You can't underestimate the importance of email newsletters to your business. It's a personal but non-invasive method to reach the people who care about your brand. A newsletter accomplishes so many things, including:
- It allows you to start intimate, uninterrupted conversations with your customer base.
- It gives you the opportunity to become a source of education and entertainment, thus building people's trust and love for your brand.
- It's the perfect channel to inform your audience about new products and services in addition to alerting them to up-to-the-minute updates and sales and specials.
Email allows you to do all of this and has unsurpassed ROI opportunities: a very high $44 for every dollar you spend. But could you be doing even better? Follow these five ways to drive better results from your email newsletter.
1. Know your audience
Knowing your audience is of paramount importance to boosting your results. To do this, you should study their habits, needs and desires. Let's see where you can start.
Analyze the data you've gathered
What does it tell you? Use Google Analytics and your CRM reports to get a grasp of where and when people buy from you. Are there any commonalities you observe? For example, if more people make purchases on the weekend, try sending your newsletter on Friday to see what results you get. The more you know, the better you can strategize.
Run surveys to learn more
The adage that knowledge is power couldn't be more true than when it comes to businesses knowing their customers. A link to a survey sent out through your newsletter can be a goldmine for learning about your customers' wants and preferences.
First, explain to your subscribers that you'll use their answers to offer them more value and a better experience with your business. Ask them a few questions, but keep the survey short and engaging. Avoid the mistake of sending an extremely in-depth and time-consuming questionnaire. You don't want to make your subscribers in any way frustrated or feel that your questions are overly personal or an invasion of privacy.
Talk to them on social media
Your email and social media campaigns should be working in harmony. While promoting your newsletter on your social media channels, your email template should also include buttons to your social platforms.
Apart from that, do your best to engage people in conversations on both channels. Those who wouldn't respond to an email could reply to a question on social media. It's all about what forum people are most comfortable with. Asking social media followers what their preferences are helps you fine-tune your email newsletters, so you get to know your audience even better.
Engage them in real life
How many screens are there in your home or office? With smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops everywhere, the ability to engage in real life is golden. When one of your emails hits their inbox, your customers and prospects will remember that interaction they had with you in real life. So, don't miss out on the opportunity to make a good impression.
I remember being checked out at a specialty shop and the friendly clerk asked if I saw the generous discount in the email that came out that day. I said no, but she said it wasn't too late to sign up. How could I resist? She keyed in my email and instantly, there was the certificate in my inbox. The store's attractive emails and great offers brought me into the store again and again. This was a great example of real-life marketing working in tandem with email to drive better results.
2. Send only to valid email addresses
Wanting to grow your email list is only natural. But how much do your subscribers engage with what you send? Are all the email addresses you gather genuine and safe to add to your list? This premise will help you grow in the right direction.
You may think: If they're on my list, then that's one more person I can reach, right? This seems logical, but it doesn't paint an accurate picture of what successful email marketing involves. To improve your results, you need real, valid contacts of people who open and click through your messages.
Why using a clean list is vital
In time, all email lists decline in quality, so when you don't regularly clean your database, you'll get bounces and spam complaints. The more you get, the more they tarnish your reputation with internet service providers (ISPs). Why does this matter? Because how ISPs see you can determine whether you land in the inbox, spam, or get blocked on the way to your subscribers' mailboxes.
The average spam complaint is 0.1%, and the accepted industry benchmark for bounce rates is 2%. Anything above that and you're at risk of landing in spam.
How do you make sure that the emails on your list belong to real email addresses of receptive people?
How to clean your list to get better results
There are two ways in which you can ensure your database is in good shape for your next campaign or newsletter. A good email verification service will give you these two options:
- Validating your list in bulk. If you have a list and have never cleaned it, this is the best way to start. You upload the list to the email verification platform, the system validates it, and you can download your results. Of course, you should remove all of the bad contacts and keep only accurate, genuine email addresses on your list.
