Did you know that email marketing is more than 40 years old? Despite heading into middle age, it remains incredibly popular and for good reason. Email marketing helps companies build a close and enduring connection with their audience. Plus, they are cost-efficient, flexible, scalable and most important of all, their impact is measurable. There is plenty of research out there attesting to the benefits of an email marketing campaign and the returns on investment (ROI) of a newsletter. For every dollar you spend, studies indicate that you can get back as much as US$36 to US$44. Little wonder then that over 80% of all B2B brands have reported using it.
But it has to be done right in order to ensure that your newsletter stands out among the dozens if not hundreds of others vying for readers’ attention at any point in time. So, we have put together some editorial-specific recommendations that can help ensure your newsletter serves its intended purpose well and does so with a personal touch so that your campaign stands out from the rest.
Identify your audience and stay on message
To get your audience to engage with the newsletter and through that your company and brand, you must know who you are reaching out to and what they need. Personalising newsletters is shown to significantly enhance open, click-through and conversion rates. And while it’s natural to target the C-suite, it’s important to recognise that decisions are made, especially in large organisations, by committee or as a team.
Therefore, it’s advisable to target a wider audience and categorise your readers based on their interests and functions. And to keep the message on point to each of these groups and ensure the newsletter becomes a welcome addition to their inbox, some questions to ask during the drafting process include:
Use short, punchy subject lines
This may go without saying in the age of TikTok, Twitter, declining attention spans and mobile-only content - an attention-grabbing subject line loaded with action verbs should help bump up that open rate. Think of it like a newspaper headline or Twitter post. And just like headlines and tweets have ideal word counts, sticking to a specific length can help. Mailchimp recommends headlines should contain no more than nine words or 60 characters.
Keep the tone conversational
It’s easy to start sounding too formal or fusty while trying to be professional. That could rob the newsletter of its readability and your ability to infuse some personality into it. Instead, a friendly and conversational tone is best suited to strike a rapport with the reader. This newsletter, in our view, has come to master this easy sounding but hard to execute technique.
Educate and inform. Do not sell
Adopting a promotional tone or making a direct sales pitch in a B2B newsletter will not serve you as well as it probably would in a consumer-oriented campaign. Instead, aim to offer insights, data and resources, and take the opportunity to direct your readers to information about new business opportunities. This will go a long way towards building long-term trust. Indeed, nearly every resource we mined in order to put this checklist together stressed on this point.
Update readers on company news
Your audience will also welcome news and updates from within your organisation, such as new hires, upcoming expansion plans, or even pics from an offsite event. The newsletter also provides a platform to showcase your company’s values – they could be about your renewed focus on tracking environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics or perhaps your longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I) – and helps attract readers who share those values.
Include a call to action
However, this does not mean including a “Click here to buy” button. Instead, it could be as simple as directing your readers to a topical research report or survey findings, or information about a new product or service your company is launching. Also remember, as this blog post notes, to offer readers a quick preview of what they can expect on the other side when they click through instead of ambiguous text with a plain hyperlink.
Use visual aids
A picture is worth a thousand words goes the well-worn adage. It’s cliché because it’s true. Visual aids like infographics, or even basic yet evocative imagery, help illustrate a point or tell a story better, and break up the wall of text. At the same time, it’s important to invest the right amount of effort to get it right because visualising data and incorporating it effectively into written content can be a challenge. Otherwise, it could easily go wrong.
Choose the right colour scheme
Just like infographics, the use of colours can help add splash to your newsletter and keep your audience engaged. While doing so, it’s advisable to match or at least closely follow the colour palette suggested by your company’s branding guidelines. This will help readers associate these colours with your company’s iconography and aid brand awareness and recall, which in turn aids conversion.
Enhance accessibility, and user experience
With over a tenth of the world’s population reported to experience some form of disability, there is a growing awareness of the need for businesses to consider this issue when designing products and services. The same care should be applied to newsletter design. Some ways in which this can be done include using, or avoiding, certain types of fonts, offering a plaintext alternative to the standard HTML format, and including descriptive text with images, links and buttons.
Include third-party content
While the purpose of an email campaign is mainly about connecting with your clientele, both current and potential, and showcasing your company’s capabilities, do not let that limit the scope of your newsletter. Remember point number 4 – it’s all about enhancing the usefulness of the newsletter to your audience, and if that means sourcing valuable information from outside your company, so be it. And in doing so, your newsletter would be providing a valuable service – collating and curating knowledge from the vast reaches of the internet into an easily consumable format – that your time-poor readers will appreciate.
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