. If you set clear goals then it makes it a lot easier to gauge how successful your campaigns have been when you collate all the data afterwards.
Instead of using copy like “Click Here” within buttons you should use copy more descriptive of the action that clicking will carry out - e.g “Read Full Article” or “Download Brochure”.

Testing 1...2...3...

OK, so you’ve built a killer Email Newsletter and now you’re ready to send it out, yes? … No! 
Test it first! Send out test versions of the email to yourself and others within the company, test the email on different email clients (Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo etc) to make sure the newsletter looks good and works well on all of them. Test on as many different devices (Laptop, iPhone, Android, iPad etc) as possible. Double, triple-check all your links - do they all work? do they all go to where they are meant to be going? All your effort will fall flat on it’s face if you send out a massive marketing email only for the call-to-action button to link to the wrong place.

Good Delivery

Who is on your Mailing List? Are they people who have signed up to receive communications from you and are expecting to hear from you or are you “Cold Calling” with an email out of the blue to people on a Mailing List that you’ve bought? If it’s the latter then you could be at risk of being blacklisted as a SPAMMER. 

Think about the frequency of emails that you are sending - it’s a fine line between regular updates and being annoying. If you are a company selling items and have deals changing daily then your emails may have to reflect this and do the same.  If you are a company that wants to communicate regular updates then consider a weekly or monthly digest. It may be that email newsletters to clients are automated - for example if you are a property company and someone has signed up to find out when new properties are added to your website that are within their budget they get an email.

Personal Touch

A well written Email Subject is important in grabbing someone’s attention and making them open your email. Subject lines are also important to SPAM Filters with words like “Free”, “Help” and “...Percent Off!” setting off red flags - you don’t want your email ending up in a SPAM Folder.
The Subject should be intriguing to the user so titles including words like “Important Information”, “Invitation”, “Announcing…” make for a much more personalised and important sounding message.

Who the email seems to have come from can be very effective in creating a feeling of trust. Rather than having the sender name appear as just The Weather, for example, a much more personal touch would be to have the email appearing to come from Aaron at The Weather. This method can be particularly effective if the person is prominent member of staff or is very much client facing and familiar to the recipients.

You can personalise the email that is being sent by adding the recipient name into the Subject title e.g. “Aaron, some Important Information about your Account”. The introduction to the email could be personalised “Dear Aaron,” or you could even add the recipient name into body copy with the email “Aaron, have you thought about an upgrade?” - The latter would only work if you have everyone on the Mailing Lists’ first name or you had a well-written fall-back default.

Geeky Stuff

Just sending out an email doesn’t necessarily mean effective communication with your clients or customers. You should be analysing the information you get back after a campaign has been sent out and using what you learn to formulate future campaigns.

You can look at the links that people clicked in your last email. Were the text links noticed or was in the giant button that grabbed everyone’s attention? What was the most popular links - and why do you think this was? Learn from this analysis going forward.

In the future you may consider A/B testing. This is when you send out two variations of the same communication. These variations may be as subtle as a difference in the Subject Title. The emails get sent out to a small group of people then you analyse the open-rate statistics, see which Subject Title seemed to be more effective then send out a final email to everyone else on your Mailing List with the ‘winning’ title.

Geek status can be truly achieved when you start to really delve into tracking user activity! You could look at what links people click within an email to gauge the kind of things that interest them - you take these people and add them to a Sub-Mailing List for future reference.
If you have an online shop you could be tracking what people buy and target those customers with specific email campaigns for products that you know they buy regularly or like to treat themselves to every now and again.

What’s In YOUR In-box?

A good way to judge whether an email campaign will be successful or not is to put yourself in the shoes of the recipient.

Don’t send your Email Newsletter on a Monday morning as we all know that we’re all firefighting our inboxes to try to empty them so we can get on with the week. Likewise, no one is interested in emails on a Friday afternoon - we’re all either trying to finish off the week’s work or counting down the minutes until the weekend. And on the weekend, no-one checks their email!
Statistics show that the best time to send emails is Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday during business hours. MailChimp suggests between 2pm to 5pm as being the most effective.

Think about how the recipient will feel when they see your Email Newsletter Subject in their Inbox. Are they going to be inspired to click to read the email? How can you make it more inviting?
Does the design look good? Are there clear calls to action?
Are there any Email Newsletters you receive that you think are effective? Why not try emulating their keys to success?

If you need any assistance with Email Newsletter Campaign Strategy, Design, Build or just to chat to find out more about the technologies or options available then please get in touch with us at The Weather ...

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