4 Delicious Ingredients to Cook Up a Successful E-mail Newsletter Campaign
E-mail newsletters are a lot like recipes. They have amazing potential, but they can leave a bad impression if you use the wrong ingredients or inject too much or too little of the right ingredients.
When done well, e-mail newsletters keep you connected to the people who mean the most to your business or organization, and help build their confidence in your brand. In addition, great e-newsletters drive repeat business, new sales, event attendance, donations and more.
So what makes an e-mail newsletter excellent? Get your apron and chef's hat on, because below are some essential ingredients to whip up a successful e-newsletter campaign of your own.
This week, in the first of this four-part series, I examine the importance of relevance and value when it comes to e-newsletters. Check back in the Jan. 30 edition of AAE, where I'll offer tips on how e-mail newsletters can help establish and reinforce an organization's brand. In part 3, which will appear Feb. 13, I'll discuss how to make your e-newsletters easy to read. Finally, in part 4 in the Feb. 27 edition, I'll close with tips on how to engage your readers with your e-newsletters.
Start with one measure each of relevance and value. Relevance and value are the most important ingredients for a successful e-newsletter, yet both pose challenges to many marketers. However, cooking up relevant and valuable content doesn't have to be a difficult chore. Here are a few tricks that'll make it easier:
- Ask for preferences. If you want your guests to like your cooking, ask them what they want before you cook it. The best way to know what they want is to ask them. Send a survey to find out what information and topics they're most interested in and want to learn about.
- Study your feedback. A good waiter asks how the food is a few minutes after serving to make sure everything is OK. Watching clickthrough and open rates on your e-newsletter's tracking report shows you what topics your customers liked best. This allows you to follow up with more of the same or different content next time.
- Consider what they need to know. You're the expert on your business — just like a chef is the expert at assembling ingredients. There are times when the people on your list need information, yet they won't really know what to ask for. To correctly anticipate their needs, make sure your content leads them closer to a decision in favor of your ultimate objectives.
- Plan and prepare. Like any great meal, an excellent e-newsletter requires some prep work. Two hints to help prep properly:
- create an editorial calendar so you know what topics you'll cover in advance; and
- start a "recipe file," or a folder containing relevant articles from a variety of sources so you have a ready source of inspiration for upcoming e-newsletter issues.
John Arnold is the author of "E-mail Marketing for Dummies" and director of Constant Contact University at the Waltham, Mass.-based e-mail marketing services firm. Reach John at firstname.lastname@example.org.