Isn’t it surprising that, in an age of instant news, AI and increasing automation the humble eNewsletter still persists as a staple of Marketing Communications ?

Newsletters have been around as long as printing – in fact historians believe the first recorded print newsletter appeared in 1538. And eNewsletters have been around as long as email – the late 1990s.

They may not be the trendiest of Marketing Tactics, but I believe eNewsletters just need a revamp to bring them into the modern age.

Here are my 6 steps to reinvent your eNewsletter…

Step 1: it starts with the strategy

Just like any other Marketing Tactic, you should be clear about what you are trying to do – i.e. Who are you trying to target, when you want to say it and what you want to say.

How you reach your target audience is another matter. So it’s important to separate the medium from the message.

Step 2: sort out your database

This may be really really obvious but to send out an eNewsletter you need – err – a database. Yet, all too often I have found that data quality can be a major problem.

In one of my email campaigns I was given a spreadsheet of 30,000 contacts – all it contained were email addresses… So we had no idea who these people were, whether or not they were the right target audience. And we didn’t know if we had their permission for us to contact them.

So, before you start your eNewsletter planning, get your data into shape. It’s always worth cleaning your data, even if it comes from your CRM system and Sales Teams. Remember that your customers will expect you to know their details. And, if you want to do any personalisation or targetting you’ll need information like firstname, Job title, company name etc…

There are a number of ways of cleaning your data, including:

  • Telephone your contacts
  • Self-cleaning – ask your contacts to confirm their information
  • Progressive profiling – use automation tools to request missing information

And the new GDPR regulation is a great method for cleaning data as well. The regulation is based on the German Double Option, in which works as follows..

  1. You ask someone for their permission to market to them – they fill out a form and provide an email address
  2. You send an email to them requesting them to confirm that they want to optin (hence the double optin)

In my experience the end result is that every email on your database has been confirmed as current and accurate.

Step 3: get creative – ditch “Sign up for our Newsletter”

When it comes to getting new contacts for your eNewsletter, then you have to be a bit creative. “Sign up for our Newsletter” is one of the least successful ways of gaining subscribers.

Designing effective Calls to Action is a special art and there’s lots of great advice available such as https://boagworld.com/design/10-techniques-for-an-effective-call-to-action/ .

It’s best to be a specific as possible, such as:

  • Focus on the value your call to action provides: e.g. register for insights into the world of XX
  • Address the user’s questions about the call to action
  • Have a small number of distinct calls to action
  • Use scarcity to encourage action: e.g. limited offers
google-sign-up
Great example of a sign up form from Google

 

Step 4: content is king / the importance of the contract

A very long time ago Permission Marketing was all the rage. The basic idea was that it was a reciprocal deal. I’ll give you my details If you tell me about stuff I’m interested in.

Nowadays the contract seems to be broken – I find a lot of digital content is one-way traffic based on your transactional or browsing behaviour.

Interestingly there are now signs that Permission Marketing could be on its way back..

“So in 2017, if you haven’t already done so, ditch the newsletter for an automated email series full of value, teaching your audience about something specific that they actually want to learn about.” Sumo 13 Email Marketing Trends to Follow in 2017: A Sumo-Sized Guide

So it’s worth taking the time to understand your target audience, and their interests. There are many studies that show that personalised content gets a much higher response rate than non-personalised.

Just – please – avoid the “one size fits all approach”

Step 5: timing is everything

The original print Newsletters were designed around print production schedules. Yet the design and concept of the vast majority of eNewsletters that I see have changed little from their print forefathers.

In a world of 24/7 instant news, does anyone actually sit by their phone or desktop eagerly anticipating your eNewsletter so they can get up to date with the latest information ?

But packaging content together does have value and I think there’s a lot to be learned from Media organisations.

For example take the BBC. They distribute their content via a multitude of channels: TV, web sites, Apps and Social Media. The key thing is that they have different types of content for different purposes, such as:

  • Breaking News alerts
  • Short articles
  • Long, in depth articles

Your content may be much simpler than the BBC, but you could still implement a hybrid approach to provide your audience with a range of content to interest and inform them. And, of course, like many Media companies you could even charge for premium content.

Step 6: expand your reach – think beyond email

It’s important to reach your audience WHERE they are. And this means you should not just rely on email, especially as,  according to the latest stats, most emails are now opened on mobile devices.  

mobile-email-june-2016-600w

 

So be careful not to design eNewsletters that look beautiful on the iMac Retina 4K displays used by your Marketing Department or Agency but which are not optimised for mobile devices.. 

71,6% of consumers will delete emails if they don’t look good on mobile, while an average of 10% will read it anyway. – Adestra “Consumer Adoption & Usage Study” (2016)

Finally don’t forget print. Print is a very powerful medium. It’s much more likely to reach its destination and more likely to be read.

In general, 80% of traditional mail is opened while 80% of emails is disregarded (just 20% is read). B2C Print

Final thoughts…take advantage of your key advantage

You know your audience and you could know their details & interests !

This is your key advantage. Use the information you have from CRM systems and other sources to create compelling content that is relevant and interesting to your audience.

So what could an eNewsletter look like in the digital age ? This is what I’d recommend..

  • Redesign your eNewsletter to make it short and sweet – like a Twitter feed
  • Send out information multiple times across multiple channels
  • Throw away the publication schedule – if you’ve got important information to get out to your audience, send it out ASAP
  • Use blogs for your news stories. That way you are not communicating key information you are building a knowledgebase (great for long term SEO)

This way your eNewsletter will be fit for modern age.

I’m a Freelance Marketing Consultant. Contact me to find out how I can help your transform your business for the digital world.

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