Written by Linda Van Orden
At Hen House, we love a good email newsletter. It's a great way to nurture leads, remind readers about your brand, or offer marketing solutions.
A robust marketing tool, the email newsletter still shines as one of the best ways to engage with your audience, keep them informed, and drive revenue. Over the years we’ve learned a thing or two about creating emails with high response rates and we’d like to share some of these guidelines with you.
1. BUILD USEFUL CONTENT
Know your reader. If you want high open rates, your email newsletter must offer value, be interesting, and relevant. Stay on topic. Pick one subject and stick to it—don't jump around talking about unrelated content, just to offer links to your company's service or projects (this just annoys the reader).
Segmenting your reader base by needs/pain similarities and crafting messages that address those needs increases receptivity and engagement versus communicating a generic "hope this hits" approach. (More about optimizing email newsletters in tip #5.)
Keep it short, pithy (if that's appropriate to the brand's character), and useful. Keep the length under one page and make your content worth their time. Users will typically scan your email for a few seconds before deciding to click through or not.
2. CREATE AN APPEALING DESIGN
Make sure you have a good balance of text and compelling images—with lots of white space to make it easy on the eye.
Your HTML email design must be responsive. Recent studies show that most people read email on their phones so it’s important that you design yours to display optimally on any mobile device.
Know the platforms your customers use to read your emails and test design and content presentation appropriately (columns and rows shift on mobile devices so make sure yours work universally).
3. OFFER CLEAR STRUCTURE
Headings are key to building structure in your article, increasing readability, and boosting SEO.
Break up your email by subject-matter groups with clear subheadings. This helps your reader scan the main points and better understand your text. Organize by importance based on what appeals to your reader.
Make sure to include your keywords in headings and subheadings. This will bump up your Google ranking as people like, share, and re-tweet your email.
4. USE CONFIDENT CALLS-TO-ACTION (CTA)
Use design techniques that draw attention to your CTA—buttons and hyperlinks should stand out and be obvious to click.
Add a call-to-action for each section of your newsletter (and make sure your CTA matches the goal of your email).
5. CUSTOMIZE YOUR CONTENT
A fundamental rule for creating a newsletter is to customize your messaging to each type of audience.
Avoid one-size-fits-all campaigns—they are never effective. Over 75% of email revenue is generated by customized campaigns, rather than one-size-fits-all (National Client Email Report 2015).
6. BE INBOX SEARCH-FRIENDLY
Don't underestimate people running searches within their inboxes to find something they vaguely remember!
Perform a little keyword or trigger phrase research to pinpoint the most popularly searched words and phrases and add them to your email subject and newsletter content. Inboxes default searching subject lines first.
Make sure your content is original and unique. Google will rank you higher as a result.
The order of keywords is also important so try to place your keywords first in your heading.
7. AVOID BEING FLAGGED AS SPAM
People won’t open email if they don't trust the sender’s identity. Use an email marketing service so your email is authenticated and not treated as spam.
Before sending out a campaign, use DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) or SPF (Sender Policy Framework) to verify email addresses (and remove those that are unknown or invalid). This reduces bounced emails.
Test your content if possible. Many Email Service Providers include a free spam test/grading system, which they want you to use before sending out anything. Their IP scores are also impacted by the quality of information, so they'll encourage you to test the content, links, subject line, and recipient list before sending any emails.
8. send timely content
Sending newsletters on a regular basis—whether monthly, bi-monthly, or seasonally—helps to keep your brand top-of-mind. However, your readers do NOT hold you to arbitrary rules and deadlines—it's OK to skip a month or two, as most industries experience cyclical demand. And the easiest way to lose readers is to send out an email that doesn't bring value (see tip #1), so make sure you have something newsworthy to share.
Additionally, a daily newsletter only works if your company is in media/journalism or a communications aggregator. Otherwise consider daily emails an OFFER that drives demand generation, but that should be a part of a bigger picture campaign.
We wish you success as you build your upcoming email campaigns. And if you need a little inspiration or assistance in content creation, design, or delivery, we're here to help.
Article by: Linda Van Orden
Director & Content Strategist
Linda Van Orden is one of the founding Hens at the House. Since 2012, her sharp writing and editorial skills have produced many high-performing campaigns and happy customers. Her programs have created engagement rates nearing 100% and designed optimized paths that make customers love brands. Her expertise covers higher-education, VC and recruitment services, HealthTech/GreenTech, and more.
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