Email newsletters are a dynamic tool for communicating with and marketing to your audience. Like any powerful mechanism, an email newsletter can perform more than one function.
For example, newsletters not only let subscribers know about what’s new with your company, but they also inform them about your products and services and put your brand front-and-center in their inboxes.
When you design email newsletters with an emphasis on providing value for your customers, they are able to enhance your relationship with them and cultivate trust and authority—which is very much a plus for your marketing goals!
This article focuses on how to create an email newsletter that will be an asset to your marketing strategy, helping you forge close relationships with your readers—and turning leads into new customers.
What makes a good email newsletter
It's a good time for email newsletters.
The New York Times is in on the trend, launching a total of 33 email newsletters of their own. And, they’re pretty successful at it—their newsletters get a stunning 70% open rate.
One of the NYT's actionable strategies for compelling newsletters is to move from RSS feed-based newsletters to those written by real human beings.
This personal touch helps cut through the inbox clutter of a million social media and other online feed-streams that land in your prospect’s inbox on a daily basis.
The other thing the Times focuses on, which is also a significant key to any good email newsletter, is providing value outside of sales material and other offers.
It teaches us a valuable lesson about how to keep our readers' attention: Just engage! Bring your audience those tidbits of information they really want and need. Choose a trend related to your brand that your customers are interested in and let the creativity fly.
For example, check out this example from Harvard HEALTHbeat’s newsletter:
It has a feature article to help readers learn more about yoga, a sidebar featuring online learning courses, and, if you scroll down the page, you find this in the sidebar:
This timely snippet offers a quick daily health tip, so readers can still get value even if they don’t have time to read the whole newsletter. This sidebar also offers related articles that might be interesting to readers who do have a bit of extra time to spend.
Remember, if your newsletter doesn’t provide value, it won’t work as a marketing tool, so be sure to give readers something beyond offers and sales hooks when you compile your newsletter.
Let’s look at how to create an email newsletter that will do this and more for your customers.
How to create an email newsletter strategy that works
Ready to jump in and start generating a top-notch newsletter? Awesome! Here are a few tips that will keep you on the right track:
1. Stay relevant.
You already know your readers want and need value, but you also have to provide material that's both relevant to them and to your brand.
Take Casper’s solution to the snore-inducing subject of mattresses. No one really wants to read article after article on mattress-related issues.
But sleep? That’s another matter entirely! It’s a subject that relates to their product (mattresses) and to what customers want—a restful night's sleep.
Here’s how they did it:
Image: Content Marketing Institute
Their “Van Winkle’s” newsletter gives customers relevant, timely information on sleeping well.
This provides relevant (and useful) content for their audience, but also gives them a way to relate their product to the customer’s search for the best way to sleep tight.
2. Make it shareable.
The perfect way to get extra impact for your marketing effort is to design a great newsletter with relevant content, and then encourage sharing.
Here’s an example of a social media button placement. Notice the full-color social media icons at the very top of the newsletter header, one of the most prominent placement areas:
Image: Inspiration Feed
And here’s an email newsletter that uses prominent, clickable links to encourage subscribers to forward it on to friends and family that might be interested.
Image: Inspiration Feed
The red print in this one really stands out against the simple background, kicking up the impulse to forward the message.
3. Make it simple.
A simple, uncrowded format works best for readers who are in skimming mode. Bright, simple designs and easy-to-find content makes this newsletter from Really Good Emails appealing and useful:
This email is personal, simple, and the important stuff is front-and-center and clickable, making it easy for subscribers to go straight to the content they need and want.
4. Make it personal.
Personalizing your newsletter will help ensure it’s opened and read.
In fact, personalized emails get opened 29.3% more often than emails that aren’t personalized, so it’s worth the effort to add this touch to your email newsletter.
Plus, you can boost your revenue 5.7 times through personalization, and that’s definitely a good reason to try this technique out on your next email newsletter campaign.
Image: Marketing Sherpa
So, now that you know how important personalizing your newsletter is, let’s explore options. You can use personalization in several ways. Here are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing.
Here’s a newsletter that uses a personal subject line, which is a great way to bypass the spam filter.
Image: Really Good Emails
In this next example, FitBit personalizes their newsletter by curating articles to a segmented audience:
Image: Really Good Emails
Segmenting allows you to provide more relevant, valuable content to specific niches within your audience—and it helps your email marketing tools get more opens and more clicks.
Another way to be personal is to ensure that you’re sending your newsletter from the “desk” of a real human being, rather than from a randomly generated email address.
This personalized newsletter shows it’s coming right from Dan:
Personalization helps with that relationship-building we talked about—and it lets your audience know you care about them as individuals, not just sales prospects.
This, in turn, is one of the ways that your email newsletter can be instrumental in growing your customer base, establishing trust, and best of all, building loyalty to your brand.
Using an email newsletter to build brand loyalty
As we’ve mentioned, creating an email newsletter can help you build serious loyalty with your customers.
Newsletters build personal relationships and allow brands to offer customers value-added content that creates repeat customers.
Here are a few of the ways email newsletters accomplish this level of loyalty:
- Providing important reminders and updates for new products, services, and events to email subscribers only.
- Offering free gifts and giveaways to subscribers only. Offering these will sporadically allow your customers to feel your email newsletter has recurring value.
- Giving discounted offers and email-exclusive coupons. These can include early access to sales or email-only sales that will foster exclusivity among your customers and encourage repeat business.
- Providing relevant, useful content. Need we say more? Content is critical! You can even take it a step further and offer exclusive content that’s only available to subscribers.
- Using participation bonuses to reward engagement. This can include contests or competitions for customers to write testimonials, post comments, or forward emails.
- Offering bonuses for social media engagement. Using the same concept as with general participation bonuses, this can include contests for the most social media sharing of your content or even the most mentions of your brand on social media.
You can use one, or all, of these strategies to take your email newsletter to the next level, offering valued customers everything they need to continue to be your biggest fans.
In this article, you learned how important email newsletters are to your marketing strategy.
With interest increasing by consumers and marketers alike in this multi-purpose product, it’s a good idea to consider adding an email newsletter to your arsenal of critical marketing tools.
You’ve learned how to create an email newsletter that offers relevant content in a simple, personal, shareable way to increase your engagement with customers and build a strong, brand-loyal base of repeat buyers.
Using an email newsletter is a great way to show customers they’re important to you, give them added value, and increase their opportunities to purchase from you again and again.
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