Message & Media : Opt In to the Inbox
How engaging and interactive e-newsletters can help direct marketers break from the packJuly 2009 By Pat Friesen
As a direct marketing copywriter and avid reader, I’m a big fan of e-mail newsletters. They are the perfect combination of medium and message.
For the reader, e-newsletters cover topics of targeted interest, delivered in a timely fashion and easy-to-read format. For the direct marketer, they are an effective CRM response-generator—a gateway to your Web site, an interactive branding tool and an instant credibility-booster.
Whether you’re already publishing an e-newsletter online or considering launching one, here are some things to think about from a direct marketing perspective.
• Opt-in: Because e-newsletters are opt-in publications, your readers have a prequalified interest in what you have to offer. They see you as a credible source of new ideas and reliable updates. Keep this in mind as you develop your content calendar. Also remember that disappointed readers can opt out at any time.
• Subject line: Unlike traditional ink-on-paper newsletters that often arrive unannounced and unwanted with a “we-me” focus, an opt-in e-newsletter must immediately answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” It starts with the subject line that needs to encourage opening.
This means you need to: (1) pretest subject lines to increase open rates; (2) learn how to fine-tune subject lines to introduce the value of each issue more effectively; (3) test different subject lines to different audience segments; (4) create engaging subject lines by using numbers, such as “3 Tips for Saving Hundreds on Groceries” and “Save 40 Percent, Get Free Shipping,” which places the focus on the offer; and (5) add the word “why” to create curiosity: “Why Nine Out of 10 Small Businesses Fail.”
• Table of contents: While your e-newsletter format may not require a table of contents, test the value of adding one if it’s appropriate. Here’s why: For many readers, a well-written TOC is a time-saver. For marketers, it’s a tool for snagging scanners and getting them involved.
I receive two daily e-newsletters. In both cases, I glance at the TOC, make a split-second decision about whether or not there’s something of interest, then click to read on, or delete and move on. I’ll quickly add that not every e-newsletter I receive includes a TOC, because they aren’t always appropriate.