Creating an email newsletter and sending it to your entire contact list seems like an easy enough marketing strategy for many in the business world. But to really connect with clients, you have to engage, which is often more difficult. If you have an email marketing system established, that’s a start. You may think that your occasional email is plenty; after all, you’ve got your hands full running your business and helping clients. But email marketing doesn’t do well with a “set it and forget it” attitude. Like a plant, it requires a little regular attention for optimal growth.
We hear it from clients all the time. You’re an expert in your industry, and you don’t have time to delve into the ins and outs of email marketing. That’s why we’re here! Whether you use our expert marketers to create automated targeted marketing newsletters or you tackle it yourself, there are a few best practices that are known to boost engagement across email marketing in industries across the board.
Here are five tips, based on our methods, that can help make your email marketing newsletters useful and engaging:
1. Stick to a Well-Organized Template
As creatures of habit, people get used to something they routinely see. If you send your contact list a familiar email template each time, clients will learn how to quickly scan the content and pick out what’s useful to them. If you get too creative and vary it up constantly, they may have to work harder to read what’s intended to be a simple, digestible message.
This doesn’t mean that your emails need to be boring, but a consistent theme is key. Using a quality email template keeps content organized and your audience interested.
2. Craft Quality Subject Lines
Subject lines are essentially first impressions, particularly when 43 percent of email recipients report that they decide whether to open an email based on the subject line alone. This one small piece of an email newsletter immediately sets a tone with the topic you choose and the words you use. And the subject line’s length matters too.
There are several best practices for writing click-worthy subject lines. These include creating intrigue without giving away the whole email and not misleading your reader about the content. Be informative and to the point, but try your best to keep it under eight words to keep it readable in desktop and mobile inboxes.
Get a strong grasp on this aspect of email marketing and you just might see that increase in open rates you’ve been aiming for!
3. Be Interesting
It’s not necessary to hit your clients over the head with your expertise and services in each and every email newsletter. Most on your contact list know what professional services you provide, and they will hopefully come to you in the future when they have a need.
Instead, provide useful, informative content that’s adjacent to your work without specifically promoting yourself or your services. Real estate agents or loan officers can touch on home improvement or design topics while auto repair shops can discuss maintenance tips or road trip ideas. Have fun with this, but always maintain a thread of connection to your industry.
4. Make Calls to Action (CTAs) Easy to Find
Clear CTAs in email newsletters make it easy for readers to know what you want them to do. Short and sweet instructions that encourage specific engagement do well with readers (as long as they understand how it relates to the content of the email), so suggest they “learn more” about the point you just made or “register now” for the webinar you mentioned.
In the email newsletters we send, the design is predominantly focused on presenting the content so it’s interesting and easy for readers to digest, but calls to action are also highly visible. These keep the content shareable by design, in case a recipient wants to send a referral your way:
Referrals from past customers are one of your best methods for gaining new ones. If you’re not actively seeking out referrals, you definitely should be. Here are some tips to get you started. If that seems like a lot of work, keep in mind that getting a referral channel set up for our customers is one of the many things OutboundEngine does for you!
5. Remember That Timing Is Everything
When you send your email matters. You may have an idea of what’s best for your clients, but that’s only a guess until the stats confirm it.
Every month, take a look at your email marketing statistics to ensure everything is running optimally. For example, if you regularly send your emails out on a Saturday morning and see low open rates, reconsider your send date and time.
Think about your target demographic’s lifestyle when determining the best timing for email marketing. Maybe your particular audience doesn’t read emails on weekend mornings, so a weekday afternoon or evening might work best. You can’t put your best foot forward without regular monitoring and necessary tweaking of your email marketing.
Whether you’re just beginning to establish an email marketing strategy, or you’re simply adjusting your current one for greater success, boosting engagement is a common goal. Honing in on a few key points, like utilizing a consistent template, smart subject lines and clear calls to action, can focus your efforts and lead to greater involvement from your contact list.
What other best practices have you found to be successful in your email marketing newsletters? Let us know in the comments below. And if you find yourself overwhelmed by email marketing or you’re just lacking time, let our experienced marketing team tackle it for you.
Our Email Marketing Roadmap is the go-to resource for in-depth info regarding best practices, mistakes to avoid, measurement tools and more!
Updated on 11/12/15; originally published 1/16/14.