New and established companies are getting on board with email marketing. It makes sense that you want to reach your customers where they spend a lot of time: the inbox. But what kind of information can you share with your readers? Anything they’d find useful or can promote your brand. There’s really no limit to what you can do with an email newsletter.
However, sending promotional emails isn’t as easy as sending a personal email to your friend or family member. This isn’t the case. Before your newsletter launches, consider these five key decisions below. If you can figure these out, you’ll have all of the tools you need to send a quality newsletter.
Newsletter planning: picking an email service provider
One of the most important decisions you will make is what email service provider (ESP) you’re going to use. This is the service that distributes the bulk emails you’ll be sending.
Apart from it being reliable, you want your ESP to be affordable. The great thing is many ESPs allow you to take them for a test spin. If you notice anything you don’t like, you can ditch that service and go with someone else.
Here are the critical things to look at:
• User reviews
• Security policy and reputation
• Ease of use
You also want an ESP that can ensure and even guide you in staying compliant with CAN-SPAM Act and other regulations. It’s worth emphasizing that you should look for an ESP with a commitment to security, privacy and legal issues. If it appears to be a bargain email sender that looks shoddy, you just may get what you pay for.
Deciding your newsletter sending schedule
The idea of sending a newsletter “whenever” can be tempting since you can send emails to your list whenever you want. However, you should make a goal to send emails at regular intervals. If you can pick the same day of the week to send your newsletter, the readers will come to anticipate its arrival. They’re more likely to open and engage with your emails, and that helps your sender reputation.
The sender reputation is what Internet service providers around the world use to determine who is a legitimate sender of email and who is a spammer. It’s so crucial to be classified as a legitimate email sender because that means you’re more likely to be sent to the inbox. It’s like the old “looks like a duck, acts like a duck, it’s a duck” thing. Look like a spammer, act like a spammer? According to most inbox providers, “it’s a spammer.” To the junk folder you go. Remember that the inbox is the only place your emails have a chance to be read.
So, the question you have to answer is how often should you send emails? In general, once a month is the bare minimum. Every industry is different and you probably know your audience well. How often would you want to get an email if you were them? It may be that a few times a week is welcomed by your subscribers.
On the other hand, we’ve all experienced a time when you signed up to get emails and they bombarded you. It left a bad taste in your mouth, didn’t it? Also, in poor taste is only showing up with an email when you need something or have something to sell.
Bottom line: make a schedule that makes sense and stick to it.
Determine how you’ll get subscribers
Some marketers have been collecting addresses for some time and have amassed quite a number of them. If this is the case, you’ll want to pay attention to the next section about email validation. Quite a few of you are starting from scratch, which shouldn’t feel intimidating. Instead, you’re able to start your list using best practices.
“If you build it, they will come.” Remember that from the classic movie? If only it were true with email marketing. You have to let people know. Most of your customers live busy lives and there are so many distractions online. So how do you let people know you have an email list they can get on? Tell them!
First thing’s first: it’s a good idea to have multiple email sign-ups on your website. Also, talk about your email newsletter on social media and consider giving them an incentive for signing up.
But what else? It’s up to you to tell them in any way you can. Get creative.
If you have a physical location: think signs, your storefront window, or printing a notice at the bottom of receipts. There’s also phone recordings. On that note, phone and in-person conversations if you think the person may be interested.
Another great idea is to put a link in your email signature, perhaps right next to your contact info and LinkedIn profile. You never know when that one person-to-person communication you have will result in a loyal reader.
Bonus tip: There are some bad ideas that you shouldn’t consider when trying to get new subscribers. This includes buying a list. It will cause your spam complaints to skyrocket which can get you blacklisted. Also, you shouldn’t take all of the email addresses of people you’ve corresponded with over the years and just throw them on the list. You’re likely to aggravate them and it sends the wrong idea about you.
Having a great newsletter is not enough. You also have to find a way to promote it.
Choosing the right email validation company
Some of you’ve just set up the sign-up forms and are getting your first influx of subscribers. Or perhaps you’ve told your customers that you’re starting a newsletter and you’ve been collecting addresses for a while. No matter what the situation, you need to be aware about email verification and choose an email validation service.
What does email validation do? It’s a process by which invalid or potentially harmful email addresses are identified. Although they probably look no different than any other email address you’ve seen, keeping them on your list can wreak havoc on your whole email program. There are all kinds of bad emails, and a good service verifies which addresses are legitimate.
The past two years also saw a rise in people flat out abandoning their email addresses for one reason or another. People quit their job, were laid off or retired. They signed up for email newsletters using their work email. Before their email was deactivated, of course they didn’t take the time to unsubscribe. Sending emails to any of these bad addresses is not a good idea.
Remember that sender reputation we talked about? Well, sending newsletters or promotions to deactivated email addresses will ruin your sender reputation. When that happens, your receptive subscribers are also prevented from seeing the emails you put so much work into crafting.
Inbox providers only know what kind of sender you are based on the signals you send. Spammers tend to send emails indiscriminately. You can use email validation to find and remove the bad addresses.
How do you do it? You go onto the email validation website’s platform and upload your list. In no time it should be able to accurately determine which email addresses are good and which should be culled.
Bonus tip: It’s a good idea to use the double opt-in on your sign-up forms. That’s where anyone who signs up gets an email with a link that they have to click to confirm they did want to get your newsletter.
The other thing that can save you a lot of time and preserve your list quality is to have an email validation API. You connect the API to all your sign-up forms. Say someone makes a typo or tries to use a disposable or some other type of undesirable email. It will immediately let them know that they must enter a different email. This keeps bad data off the list in the first place.
Planning the types of content for your newsletter
Ever notice that every email newsletter has a tone? Some are super serious and some feel like they could come from an old friend. Which one do you tend to enjoy the most?
The type of content you send is based heavily on your business. If you’re thinking about having a highly professional and formal tone, really ask yourself if that’s based on some kind of fear. Are you worried you won’t be taken seriously?
Also, ask yourself what percentage of the email should be marketing and what part should be informational or entertaining. It’s not wise to beat people over the head with what you want to sell them.
Also, don’t be afraid to think differently. If you have a restaurant, for example, sending one of the recipes from the kitchen could really form a connection. Branching out is a great idea.
Finally, decide if you’d like a very simple format or a rich HTML with colors and images. Think about what your customers would enjoy. Don’t just copy what someone else does. Just because a lot of marketers in your space are doing something, doesn’t always mean that you have to follow suit.
Plan on doing a lot of work
If it was easy, everyone would succeed. However, in order to plan a successful email newsletter, you’ll notice it takes a lot of mental power and labor. One thing is for sure: the email marketer who plans is the one who realizes their goals.