Sending regular email newsletters to your brand subscribers is a standard digital marketing practice. Yet there are still those who struggle to grasp the purpose of such an endeavor or are not sure what the best practices are. To help you get a grip, this article is for all entry level email marketers and those of you looking to learn the basics. Enjoy!
What Is a Newsletter?
A newsletter is a tool used by brands to communicate regularly with their subscribers, delivering a constant flow of information to their email inboxes. These messages usually contain plain text or are built by combining the formatted text with images. Newsletters usually contain news and updates, aimed at keeping the audience engaged with the brand and are designed to gently guide them towards becoming a client (e.g., purchasing a product or subscribing to a service).
What Is a Newsletter Used for?
Brands send email newsletters to their subscribers as a part of their email marketing efforts. The main purpose of a regular newsletter campaign is to inform subscribers about new products, company updates, or provide useful information related to the brands’ field of expertise.
At the same time, these messages serve several other purposes:
Driving Traffic to a Website
The educational content of an email newsletter can link to an original article on a brand’s website – usually in the form of a blog post, knowledge base, FAQ, etc. where readers can do a deeper dive into the subject.
Building Brand Awareness
Sharing unique or expert content with your audience builds anticipation and associates your brand with a sense of authority. In other words, your subscribers learn to go to you for expert knowledge on the subject – and one day they might even spend money on your actual product or service, becoming customers!
Email newsletters are not trying to sell products or services per se, but they do tend to do it indirectly, by gently nudging subscribers towards the purchase. This can look like sending case studies or detailed how-tos that readers can treat as inspiration or best practices.
Increasing Your Coverage
Email newsletters usually contain links to brands’ social media profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram etc.) – and subscribers do click them to be able to check on a brand on a daily basis – and sometimes they may even share these insights with a friend. The important thing here is to make sure that your social media provides followers with fresh content that is not replicated anywhere else, so there is a value in it for them to subscribe.
Creating and Supporting a Sense of Community
Companies use a regular email newsletter that feeds the interest of their potential customers to build a sense of community among them. Access to communication that is not widely distributed and requires a bit of commitment creates a feel of being a friend of a brand and participating in something special. Content people never underestimate such additional advantage – as it sometimes results in turning people into loyal customers!
When and How Often Should You Send Newsletters?
As far as the frequency of your email newsletters is concerned, there’s no silver bullet. The best practices vary – it’s all about finding the right balance and not sending too many newsletters to your audience, but at the same time not sending them too rarely. Otherwise, you’re risking annoying your readers or… making them forget they’ve subscribed to your newsletter at all.
Also, when figuring out the best practices for your email marketing, bear in mind the context of your communication. Companies usually send a number of emails to contacts in their databases: marketing, advertising, transactional, trigger, etc. So, it’s a good idea to align the frequency of the newsletters to one’s overall email marketing calendar for consistency. How do you achieve that? In your newsletter subscription form, ask subscribers how often they would like to hear from you (e.g., once a week, once a month, etc.). Also, in each separate newsletter you send to your readers, include a link to an email preference center where they can change their preferred frequency – in case they change their mind.
How to Build a Newsletter?
Here is a typical newsletter structure:
Your subscribers need to be clear about who reaches out to them. It is important to make it clear from the beginning – as well as using your company domain for that purpose. For example: John from ThatGreatBrand | email@example.com In this way it’s easy for them to identify you and open the email. At the same time, sending email newsletters anonymously or from an email address registered at @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, or @hotmail.com rather than from your company domain is not a best email marketing practice and may arouse distrust about your intentions. It may also prompt their email providers to mark your email newsletters as SPAM.
A good subject line is the key to getting a good open rate. It should not be too long (email clients only show a limited number of characters, especially on mobile devices), it should grab readers attention, but at the same time it should be related to the actual content of the message and should not have words that make exaggerated claims, capital words or exclamation marks. Otherwise, your email newsletters may be marked as SPAM.
This is the meat of your email newsletter – and since it’s a newsletter and not an email offer, make sure its content is informative and useful. Newsletters should provide educational value and build subscribers’ trust in your brand as an authority on the subject.
Make your content clear and well structured. Use paragraphs and bullet points. Separate different topics by headers. Include links to resources offering more details on the subject (company blog, knowledge base, etc.) and introduce them using a smart, non-salesy call to action.
Including images in your email newsletters is tricky. On the one hand it can make your messages more appealing, but it does have some downsides. Some email clients block displaying images to protect users from viruses. As a result, your email newsletter will look blank – and not all of your messages will get through. So, when working on your newsletter design keep your images to a minimum and don’t place any key info on them – act as if they were not to be visible to the subscribers.
Call to Action
Even though your email newsletters are not intended as sales communication, they are still supposed to require an action on your subscriber’s behalf. This can be a further read on your company blog or a knowledge base. So, make sure your email newsletters include a call to action. Ask your readers directly to Learn all about it, Learn more, Read the full article, etc.
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Email Newsletter Examples
There are some great email newsletter examples out there. To give you some inspiration, we’ve collected a couple of them below:
How to Send Newsletters?
No, you don’t use your email client to send bulk newsletters to your audience. There are many tools out there that will do it for you. They allow you to build and manage your subscriber lists and email communication. Email marketing platforms have built-in email editors (e.g., a drag and drop editor) that allow you to choose from dozens of pre-designed content blocks: text, images, calls to action, videos, etc. Or, you can go for pre-designed email newsletter templates that best suit your needs. Some of them even offer automation that takes care of most of your email marketing efforts for you.
What to Look for In Email Newsletter Software?
When on the hunt for the best email automation software, look for the following characteristics:
Creating and sending email newsletters should be intuitive, so make sure you’re able to test it before buying. An easy-to-use tool will simply save your time and effort on more important tasks – that is creating an informative email newsletter with a catchy subject line.
Many Newsletter Templates to Choose from
There’s no point in inventing a wheel, so go for a provider that gives you a number of ready-made newsletter examples or newsletter templates that you can customize, using e.g., drag and drop editors to suit your particular business message. The wider the choice, the better.
For successful email marketing communication, you need to split your subscribers into smaller groups that share certain characteristics, whether these are demographic or behavioral. So, make sure that you choose a provider that allows you to do an advanced segmentation of your contacts.
To be able to build a successful newsletter campaign, you need to be able to test different versions of a message and see how it is performing. You should test both different versions of copy, as well as different email newsletter designs. So, an A/B testing module is a must.
A great email newsletter solution doesn’t have to cost a fortune. When looking for one, make sure that the provider offers flexible pricing options that also suit businesses with tighter budgets.
Newsletter vs Marketing Automation
There is a big difference between an email newsletter – email marketing and marketing automation. While both use email to engage with your readers, email marketing tracks only the actions taken by recipients of your emails, whereas marketing automation tracks their actions taken across all communication channels. Moreover, marketing automation software combines all data on particular users allowing you to track their progress through their customer journey.
To put it another way: email marketing is a part of marketing automation and not the other way around. And marketing automation in itself allows for advanced engagement with your readers: robust marketing campaigns that help with lead nurturing, sending real-time alerts and personalized offers.
We hope that now you have a clear image of what email newsletters are and what they can do for your digital marketing efforts. If you think it’s about time your company implements it in its communication strategy, visit our website – or contact us directly.