Email marketing can be one of the most effective forms of online marketing in existence. That said, email newsletters do have a tendency to be a little dull. The reason? They’re often sent to a schedule based on time rather than content.
You may be familiar with the need to find something to ‘fill’ the monthly email newsletter template. Instead of content that’s genuinely interesting and useful, many newsletters are filled with a mish mash of recent news, offers and whatever other content is lying around.
Our inboxes are inundated with an increasing amount of banal content (on average 105 emails a day) and as a result, we’re opening fewer emails all the time. Hundreds of email newsletters go unopened and unclicked because there’s nothing to mark them apart from all the others.
All is not lost, however: With a bit of thought you can liven up your email newsletter and make it stand out from the noise.
Creative subject lines
The first step is to get inventive with your subject lines, because sending your email with ‘Monthly Newsletter’ in the subject line is doing you no favours. It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many companies aren’t going beyond this uninspiring choice.
Try to appeal to your readers’ curiosity: What would make your email impossible to ignore? What’s inside that they really need to see?
Tip: Your own inbox can act as a source of subject line inspiration – look at what stands out and try and apply what you’re learning to your own emails.
Once your email is opened, you need to reward your readers with content that’s worth their time. Back up the promises you made in your subject line by filling your email newsletter with valuable content.
A common mistake is sharing content that’s interesting to people inside the business, but isn’t really of any value to your email subscribers. If you really want to share some insider news, involve the reader by offering them a discount or special offer to celebrate – always keep the focus on the recipient.
Tip: Consider offering your email subscribers exclusive content within your newsletter, i.e. content that is not also available on your website or blog. This gives your subscribers a tangible reason to remain on your email list.
Used sparingly, personalisation can be a powerful way of adding some extra punch to your email newsletter. Virgin Atlantic recently sent emails using town names for a clever and unexpected bit of personalisation. The copy read:
“Just think, you could be lunching in [your town name] today and spotting the Big Five on safari in South Africa or snorkelling with giant sea turtles in Barbados next week.”
Tip: Although personalisation can be very effective, it’s important not to overdo it, as too many personal details, especially in the subject line, can come across as spammy and even a little creepy.
Test, test and test again
One of the benefits of email as a communications tool is that most email providers offer A/B testing facilities – in fact if you’re using one that doesn’t offer this feature, switch to one that does. A/B testing enables you to isolate a variable (e.g. your subject line), create two versions of it, and send each one to a small section of your contact list. The version that performs best is then sent out to the remainder of your list.
Here are some variables that you can select for A/B testing:
- “From” name
- Subject line
- Day of delivery
- Time of delivery
- Design template
- … and of course the content
Tip: Don’t settle for a single test. Keep testing each of these variables several times over until you’ve got your open rate and click through rate as high as it can go.