Sending out a newsletter may not be a revolutionary idea but it is an important part of your PR strategy! Keeping your visitors and customers updated on news and exciting topics is a great way to build loyalty to your brand.
In the second part of our mini-series “Everyone can do PR!” (following up our post about how to develop a social media strategy), we give you some valuable tips for creating an email newsletter that will keep your visitors coming back for more.
The benefits of a newsletter
There are a lot of arguments in favor of an email newsletter. Here are the key benefits at a glance:
- Low cost: Thanks to its digital form, an email newsletter is financially much cheaper than a printed paper version and the subsequent mailing.
- Short-term implementation: If the mailing has to be sent on a specific date, you need much less time to prepare for it than with a print version. Even a spontaneous newsletter is possible.
- No middleman necessary: You can direct the recipients of your newsletter straight to your website or your online store via a link. This means you can immediately track the success of your campaign with visitor and sales statistics!
- Easy accessibility: Because many people read their emails on their smartphone, you can contact them almost always and anywhere with your newsletter.
Sounds great, right? However, there is a small catch. Most people get a lot of advertising emails day after day, most of which they aren’t reading (as you may know from experience). So your newsletter can easily get lost in the flood of news. You can avoid this though with just a little planning and attention to some content-related criteria. We’ve put together the most important points to be aware of.
Phase 1: Organization and planning
Your newsletter should make recipients think of you in a positive way and hopefully give you (more) orders or sales. You may also want to generate new contacts and arouse interest in your industry. Whatever your goals are, it’s best to create a strategic plan for your newsletter and avoid being impulsive.
- Create a recipient list
It’s best to start by gathering the data of the users you want to reach in a spreadsheet. If everyone has the same interests and needs in relation to your campaign, you can come up with a list. Maybe there are also long-standing customers, as well as new prospects?
Or do some always buy product A and the others mostly book service B? Then you already have several target groups that you can mark on your mailing list in order to tailor the topics. Next step is the dispatch of your newsletter and administration of your recipients. We recommend tools such as MailChimp or CleverReach. Be aware that any provider you use should meet the GDPR regulations that come into force in May.
- Determine the frequency of publication
Ask yourself, how often do you read (and more importantly) enjoy reading a newsletter you’ve subscribed to? When’s the worst timing for you? Put yourself in the position of the receiver and think about how often you even get a good newsletter. Twice a year can be enough if a monthly newsletter doesn’t fit into your schedule right now. It’s also helpful to outline your topics in advance.
- Get the timing right
Before setting the date and time for your newsletter, think about when most of your recipients read their emails. Keep in mind that many emails accumulate over the weekend which increases the risk that your newsletter is simply deleted to make way for more urgent emails. Many people check their inbox before going to work, for example at breakfast or during their commute. For them, a newsletter in the morning between 8 and 10 o’clock has the best chance of being read. During the lunch break doesn’t work for many and from 5pm most of us just want to check off only the most important to-dos and go home. There is no magic recipe for the best time to send your newsletter. Just experiment a bit and evaluate the reactions of the recipients.
- Check the signature/footer and registration form
Find out what additional information you need in your newsletter to be on the safe side (legally). We can’t offer you legal advice but there’s plenty of resources online or contact details for Legal professionals to help. Every business email requires specific mandatory information (depending on your industry and business model).
So be sure to check the subscription to your newsletter is legally compliant (i.e. how customers subscribe to your newsletter) and to whom you can send your newsletter as a promotional email. We recommend consulting an expert for specifics and tailored information for your business.
Ideas and inspiration for your newsletter
Don’t know what to write about in your newsletter? Don’t worry, there are more than enough topics—you just have to find them. Here are some suggestions:
Do you have a new product, collection or seasonal sale in the shop? Let people know!
- Give readers a look behind the scenes and present your company history or individual employees so they get to know you better and know you’re not just any one of a thousand companies.
- Maintain your network and talk to customers—this is how you find out what your target group is currently interested in.
- Were you recently at a fair? Keep your readers and customers updated with exciting insider news about your industry.
- Browse through magazines and other newsletters maybe you’ll find topics that are interesting to your community or that you can offer a new spin on.
- Start a join-in campaign or send a coupon code with your newsletter to create some buzz.
Phase 2: Layout and content
Like your website, your newsletter should be readable on a desktop, smartphone or tablet and look beautiful. The appropriate formatting isn’t entirely without professional (but sometimes paid) help from email marketing tools like MailChimp, Newsletter2Go or CleverReach. It’s also important to structure your newsletter in a way that arouses interest and curiosity among your readers.
Writing to each recipient by name is simply nicer and better received by readers. But you do have to build your distribution list accordingly with a salutation, first and last name. If this is too time-consuming, you can try an alternative solution, like “Dear Friend of Mediterranean Cuisine”.
Subject line and teaser
The subject line is crucial to whether the recipient opens your email at all. It’s best to keep it as short and sweet as possible. Make sure your reader knows exactly what to expect. A short teaser text after the salutation briefly introduces the content they can expect. Don’t summarize everything but highlight just enough to wet the reader’s appetite.
Prepare your content in a concise and understandable way. Try to keep a clear structure and build in the appropriate informative links or CTA’s (calls-to-action), for example: “Click here if you want to learn more about Workshop XY!” Not sure which topics are most suited to your readers? Then just send two different versions and evaluate the respective clicks afterward. Newsletter tools (such as those mentioned above) all offer a variety of analysis options.
The email format isn’t the best platform for an appealing visual presentation, so in your newsletter, it’s best to use pictures sparingly. Even if you announce an exhibition, for example, you better pick up just one or two motifs and then link to your website. Also, remember to always check the image rights! You can always play it safe with free, high-quality images from sites such as Fotolia and Pixabay that can be used commercially.
Phase 3: Analysis and evaluation
Hooray, your newsletter has been sent! Now, of course, you want to know who opened your email and how often each link is clicked on. Unfortunately, you only receive this information from professional mailing portals, not the usual e-mail programs. However, these evaluations provide important insights for future planning, so they’re an investment that can quickly pay off. Just be sure to check with a legal expert what data you can evaluate and use to stay legally compliant.
Apart from that, you’re free to try out different types of content and check the reactions of your readers. Try not to take it personally if recipients aren’t reading your newsletter straight away. It does take some trial and error. Always remember how you yourself deal with the newsletters in your mailbox. Do you always read them straight away? And if you delete them, does it mean that you’re not interested in the sender at all? Over time, you’ll develop a sense of how your target audience reacts and can design your newsletters accordingly. Now get started!
Have you ever sent a newsletter? What do you find to be the main challenges? We look forward to your reviews in the comments!