- Real-time email verification. Do you have a signup form on your website or elsewhere? If you don't, you're missing an opportunity to get subscribers. Once you set one up, though, an email verification API can help you build a healthier list by checking every new address in real time. Some APIs not only reject misspelled addresses but also suggest your user a correction when typing in their address.
As so many marketers struggle with bounces, spam complaints, and other risky emails, using a clean list places you steps ahead of your competition. So, before you hit Send on your next email, double-check your reports. If your bounce rate is worrisome, you know it's time to prune those invalid contacts. It's one of the biggest keys to driving better results with your email newsletter.
3. Fine-tune your subject lines
By now you've learned more about your audience, and you've made sure your list is valid. Ready to send your newsletter? Wait, let's take one last look at your subject line.
That's the first thing people see when they get your email, so it has a dramatic impact on your performance. Make it enticing for your subscribers, and you'll see your open rates increase. Alternatively, a bad subject line can turn them off or even prompt them to mark you as spam.
Here's how to fine-tune your subject lines to drive more clicks:
- Curiosity is oftentimes what gets people to open an email; think about what you could write to provoke this emotion. If you have a copywriter on your team, this is where their input is invaluable.
- Pay attention to the length of the subject line. According to Sendgrid, subject lines comprised of only three words get the highest engagement (21.2%). Of course, that doesn't mean you have to limit yourself to three words. However, staying concise will ensure your subject line doesn’t get cut off on mobile devices.
- Write several subject lines, then test them with your team and even friends until you find the best one. It's rare that someone nails the subject line on their first try.
- Be careful not to include spam trigger words, which can make ISPs wrongly think you are sending junk emails. If you're not sure, try an inbox placement tester. It's a valuable tool to determine whether your email will land in the inbox. If the test reveals you're going to land in spam with popular providers such as Yahoo or Google, you'll get a chance to make changes before you send.
4. Make your emails easy to read
Whether you send a plain-text or an HTML email, ask yourself if it is easy to read. One thing many marketers overlook is simple spacing. Big chunks of text don't appeal to many people, so use paragraph breaks for a smooth reading experience.
Then, is your language easy to understand? Does it grab your reader from the very first line?
B2B marketing emails and newsletters can be especially difficult to follow, but you can make yours stand out. Stay away from pompous words and jargon, and don't write in too technical of a manner. Instead, imagine you were together in a room having a conversation with your subscribers. What would you say to them if they were sitting right across the table with you?
Let's take a brand you like. Whenever you see any visual elements relating to this brand, you probably recognize it right away. The same goes for the company's tone of voice. Sometimes, it's enough to read the first couple of sentences of an email and you know who it's from. The tone of your emails is as important for branding as your logo, color schemes and slogan.
Usually, as a friendship grows stronger, you become more familiar with the voice and mannerisms of another person. This also applies to brands and consumers, and this relationship can easily develop through email.
That's why tone, conversational writing and readability are crucial if you want to get better results from your email newsletter. The more your readers see you as a fellow human being, the more your fan base will grow.
5. Find a balance between educational and promotional content
The great paradox of email marketing is that, frequently, when you market too much, you sell less. Too many promotional emails can lead to poor engagement and unsubscribes.
How can you determine just the right amount of marketing to include in your email newsletters? Try to follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should be informative, educational, and entertaining, and only 20% or even less can be promotional. Nobody wants to feel like they are seen only as a dollar sign; let this rule guide you.
If your newsletters are a way to spread educational content, subscribers are more likely to think of you as a trusted friend and advisor. That's a great place to be and puts you in a better position to market to them.
Consistency wins the race
Following all the above can help you drive better results with your email newsletter, but if anything is most important, it's consistency. Not only in how you follow these guidelines but also in sending out your newsletters regularly. It helps with deliverability, and it says all the right things about your brand. Consistency is a byproduct of dependability. The more dependable you are, the more trustworthy you become.