Creating Your Email Newsletter
You’re ready to go, you’ve decided you want to do an email newsletter. You’ve spent sometime gathering some addresses what do you do next?
Service: – Create your email. e-darts here are a number of ways to do this. If you are on a very small budget or just starting out you can simply use your own email, outlook, hotmail, or yahoo will all work fine. Paste your contact emails, draft a short message and hit send.
Outlook users can also do what’s called a mail merge – and if you’ve setup your email list through an excel document you can merge appropriate fields for a more personalized message.
If you’re looking for something more advanced, maybe something that is designed to look like a newsletter with your logo, you can play around with the tools the above services offer or move to a complete email newsletter service.
Personally, I am a proponent of Constant Contact. We’ve been working with the service for years. It is very easy to use and customize and you pay per contacts – not per number of emails sent. That might not work for all companies, but if you have a 5000+ list of contacts and you send a message out twice a week, the number of emails sent quickly adds up.
If you are looking to create a more advanced look, with accurate tracking I highly recommend investing in one of these services.
Etiquette – Your email should be polite, but laid back. Speak to your audience in the 2nd person, it takes a while, but the affect is tremendous. In the end you know you’re audience best – write your email for them. What works for a crazy online tee shirt company might not work for a financial advisor.
Subject Line – Make sure your subject line pertains to the body of your email but, be creative and inventive. Experiment with different ways to say what it is you’ve created. You need people to see your name, see your subject line, and want to click.
Design – Whether you use one of the above email newseltter services or just your plain email keep design in mind. You might not need a logo, fancy colors, or cool effects, but direct your audiences eye with bold text, bullet points, colors, etc. And make it as simple as possible. Email inboxes are getting more and more cluttered and people have little or no time to actually read. Quickly direct them to the most important points.
Content – Much like design, make your content short. Typically a paragraph works, but a few sentences is better. Time and time again in doing usability and optimization tests with clients emails that are short and simple perform the best. Additionally your email needs to include a call to action. Whether its drop dead simple – a big button asking your audience to donate – or included in the body of the text give your readers a next step. Do you want them to click, to call, etc. and whatever that goal is, make sure they can reach it quickly and simply.
When sending your emails there are two primary things to remember, send at the right time, and send to the right audience.
We discussed divvying your list up into different groups or lists. As you acquire the emails, break them out as best you can. That way, when sending emails you can send specific, targeted messages, to those particular groups. We’ve even gone so far as to create groups for certain events we’ve attended. That way we can send a message just to those people we’ve met – or perhaps a special promotion.
Timing is everything and email newsletters are no different. A message sent at 5:30 pm on a Friday will not usually be as effective as a one sent on a Wednesday at 2pm. Much like the crafting of your content, keep your audience’s habits in mind. Do they check their email at 5am in the morning? Do they have busy work days involving lots of email? Overall we’ve found that email send in the middle of the week has last chance of getting bundled in with the end of the work week mess or the overflow that seems to pour in on Mondays. Time of day is also important. All audiences are different but if you are seeking professionals we’ve found mid afternoon is great. Most people have already sifted through their inbox mess and when your email pops up in the lower right hand corner of their screen it is a wonderful distraction.
Tracking Your Emails
Depending on what service you use to send your email tracking may be difficult or simple. This is another reason why we love the email newsletter services as they allow for easy, almost creepy, tracking. You can view email-over-email who clicked on what and when. As you continue to send out emails you may start to notice that a certain time works better or certain words in your subject line leads to better open rates.
As you do track your emails begin to experiment and refine. Overtime with slow tweaks you can have a highly opened email that almost everyone reads.
Inspired by my recent trip to the Entrepreneurs Law School at FGCU I decided to throw in a little bit about the legalities surrounding email. Basically you can send email to anyone, at any address, no matter where or how you got that address as long as these basic requirements are met:
Use a non-elusive subjectline
Allow people to unsubscribe
Feature your company information (name, address, phone, etc.)