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Tips for creating an effective newsletter
by Startacus Admin
Last month, we wrote about how to make your business newsletter stand out. Newsletters can be valuable tools in driving traffic to your site and, ultimately, gaining more customers. With this in mind, we thought we would revisit the subject and provide some more tips on how to get the most out of your newsletters.
First off, there is no perfect template for a newsletter that will do exactly what you want every time, so you need to try different things and test your newsletters out. Tailor the design and, obviously, content to your audience.
There are actually legal considerations with newsletters, so be sure to check these things before you start. Most of them are things that you should have in there anyway and should be covered by this quick checklist of the simple things that need no elaboration:
Company and contact information
A reminder of how the reader came to be on your mailing list
Links to your website and social media
A link to view the newsletter in plain text or in a browser
An unsubscribe link (do NOT hide this or make it hard to find).
As we mentioned in the last post, making a newsletter purely advertorial will do your business little to no good. You could be the world’s most beloved business and people will still get irritated and unsubscribe if every last pixel of your newsletter is dedicated to pushing your products or services down their throats. We have probably all signed up to a newsletter at some point only to unsubscribe again soon after because, day after day, all we get is sales.
Be the business that people like getting newsletters from because they are educational, interesting, and perhaps even entertaining (have you seen BuzzFeed’s ‘This Week in Cats’?). Make your newsletters around 80-90% that, and leave a little 10-20% for reminding readers that you have a discount running for newsletter subscribers, or whatever small piece of promotion you feel is most important.
Everyone knows that all sorts of things need a call-to-action. That might very well be the reason you have subscribers to your newsletter in the first place. However, if you have too many calls-to-action it can be annoying, confusing, or they’ll simply drown each other out. There’s no need to do away with them in favour of just one, but choose which one thing is the most important. Try relegating your other CTAs to simple links at the end of sections (‘Read more here’, for example). Then take your one important link and make a fuss about it; maybe put it in a banner across the the newsletter, near the top: ‘Click here for a chance to win!’, or whatever it happens to be, will now stand out to the reader a lot more than if it was just one of six equally important calls-to-action.
Not in a dream board kind of way, though do that too if you want. As we have written many times before, imagery is very important because we are such a visual species. Your newsletter is no different. You don’t need to litter it with pictures (in fact, you shouldn’t), but some well-chosen images could entice the reader to click through to your website as much as the copy it accompanies. Be it a comic panel or an infographic, a non-generic image could have great impact.
There are a couple of things to think about, however. More people check their email on their phones than browse the internet (which is already a lot of people), so make sure downloading your images isn’t likely to take them over their data limit. It isn’t hard to include high-quality images with small file sizes, and this will help them load faster too. Many people also have images turned off, so make sure to have alt text for every image. This text will show in place of your images, which is particularly important when your calls-to-action are in image form.
Use - or rather don’t use - white space. The last thing you want your newsletter to be is cluttered and confusing. Ensure your design has enough white space to make the newsletter comfortable to read. This also ensures that your extra important call-to-action isn’t lost, and the reader’s eye will be drawn to it.
Do the same for the copy. The goal of a newsletter is to have the reader click through to something, not sit at their inbox all day reading said newsletter. Give a concise overview of, say, your new helpful tips post - perhaps with an equally concise version of the first tip for good measure - and then one of your minor calls-to-action will invite them to read more on your website.
These days, thinking about how your content will look on mobile devices probably comes naturally, but we’re going to say it anyway. Make sure your newsletter can be viewed properly on any computer, tablet, and phone. Think about your image dimensions. Nobody likes having to scroll left and right to take in the entirety of your content, and it’s a sure way to lose subscribers. Make sure links are easy to tap on without accidentally selecting the wrong thing. TEST.
It is probably worth designing the mobile version specially, and a lot of providers such as MailChimp will allow you to do this easily.
One last tip that doesn’t quite relate to the actual creation is to have a subscribe page that tells people exactly what they are subscribing to. Let them know that your newsletters aren’t all about promotion, and maybe even give a sample. If people know what they will be getting, your subscribe/unsubscribe rates will be steadier.