Creating an email newsletter may sound simple, however it actually requires a high level of forward planning. There are a number of considerations when crafting an email newsletter, such as the aims, template design, copywrite and proofreading, with so many elements to coordinate it can be a daunting task to undertake.
In seven simple steps we can help you to create an effortlessly engaging email newsletter, with a formula that you can use time and time again.
1. Goals – What is your aim for the email?
Now, you maybe be thinking that this is stating the obvious, but this step is the perfect starting point. Underestimating the importance of planning ahead could cost you, especially as if you were to send out an email riddled with mistakes to your subscribers, it cannot be undone or amended. Although the editing and proofreading stages provide an opportunity to make adjustments, ensuring that everything is flawless before you send it out, actually begins in the planning stages.
Your newsletter should be part of a wider content strategy within your business marketing plan, so it’s worth considering what you aim to achieve by sending out this email. Do you want to direct traffic to your website? Generate leads? Grow your customer data base? Or are you simply updating your existing customers on an exciting piece of news or a special deal/incentive?
Sit down and have a good think about this one, once you have a clear plan of what you aim to achieve, you can move onto designing and writing your newsletter.
2. Content – What’s your subject line?
It is central to your planning to consider all aspects of content, from the subject line, to main body of text, images and calls-to-action. Dependent on your chosen goals for the newsletter, your content can come from a number of sources.
Perhaps you aim to produce a newsletter that informs your audience of up-and-coming news and events within the business, or even want to update customers on the latest trends? Make sure you spend adequate time researching data and relevant articles applicable to the content and your chosen audience.
Whatever content you decide to produce, it is important to have a clear plan ready to be executed. By sticking to a clear process, this will ensure that the email newsletter is produced quickly and efficiently, with ample time for proofing, editing and amending prior to send.
3. Template – How will it look?
Designing an email template on CRM software is really simple. You have the ability to drag and drop your content into place, edit the row layout and easily change text, enabling you to create an email that flows. With the opportunity to effortlessly edit your email, having a pre-set template may not be essential, however before you start constructing your newsletter it is important to have a good idea of how you would like the finish product to look. There is lots to consider concerning the layout; will it include company branding (colour schemes, logos)? Or will the photographic content match the images seen on your website or social media?
Consider the amount of information you wish to include and in what format; will the main body of text contain a news story relating to the business, or will you link up several different blog pieces? There are no set rules regarding the length, order and format of your email, you just need to discover what works for you and your customers. Perhaps you could try A/B testing to see what formula your audience respond to best.
Hint – Remember to include alternative text for your images. This allows your audience to understand the content of the email, if the images do not automatically download.
4. Proofreading – Does it all make sense?
Proofreading is arguably the most important step of all, take a look at our Top Tips for Proofreading for some tested tricks on how to keep your work mistake free.
No matter how stylish your email looks, or how great your copy is, when you send out an email newsletter to your subscribers there is no taking it back. Ensuring that it’s free from any spelling or grammatical errors and making sure all of your links work is crucial.
Research conducted by psychologist Tom Stafford (from the University of Sheffield) suggests that we don’t notice our own typos when proofreading as we already understand the meaning of the message we want to convey. Whereas when reading someone else’s writing we work to extract a message, through generalisations and component parts, for example turning letters into words, words into sentences, sentences into ideas and so on. As humans we combine this information with our expectations to reach a meaning, allowing us to use less brain power to arrive at a conclusion.
When reading back something we’ve written ourselves, we are aware of the message that has been conveyed and therefore have no expectation to reach meaning. So when parts of a message are missing, we tend not to notice any errors, as we already know what the text is trying to convey to us.
Stafford recommends that if you are proofreading your own work then you should make it look unfamiliar. Perhaps try changing the font, the background, or even print it off.
5. Test – how will it look in different browsers?
This step is part of the process that may be overlooked. Checking how the email will be displayed in different browsers, email providers and on different devices is crucial. It’s fantastic when an email looks stylish and flows well on a desktop, but what happens when this doesn’t translate well to a mobile device? Your audience who open their emails on their phone will miss out on all your hard work, and more importantly overlook the message you are trying to convey.
6. Timing – When will you send it?
Remember to take into account when you’ll send the email. It can be hard to know where to begin, and again it depends on how your audience respond, a good starting point is to send it within business hours. Think about when you take your breaks, catch up on emails, carry out research on articles/blogs, or even when you’re winding down for the weekend. Simply put, apply your own experience to the email schedule.
7. Measure – What did you achieve?
The final step comes after you’ve sent your email newsletter out to your subscribers, analysing the results is key to moving forward with your next newsletter campaign.
Referring back to step one, you will easily be able to measure the success of your campaign based on the goals you set in the first instance. The use of CRM software can help you to drill down into the performance of your campaign, look out for open and click through rates and heat maps to assess customer engagement, and if you’re looking at increasing web traffic, use tracking links and analytics tools to trace back to your email.
Analysing the results will enable you to understand what elements worked, and where improvements need to be made, this information can then be used to form a plan for the next campaign you run.
Once you’ve completed all of this, you will be ready to start again. Following the same seven simple steps and coupled with a strong email marketing campaign, you will be able to produce fantastic email newsletters that go from strength to strength.