A Guide to Building a Better Email: Newsletters

White Paper

Although newsletters are among the most commonly sent marketing emails, they’re one of the hardest to do well. Many lack truly valuable content and are left unread in the inbox, then eventually banished to the land of unsubscribes. But done correctly, newsletters are a highly effective way to nurture leads, increase customer loyalty and drive traffic your website.

In this eBook, you’ll find everything you need to build a newsletter your subscribers not only open, but value as a dependable resource. From how to get started and best practices, to offering targeted, contextual content that will drive action and strengthen customer loyalty, you’ll find it all here. We’ve also included some beautiful email examples to inspire and delight.

Get the download

Below is an excerpt of "A Guide to Building a Better Email: Newsletters". To get your free download, and unlimited access to the whole of bizibl.com, simply log in or join free.


Laying the Foundation

If you’ve decided the time is right to start sending your customers a regular newsletter, you’re in good company: According to the Direct Marketing Association, 68% of marketers say newsletters are their go-to tactic for meeting business goals.

So where should you start? Here are three questions to ask yourself that will help lay the groundwork

What content should I include in my newsletter?

To see long-term success with a newsletter, the content must be tied to things your reader cares about, so using progressive profiling to gradually build a consumer profile of content preferences is ideal. But varying content format is key. According to Curata, email newsletters that are less than 50% articles see an average list growth of 12% quarter over quarter, compared to 5% for those with more articles.

And, medium-sized bites of content (ranging from 141 to 1,200 characters) have shown to produce 9% more clickthroughs than very small snippets, and 106% more clickthroughs than longer blocks of text.

To keep your subscribers interested, offer different types of relevant, digestible content. For example, an apparel retailer’s newsletter could include a Q&A with a stylist, a calendar of local fashion workshops, a live social feed of fan images and exclusive deals.

What platform should I use to build and distribute my newsletter?

Your template and mailing list will all live within your Email Service Provider, and good ones are very user friendly, allowing for streamlined creation and management processes. Test out ESPs to see what each one offers, their prices and different user interfaces to determine which one works best to help you reach your goals. While there are many options out there, going with an established and respected ESP—especially one that offers a double opt-in process—will make it easier to bypass spam filters.

From there, you can either select a pre-built template or add your own code, but it should be mobile friendly. According to our data, 68% of emails were opened on mobile devices in 2015, and studies show if an email isn’t built for mobile, most people won’t read it. And it’s a good idea to set your newsletter’s maximum size to 550-650 pixels—the preferred size of most web developers.

How will I get—and manage—subscribers?

Create a user-friendly subscription page on your website, and limit the sign-up process to as few steps as possible. You may choose to auto-subscribe those on an email list you already have, but the law requires that your newsletter include a physical address and a clearly presented unsubscribe option—which you must honor within 10 business days. If visitors have to create a log-in in order to interact with your site or make a purchase, add a prechecked opt-in box that subscribes them to the newsletter. You can also drive sign-ups through promotional social media posts that link to your subscription page.

Part of creating a great newsletter is keeping an eye on the data, which will help inform decisions on everything from what kind of content generates the most click-throughs to the send times that yield the highest open rates. For the most accurate data, you need to regularly maintain your list; weed out those who never open or read your emails

Deciding how to organize and segment your email list is up to you, but regularly removing dormant emails could save you money when using volume-based price models. No need to worry, it’s not overwhelming as it sounds. List management items like updating opt-outs or catching bouncebacks are all automated by your Email Service Provider.

Building Your Newsletter

There are many factors that contribute to a successful newsletter, and technology continues to raise consumer expectations. ESPs make it possible for anyone to build a newsletter, but marketers need to pack it with useful content to make a connection with the subscriber. On the following pages, you’ll find five solutions to help you create a contextually relevant newsletter—with every send—that will turn your subscriber into a loyal customer.

Keep It Fresh

Sixty percent of marketers feel that offering real-time, personalized content is a struggle, but the majority believe it’s crucial to an effective email strategy, according to research from Adobe.

The challenge? Information changes quickly, so by the time you hit “send,” the content may already be outdated. Many businesses turn to their blog or social media to push out news and other time-sensitive information, because distribution is instant. But email has far greater reach than social media and most business blogs.

How can you leverage the reach of email and ensure access to your most up-to-date content? Use web cropping to pull content directly from your website into your emails. Web cropping lets you send live web content that updates in the email whenever you update your website—even when it’s already in your subscriber’s inbox.

