Jeanne Jennings: 3 Tips for Improving the Effectiveness of Your Email Newsletter
In case you missed it, using email newsletters to do content marketing is a thing. But not everyone is finding it to be effective. Many times the issue is the quality of the content. Here’s a brief overview of the situation along with 3 tips to help you elevate your content!
According to two reports published jointly by The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, one focused on B2B Content Marketing and the other on B2C Content Marketing, more than two-thirds of all marketers are using content marketing. The vast majority of them, more 80%, are using email newsletters as part of their content marketing strategy.
But here’s the rub…
Fewer than 40% feel that their content marketing is above average in effectiveness.
And roughly another 25% rated their content marketing as below average in effectiveness.
So how do you create an effective email newsletter, or make the email newsletter you have more effective?
Here are some tips.
- Keep the “Why” Front and Center
Too many organizations lose track of why they decided to publish an email newsletter in the first place – or they never really had a ‘why,’ other than ‘because I read that I should.’ There are so many great reasons (whys) for an email newsletter; they include:
- Keep your brand top of mind
- Showcase your industry knowledge
- Position your company as a leader/expert in the field
- Generate advertising revenue
- Generate qualified leads
- Sell products or services
This is by no means a complete list – and the items on it aren’t mutually exclusive. The key is to understand why your organization is publishing an email newsletter – and how it fits into your larger marketing program as well as the success plan for your business.
The “why” behind your email newsletter should drive the content that you use in it. If this content is a good match for the ‘why’ you’ll have a good chance of being success; if not, your odds of meeting your goals decrease. A lot.
Success with email newsletters isn’t just about hitting ‘send’ – it’s about the results of people interacting with the content.
Blog posts (not unlike this one) are very traditional types of content for email newsletters. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you aren’t a natural born writer it can be daunting to craft something like this. And even if you are, sometimes you need a little inspiration. Here are some hacks.
- Summarize a Webinar or Conference Session
- Comment on an Existing Work
This is another great way to kick-start your creative juices. The key here is to use the article, white paper or other content as a jumping off point for your own ‘take’ on the issue. For instance, you might cite an article like this which has 3 ideas for improving your email newsletter and then write about an additional 4th tip that occurred to you when you read it.
If you’re the controversial type you might even cite someone else’s article and then write about your own disagreements with it – the old “point – counterpoint” format, like a debate. Just be careful if you decide to go this route – while these types of exchanges can engage an audience, you can also turn people off by going negative on someone else.
- Survey Your Audience
For many people, the problem isn’t the writing - it’s finding a topic and being able to flesh it out in an organized fashion. So here’s the hack for that: attend a relevant webinar or conference session and write about it.
By using the speaker’s topic outline as your own and filling it in with your notes (and, if you can, your personal experiences and thoughts on some of the items covered) you can write a good article with much less time and effort than it would have taken without the hack. One caveat: always reference the webinar or session you attended, do give credit to the speaker and don’t reuse any visuals from their presentation without their written approval.
Surveying your subscribers has a lot of benefits – and one is that it will give you something to write about. I recommend asking one question in each email newsletter (that’s a content item!) and then writing an article about the results for a future issue (cha-ching! That’s 2 content items!).
Ask people about things relevant to your product or service – or about things related to the industry or the community as a whole. This information can also be used in your marketing efforts and to develop other content for your newsletter. For instance, if you find that your business reader’s biggest challenge is being engulfed with data but not knowing how to use it boost bottom line performance, you can write one article about the answers to that survey question – but you might be able to write a dozen or more additional content items offering practical solutions.
Too many times I find that organizations are publishing email newsletters without doing any tracking and reporting on things like conversions and revenue. Opens and clicks are rarely enough to really gauge success or failure. Be sure you have mechanisms in place to capture key performance indicators related to your goals. Things like leads generated, sales made, etc.
Typically, this involves more than just your email service provider (ESP) or marketing automation platform (MAP). You’ll need to integrate with your web analytics program, your CRM and other systems. But the effort will be worth it, since it will give you greater insight into the effectiveness of your email newsletters.
Give these ideas a try with your email newsletter and let me know how it goes!