Believe It or Not, Your Business Needs a Newsletter
Jun 10, 2020
⌚ 6 min read
Scan your inbox real quick. How many unopened newsletters are sitting there waiting to be read? Ok, let’s be honest... waiting to be deleted.
We all know the deal. We sign up for newsletters for free downloads, discount codes, or some sort of other special access. Once we get what we want, our interest in the emails flooding our inboxes wanes.
As a consumer, all of this seems like no big deal; but as a business owner, it’s worrisome, to say the least.
When executed well, email newsletters engage leads and customers, help sell more products, and keep your business top-of-mind with your target audience.
When not executed well… you’re part of the heap of emails sitting around waiting to be deleted.
The Fix: Create a Newsletter (that people actually want to read)
It’s important to start with the fundamentals here.
What is the purpose of a business newsletter? In short, it’s to inform a select audience about your most interesting content, announcements, and promotions. The goal is for your readers to know what is going on and to peak their interest enough to lead them to your website.
The newsletters people look forward to and want to read are a little more involved than simply putting together a last minute email.
After analyzing loads of newsletters, we found the following elements are essential to building the best and most sought-after emails:
- Decide if you really need a newsletter.
- Figure out what form your newsletter will take.
- Find a balance of content to include.
- Let your subscribers know what they’re getting into.
- Focus on subject lines.
- Select one call-to-action (CTA).
- Carefully choose design elements.
- Make unsubscribing easy.
Kayla’s bake shop specializes in custom order cakes and other sweet treats. Often, her customers come in once or twice a year and order her specialties for special occasions. She has a pretty sizable customer base and figures that the best way to increase business is to have existing customers purchase more often.
To keep her bake shop top-of-mind, Kayla decides to send bi-monthly newsletters to her email list informing customers of promotions going on, new products being offered, and various tips for organizing special events (from table settings to putting together guest lists).
Kayla’s newsletters predominantly feature blog-like articles with tips her readers would find helpful. Each includes a call-to-action that either leads to a promotional landing page or her online ordering section. For example, her February newsletter featured ideas for the perfect Valentine’s dinner and her CTA led readers to her Valentine’s day cupcake promotion.
She also dedicated special attention to creating catchy subject lines. Things like “Got $10 dollars? We have the only holiday dessert you’ll need” and “The five ingredients you don’t want in your kitchen.”
Three months later, Kayla found that her online orders increased 20% and her repeat customers increased by 50%.
Let’s dissect what goes into the “perfect” newsletter...
8 Steps to Getting It Right
- Decide if you really need a newsletter. Start by analyzing your industry and try to pinpoint any companies with successful newsletters. Take a look at the type of content they’re producing and decide if that’s something you can accomplish with the amount of resources available to you. On the other hand, you may find that newsletters aren’t a medium your audience is interested in.
Outline your business goals and determine if a newsletter can actually help you achieve them. Are you looking to find leads, qualify them, or simply retain relationships with customers? If a newsletter wouldn’t support these goals, your time will be more valuable when redirected to marketing projects that will.
- Figure out what form your newsletter will take. One of the biggest mishaps with newsletters is that they’re often a jumble of all kinds of information - from blog posts, to company news, to random events. That’s NOT the way to go.
The best form for a newsletter is one specific topic or format. If you choose to feature blog posts, always feature blog posts. If you write tips and tricks, stick with those. Consistency and specificity help create greater engagement from your readers.
- Find a balance of content to include. Don’t be that company. You know, the one that sends three emails a day promoting themselves trying to convince you to buy. Those emails end up on the do-not-open list real quick.
A good way to think of newsletter composition is 90% educational and 10% promotional. Educational, relevant, and timely information entices readers to open your emails and builds a better rep for you, inclining them to buy when the time comes. No one will forget that you are a company with something to sell, but they will additionally see that you are a company with something of value to offer.
- Let your subscribers know what they’re getting into. Outline what subscribers should expect from you and how often they’ll be receiving emails. Include a preview of the type of email you’ll be sending. Added bonus, you’ll immediately cull the people who would eventually unsubscribe anyway - improving your open and click rates.
- Focus on subject lines. Once you get someone to sign up for your emails, it’s no guarantee that they will actually open them. Cue subject lines. Each newsletter should have a unique and creative subject line that entices readers to open that specific email right at that moment. Click bait, sure, but the kind that leads to valuable content ;)
- Select one call-to-action. Click this, click that, oh no wait, click here. Your newsletter should have just one clear CTA, directing your readers to the action you want them to take. It should be easily visible above everything else in the newsletter.
- Carefully choose design elements. Concise copy is vital to keeping your readers engaged and opening your emails day-in and day-out. Your email should contain just enough information to make your readers want to click through to the desired webpage to learn more.
Keep your design clutter-free and minimal with plenty of white space. Include one or two high-quality images or none at all in favor of really well-written copy, almost letter style.
- Make unsubscribing easy. What’s the best way to keep your subscribers engaged and active? Make unsubscribing easy. Highlight the unsubscribe button and make it clearly visible. By doing so, the email service will also be less likely to redirect your email to the spam folder.
Your email subscribers will prefer something different from the next person’s. While all of the above are steps to proper newsletter protocol, to find your sweet spot, test out different combos and setups to find what is best for your audience.