Tuesday, 12 November 2019

How to create an email newsletter that converts

For every $1 spent on email marketing, $38 is returned.
That ROI is unbeatable across any other marketing channel. And it’s why B2B and B2C brands are putting more money into email campaigns.
An email newsletter is often the starting point for marketers looking to form a stronger connection with their audience and nurture prospects through the sales funnel. Containing custom-curated content, personalized names, branded incentives and high-quality images, newsletters are a powerful, templated mechanism for generating ROI at scale.
So how do you create an email newsletter that converts? For starters, think of your email service provider as its own marketing engine.
Let’s look at the newsletter-creation process – from scratch – as well as examples to help you visualize each step along the way.

How to create an email newsletter

A quick rundown of how to create an email newsletter:
  1. Grow your newsletter email list.
  2. Understand opt-in form dos and don’ts.
  3. Set baseline conversion goals.
  4. Brainstorm optimized newsletter content based on audience needs.
  5. Experiment with default newsletter templates within your email platform.
  6. Custom design your own template, if needed.
  7. Plug in content formats of choice.
  8. Drop in clickable CTAs and proper hyperlinks.
  9. Add personalization tokens or variable tags.
  10. Write your subject line (redo it a few times).
  11. Preview your newsletter template as your audience will see it.
  12. Verify responsive design and rendering across various email clients.
  13. Select the email list to send to.
  14. Decide completion action (conversion) to measure.
  15. Have a welcome email ready to go for those who do sign up.
  16. Measure performance for ideal send frequency and engagement.

Grow your newsletter email list

You may be asking, “Wait, how do I even get a mailing list to send a newsletter to?’”
There are a number of ways to go about this. Some of our favorites include:
  • Put a temporary pop-up form on your blog page. Pop-up CTAs generate 300-500% more subscriptions than regular CTAs that appear at the top or bottom of a page. When we tested this out ourselves, we were able to increase newsletter subscriptions by 532%.

  • Embed a subscribe CTA into your normal email comms, both internally and externally. The real estate around your email signature, sign-off and company disclosure can be leveraged for newsletter subscriptions, too.
  • Use native embed forms rather than signup pages. If a user has to click a link and be directed to a unique signup page, it’s less likely they will follow through. But if you can put the form – a simple “enter email address here” – directly on a web page, users can give you their contact info in fewer steps.
  • Put a subscribe form in your top nav. Make sure your navigation is sticky, meaning it doesn’t disappear when users scroll down the page.
  • Host a webinar. Every single person who enrolls as an attendee hands over their email address, which can be cycled into your newsletter mailing list as well (provided you’ve made this clear to the user).

Understand opt-in form dos and don’ts

Just because you’re in email contact with someone doesn’t mean you can automatically put them into your mailing list. Users have to opt in under their own free will.
That’s why you need some sort of disclosure informing readers that by filling in their email address, they are making themselves eligible to receive future email communications. This is a regulatory requirement. It’s also best practice for your company because a form fill weeds out spam and bot submissions.
By doing so, your final mailing list will be more intent-driven – not just some robot address that will cause a bounceback.
Our standard boilerplate is usually something along the lines of:

Set baseline conversion goals

You know you need a newsletter, but do you know how to measure its success (or failure)?
Your conversion goals are your benchmarks. They help guide your newsletter campaign, informing you on whether future adjustments are needed or if you’re on the right track.
The core metrics to be mindful of are:
Open rate (percentage of recipients who open your email), Click-through rate (percentage of recipients who clicked on a link within your email), Conversion rate (percentage of recipients who completed a desired action)
You can use industry averages to start out. Here’s what you might expect numbers-wise from your newsletter:
  • Open rate: 20-30%
  • Click-through rate: 15-20%
  • Conversion rate: 1-3%

Brainstorm optimized newsletter content based on audience needs

You know your industry. You know your readers. What do they actually want to learn more about? What would they gain from having another email (yours) in their inbox?
Your newsletter content is the crux here. Traditional newsletters may contain a mix of text-based links and images that direct readers to a blog page. Other newsletter styles may be heavy on authentic photography or design. Here’s a rough sketch of one of our newsletters where we first listed out the content that would go into the email, before we began formatting:

Choose what best represents your audience. For the B2B professional with no time to read long-form content, perhaps shorter industry opinion pieces or an infographic could work best to grab their attention without forcing them to commit too much of their time.
Conversely, a newsletter is often the platform for giving readers in-depth content they need but may not find immediately around the web: You’re sending them high-quality, authoritative content that resonates, that’s data-driven, that’s waiting right in their inbox.
Also, your newsletter subscribers are deeper in the funnel than an average blog reader. They, at some point, filled out an opt-in form and chose to receive your emails. So follow through on that conversion by matching their newsletter expectations.

Experiment with default newsletter templates within your email platform

Email automation platforms often come pre-set with several email templates you can choose from.
Pre-made templates may be your best, most convenient option starting out. They default to today’s accessibility and responsive design standards so you can be sure your emails are adapted to a desktop and mobile audience. Templated newsletters can also make it easier to sync your content with its HTML version, so that some variation of your email is properly rendered and accessible to all readers and their email clients.

If you don’t expect to dive into interactive content or animations that require advanced coding and custom design, start with a template and brand it to your company’s specifications.

Custom-design your template, if needed

You can use several different types of newsletter formats depending on your audience, time of week, stage of the funnel, campaign, etc. This is to say, that subscriber A may not prefer the same layout or content mix as subscriber B even though they both fall under the umbrella of “newsletter subscriber.”
That’s why your web dev team can assist in creating an email newsletter that goes beyond what a default email platform can provide. Here are several types of newsletters that we had custom-designed and templated for future use:


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