What makes you willing to open an email?
I mean, we all get so many email messages…what would make one message stand out enough for you to click on it to see what’s inside?
Generally speaking, the email has to deliver enough VALUE to be worth your time. It should be worth the time to both open it and read through the contents. Email newsletters, where a business communicates regularly with current and past customers, as well as prospects, provide an opportunity to inform as well as build the brand of the business. They build relationships that serve as the foundation for business and referrals to others.
So how do you create an email newsletter that people will open?
Step one: plan your email content
When we start working on a monthly email newsletter for a client, inevitably the first question they ask is “What will we include in the email?”.
The best response to that question is “What is important to the recipients of your email?”.
The more you know about the type of content your recipients will value, the easier it will be to plan for that content. Are they looking for free advice or quick tips on how to do something themselves? Do they want to hear the latest news or research on the products/services you provide? Having information on-hand about your client’s needs/pain points/information consumption will make this task easier.
We work with our clients to divide their emails into sections dedicated to specific types of content each month. Typically, this is no more than three to five sections. Examples of what we do for other clients include:
- Short form, quick advice – often a bulleted list
- Blog share
- Off-site, relevant article share
- Customer testimonial
- Product/staff spotlight
- Event information
- Recommended tool, website, software – something to make their life easier or better
Step two: create your email content
Once we’ve selected the sections for the email, we get to work creating the content. Original content must be written in a way that engages the reader. The writing style should reflect the “voice” of the business brand, with the appropriate tone, language and level of personalization. If you’ve done a content marketing plan with us, you’ll already know what to do. If not, you’ll need to take some time to think through word and phrasing choices before anything is written.
For off-site articles or videos, be sure to provide your own perspective or opinion (why you think the content has value); then share the link. We never recommend using full names in testimonials – first name and last initial or last name and first initial work fine. And getting permission to use the testimonials is generally a good idea.
When using images, make sure you create links to the relevant websites behind them. Readers are used to being able to click an image and go to a corresponding website.
Step three: craft a strong subject line
This has to be one of the most underrated aspects of creating a value-added email newsletter. Some experts suggest that you should spend as much time working on your subject line as you do the content within the email!
According to a study by Convince & Convert, 33% of recipients open emails based on the subject line alone. We find that when we spend time crafting a really engaging subject line, we end up with open rates much higher than the industry benchmarks. We’ve even had open rates top 50% for some clients!
Where should you start? Look at your content and see which major category of subject line fits best:
- Avoidance of “pain” or problem – these subject lines carry a threat or warning that something negative could happen if you don’t take action. Example: The Sooner You Understand On-page SEO the Better.
- Social proof – these subject lines rely on the reader being influenced by the experience of others. Example: The Success Strategies That This Year’s Gold Medalists are Talking About.
- Benefit with a promise – these subject lines show the reader what they will gain from your valuable content. Example: You Too Can Grow Your Hair in 6 Weeks With This Hair Tonic.
One thing that you can do to test out subject lines is split your mail list into two groups and use two different subject lines…then compare to see which one got a higher open rate.
Step four: incorporate your calls-to-action
While providing valuable content in itself is great for your reader, you obviously want your emails to lead to some additional step or call-to-action that involves the reader contacting you. Consider possible options and make sure you are clearly reminding people to contact you for a consultation, schedule an appointment, call for more information, sign up for a service offering, etc.
Step five: housekeeping
Finally, every email should include social share buttons and links to your website. Make sure readers can connect with you. Review your email and make sure that all of your links are accurate and check for grammar and spelling issues before you hit send. Nothing kills credibility like an email containing typos!
Email newsletters are an integral part of a content-oriented marketing approach. You can create an email newsletter that people will open, with time and practice. As always, if you need assistance with this, we are here to help.