Small businesses are constantly searching for new ways to engage prospects and clients. One of the more effective ways of keeping in touch is through an email newsletter, but only if you do it correctly. Everyone is inundated with emails throughout the day, every day, so what does it take to make your email newsletter stand out and be something people actually want to read?  Here are a few tip on how to create an effective email newsletter.

1. Determine the goal of your email newsletter

One of my favorite guidelines when it comes to marketing in general is “start with the end in mind”. What exactly are you looking to accomplish with your newsletter?  Driving traffic to the site?  Positioning yourself as a subject matter expert? Alerting prospects and clients of a new service or product?  Upsell existing clients? Attracting more leads?  Generating more calls? Determine what you’re looking to accomplish and then ask yourself:  will this newsletter accomplish this?  If you’re unsure, DON’T send out the newsletter until you have a clear, measurable goal in mind

2. Do you really need an email newsletter?

newsletterMore is not necessarily better when it comes to marketing. Just because you can send out an email newsletter, it doesn’t mean you should. Do a little legwork before you launch an email newsletter. Are your competitors or others in your field having success with newsletters?  What are some of the attributes you see in the newsletters you actually read?  Like any kind of content marketing, you want your newsletter to be useful for the reader, not just repeating what you already say on your website or on your blog. Make sure it serves a purpose; otherwise you should spend your time and energy with other marketing efforts.

3. Put some time into the email subject line

Your newsletter will only be effective if people open it, so don’t go through the time and energy of creating an awesome newsletter, only to have a weak subject line like, “Our Latest Newsletter”. Boring!  Give people a reason to open it. Come up with creative, exciting subject lines.  If you need some inspiration for coming up with effective email subject lines, check out these articles:

4. Make your newsletter worth reading

If you’ve decided your newsletter serves a purpose, then make sure your readers feel the same way. One great guideline is to balance your newsletter content to be 90% educational and 10% promotional. Remember, you want your content to be useful. Cluttering up people’s inbox with a sales pitch will only give you one result:  a lot of unsubscribes from your list. And as they say, the money is in the list. Build up a great email list, and you’ll have a larger audience to engage. Send out useless information, and you’ve lost the opportunity to stay in front of prospects and clients.

5. Make your newsletter easy to read

People aren’t looking for novellas in their inbox. People consume information in small chunks.  If they open and email and are presented with volumes of text, they’ll likely close it to “read later” which means ultimately deleted.  Make it easy for people to skim the contents and absorb what they need.  Break information up. Bold section headers. Use bullets and numbers. Don’t be too wordy in your email. Your email is to share information and engage; send them to your website if you want to provide them with more in-depth information.

6. Use images to make your email more appealing

Making your newsletter visually appealing is very important, so find some good images to add to the newsletter. One important note on this: typically people won’t have images enabled, so you have to insure your images have alt text, the alternative text that appears when images aren’t loaded in an email. Otherwise they’re just another pretty picture in your newsletter.

measure analysis7. Measure the results of your newsletter

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. Building an email distribution list takes time, as does creating a newsletter. For all that time and effort, you should know if it’s effective, so measure the results. Constant Contact and Mailchimp both provide reports on open rates, click-throughs, etc. Take the time to actually read those reports and compare to industry standards. Getting good results?  Then keep going! Results not bad but not ideal?  Try some A/B testing to see if different subject lines, length of text or content impacts results. Results simply abysmal? Then stop and try something different. Not every marketing tactic works for everyone.

Learning how to create an effective newsletter isn’t difficult. Follow the suggestions above and you’ll see great results for your efforts. Good luck!

Patty Hughes
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