How To Plan An Effective Newsletter Strategy

Newsletters are one of the most important parts of email marketing. Not only do they offer ample space for advertising, but they also help to maintain the relationships between customers and companies.

With this in mind, we have put together a blog series for you: “Newsletter Creation: A Step-By-Step Guide.” In this second part, we will be learning about how you can develop a well-thought-out newsletter strategy.

What Makes a Newsletter Strategy Successful?

Planning is key to the success of any newsletter campaign and should not be overlooked under any circumstances. Take the time to define your strategy. When planning a newsletter, it is important to be systematic and go through different stages. This can be challenging, but a well-thought-out newsletter strategy will pay off in the long run.

Step 1: Set out your Goals

The first step in developing your newsletter strategy should always be defining your goals. It can be helpful to review your business goals, visions, and corporate values before you do this: it will give you a good overview of your company and its main aims, which your newsletter should also be working towards.

To identify the aims of your newsletter strategy, you should consider why it is that you want to create the campaign. The more clarity you have on the reasons behind it, the more successful you will be. Ask yourself the following questions:

What do you want to achieve? Do you want to make potential and existing customers aware of new blog posts, special events, or products? Or is it more about, winning new customers and strengthening bonds with existing customers?

The goals you should focus on will depend on your company, as objectives can vary greatly across different industries and organizations.

 

Step 2: Develop your KPIs

The definition of specific KPIs is super important when planning your newsletter. KPIs are key figures that help you to measure the success of your email marketing campaign and, in turn, of your overall strategy. They are a reflection of how well your email marketing is performing.

Some of the key figures include:

  • Open rate
  • Click rate
  • Deliverability rate
  • Sign-up rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Spam rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Rate of new subscriptions, etc.

Note that KPIs will depend on the goals you have previously set. You should identify and evaluate KPIs that are crucial for achieving your goals. This allows you to analyze and evaluate your campaigns and objectively determine their success or failure, and to adapt your strategy at any time.

KPIs Table

Step 3: Find the Optimal Sending Time

When planning, you should consider the best time to send out your marketing email. The time at which you send out your newsletter is critical for its success. It is vital that you reach your recipients when they are likely to be in front of their computer or have their phone or tablet in their hands. But how do you find out what the best times are?

This can be achieved by analyzing your target group and carrying out various tests. Try and send out your newsletter at different times to identify when your open rates are at their highest and, therefore, when the majority of recipients read your emails.

You can also use analysis tools that show you when your target group is active on your website. You can use this knowledge to send out your campaign at the time when they are active.

In our previous post of the series, we highlighted that there are rough guidelines for sending times in both the B2B and B2C sectors.

Bear in mind, though, that these guidelines are not effective for every company – especially because a lot of emails are sent during these periods. This makes it more difficult to attract attention in the inbox, and your newsletter may quickly get buried under other messages.

So, the best thing you can do is to concentrate on analysing your target group and evaluating your A/B tests and tracking systems in order to find the best dispatch time for your campaigns.

Best-Newsletter-Sending-Times

Step 4: Create Content Guidelines

The content of your newsletter is essential to achieving your goals. Setting up content guidelines ensures that your content sticks to your defined aims. So, your newsletter content should ensure that your goals are met, and they guide and motivate your target group to perform certain activities.

Consider what type of content is most appropriate for your strategy and audience. If you’re struggling for inspiration on potential topics, then we recommend taking a closer look at the newsletters of your competitors and successful newsletters from other companies (it goes without saying, though, that you should not just copy exactly what they’re doing). This is a good opportunity to find inspiration and ideas for new, potential content areas, products, and events.

Another method that can work well is a preliminary survey. This lets you ask your target audience what content they want to be featured in your newsletter. A target group survey can give you new ideas and inspiration. You can incentivize people to take part by offering with a freebie giveaway, etc.

