May 6, 2016

 

How to Create an Email Newsletter

My hope is that the past marketing newsletters have got your “marketing” wheels turning. Many of you have already thought about creating an email newsletter. You’ve probably sat around the conference room brainstorming how to better engage your community and how to stay on top of people’s minds. Someone probably thought, “an email newsletter”, can solve all these problems at once!

Now that you’ve “volunteered” to do it, you have no idea where to even begin. Or… you might be thinking it’s time to rejuvenate an old one. Below are 10 tips you need to make sure you do.

10 Tips for Creating an E-Newsletter

Step 1:
Do you even need an email newsletter?

Everyone can probably agree that if an email newsletter isn’t right for your marketing, you shouldn’t waste your time working on one. Before you even begin, you must first do some research. Some of you may have subscribed to email newsletters personally but not for your districts (outside of the VASWCD emails). Personally and in your industry, are there successful email newsletters that you like to subscribe to? What’s in them? With the resources you have available…budget, time, audience… would a newsletter be successful?

If your industry isn’t really interested in email newsletters, or your goals don’t line up with what a newsletter will accomplish, your time might be better spent on something else, like getting consistent with your social media or content for a blog. But let’s say you’ve found that you should do an email newsletter. What next?

Step 2:
Figure out what kind of online newsletter you want to send.

Email, whether it’s a newsletter or not, needs one common thread to hold it together. One way to help reduce the randomness of an email is by keeping it to one specific topic. Check out the How to Write a Marketing Email: 10 Tips for Writing Compelling Email Copy tool.
 

Step 3:
Balance your content to be 90% educational and 10% promotional.

We’ve all intentionally or unintentionally subscribed to the company’s email list that sends you those “Buy…” “Sale…” “BOGO…” emails 2-3 times a day. And when you see their email pop up in your inbox, you roll your eyes and automatically delete it without even reading the subject line.
In your emails, get rid of the self-promotion and focus on sending your subscribers education, relevant, timely information. Unless you actually have an exciting piece of news about your district, leave out the promotional parts.
 

Step 4:
Figure out your newsletter’s goal.

Before you start drafting a single word, make sure you are fully aware of your newsletter’s goal and how it fits into you content strategy. Your newsletter goal’s metric should be something beside opens and clicks…it should be more closely tied with your overall marketing goals.
 

Step 5:
Get creative with email subject lines.

Even if your subscribers sign up for your emails, there’s no guarantee that they will open your emails once they get them in their inbox. Subject lines need to have an incentive to click that specific email. Below is a great example of catchy email subjects from Thrillist. Need help with your email subject lines? Check out the The 6-Step Secret Sauce for Awesome Email Subject Lines tool.

Thrillist_Example
 

Step 6:
Keep design and copy minimal

Because of the nature of a newsletter, they can easily feel cluttered. The trick to declutter an email revolves around 2 things: concise copy and enough white space in the design. Concise copy is key. Your copy should give people a taste of your content and then send them elsewhere (like your website or blog).

Your template doesn’t have to be flashy, even newsletters with minimal text and coloring look great. Make sure your email is mobile friendly too (51% of all opens occur on mobile devices). Make sure your template has a fair amount of white space. White space helps visually alleviate the cluttered feel. Many email services have pre-made templates for those not comfortable with designing emails.
 

Step 7:
Make it easy for people to unsubscribe.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s key if you want an engaged subscriber list. Don’t use weird language and don’t make it awkward by having people state why they’re leaving. Make the link to unsubscribe bolded and capitalized, making it easy for people to take action. Don’t make people have to hunt or click through multiple steps to unsubscribe.
 

Step 8:
Pick one primary call-to-action

Part of what makes a newsletter a newsletter is that you’re featuring multiple pieces of content with multiple calls-to-action (CTA). But that doesn’t mean you should let those CTAs have equal rank. There should but just one main CTA that you would like your subscribers to do, the rest should be “in-case-you-have-time” options. Make it super simple for your subscribers to know what you want them to do.
 

Step 9:
Test different browsers and email providers

Email providers don’t all read email code the same way. What looks fine in Gmail might look terrible in Outlook. So you need to test out emails in the most popular browsers and email providers. Many email marketing platforms such as MailChimp or Constant Contact have the ability to alter your email to look best on any email provider or browser. Don’t forget to check how the email looks on all mobile devices.
 

Step 10:
Analyze and 
iterate

Fast-forward a few days: How well did your email do? If you are using a email marketing platform, many will show you your email’s data within the first 24 hours. How did the email perform on the goals you set? Which part of the email got the most clicks? Whether your next send is in a day, a week, a month, a quarter, you’ll have insights to make the next newsletter even better.

Questions & Comments

We want you to know that the PR/Marketing Committee is here to help YOU. Please don’t be shy, we love “stupid” questions!

Have an idea, suggestion, or comment? Reach out to us! We’re always looking for feedback on how we can be better and make marketing easier for you.

Email the VASWCD staff or the marketing committee at marketing@vaswcd.org or contact committee chairman Derwin Booker. And as always, your VASWCD office is always willing to help!

Copyright © 2015 VASWCD, All rights reserved.

 

 

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