The newsletter has a very important role in our Inbound Marketing strategy. We tell you everything you need to know to make it effective.
Open your mailbox.
How many newsletters have you received today? one? 10? twenty? And of all of them, how many have you read?
Yes, we receive a lot of information at the end of the day. More than we can consume.
And despite this, email continues to offer more than interesting results for brands that have been able to take advantage of its potential.
In fact, email is the digital channel with the best ROI (more than 30 euros in return for each euro invested), being up to 40x more effective than social networks when it comes to attracting customers.
Getting this ROI will only be possible if we create an effective email strategy.
Today we are going to teach you how to make an effective newsletter. To achieve this, let’s start from the beginning.
WHAT IS A NEWSLETTER?
A newsletter is a type of periodic email that disseminates news from a brand. It could be new blog content, business offers, or a new product launch.
The possibilities it offers are very varied, but there is a key characteristic that we must take into account: it was the user who requested to receive them through an opt-in.
And we cannot disappoint a user who has shown interest in us, right?
WHAT MUST A NEWSLETTER MEET TO BE EFFECTIVE?
“Effective Newsletter”, sounds good. But what do we mean by “effective”?
A newsletter will only be effective if it meets its objective. And for it to fulfill its purpose, we must first understand what it is.
In an Inbound Marketing strategy, we send this type of email for 3 fundamental reasons:
- Disseminate our content to increase the awareness of our brand.
- Convert subscribers into qualified leads.
- Build user loyalty through useful content, thus improving their engagement with our brand.
Disseminate, convert, and retain.
Keep in mind that the objective of a newsletter within an Inbound Marketing strategy is not to close a sale. For this, we will develop lead nurturing strategies specially oriented to it.
You should also keep in mind that these objectives can occur at the same time, in a greater or lesser proportion.
It is possible that someone who writes in his personal blog does not pursue a business objective as such but others (for example, the dissemination of his personal brand). Therefore, your objective will not be to qualify leads but to increase the awareness of your brand and generate an audience with which, perhaps in the future, you can have some kind of professional relationship.
On the other hand, a SaaS company will be more interested in turning its current audience into future customers. Its main objective, therefore, will be to convert subscribers to leads that will later be impacted with sales messages in a lead nurturing strategy.
Be very clear about what objective you are pursuing with your newsletter. Your entire strategy will depend on it.
HOW TO MAKE A NEWSLETTER: 5 VARIABLES YOU SHOULD TAKE INTO ACCOUNT
In Inbound Marketing we must always work under a maxim:
“The right content, to the right person at the perfect time.”
Therefore, it is essential to know what, to whom, and when to send emails. We have already talked about the objectives it pursues. But how do we measure its results?
For any type of email, we handle 2 fundamental metrics: the open rate (open rate) and the click-to-open rate (CTOR).
The CTOR measures the percentage of users who click on the email once it has been opened. That is, it shows the level of interest in the content included in the newsletter.
There are 3 ideas that we must keep in mind:
- To achieve the objective, we must first get the subscriber to open our email. For this, the subject and the addressee are essential.
- Once opened, the user must act on the mail. That is, we must get them to click on the CTA or link that we want. To do this, selecting the content and its design well is key.
- The previous points are directly and totally influenced by a correct segmentation of the subscriber lists, as well as the frequency of sending them.
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the 5 variables that most affect your results.
1. THE SUBJECT LINE AND THE SENDER
The first challenge is to get our subscribers to open our emails.
The variables that most affect the open rate are the subject of the email and the sender.
Creating subject lines that capture the user’s attention is an art, and it requires some creativity to “pick” the curiosity of our subscribers.
Use different subject lines in each email. Subscribers should intuit what the email contains just by looking at the subject line.
Keep them short. Short subject lines (approx. 50 characters) help the subscriber to intuit the content more quickly and decide to open the email.
Create consistent lines over time. This will make it easier for the user to recognize your emails in the medium term.
The 2 most common formulas for newsletter subject lines are:
Formula 1: The title of the main post as the subject of the email
Formula 2: Include a tag that indicates the type of content (for example: [NEW])
Carry out tests with A/B testing until you find the one that works best.
The name of the sender of the email is also an important factor that affects the open rate of emails.
It is important that the user trusts the origin of the emails he receives in his mailbox. There are 3 main ways to generate that trust through the name that will appear as the sender:
1. Using the sender’s first and last name
It is a good option when there is already a direct 1-to-1 relationship with the contact (generally an already hot lead), but it is not usually for a newsletter.
If the user does not know the name of the sender, there will be no reason why they should open the email (unless the subject of the email is VERY attractive).
2. Using the brand name as a sender
The newsletter is a communication (with some exceptions) that brands send. Therefore, putting the name of the brand as the sender is not unreasonable, since the user will recognize the origin of said email.
However, this formula does not take advantage of one of the most interesting characteristics of emails: the ability to deliver personal communications (even if they are automated).
3. Using the sender’s name + the brand name
This is undoubtedly the current trend and the most recommended option. It is because it is capable of generating greater closeness since it is sent by a real person, taking advantage of the trust that brand value brings. It is the perfect mix.
Finally, make sure that the email address you use is consistent with the sender.
If you choose option 1 or 3, said email must be sent from that person’s email address, as it can generate comments that must be answered.
If, on the other hand, you have opted for option 2, avoid using generic emails such as firstname.lastname@example.org. It makes more sense to use one that serves to define the type of email, for example, email@example.com (and please, avoid by all means sending them from a firstname.lastname@example.org !).
2. THE CONTENTS INCLUDED
Only with the right content can you achieve the objectives set. First of all, understand the reason why your subscriber has allowed you to send them emails. Expect to receive emails that are really interesting to you and no more spam in your inbox.
Comply with what you promised in that first welcome email that the user received at the time of subscription.
Some essential ideas about content
To increase awareness of our brand and increase web visits, the most appropriate option is to share the latest content published. This is a very effective accelerator when it comes to capturing visits, network shares, and even backlinks.
You can further enhance its dissemination by including CTAs that encourage sharing the email. For example, a “click to tweet” or, simply, a “share this email with whoever you want”.
If you want to achieve lead conversion and qualification, it will be necessary to include content that is hosted under a form on a landing page. For example, your latest ebook or your next webinar.
Finally, in the case of seeking the loyalty of your customers, the contents that help your users to have extra knowledge about your brand are very interesting, as long as they provide them with real value. For example, product updates or VIP content that help them get even more value out of it.
One piece of advice: keep it simple. Avoid creating emails with too many links as you will lose effectiveness. In fact, try not to have more than 2-3 different CTAs, since emails with few links are the ones that get the most clicks (even if it seems contradictory).
Put the most important content first.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of users will be able to preview your email before even deciding whether to open it or ignore it.
Don’t hide it. Place the most attractive content in a clearly visible position even in an email preview.
Harness the power of postscript.
The classic postscript that has been used throughout life in postcards is an increasingly used element in email marketing.
It is for a clear reason: it allows us to mix messages aimed at meeting different objectives without clashing at all.
Use it to add something that is not directly related to the body of the message, or to remind you of something you have already communicated before. Or simply to keep communication open by offering your contact.
The possibilities are very wide and, without a doubt, it is usually very effective, especially in emails with a flat design where the text predominates.
3. YOUR DESIGN
The design of your newsletter is very important. It is a key decision within your global brand communication strategy.
There are 3 main ways at the design level to deliver your newsletter:
The email with plain text
This type of email gives absolute priority to the text and lacks any type of design or images beyond certain formatting elements such as hyperlinks, bold or bullet points. That is, it is the type of email that you would send to the HR department of your company to ask about your vacation.
This email contains a very simplified layout with HTML. It usually includes visual elements such as logos, CTA buttons, header images, etc. Despite this, the main and predominant element continues to be the text.
Rich HTML Email
In this type of email, the visual part takes on the main role, being of vital importance. It is the design used by any e-commerce that needs to “enter through the eyes” of its users.
What kind of design works best?