Step 5: Choose your Newsletter Software

Once your newsletter strategy is in place and you know exactly what your objectives are, and which resources you need to meet them, all you need to do is ensure that you have the technical infrastructure to meet your needs. Essentially, you need a professional newsletter software to create, send out, and evaluate your email campaigns.

There are plenty of free ways to create and send your newsletter. WordPress, for example, allows you to send emails directly from your website’s back end, and many hosts provide an SMTP relay which can be used to send your newsletter. That said, we would advise against using these services, as they come with a high risk of damaging your deliverability and reputation.

You need to choose a professional provider that can meet your requirements and can guarantee both high deliverability and the security of your data. Of course, there are many email service providers out there on the market and choosing the right one is not easy. The old saying remains true: We really are spoiled for choice!

First, think about what features you need to successfully implement your newsletter strategy and what services you value most. You can get a good feel for this by making a list and then comparing the various newsletter tools against one another.

To make your life a little easier, we’ve put together a list of items that any professional email service should offer:

    • A drag-and-drop email editor to create newsletters in minutes;
    • A selection of pre-made and customizable responsive newsletter templates;
    • Personalization, for the creation of individual email content;
    • Segmentation options to divide up contact lists and target different audiences;
    • Integrated image editing for easy image adjustment;
    • Responsive subscription widget to build legally compliant newsletter subscriber lists;
    • Intelligent contact management for efficiently dealing with contacts’ data;
    • Optimal deliverability to ensure emails reach inboxes;
    • A/B testing, to try out your campaigns;
    • Detailed statistics, so you can optimally analyze your sent newsletters;
    • A free trial, so you can verify that the newsletter software meets all of your needs;
    • Compatibility with other systems and services, such as WordPress, shop systems, etc.;
    • GDPR compliance and other certifications.
Passport - Drag-&-Drop

Step 6: Build a Contact List

Before you can finally implement your newsletter strategy and create and send your campaigns, you need email recipients. Building a high quality contact list is often considered a challenge, but as long as you take a couple of factors into consideration, it’s not that difficult.

Stay away from Bought Lists

This is fundamental: resist the temptation of buying email lists. Purchased lists contain email recipients who have probably never been in contact with you, don’t know your company at all and don’t want to receive your emails. This makes the risk of your being blocked and ending up in the spam folder very high. The damage is significant, as your deliverability and reputation will suffer.

Win Subscribers with a Responsive Sign-Up Widget

When building your email list, use a responsive sign-up widget connected to a double opt-in form. Double opt-in ensures that no fake email address enter your database and damage your reputation and deliverability. This minimizes the risk of being classified as a spammer by your recipients or their ISPs.

Subscription Widget Setup

 

Add the sign-up widget to your different pages on your website, like your home page, blog, resources pages, etc.

You should also be sure to request as little information as possible when users are registering, as giving up too much data can be seen as a deterrent. To make sure you secure your subscribers as soon as possible, just ask for their email address. You can ask for further information later on. Additionally, you should highlight the benefits of signing up and show your users what great added value your newsletter offers them.

Segmented Newsletter Subscription

 

Top tip: Divide your email recipients into specific segments and guarantee that you actually deliver the added value you have promised. This allows you to tailor content to each segment.

Use Landing Pages as Newsletter Lead Generation

As well as a responsive subscription widget, you can create special newsletter landing pages in order to grow your contact list. The advantage of a landing page is that you can align the entire page with the newsletter subscription and apply all of the optimization options that apply to landing pages.

Miss Selfridge Newsletter Subscription

 

Users visiting your newsletter landing page will not be distracted by any other elements on the website, as the entire focus of the page will only be on subscribing to your marketing communications.

This is the best opportunity to present all of the advantages your newsletter offers to your customers. Make it clear what your potential recipient will be missing out on if they do not subscribe. Ideally, you will already have defined this in your newsletter strategy.

