10 Steps to More Effective Newsletters
Published on 13 April 2015 | Author Stefan von Lieven0
A newsletter in email marketing is a complex tool, whose success depends on a large number of factors. Only after each adjusting screw is turned correctly, will the newsletter unfold its full potential. So, what do we need to bear in mind when creating a newsletter? In 10 steps, we have described the factors you need to consider when designing effective newsletters. We guarantee, you won’t forget anything with this checklist.
1. Set Clear Targets
Why do you send a newsletter? This question may sound trivial, but many companies have never given a specific answer to it. The sending of newsletters within the framework of email marketing should always be preceded by a structured strategy with clearly set targets derived from the overall marketing and company goals. Possible targets of a newsletter are, e.g. sales, strengthening of the customer retention or increase of brand awareness. Only if you know exactly what you wish to achieve with your newsletter, can you adjust the content to the desired goals in an optimal way.
IMPORTANT: All targets must be able to be operationalised, e.g. displayed in performance figures. This will allow you to measure the success and optimise the newsletter accordingly. We have compiled the most important performance figures in email marketing in our free checklist: The 25 Most Important Performance Figures in Email Marketing.
2. Find the Right Content
The next step is to find the right content or sources from which this can be retrieved. At this point, the significance of specific targets becomes clear, as each target requires different content. For example, if the newsletter is meant to support direct sales in an online shop, product offers from this shop would be recommended. This example shows in an obvious but illustrative way, that a newsletter is no autonomous tool. It is integrated with other channels to which it refers and whose content it can pick up. These may be specialist articles from the company blog or elements from a viral campaign. If you do not have any internal sources from which to create your newsletter content or if you wish to offer additional, perhaps newsletter-exclusive content, find out what your users are interested in. Ask your colleagues, who are regularly in contact with users, e.g. in support or social media. Read blogs and magazines dealing with your industry. Look at what your competitors are doing. In an ideal case scenario, ask your users directly.
IMPORTANT: Even if the task of your newsletter is to reach YOUR marketing targets, you should always check the point of view of the users when choosing newsletter content. Email marketing is permission marketing and users can freely decide whether they wish to receive your content or not. And they will only do so, if your content offers them a real added value. Use attractive special offers instead of offensive promotions of shelf warmers and relevant specialist information instead of adulation of your own company.
3. Create the Template Design
Prior to creating the specific content for a newsletter, you must decide on a template. Which elements should be placed where? How many images? How long can texts be? Work with predefined templates, which can be reused in each newsletter edition. Tip: Important content, e.g. the most attractive offer, should always be placed above the fold, i.e. in the direct visual field at the top of the newsletter. More and more newsletters are read on mobile terminal devices. Newsletter templates must therefore be ultra-responsive and automatically adjust to the requirements of each terminal device.
4. Create Contents
The core of the newsletter is the content, specifically images and copy. Images serve as an eye catcher and sales-oriented newsletters cannot do without images of their promoted products. The copy for newsletters is also an art. Short and precise, but containing all relevant information and a call to action. Tips for effective newsletter copy can be found at: https://www.artegic.com/blog/newsletter-copy-every-word-counts/
5. Choose Subject Line and Sender
The subject line of the newsletter is the door opener, which basically decides whether a newsletter will be opened or not. It serves to activate the user. Tips on how to create effective subject lines can be found at: https://www.artegic.com/blog/7-tips-on-how-to-create-email-subject-lines-short-and-concise/
Not only the subject line is important, but also the choice of sender of a newsletter. Many users open a newsletter without first reading the subject line, if the sender is known and trusted. Especially in B2B it is recommended to transpose personality in the sender. Certain individuals within your company, e.g. the company director, may be known to the target group. Why not send the newsletter in his name?
6. Individualise Newsletters
Newsletters are effective when they match the preferences of the target group and provide a real added value for a user. However, even the most precisely segmented target group consists of individuals. Newsletters are therefore more effective, when they are individualised for each user. You will find more on the topic of individualisation at: https://www.artegic.com/blog/400-turnover-increase-6-dos-individualised-email-marketing/
7. Optimise for Image-free Display
Many email clients block images in emails, so that users need to manually load them. A newsletter should therefore always work without images. Always transmit the relevant content within the copy and pay attention that each image contains an ALT-text. ALT-texts are shown as spacers when images are blocked.
8. Guaranteeing Legal Compliance
In Germany, the sending of newsletters is subject to a number of statuary provisions. For example, each newsletter must contain a full legal note and unsubscribe link.
9. Quality Assurance
Even the most professional newsletter designer can make mistakes. You should therefore apply the four eyes principle when designing a newsletter. Carry out a final quality check for each newsletter together with someone else. Check the copy for spelling and grammar mistakes, click on links, check if all images have ALT-texts, etc. We recommend that you compile a checklist, which you can tick off for each newsletter.
10. Test Different Clients
Each client displays emails in a different way. Test the newsletter in all relevant clients and browsers prior to sending. IMPORTANT: In any case, include mobile clients.