According to this HubSpot study, users say they prefer emails with HTML design where the image predominates over the text. But the truth is that both the open rate and the CTOR are usually higher in those emails where the text predominates.
Why is this happening?
First of all, emails with rich HTML can be categorized by mail servers as advertising and delivered in the promotions tab (just like Gmail usually does). This undoubtedly negatively affects the open rate.
Second, since email is a perfect channel for 1-to-1 communication, emails with images get significantly less CTOR, because they lose that sense of personalization that is so interesting.
In other words, the more the text predominates in the email, the more effective it is in terms of achieving our objectives.
But does this also affect newsletters?
Newsletters are not always understood like other emails. It is true that, as a general rule, flat or semi-flat designs always achieve better results. But if your blog has a strong and distinctive brand image, it may be a great idea to display images in your newsletter.
You won’t know until you try it. You should test the 3 types described above to find out which one gets the best results.
4. THE FREQUENCY OF SHIPPING
The frequency with which you will send your newsletters will depend to a large extent on your ability to generate content.
In other words, don’t send a newsletter if you don’t have anything new to share! In general, an effective strategy establishes a fixed periodicity. The most commons are:
This frequency is reserved for those publications with a high volume of new daily content. The Convince & Convert newsletter is a good example of this.
If your publication volume is very high and with a very recurring audience, this may be a good option.
B. With the publication of a new article
“Receive new articles directly in your email” How many times have we seen a message of this type in the subscription box of a blog?
This is usually one of the most common options and is really useful to boost the number of views of your new content.
You can also send a weekly email with the summary of the content published (or at least the most important) during the previous week.
It is a good option if your content generation capacity is not very high. In addition, it does not tire contacts: it is not a big problem for anyone to receive an email a week (as long as they continue to find interesting content).
It is usually used to send a summary of the contents of the last month. This type of newsletter usually contains a powerful mix of content. It could be an interesting option if the contents are evergreen, but not for those of today.
Another disadvantage is that its contents are diluted and lose their effectiveness. We talked about it before, the more links a newsletter has, the fewer clicks you get.
Give the user the option to choose when to receive the newsletter.
We have a simple solution to decide what frequency of publication we choose: by asking the users.
Note: sometimes, when the option of “daily” is given in the subscription, what it really means is “every new post”. Therefore, only offer the option daily if you are able to publish 4-5 posts per week.
5. YOUR SUBSCRIBER LISTS
An updated and segmented subscriber list will allow you to achieve better results.
Why is it so important to have segmented lists?
Because it will allow you to add context to the content of your newsletter. Having your subscriber lists well segmented is key to “sending the right content to the right person”, especially when you have several buyer personas.
Remove users who do not interact with your newsletter from your lists. It is important to know which users interact (open and click on your newsletter) and which ones do not.
Keep in mind that there are users who sign up as subscribers, but they don’t really want or are not interested in your emails. So they are never open, negatively affecting your metrics. We call this type of email “graymail”.
One piece of advice: do not do it without first sending them a reactivation email. Ask them if they want to keep receiving your emails, reminding them why they should. What value will they get from them?
How can you segment newsletter lists if you are only capturing email?
It is common to only ask for the email address in the subscription form. But not all users are the same or have the same interests, right?
The segmentation criteria can be different: depending on your position, industry, and type of company. Think about the information you need about the contacts that will allow you to send the most relevant content to each of them.
In order to build a segmented list you must qualify your subscribers. Here are 2 ideas:
- Add the field with your segmentation criteria in the subscription form. This could cause your conversion rate to be lower and you get fewer emails, but you will create well-targeted lists from the start.
- Qualify them with content under the form. That is, convert your subscribers into leads. So you would have a general unqualified list and other lists of leads.
Once you have segmented lists, you can send different newsletters including different content depending on the interests of your users.
This will undoubtedly bring you better results.
As we have seen, the newsletter plays a very important role in our Inbound Marketing strategy. It is important that you try and try until you find the best possible formula. These are 25 experiments that you can try to improve the results of your emails.
Lastly, continuously track your metrics and analyze them. It is the only way to make the right decisions.