The advantages of a newsletter could include:

      • Special offers;
      • Updates;
      • Latest industry news;
      • Invitations to exclusive events;
      • Access to exclusive content such as e-books, courses, checklists, or guides.
Zalando Newsletter Subscription

 

Granting access to exclusive content upon registration – such as a step-by-step guide or a discount – will significantly increase your subscription rate.

And finally the time for planning has come to an end! Now you can create and send your newsletter.

Have you already developed a successful newsletter strategy? What challenges did you have to overcome? Your opinion is important to us! Take a short survey about our blog and share your ideas, questions and experiences with us at contact@mailjet.com.

Like this article? Then share it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter :).

7 Deadly Email Sins You Need To Avoid

Email is one of the most effective marketing tools. If you know how to use it right you can gain more customers and boost your open-, click- and conversion rates. We know sometimes it sounds easier than it actually is, so we tracked down the seven deadly email marketing sins that might arise in your daily business and that affect the success of your marketing strategy. Let’s learn how to avoid those sins and push your email marketing to the next level.

 

Email Marketing Sins:

Sin #1: Blindly engaging in email marketing without developing an email marketing strategy.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that email marketing can be successful without an existing strategy. Sending out blind email campaigns is doomed to fail. The most important factors for successful email marketing are: a clear strategy, defined goals and predetermined KPIs.

Setting goals

First, set your goals and ask yourself what you want to achieve through email marketing. Do you want to increase your number of social media subscribers? Do you want to increase your sales figures? Tell your customers about a new product? Or maybe strengthen relationships with your customers? The clearer you formulate your goals, the more likely it is that you’ll be successful.

Developing a strategy

Once your aims are clearly defined, it’s time to develop an email marketing strategy to help you achieve your goals. For instance, if you want to work harder to cultivate relationships with your customers, just send a batch of emails asking your customers for their opinions or rewarding them for their loyalty, or send them a personalized thank-you email.

Miss Selfridge Personalised Feedback Email

 

Defining KPIs

In order to analyze and assess your goals and achievements, it’s important to define KPIs. They reflect the effectiveness of your email marketing. KPIs provide you with an overview of your strengths and weaknesses and indicate whether or not your goals have been achieved so that you can change or adapt your strategy accordingly.

KPI Framework

 

Sin #2: Promoting too much or too little.

Promotion is also one of the most important factors of success in email marketing, but it consistently poses a huge challenge for email marketers.

If you send too few newsletters, your subscribers will forget you and you’ll have your work out how to establish customer relationships and improve your sales figures. If, however, you have a high sending frequency and promote your products in newsletters on a daily basis, your customers will quickly get irritated. This leads to newsletter de-registrations, getting blocked or—worst of all—getting marked as spam. Your sender reputation will be damaged, and your sales figures may take a hit.

Therefore, sending frequency has an important role to play in email marketing. We recommend carrying out A/B tests to determine the ideal day, time and frequency for sending out your marketing materials.

Send your campaigns at different times and on different days, and increase and decrease your sending frequency. Compare the results of all campaigns with one another, and analyze the time and frequency that’s suitable for your customers and newsletter subscribers. Tailor these results to the sending of your newsletter, and that’s how you’ll find the right amount of promotion.

Sin #3: Ending email communication abruptly.

Many businesses are aware of the fact that a welcome email has huge potential in email marketing to create customer loyalty. But after a customer has been given a cordial welcome, deathly silence ensues in the subscriber’s inbox—a mistake that can cause you to quickly lose a potential buyer. Don’t just bury your new customers in your ex-customer graveyard straight away. Instead, establish strong customer relationships by sending them personalized, high-quality emails after the welcome email, offering them added value.

For starters, it’s important to leave a positive first impression with the welcome email. Avoid predictable phrases such as “You have registered successfully” and “Welcome, you have registered to our newsletter”. Give your customers a chance to try out your products and services, and pique their interest with a new-customer discount code. Only a few subscribers will want to miss out on this benefit.

