Regular readers know that we love to discuss the latest trends in digital marketing, so you might assume that the techniques long-favoured by traditional marketers have no place in the equimedia office. Surely the very mention of a company newsletter would see us clamouring for the mouse (followed by a quick shudder) as we immerse ourselves back into the realms of social and mobile marketing. After all, companies have been churning out pages detailing the latest news and events, and commenting on industry-related matters to send to those unfortunate subscribers for what must be two decades – with what may be little return. Surely, the newsletter is well and truly dead?
But don’t brush them aside just yet. Newsletters are not only cost-effective to put together but since they are sent directly to the recipient’s email account, you can at least be certain that your audience will be aware of the content. For example, with Facebook, it’s recently been reported that only 6% of your followers might see your company update in their newsfeed, while for larger pages (those with over 500,000 likes) the organic reach is even lower – at just 2%.
The majority of you will no doubt check your inbox every day – at work, on the move and in the confines of your own home. In fact, you probably have at least two registered email addresses (one personal and one for work) – suggesting that email marketing isn’t in demise as some might imply.
A study by SocialTwist has also highlighted the enduring importance of email – even over social media. The study revealed that over 50% of influencers shared marketing messages via email – whereas under half (41.8%) had done so via Facebook. Perhaps the most interesting finding, however, is that email proved to be better for converting users into customers.
How to make newsletters work for you
While newsletters are still clearly a workable concept, they need to form part of an overall marketing strategy. By doing so, they can easily complement your existing approach, and remind people about your brand in a space where so much is vying for the recipient’s attention.
This is of course, a crucial point. You should approach the newsletter with creativity, and a well-placed editorial cap that ensures you and your readers get the most out of this medium. By following the tips below, you may well see your newsletters driving the type of behaviours and actions you thought impossible, because as we all know, there is hardly anything in the online realm that is impossible, you just need to know how to execute it well…
• A bit of planning goes a long way
Just as you would create a content calendar for your blog and social media posts, a content calendar and schedule should also be created for newsletters. Having defined how frequently they will be published, perhaps every fortnight/once a month, you need to put a calendar in place so that you have a clear idea about what you will include in each edition. Newsletters should contain useful information designed to educate or inform your readers, as well as unique insights into the company. This is your opportunity to share unique, compelling content that they can’t find elsewhere, so do not fear being personal and remember the key is to ‘give, give, give!’
• Create some editorial guidelines
If the thought of having to define the tone of voice and maintaining editorial standards sounds like a chore, you needn’t break into a sweat. There are plenty of useful resources online or you could look for advice from the mainstream media, including the BBC, who published its Editorial Guidelines for all to see. Many readers are turned off by inconsistencies in tone, poor spelling and grammar and inaccuracies in facts. If you use images, make sure they are copyright free or that you’ve credited the photographer correctly.
• Involve your readers
Personalising the emails you send, responding to any queries, sending follow-up emails to engage your audience (a golden rule for marketing) and including clear calls to action will all help to involve your readers and make them feel important. Inboxes get filled with spam, so make sure the newsletter is relevant to them, and don’t be afraid to include the odd promotion or offer – after all, it’s about creating something of value.
• Design is paramount
With more and more of us using our mobile devices to open emails, it’s important that you use a format which is compatible with a range of devices – otherwise you will end up frustrating your readers and potentially losing your hard-earned subscribers. Nowadays, there isn’t a significant need to employ the services of a designer, nor is there any excuse for putting together poorly designed templates, thanks to various online tools. You could try Mailchimp for example, which enables users to design and send email newsletters with ease.
• Make your email stand out in the crowd
Just like the importance of an attention-grabbing headline on the newsstands, or an eye-catching design on a book cover; the subject line needs to entice or persuade the recipient to find out more – without being too vague or misleading. And as a general rule, shorter more succinct subject lines are best, of 50 characters or less. Just as we have found with social posting, evenings and lunchtimes could prove to be the best times to ‘hit send’, so that you get a better email ‘open rate.’
If you keep in mind the above pointers, there should be little reason for newsletters to be forgotten, provided they are incorporated into the whole marketing mix. After all, we would rarely advise our clients to be on just one social media platform – you need to be seen and heard, and newsletters are still one method in which you can tailor quality content to your chosen audience.