29th September 2017 / Digital, Marketing Posted by Paul Ovenden

How to create great newsletters and increase your open rates

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Email is an incredibly valuable marketing tool. Not only does it deliver genuine ROI (according to HubSpot, for every $1 spent on email marketing, the return is roughly $41 in sales), but it’s growing in popularity too. While we constantly talk about the reduction in the human attention span, when it comes to email this trend is reversed – the average time spent reading an email has increased by 7% over the past six years. These kinds of statistics give the humble email newsletter a renewed importance for any business in every sector.

Newsletter aims – why create a newsletter?

  • To drive traffic to your website
  • To offer genuinely useful content that people actually want to read
  • To encourage people to share what you create
  • Delivering news about your business
  • Creating (up)selling opportunities

How to increase engagement

 Email response rates vary from industry to industry but even those that count as the top performing only come out at around 25%. So, achieving engagement with your emails is a challenge. However, if it’s something that you manage to master the rewards are significant. Here are some key tips on how to boost those rates.

Segment your email lists. Tighter targeting of who you send your newsletters to can increase the chances of them being effective and making an impact. There are a number of ways that you can do this, including on the basis of:

  • Who are your customers, what do they do and where do they live?
  • What do your customers buy from you (or do they only take free stuff e.g. information), what do they do with what you sell and how often do they come back to you?
  • When did these customers sign up – are they new and so worth tempting with specific content or rewards?
  • How do they get your emails – mobile or desktop, email frequency and preferences?

Provide more information on your ‘subscribe’ page. 5 subscribers who are genuinely interested in your objectives, business and growth are worth way more in terms of engagement than 50 who subscribed expecting something rather different.

Design your newsletters for maximum reach. I.e. make them mobile responsive, ensure they load quickly and that the content is accessible and instantly engaging. If they take ages to load, are confusing or just don’t work on different devices you could be losing potential click throughs instantly.

Work on the language. Spelling mistakes, grammar errors or corporate, awkward language act as an instant turn off in newsletters. Keep it simple, personalise it and create a sense of urgency when it comes to driving the reader to the click through point. That could be an unbelievable, time limited offer, a piece of information they just must have, or the answer to a question your audience research shows you is high up on their priorities list.

Creating a great newsletter

Many people make the mistake of thinking a newsletter can be cobbled together without making too much effort. However, email is one of the few tools that every demographic uses, from Millennials through to silver surfers. So, an e-newsletter is a prime marketing asset and an opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted.

  1. Make it personable. People respond better to emails that read as if they have come from a person, as opposed to a faceless brand. Take the time to write a human introduction. 
  2. Pull back on the sales chat. You should be aiming for newsletter content that is 90% informative, educational or entertaining and just 10% promotional. Make sure you offer unsubscribe options. The GDPR comes into force next year and it’s key that marketing communications like newsletters give people simple and straightforward ways to opt out.
  3. Use plenty of visuals. Infographics, a banner intro, head shots and high quality images will give your readers something genuinely interesting to engage with. Video is also growing in prominence – research shows that video email marketing generates a 280% higher rate of return than a standard email.
  4. Focus on one primary call to action. Newsletters by their nature are a collection of multiple different pieces of news. However, one theme should take precedence or the whole thing is likely to feel very confused.
  5. Invest some time and planning in the layout. There are many different elements that make up a great newsletter layout. From the images you choose, to the text placement, the size and readability of your content and whether you decide to include everything in the body of the message or link outside it, the best combination for you will depend on what your business does and what your objectives are.

At Aquatint we can advise you on the simplest ways to design newsletters for optimum engagement – and we can create them for you. If you’re keen to start making your email marketing more efficient and productive then you may need to rethink your approach.