26 Apr 2018
How To Plan An Effective Newsletter Strategy
26 Apr 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
- Latest industry news;
- Invitations to exclusive events;
- Access to exclusive content such as e-books, courses, checklists, or guides.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.