Five top tips for effective e-newsletters

10 November 2015

These days, we are bombarded with multiple e-newsletters every week. Some get deleted immediately as most of us simply don’t have time to read them. Pick up top tips for making yours effective in this guest post by Cheeky Rooster.

We write a bunch of e-newsletters for our clients.  Here’s a summary of what we’ve learned about getting the most out of e-newsletters.

enewsletter #2Ensure your audience wants to hear from you

  • Only email those who signed up – it’s not just good manners to send e-newsletters only to those people who have signed up for them, it’s also part of privacy laws. If the e-news recipient’s contact details weren’t volunteered directly to your ‘agency’, you can’t use them. You can read more about the Privacy Act here.
  • Use an e-subscription manager – it’s better to trim your mailing list to include only those who want to hear from you, than to have thousands who don’t. Most email programmes have subscription programmes that manage duplicates and unsubscribes. If yours doesn’t, get one that does.
  • E-news regularity – don’t turn off your audience by communicating too often. If your sign up form says ‘subscribe to our monthly newsletter’ then subscribers know exactly what they’re letting themselves in for.  You can have a separate tick box at sign up time where subscribers can choose to receive special offers.
  • Timing – industry research says send your e-news on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between 9 -11am or 1-3 pm. Other research says to ignore this advice! Read more here.

Authentic content

There are several components to developing authentic content: 

  • Relevant to your audience – make sure the person writing the content knows your audience and what news, calls to action, events, tips, offers, images, webinars, etc. are relevant to the audience. If you don’t know what your audience wants out of your e-news, survey them to find out (offer a great prize to incentivise feedback). If you have a really diverse audience, consider creating sub groups within your email subscription lists so that you can hone relevant content for each group.
  • Timely – most e-news has a very short life in the inbox so keep content all about what’s happening here and now, or very soon.
  • Human interest – most of us love to read about real people. Find interesting stories from your staff, suppliers, customers, or the charities you support and use these to tell stories.
  • Beneficial – write content that will benefit your audience in some way such as help them to do something better, make them feel good, save them money, win them something, etc.

Keep it brief

Aim to keep your e-news content brief enough that your reader doesn’t need to scroll down. Stick to five news items, or even fewer. For each item, include a subject line, body content and a hyperlink.

  • Subject line – summarise the gist of the story and make it catchy.
  • Body content – two to three brief sentences at the most.
  • Hyperlink – take your audience to your own website and social media for more detail. See web-based content below.
  • Images – use quality images per e-news that are relevant to your news snippets, and if an infographic can say something in fewer words, use it.

E-newsletter #1Web-based content

  • Your website is the place to tell the longer story. Before the e-news goes out, update your website with the latest offers, competitions, news, blogs, events, case studies, resources, or whatever else you want to talk about. 
  • Include hyperlinks to relevant web page/s in the e-news snippet.
  • Ensure your social media feed is carrying the same content and links from and to the e-news.

Analyse your metrics

Evaluating communications tools shows us how effective they are and helps us track trends or cycles. Set up tracking tables like the examples below and record and compare the relevant stats each month.  Some e-news programmes offer comparative information about industry averages.

  • Use your e-news programme to check ‘open rates’ and ‘click through rates’.

E-news distribution date

Recipients

# of recipients

 

Subject line

Topics

Open rate (% of total distribution)

Click through rate (% of total opens)

6 October

All contacts

7643

Planning the perfect holiday

New travel planning app, Mediterranean travel specials, The Greek gourmet’s recipes, Mental Health Awareness Month story.

36.81

34.88

  • Google Analytics will tell you more about the web activity generated by your e-news. The tool enables users to drill down into exactly which e-news links were followed, which pages were visited, how long people spent there and even what devices and browsers were used to access the page.

Date

Recipients

# of recipients

Open rate (% of total distribution)

Click through rate (% of total opens)

Unique

Sessions

Daily average (month)

Session Duration

Pages per session

6 October

All contacts

7643

36.81

34.88

5813

189

00:02:27

4.03

Summary

Creating the perfect newsletter is an evolving ‘art’.  Sure, there is some data that aids this evolution, but with such rapid changes in technology and device use behaviours, a lot is just trial and error.  The important part is using audience feedback and metrics to tell you what’s working for your audience.

Sarah van der Boom is Communications and Business Manager at Cheeky Rooster Communications & PR. www.cheekyrooster.co.nz