We all know that commercial strength in a tough economy largely depends on maintaining a close relationship with your prospects and customers. In this context, email marketing remains a reliable and effective way for b2b marketers to communicate with their audiences. But for many of us, getting our newsletters to stand out is an on-going challenge. “My newsletters aren’t performing well. What am I doing wrong?” This is what we recently heard from one of our clients... Here are 8 rules to follow to improve the impact of your newsletters.
Create an engaging subject line
Subject lines should always be relatively short and most importantly, descriptive of the newsletter content. Trying to trick the reader into opening your newsletter will ultimately do no good. Avoid all tacky subject lines, which can easily be perceived as spam.
The “above the fold” content matters most
Above the fold content is the content that can be seen in the email preview window. Considering that a reader decides within a split second whether the content appearing in this window is valuable or not, make sure you that your “above the fold” content really counts. So don’t waste this space on excessive branding, instead, ensure it incorporates content that the reader can immediately “validate”, in other words, judge your newsletter as “likely to be relevant”. Avoid being perceived as spam at all costs and ensure that the reader can see your call to action straight away.
Make sure your newsletter top banner isn’t too big.
That is, if you use one. Collings & Monney’s own newsletters, like the one that probably brought you here, are strategically “un-designed”. That’s because the “regular email” look will improve proximity with the contact and avoid being perceived as spam. If you do use a top banner, make sure that it is small enough so that you don’t lose precious space for actual content and carefully consider the fact that up to 80% of Microsoft Outlook systems default to email images turned off!
Build and maintain a clean database of contacts
If you can, build a home-grown database. You can build it progressively by getting a central system, in which all new contacts will be added. You can grow your database in multiple ways, for instance by inserting contacts from in-person meetings, business cards lottery contests on your stand, website contact forms and white-papers and webinars registrations. It’s a long term effort that requires discipline as well as the collaboration of your colleagues. But it will definitely pay off.
Make sure you email can be read on smart phones
You don’t want to miss out on this increasing mobile readership. The basic rules to follow are to keep the design simple, mind the font size, display your text in one single column, and test your email using one of the numerous free online preview tools, such as MobilePhoneEmulator.com.
Avoid tacky and chaotic formatting
Don’t use excessive bolding and wild use of colours and font sizes. It turns a lot of readers off, and doesn’t help convey a reliable company image, quite the contrary. This is not advertising, you already have the reader’s attention, albeit initially for a very short time. At this stage, content quality will be the key driver of engagement.
Relevance is more important than periodicity
If you don’t have anything of value to communicate at a point in time, hold your e-shot. Un-relevant content can cause your audience to dismiss all your sub-sequent newsletters, relevant or not. Sticking to periodicity at the detriment of quality is one of the most common mistakes among marketers. That also applies to social media communication.
Newsletters are not about selling
Avoid salesy content, it will get you nowhere. Newsletters are your shot at establishing a positive relationship with your audience. Remember the saying: “Ask not what your customers can do for you – ask what you can do for your customers.”, and the goodness will come back to you.