For example, web crop articles from your site to pull in an up-to-the-minute news feed in your newsletter, like the example on the next page. It also saves production time, eliminating the need to duplicate your efforts and create new content for both your site and newsletter.

Optimize for Mobile

To truly meet readers where they are, make design for mobile a priority. According to our data, 68% of opens and 47% of email conversions happened on mobile devices in 2015, and if your subscribers open your newsletter on mobile, they won’t read it unless it’s mobile-friendly.

You’ll need to use a responsive template, which means importing HTML code that lets the email adjust once the device is detected. Implementing responsive design can be a challenge, but platforms like Movable Ink import your content and convert it into a fully responsive HTML file. You can also export your HTML template just by copying and pasting, downloading the file or forwarding it as an email. No tech savviness required.

Want more like this?

Want more like this?

Insight delivered to your inbox

Keep up to date with our free email. Hand picked whitepapers and posts from our blog, as well as exclusive videos and webinar invitations keep our Users one step ahead.

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

side image splash

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

But responsive design is just the beginning of how emails can be optimized for mobile. Go beyond responsive and use device detection to offer up the appropriate version of your app download— from iTunes or Google Play—for whichever device your subscriber is using, with just one click. Reducing steps and offering one-click actions increase the chances subscribers will follow through, and device detection has proven to significantly increase mobile app downloads.

With device detection, your newsletter becomes even smarter—adjusting to whatever device your reader is using at the moment and offering the best user experience.

Make It Relevant with Geo-Targeting

Content that speaks to your subscriber on an individual level is what sets great newsletters apart from the ordinary. You can target recipients with content that’s relevant to them on many levels—location, weather conditions, time and personal preferences.

Geo-targeting allows you to send subscribers content based on were they are located the moment they open the email, not just where they live. Use geo-targeting to offer the nearest bricks and mortar locations, local sales or area events. And 70% of customers are happy to share location information if it results in some kind of reward, like convenience, coupons or loyalty points, according to Search Engine Land.

Geo-targeting adds tremendous value, given that 56% of consumers have unsubscribed from emails because they felt the content wasn’t relevant enough to them. Using geotargeting ensures relevance that yields a better retention rate over the long term—making readers and marketers happy.

Share Your Most Popular Content

One of the biggest challenges marketers face is consistently creating new content subscribers will find useful. One effective trick is to use content you already know performs well and extend its reach in your newsletter. If content has proven popular on your site—measured by social shares or comments—it’s likely your subscribers will find it useful as well.

You can automatically pull your most popular content into your newsletter with web cropping, and the articles will update as new articles are posted and shared.

Besides providing content you know works—hot off the press—another big advantage here is time saved. Fewer resources are spent researching and developing content topics, and there’s no additional production and approval time. Content is created once, and used on your website and in emails.

This newsletter pulls the site’s most-shared articles into a feed right in the email.

Automate Daily Specials

For daily newsletters that make timely content a core component—whether it’s news, a scheduling interface, or live inventory—driving your emails with APIs is a great way to offer useful, personalized messaging. With API integration, you can populate your newsletter with the most up-to-date offers or news content. Marketers can set up the structure of the email and rely on their API to deliver realtime data and create instant, automatic updates—whether the recipient opens the newsletter on the day it was sent or two weeks later.

Once again, without the need to research, create, and schedule fresh content, then wait on approvals, marketers spend less time and get far better results.

This example provides exclusive, daily deals segmented by pet preference.

Hit Send

The power of a great newsletter can’t be overstated. When done well, newsletters are an invaluable vehicle for building the trust needed to get—and keep—customers. But the key is doing them well. The aim should be providing solutions and value with each send and speaking to every subscriber on an individual level—wherever they are. That can mean where they are in the purchase funnel, which device they’re on, or even where they are on the planet. Your newsletter needs to be relevant—the story it tells your subscribers must matter to them.

And your ability to create a great newsletter isn’t limited to your resources. Tools like web cropping, APIs and device detection can automatically pull in content readers will value, with a lot less work on your part. All you have to do is use the right contextual tools to take your newsletter from ordinary to amazing. Then sit back and let it do the work for you.

Want more like this?

Want more like this?

Insight delivered to your inbox

Keep up to date with our free email. Hand picked whitepapers and posts from our blog, as well as exclusive videos and webinar invitations keep our Users one step ahead.

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

side image splash

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy