Most business owners have been here:  how to figure out how to engage customers, sell more products, or just keep their brand at the front of a customer’s mind.  It’s not uncommon for businesses to default to email marketing via promotions or a newsletter – or some mix of both.

While newsletters and email marketing are one of the most common forms of engagement, it’s extremely difficult to do them right.  The difficult comes in because email newsletters feature a lot of different content and they’re designed to serve a number of purposes.

  • Lead nurturing
  • Promotional
  • Educational
  • Curating content
  • Providing order information
  • Confirmation emails

Despite the style, each email is designed to promote engagement on some level.  Let’s face it – sometimes it’s just hard to get readers to open an email… let along click on a call to action.  If you want to kill it with your email marketing or revitalize your existing email marketing then here are some tips to craft an email marketing campaign and newsletter that people actually want to read.

1. Do you need an email newsletter?
Before even attempting to create one, you need to evaluate your position.  Research your industry and see if there are other successful newsletters that people like your customers subscribe to.  What’s in them? Do you have the resources to attempt something similar or better?  Is it in your budget?

From there, examine your business goals.  If your goals don’t line up with what a newsletter could accomplish then your time is likely better spent working on lead nurturing email workflows… or not sending emails at all.  Perhaps time is better spent on your blog.

Let’s assume that you found that a newsletter and email marketing campaign are ideal for your business.

2. Decide what you want to send
One of the most common issues marketers and business owners face is their newsletter is ineffective because it’s cluttered with promotions and content that pushes every facet of the business.  Product news and promotions sit next to PR stories and blog posts.  Overall it’s just a mess.

A newsletter needs a common thread that holds the entire thing together.  The best way to approach this is to attack each newsletter with a specific topic or theme.  Instead of making it about your company in general, focus on one vertical.  For example, a marketing agency could focus a newsletter specifically on social media, as opposed to all aspects of digital marketing.  This would include blog posts, events, polls or a quiz and promotions surrounding social media.  This makes it much more focused and results in better engagement.
3. Balance the content
If you weren’t already aware, your customers don’t care about your products or services.  This is something I push all the time with clients.  What customers care about is their problem, and finding a solution to that problem.  They definitely don’t want to hear about your products and services 100% of the time.

They might love you, and want to hear from you, but they don’t want sales pitches clogging their email.
To get away from this, your email marketing should be 90% educational and 10% promotional.  Case in point: I opted in to email marketing and news from Dominos Pizza.  I love their pizza (I love pizza in general) but now I get repetitive emails almost daily to order pizza.  Order, order, order.  Now, if Dominos sent me educational content – maybe about great pizza recipes to make at home, how to hold an awesome pizza party for kids, or maybe some kind of little history snippet about where pepperoni came from, I’d likely be more inclined to open their emails more regularly.

Don’t be the company that sends out 90-100% promotional content.
4. Set expectations for subscribers
Once you determine the focus of your email marketing then you need to accurately communicate that to your subscribers.  At this point in the digital age, people generally expect they’re going to get promotional spam; much the same way you expect a hard sale if you walk onto a car lot.

Get specific in your messaging about what they’re going to get in their email, how often they get it, and what they can expect to see from you.  You’ll see an increase in opt-ins when people clearly understand everything they’re getting sent.  They’re more at ease if they know you’re not going to spam them.

5. Get creative with your email subjects

Just because someone signs up for your email marketing campaign doesn’t mean they’re going to read all of your emails.  Subject lines play a huge part in whether people open your emails.  The best email management services give you the opportunity to test multiple subject lines to see which ones are most effective based on open rate.  Change your keywords around, test different subjects and use this process to perfect your messaging.

Keep in mind that your subject lines should provoke a response using some kind of incentive for them to click right now.

6. Focus your call to action

Just because your content is 90% educational doesn’t mean you can’t have a call to action.  A common mistake businesses make is to have no call to action, or have multiple calls to action.  When you’re designing your campaign and newsletters, decide what single, solitary action is the most important for your readers to take relevant to that email. Make it super simple and up front what you want readers to do, and then make it easy for them to do it.

7. Write and design with brevity

Keep your design and copy short and concise.  The newsletter is not where you want to have a long winded email.  Use short paragraphs and headlines for individual pieces.  Let the reader skim it and be able to get the general idea.
If you want more detailed information to go to them, then block your content into models with links that lead to the rest of the content on your website.  Space is key for your newsletter, so don’t crowd it and clutter it up