Whenever a new, exciting technology emerges, there will be thousands of business owners rushing to try it out immediately. There’s nothing wrong with that; commerce is one of the driving forces behind innovation after all. However, in a world where technology is racing forward at a near impossible speed, it’s easy to forget that the old tried-and-true strategies are still relevant. In this case, old is a relative term, because the old-fashioned strategy that we’re talking about is the email newsletter.
Let’s get one thing on the table; the word “newsletter” doesn’t sound very exciting. It brings to mind something you’d find on your grandparents’ dining room table. However, email newsletters have never been more effective or relevant to a good marketing campaign. Thanks to a staggering new variety in available tools, and research into what customers respond to, you can engage your clients in new ways. Needless to say, doing so effectively takes a great deal of forethought, trial and error, and learning, but doing so will pay dividends in no time.
Why create a newsletter?
If you think that creating a newsletter is as simple as sending a form letter to your customers once a week, then you should think again. The point is not to fill up your clients’ inboxes with emails that they’ll never read, the point is to accomplish something for your business. Whenever you sit down to write a newsletter, consider what you goal is. Are you trying to gain more traffic on your site? Perhaps you are hoping to increase awareness of some new event or promotion, or you are promoting interaction with your social media accounts. Whatever your goal is for that week, the newsletter should be geared towards making it happen. Make sure that the email you send your customers has a clear, inviting call to action, so that you can take your users to the relevant resources with a single click.
Just as your newsletter can accomplish many goals, there are also many types of newsletters. You may use one or all of these on any given day. The most common is the weekly subscription. This is an automatically recurring letter that updates your users on what’s happening with your brand. This can include sales, promotions, milestones you have reached, or spotlights on new products. This type of newsletter is easy to implement because all you need to do is tweak a template that then sends itself. Of course, this format isn’t very helpful if your business doesn’t have much interesting to report on each week. If something very important happens and you want to make sure everybody knows about it, consider sending off a news blast instead. This is a flashy, high profile email that will highlight the important news. Similarly, one-off emails are a great way to announce special events and promotions.
Once you have your purpose and strategy in place, it’s time to decide what your users will actually see when they open your emails. A simple text email will not do, because if it’s not something that they are already invested in reading, you will be lucky if they even choose to skim it. Your newsletter should be visually eye-catching, and in a style that is in line with your other marketing materials. Just like everything else you put on the internet, a newsletter is a representation of your brand identity, and keeping your identity consistent is a key part of any marketing campaign.
The easiest way to create a visually arresting newsletter is by using a template. A template is useful because it saves you time when you send out an email each week. All you need to worry about is the content, and the template handles everything that looks nice. It’s also handy because you don’t need to worry about implementing designs, if you’re not the visually oriented type. If you’re worried that using a template will make your newsletter look the same as everybody else’s, be at ease: most modern email templates are fully customizable, so that you can adapt it to your needs and identity. Once you’ve created the perfect template, then all you need to do is add your copy and multimedia each week. You’ll become a mean, lean, newsletter machine in no time.
One thing to keep in mind while you are designing your newsletter is that there’s a high likelihood that your customers will be viewing your emails on a mobile device. Many templates are optimized for mobile browsers, but you should still be mindful of users who might not have up-to-date software. For example, some devices have trouble rendering photographs, or simply block photos altogether. If that’s the case, the only thing the user will be able to reliably see is the alt-text of the image; that is, if you have alt-text. Be sure to add alt-text and other accessibility features to your newsletter, to make sure your message is read by as many people as possible.
Newsletters aren’t glamorous, there’s no getting around that. Seeing your own ad on Facebook is much more exciting, but that doesn’t necessarily make it more effective. Other business owners keep returning to email newsletters because they are proven to work. If you tailor your newsletters to your ideal clientele, you’ll find that out for yourself.