When it comes to online marketing, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s all about social media these days. While platforms like Instagram or Facebook are great for branding and creating an online identity, they are not necessarily the best way to get people to actually buy your product.
My colleagues and I have seen (and tested) it all when it comes to email marketing tools, and we think it’s one of the best ways for small businesses to cultivate ongoing and productive relationships with their customers.
Read on for more about what makes a good newsletter, the tools that can help you create one, and how to integrate it with your Jimdo website.
Email marketing might not be as trendy as social media, but here are a few reasons why you should consider it:
- Longevity. Some platforms can change and become irrelevant. Remember the fate of MySpace? Is Twitter still as important as it used to be? Emails continue to be the best way to get in touch with everyone.
- Control of information. In the case of Facebook, you don’t have full access to your customer’s details. Moreover, the company is always devising new ways to make you pay for advertising.
- Flexibility. When you have your list of emails, you can bring them to different newsletter services without any problems.
- Better response rate. Research shows that the outreach power of organic Facebook posts is in stiff decline. Email marketing is still the best way to make sure people really read your words and click your links.
- Ease of use. With your own website, it’s extremely easy to start collecting email addresses for your campaigns. There are even excellent newsletter services you can use for free.
What makes a good newsletter?
Now for the harder part: what actually makes a good newsletter? You probably receive a few newsletters yourself every day. This makes it easy to see a pattern in whether you open them or not, as you will ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I trust the sender?
- Is the content relevant?
- Am I getting just enough emails and not getting spammed?
If you answer yes to all three, you will have guessed what makes a good newsletter: they bring value to your day.
As a counter example, it’s interesting to look at the case of Groupon. The company used to send emails targeting a specific city with one special deal per day. It may still seem like a lot, but they often contained some real gems. However, when they started including multiple offers and ramped up the amount of emails they sent each day, many people unsubscribed from the service. Their sending frequency was just too high, saturating people with far too many irrelevant deals.
Set the right expectations
Before you even begin sending emails, it’s important to get the addresses. And one great way to ensure your clients or customers sign up is to give them realistic expectations of what the newsletter will be used for:
- Tell people what they are going to receive
- How often they’ll get it
- That they can unsubscribe at any time
Don’t just show people a sign-up box for “your monthly newsletter”. You have to make it interesting. One side note: another good idea is to offer them something for their signup, like an ebook, a checklist or a special blog post with extra tips. This can be seamlessly integrated into the signup process.
Building a relationship through emails
The best newsletters I receive usually come from bloggers. Here’s what they often do right:
- They have a very personal way of writing.
- They encourage me to reply to the email and ask questions (something big companies just don’t do).
- They are rarely sales-y in the newsletter but build up trust instead. The sale happens when this trust is established and they come to mind for a certain product or service.
- Usually, there is only one or two call to actions at the most. If you add too many links, the attention gets spread too thin.
- When there is nothing relevant to tell, they don’t send the newsletter.
Luckily, most Jimdo users are small businesses and have strong personal relationships with their clients and customers. That’s a huge advantage that you should use!
Tailoring the format
Another thing the best email senders do is make use of text-based emails with a limited amount of images (plain-text emails come across as more personal). However, you should also be aware of the fact that people only scan the texts. It’s, therefore, important to structure your content into blocks that are easy to digest and to focus on what’s really essential. Here’s an example:
The good news is that if you use an email service (more on that below), you’ll be able to make use of email templates that are proven to have effective results.
Relevance is such a hard metric to measure because it’s so subjective. When you send an email, what is relevant for you might not be for your customers and vice versa. One good way to ensure you target the right people is to use segmented newsletters.
Let’s say you are a financial services consultant. Since there are different types of private investors (conservative, moderate and speculative) it wouldn’t make sense to send speculative investments to people who don’t like risk. Hence, in your database, you need to label each of your clients accordingly and use it to segment your newsletters.
If you are collecting subscribers through your website, you can even let them choose their interest. A simple dropdown field in the sign-up form will do the job:
This is the signup form we use on WebsiteToolTester.com to gather email addresses from people interested in website creation. Filtering by interest helps us ensure we target the right people and reduce churn (people not opening the emails at all).
Choosing the best newsletter tool
Jimdo generally recommends MailChimp as it’s beginner-friendly, fun, and features a powerful free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. A pretty sweet deal.
It supports all the standard features like a confirmed (double-opt-in) process, unsubscriber management and automatic removal of bounces. Their template editor is one of the best in its class.
Of course, there are other good newsletter services too. At EmailToolTester, you can learn more about them and compare them with each other. A few others we like areSendInBlue, CleverReach, and MailerLite. They all support multiple languages, which makes them attractive for non-US based users, and also offer free plans to get started.
Here’s what you should generally look for when choosing a tool:
- Automated subscriber management (for sign-ups and unsubscribes)
- A newsletter tool that allows both HTML and Plain-Text emails
- Modern templates that are customizable
- Detailed open- and click-rate reporting
- Optional: Autoresponder feature (i.e. the possibility to schedule a pre-defined series of emails that each new subscriber receives)
How to add a newsletter sign-up form to a Jimdo website
Adding a sign-up form on your Jimdo website is very simple. Once you’ve set up your account at your newsletter tool’s website, it’s as easy as copying and pasting the code they provide into a Widget/HTML Element on your Jimdo site.
Here’s a more complete tutorial that explains how to add a MailChimp form to your Jimdo website, but the logic applies to other newsletter services as well.
While a signup form on your website can work perfectly, there is an even more effective way: the pop-up. People love it and hate it but the fact of the matter is that it can work tremendously well. You can learn all about how to add it to your Jimdo site (and how to do it right so you won’t annoy your visitors).
Is email marketing the only tool you’ll need?
When you look at the effectiveness of email marketing and what it brings to the table, it can really offer everything you need:
- A sure way to deliver your message
- The opportunity to create leads and sales
- The ability to collect data to improve your campaigns (click rate, A/B testing, conversion rate, etc…)
As you’ve hopefully seen with the above guide, it doesn’t cost much to get started or to do it right, and the results can be hugely beneficial for you and your business in the long term.
This article was written by Robert Brandl from EmailToolTester.com, a website that helps beginners create their own newsletters and email campaigns.