So we’ve all thought about it, thought of a few ideas for it, debated a few times, researched into the likes of mailchimp and other mail shot providers and then been put off the price. But we’ve piled together the easy checklist for you to create your own email marketing shot through the likes of Publisher (which does indeed let you create your template and design the content to fit ready to be sent).
So eager to find out? Let’s get started:
1) Figure out your newsletter’s goal
Ask yourself – what is the point of doing an email newsletter? Am I really needing this? Will my customers or clients benefit from this?
Your newsletter or mailshot needs to fit into your overall marketing strategy otherwise let’s face it, it will go to waste.
Some of the more common goals for newsletter campaigns are the help generate leads, get more email contacts, convert leads into sales, increase site traffic and many more. So what is your goal?
2) Gather all content
Once a goal is set, you have to grab all the content you plan to dish out. The amount of content you need will of course depend on how often you plan to send out the newsletter. Obviously the more regularly the better but it has to be engaging each time and relevant. There’s something very unsatisfying about creating a mail shot that will only get deleted.
Decide if you will be actively gathering content or whether it will be passive. Active = you are going on the hunt for it and will let nothing stop you from getting what it is you wish to send out. Passive = you casually stumble across content and realise it will fit into the newsletter. Its happy days all round when that happens.
However – when finding content for future newsletters it’s always handy to bookmark the sites where you found it to save future hunts.
Before you even fill in the newsletter it’s always a good idea to have a pre-design ready so you can see exactly how much space you are working with. It’s always a hassle trying to fit in more content then your template can take and too often a messy and overcrowded template can put recipients off.
Your template doesn’t need to be flashy or having sparking glittery text on it, it just needs to convey exactly what it is you are trying to say. Newsletters with minimal design, text and colour can still look great (it makes it easier on the eyes too). The design of your newsletter is simply there as a visual aid for the user. It should be easy to read, scan and share. Don’t forget your newsletter should also be mobile friendly – everyone loves opening things on their smartphone purely for convenience, so make sure you take advantage of that.
4) Add in the body content
Now’s the magical moment. You need to pad out the template. Add in the text, the links, and the images and create the ideal layout. It won’t be perfect the first time around and you will always tweak it, but as long as everything links, follows through correctly and is easy to read, the newsletter can be classed as a winner.
Short and sweet content can always work best to encourage clickthroughs but some businesses may have more to say if they do not email regularly. It all depends on your business type and message.
Do not forget to give it the final once over from a fresh set of eyes. Embarrassing typos never go unmissed so be sure to keep your company out of those embarrassing Twitter screenshots.
5) Personalisation tokens and smart content
The best newsletters make the reader feel like it’s exclusively for them. They are the ones which get opened, clicked and shared. Personalisation can go a long way through online marketing, the reader wants to feel important and valued.
Personalisation can be broken down into 3 ways:
- Segment your emails to focus on particular groups of people who you know will love that content
- Add in personalisation tokens! But not too many, you want to seem awesome not creepy
- Add in smart content. Include call to action buttons that hide other users involved in your campaign. People love personalised invites.
6) Subject line and sender name
Your audience may prefer different things so it’s hard to cater for everyone. Research shows that having a sender name from a real person increases click through rates so try running a 1/2 test to see what works best. Make sure it’s recognisable though, you don’t want to confuse people.
Subject lines are a little harder and need to be something that makes the reader go “ooooooooooooo I like” *click* and then voila! They read your email. These can be trialled to see what works best for your company. Again it’s the 1/2 test.
7) Alt and Plain
Even though you’re raring to go, you need to do 2 crucial things. Distinguish the alt and plain text in your email in case people have a crisis that the images don’t load. If your CTA is an image, alt text is vital or the conversion rate will fail and quite epically.
8) The legal stuff
Before you press ‘send’, you have to make sure that all your emails are from a legal perspective and don’t come across as ‘spam’. CAN-SPAM requires you to have a footer in all emails that give recipients the option to unsubscribe from your emails and maybe some company details – it’s to cover your own back.
9) Browsers and providers
Email providers all have different code and what can work for Outlook, may not work well for Gmail. You need to do some market research into the most popular browsers and email providers and work from there or you could find yourself creating 2 alternative versions.
10) The moment of truth
Send! Now wait for your data to feed back in.
Once your data is in you need to analyse and work out how well the newsletter performed in terms of your initial goal setting. See what got the most clicks and which part worked best towards the plan. If it didn’t work as well as you hoped it would, try again but maybe change the content or images or try a different approach to reaching your goal. It will all be trial and error until you find the jackpot method.
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