It’s that time again. You’re faced with writing your next e-newsletter but you’re not sure where to start. Your engagement statistics aren’t as high as you’d like and there are so many decisions to make. How many stories should you include? What information comes first? Should you include images?
Email marketing, including your company’s monthly (or weekly, or seasonal) newsletter, is a vital tool for engaging with your customers and prospects, providing them with useful information and demonstrating your expertise. However, and this is speaking from experience, creating a great e-newsletter involves a delicate balance of art and science that isn’t always easy to achieve.
To make the process of creating a great e-newsletter simpler, I've put together a list of 10 elements that are essential to include and relatively easy to get right.
How to write an effective e-newsletter
Develop a copywriting structure or ‘template’. This gives you a plan to use each month and helps your readers learn what to expect in each email. You may decide to include segments for a staff member of the month story, special offers, blog posts and upcoming events. Readers are very short on time, so stick to five segments or less.
Ensure the design is clean. Too much colour and using a mix of fonts can be confusing and detract from your messages. Furthermore, cluttered designs appear differently for each person according to the email service and device they use to read your email. Ensure you include your logo, key images and a list of stories at the top that hyperlink to the main segments further down the email. Stick to two fonts – one for headings and one for body text. Arial may be boring, but it always works!
Choose high-quality images to accompany each segment. Keep each image the same size and weight so that they load quickly for your reader. Do be careful to follow copyright laws by taking your own images, buying them from a stock photo site such as iStock, or sourcing from a free image site such as Pixabay.
Avoid placing information in images. While pre-designed posters or adverts inserted as images look great, not everyone can read them and they may not be displayed by some email clients like Outlook. Always ensure that you repeat the information in your main text, and include a description in the Image Alt-Text to guide readers if the image doesn’t appear.
Use personalisation wherever possible. Your readers want to feel special so ensure you address them by name. If you use sophisticated email marketing software which links to your customer database you may be able to take this further by including the name of their business (if applicable) or reference a recent product or service they purchased.
Variety is the spice of life. Having five segments that are all the same can be a little boring for your reader. Include a mix of stories, blogs, videos, podcasts, special offers, infographics, links to image galleries, and event listings. You may even wish to link to new images you’ve posted on Pinterest or Instagram. When choosing what to feature, always ask yourself “Would I find this information useful and interesting?”
Quality is more important than quantity. Avoid adding in elements or stories to pad out an e-newsletter. Sometimes two to three well-crafted and selected items are enough to engage your reader and keep you top of mind.
Used curated content from industry experts. Just as you would share a great post on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, you can include content from industry experts or loyal customers such as blogs, images or Youtube videos. One item per e-newsletter is enough, but it demonstrates that you are active in your industry and community and adds value for your readers.
Keep each segment short (around 50 words). Readers will skim your email to see if they are interested in any of the segments before choosing what to read. Help them along by writing introductions to the different segments you are featuring and then linking to hosted PDFs, pages on your blog or website.
Don’t forget your sharing buttons. This encompasses your social media buttons (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest etc) and the ‘Send to a Friend’ option. Help your readers to be your ambassadors and share your content: it’s a great way to gain new followers and e-newsletter subscribers.