Message & Media: Opt In to the Inbox
• Reader interaction: As a reader and a writer, I appreciate the two-way nature of e-newsletters. Instead of being static and one-dimensional, e-newsletters provide plenty of opportunities for interaction. It may be as simple as e-mailing an article or issue to a friend or colleague, providing requested feedback, or downloading a valuable resource to use and share with others.
• Segmentation: All customers and newsletter readers are not alike, so why treat them identically when you can target and segment?
Test segmenting starting with your subject line and above-the-fold feature articles. As a direct marketer, you know to test those elements first that are most likely to leverage response. In this case, that’s the open rate and clickthrough. Track response; then plan future issues accordingly.
• Frequency: How frequently should you send your newsletter? What makes sense for your objective(s), content focus and audience expectations? I have e-newsletters I receive daily, twice-weekly, weekly, monthly, even intermittently. Frequency is another factor to test. The question to answer is, “What do our readers want?” You may be surprised by what you learn.
• Visual format: While I’m a reader/writer, not a designer, I know that how you visually present words—everything from typeface and placement to backgrounds and surrounding images—affects if words are read and how they are read.
To borrow three words from Jakob Nielsen’s recent Alertbox on Web site architecture mistakes, you don’t want your e-newsletter to be clumsy, complex or inconsistent in how it looks or navigates.
E-newsletters that are easy to read promote involvement. Simplicity increases understanding. And consistency encourages brand recognition and anticipation for the next issue to arrive. It all adds up to more readership and more response.