Whether email newsletters are enjoying a resurgence or simply holding their own as a marketing mainstay, one thing is clear: their value is undisputed. And while some say 2015 will be the year of video, the biggest names in publishing – from Fast Company to GigaOm and more – report the continuing rise of e-newsletters as one of the most important takeaways for marketers to understand heading into the New Year.
In an age of too much information, e-mail newsletters act as an important filter for executives and consumers alike. A recent article by NeimanLab says their most significant value lies not in helping people get their news first or even necessarily in getting it accurately, but in helping readers drill down and make sense of it all.
So as you consider your most important marketing strategies for 2015, keep in mind these four critical elements of an effective email newsletter:
1) Be Focused: Content will always be king, and the best email newsletters take that concept to a new level. Those newsletters with the highest open rates focus squarely on a specific subject area or topic, and they strive to provide the expertise and insight within and across that subject that their readers want most. The broader the focus, the less valuable your e-newsletter becomes for each individual subscriber, according to GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram. Also, the most effective e-newsletters display a strong personal voice, Ingram adds. Whether it’s a sense of humor or wit, a relaxed vibe or a chatty tone, take time to determine the voice that will resonate best with your audience and stick with it.
2) Remain Relevant: So how do you know what the subscribers within your niche want? First of all, it’s not easy. Your content developers will need to stay ahead of the latest trends – and that takes knowledge, time and research. Also, data-driven insight is essential for keeping a pulse on readers’ interests. Subscriber surveys, carefully crafted so as not to annoy or take too much time to complete, are a useful way to gather insight. These can be offered both at the time of opt in and on an ongoing (but selective) basis through campaigns and other means. As a marketer, you can also use the analytics that are already available to you – from your customer base and website, to social media metrics and more – to better understand what matters most to your audience.
3) Know Your Audience: Knowing who your audience is, including where they work and what their job title is, is also essential as you tailor your news. If your database is primarily made up of entry-level executives, for example, your content should clearly be vastly different than what you’d create for the C-suite. A simple opt-in or registration process can help you gain this insight out the gate, and it’s important that you use tools to track changes in your audience over time, too. And, as you look to extend the reach of your newsletter, a reputable business contacts service can give you the necessary data to find new readers that fit your target profile, while also offering information on the individual’s title, industry, company and more. The best services will not only provide accurate email data, but will also let you retain the data file for your ongoing use throughout the year.
4) Easy Opt In: As inboxes become more crowded, getting someone to give you their email address will become that much more difficult in 2015. Each time you receive a new email subscriber, think of it as a valuable gift: someone has invited you into their busy world – and that means they are very likely to listen to what you have to say, according to Fast Company’s Rebecca Greenfield. “Though your newsletter might have a smaller audience than your blog or website, you have your subscribers’ attention…It’s quite an honor to have someone give you their email address,” she writes. So don’t put obstacles in their way even before they’ve gotten started as a subscriber. No matter how enticing your content might be, keep the opt-in simple – make it easy to complete in just a few simple steps.
These are just a few of our top suggestions for making your e-newsletter more effective in the year ahead. What strategies have you found to be most useful to your organization?
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