Thursday July 26, 2018

Tips and Tools for Launching Your First Email Newsletter

Tips and Tools for Launching Your First Email Newsletter

Whether you’re a freelancer looking to register with new clients or a B2B business promoting your services, an email newsletter is a powerful tactic that can help your business in the long run. 

If you’re ready to start a newsletter, here are a few pointers to get yours running.

Get Permission

Building your email contact list is an uphill battle that takes years of strategic initiatives to develop. While it may be tantalizing to purchase or rent an email list, it’s not sustainable

Pro Tip: do NOT send your emails to people who didn’t sign up to receive them.

Ultimately, you’re not doing your brand any favors by spamming strangers. Most email providers have prioritized spam-catching software to recognize unsolicited messages, and unexpecting readers will likely unsubscribe anyway, which will result in penalties from your email distribution software. Last but not least, you’ll also skew your data and be unable to determine if your efforts were successful or not.

So how do you organically get newsletter subscribers? Create quality content that appeals to their interests. 

Let’s say I have a YouTube channel where I teach magic tricks (but like, cool ones). If I create a video illustrating how to master the French Drop Coin Vanish, I can use it in several ways to build my email list:

  • List it as a piece of gated content
  • Offer it as incentive to people who sign up for my newsletter
  • Share it as a paid social media campaign to attract new subscribers

And ta-da, a single piece of content can be repurposed in three ways to collect subscribers for my email list. For other ideas, here are 40 ways to build a sustainable email list.

Segment Your Contacts 

No matter what stage of the sales funnel your contacts are in, the one thing they have in common is they don’t want to feel like they are being fed into your profit machine. Your customers’ needs are all different, thus the content they want from you is different as well.

Segmenting your email list is the process of separating your contacts into groups that share an interest. The more specific you can be, the more personalized you can make your content. This is the first step toward creating and sharing personalized content.

Begin segmenting your email list by:

  • Contact’s stage in your sales funnel
  • The industry they work in
  • Contact’s geography
  • What pages of your site they interact with
  • New contacts
  • Subscriber preferences for types of content they want
  • Open rate and reply rate

Remember, your audience went through the hassle of giving you their email address, the least you can do is send them content that actually aligns with their interests. 

Design Your Newsletter 

Your newsletter needs to exemplify your brand as best it can. We’ve previously written about free tools to take you from design to hitting send, but if you’re not sure where to start, think of your audience.

For a B2B email, it’s okay to include more text than images, but according to HubSpot, 65% of B2C readers prefer emails that contain mostly images. Regardless of your industry, your content should be easily consumable and well written.

If you’re writing to consumers, chances are good they’ll be reading your newsletter on a mobile platform, so start by creating something that uses a lot of images and can be scrolled through easily to retain your audience. For business emails, be respectful of your readers’ time and speak directly to them as a decision-maker.

For inspiration on the type of content, images and language that the pro’s think favorably of, check out reallygoodemails.com. There are filters for newsletters, opt-in campaigns, B2B and everything else to help inspire your creative chops.

Personalize Your Emails 

In order to combat your readers’ crowded inboxes, you need to take a personalized approach. Most email software platforms like HubSpot or MailChimp will let you insert personalization tokens that pull personal contact information from your email list and apply it to your mass emails.

This includes information like a contact’s first or last name, the company they work for or their location — all of which will help you create a unique and personal experience.

Personalized email message improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%, so there’s no reason to skimp on it. If you’re new to using these tools, read this article for a crash course in personalizing your marketing materials.

Crafting a Killer Subject Line

You’ve done all the hard work of building your audience and designing your newsletter and now you’re ready to try your hand at copywriting — the skillset that can make or break a business.

According to Convince and Convert, 69% of recipients report email as Spam based solely on the subject line.

The truth is, there’s nothing to be afraid of. If your audience has already opted into your emails, they WANT to hear from you. So just be yourself — as long as you remember that your newsletter isn’t just about you, it’s about what clients want from you.

From that mindset, the subject line of your email isn’t some impossible-to-solve puzzle — it’s just a matter of prioritizing the contents of your email and determining which has the most value to your readers.

For help generating succinct and impactful headlines, try subjectline.com.

Call-to-Action

Buckle up, this is the good part. For the uninitiated, a call-to-action (CTA) is a tool you use to motivate readers to perform a certain action, such as clicking a link, completing a form or downloading a document.

You need to give readers something to incentivize action on their part. Typically, that means giving them content or advice that advances their interests and ties into your products or services.

For instance, if you work for a grocery store, you could give out a free recipe guide or coupon book pertaining to items from your store, or even share the schedule of a local cooking class to pique their interests. 

Some best practices to keep in mind when creating a CTA:

  • The language of your call-to-action needs to mirror your offer. If the newsletter subject line says, “Your Guide to Summer Veggies” your CTA should then probably read something like, “Download Your Guide to Summer Veggies”
  • Keep it simple. Your email should only contain one call-to-action. If you muddy the waters, you’re distracting the reader with too many options. Your newsletter will likely contain several links to articles you’ve created, but your end goal is to convert leads.

When Should You Send? 

There’s a lot of debate in the marketing industry about when to send an email to maximize your open-rates. As a matter of fact, here’s a roundup of 10 email distribution platforms who all have different opinions on the best time to send. 

The data shows us that the most open-rates occur on Tuesdays between 10-11am. However, the same data shows that Tuesdays have the highest unsubscribe rates, so perhaps the data isn’t based off of completely optimized email campaigns.

In general, use your best judgement and send your newsletter when you know people will have the free time to read it. I’ve found that sending emails early (we’re talking pre-sunrise) in the morning improves click-through rates because audiences have a few minutes to spare after waking up.

Do your research and after you send your first email, experiment with your send times until you’ve found an open-rate you’re happy with. Remember, it’s about knowing your audience.

An email newsletter may feel like a daunting task, but as long as you produce and distribute content that benefits your readers, you’ll soon see leads to nurture in your sales pipeline.

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