12 Email Newsletter Best Practices for 2012
It is that time of year. We are revisiting our best practices for email newsletter publishing. Two major trends of note: mobile devices continue to grow as an email-reading platform and Google+ is coming on strong. Details on these trends and more below.
First, make sure you use an email service provider with the latest tools for mobile delivery and social media. We recommend iContact. You can try iContact free for 30 days at this link.
To adapt best practices in publishing your e-newsletter, consider the following:
- Keep your list targeted. Use list-building strategies that focus on getting more sign-ups from your ideal target market. Always use an opt-in approach to building your list and double opt-in is even better. Visit this link, for more information on how to build your list of email newsletter subscribers.
- Integrate Social Media. Make sure you run your social media campaigns and your email newsletter program to feed off each other. Despite the early predictions, social media is not going to “kill” email newsletters or email marketing. In fact, in 2011 Marketing Sherpa reported that 75% of social media users said they preferred companies contact them via email rather than social media channels.
- Develop a Google+ (G+) strategy. Experts predict that Google’s new Search Plus Your World (SPYW) will becoming an important social media channel. With SPYW, G+ content will be dominant in Google searches. Sites and email newsletter publishers adopting a strong G+ strategy will be clear winners. We will be discussing more on G+ next month. In the mean time, check out this link to see why you should care about G+ for SEO.
- Adapt a mobile strategy. Increasingly, busy business execs are monitoring and triaging their email through mobile devices. From the mobile device, they delete unwanted email. They save preferred email for reading more completely back at the office. Place important and valuable messages early in your email to survive this triage process.
For mobile-accessibility, keep messages short, or, offer a mobile-only version with a “click to read on mobile phone” links at the top of each issue. If you have valuable and rapidly changing content, think about creating an iPad App. We’ll have some top tips for insuring your email is mobile-ready in future issues, so stay tuned.
- Select the Right ESP. We recommend that companies send their email through an email service provider (ESP). These systems are inexpensive and handle the tech issues of sending to larger lists. All your work will go for naught if you send through the wrong ESP. A good ESP today will offer tools facilitating mobile email delivery.
Also, to insure your legitimate email gets past SPAM , check that your ESP is using DKIM authentication. In a nutshell, DKIM is a system that authenticates you are who you say you are. With DKIM, the ISPs are assured that a sender is not spoofing another domain, which is a key trick of spammers. You can learn more about DKIM at this link
Visit this link for information on how to select the right ESP.
- Select Strategic Subject and From Lines. Use a compelling subject line. Your subject line should not be “January Issue of Our E-Newsletter”. Use one of your articles as the subject line, such as “Tips for emailing to mobile readers and more”
To make sure you have the best subject line, test to determine the line that gets the most click-throughs. You can also test what name in the “From” line gets the most click-throughs. Research shows that email from a CEO or recognized company exec gets a higher open rate.
While you should test from lines, once you have a winner, use it. You should also develop the same format for your subject lines. By having consistent formats, your recipients can more readily recognize your valuable email newsletter.
- Keep your articles short. Use short sentences, bulleted lists, etc. People read email quickly. They are also usually reading it on small screens (in the preview pane or on a mobile device.) If you have a lot to say about a subject, make the longer version a blog post. Summarize it in your email newsletter and link to the post.
While you do want to keep it short, we suggest you have more than a series of links to articles. If you do not provide enough good content in the email to encourage the reader to engage with you, you risk recipient’s deleting your message.
- Avoid Hype, but don’t forget a CTA. Do not make the content all about you. Yes, your email is a marketing tool. However, if you only include info on your company (new projects, staff and awards, etc.) you are not providing real value.
While you do want to provide useful information, do not forget to add your own call-to-action (CTA). If you do not give recipients a reason to contact you, you are unlikely to get inquiries from potential prospects.
Need help writing compelling CTA’s? If so, request information on our new ebook, “How to write a Killer Call-to-Action” by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “CTA ebook”.
- Create an editorial calendar.Make sure you plan several editions ahead to ease the production process. When you plan future content, you can use one issue to promote upcoming topics.You can use many online resources, such as Google Trends or your own web logs, to see topic trends. When you discover that folks are looking for a subject the same time every year, plan to publish information in your blog the month before. You can then push out the info in your email newsletter and maximize your traffic.
- Develop a content acquisition plan.Once you have your editorial calendar, plan on how you will acquire content. Will you write it in-house, hire a ghostwriter, ask for a guest author? We suggest a combination of several strategies. You may also find it helpful to develop a dynamic content idea portal for capturing relevant information. We will provide more detail on how to develop a content idea portal next month.In the meantime, if you need help with content acquisition plan, send an email to email@example.com with “acquisition plan help” in the subject line.
- Reward Engagement and Encourage Sharing.
Add forward-to-a-friend options and share buttons to your newsletters. You want to make it easy for your recipients to share your content with their network. Research consistently shows that providing e-newsletter sharing features can boost email distribution by more than 40%.
- Remarket and Cross Market Content
Get as much traction as possible for your valuable content. You can create smaller “snack size versions” of email articles as tweets, place longer versions as blog posts, develop a slideshare presentation, etc. Do make slight changes to each version of the re-purposed content. Avoid placing the exact same content on websites, blogs, online forums, etc. or you will lose some SEO juice.