You will score major brownie points if you customize the email at the time of registration. This creates the impression that you put the email together just for them and ensures instant customer loyalty.

Tattly Welcome Email

 

After the initial purchase, it’s worth sending a feedback questionnaire so that your customer has the opportunity to rate your products and services. That way, you don’t just show that you’re interested in your customers’ opinions, but you also receive important information that can be used for your optimization process. Additional emails that can follow after a welcome email are:

  • Emails where you offer your assistance if the customer has not reached out for a while.
  • Reminder emails that refer to products in their basket or to the new customer discount that has not yet been redeemed.
  • Emails with product recommendations, based on the customer’s buying behavior.

Below you can see an example of how a reminder email might look like. This way, you make your customers aware of the products that are waiting in their shopping basket. By adding a promo code or special offers you motivate your customers to complete the ordering process.

 

Abandoned Cart Email

 

Sin #4: Sending emails with too many images and too much information.

Of course, everyone wants a newsletter subscriber to recognize and understand all the information in the email. But if you try to cram too much information and too many visual aids into an email, you are bombarding your recipients with information, which will put them off rather than attract them.

It’s important for your emails to offer added value and to have a balanced proportion of text and images. Arrange your emails in a structured manner, and divide them up into header, footer and main body. Use related links and work with short texts that provide an incentive to read on. By sticking to the fundamentals of email design when creating your campaigns, you’ll attract your customers with your emails.

The following example shows you what sections make up a great email layout. The header, main body and footer are bordered with different colors for more clarity. In this way, you can see what content belongs to each area.

Email Design Structure

 

Sin #5: Putting off your subscribers with boring content and designs.

Even clearly structured emails can bore customers to death. One of the cardinal sins in email marketing is having content and design that is as dry as a bone. It won’t have a positive impact on your click- or conversion rates. Dust off your emails and make use of segmentation and personalization to breathe new life into your campaigns. Analyze your customer’s buying behavior, use their demographic and geographic data and create personalized emails that you only send to specific segments. That way, you’ll kindle the customer’s desire to buy and engage in successful email marketing.

Sephora Email

 

However, exclusive birthday and anniversary offers or interactive content, competitions and themed designs for or special occasions such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween or Black Friday also give your emails a special touch that will ensure they are opened.

Sin #6: Not having responsive design.

As the mobile phone is our most faithful companion during everyday life, emails are increasingly being read on mobile devices. Not using a responsive design is the death knell for every email marketer, as delayed texts, broken images and CTAs that are too small are extremely annoying for everyone who owns a smartphone.

Cineworld Unresponsive Email

Don’t do this.

Emails that reach their recipients in this way can be stigmatized faster than you can say email marketing. To prevent this, send your emails in responsive design.

Passport Responsive Email

 

The easiest way to draft emails like this by using email editors, such as Passport. The processing program saves your campaigns in responsive design so that your emails are automatically adapted to the device’s screen size without affecting the design of your newsletter. Creating these types of emails is still a challenge for many developers. However, this problem can be quickly solved with MJML, Mailjet’s open source markup language, as you generate simple, high-quality, responsive HTML codes.

Sin #7: Panicking when subscribers unsubscribe.

No one likes it when newsletter subscribers ask to be removed from your list. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end. Far from it! It doesn’t matter how well you engage in email marketing, there will always be people who unsubscribe. For instance, if your recipients’ interests change or your sending frequency isn’t optimized, some readers may want to part. Make use of these decisions from your subscribers, and get the best out of yourself to stay long in people’s memories for the right reasons.

Design the unsubscribe process to make it as simple as possible and always ask for the reason for unsubscribing. Use the responses to optimize your email marketing and uncover potential weaknesses. All this shows that unsubscribes are an important part of email marketing and ensure that you keep developing your strategy.

 

Do you know of any more approaches that should definitely be avoided in email marketing? What experiences have you had? Share your ideas and experiences with us on Facebook and Twitter.