April 11, 2016

The 4 Key Components of a Killer Email Newsletter

The 4 Key Components of a Killer Email Newsletter

Email newsletters are an incredibly powerful content marketing tool. Savvy marketers consistently trumpet the benefits of email marketing, touting conversion rates that consistently surpass those of social media and often exceed those of search and pay-per-click.

In fact, Campaign Monitor says that the average company sees a $38 return for every $1 spent on email marketing. To start seeing those terrific returns, ensure that you have these 4 key email newsletter components. 

1. Content for All the Right Personas

As you decide what to put into each issue of your email newsletter, consider your buyer personas. Every newsletter should have at least one piece of content for each persona. This approach can help you gather valuable insight you can use to segment your list: your readers' click data. As you see trends in the kinds of content that each contact clicks, you'll get a better picture of that contact's buyer persona, allowing you to send more segmented, targeted emails — an approach that generates a whopping 58% of all revenue for some companies.

The first step in creating a multiple-persona friendly email is to build a template that accommodates the content you'll need. Determine how many different content modules you'll need. If you have, say, four to five primary personas that are all equally important, the best format will give equal weight to each piece of content. If you have one primary persona and a few niche ones, perhaps the content for the primary persona should be most prominent, with content for other personas in a sidebar. 

Also review your editorial calendar. Have you methodically chosen blog topics that correspond with each of your personas? If you plan well, you can repurpose your blog articles to use in your company's email newsletters. 

2. Simple, Mobile-Friendly Design

What's the number-one email client? As of February 2016, it was iOS for Apple iPhone, with 33% of the 1.21 billion opens tracked by Litmus Email Analytics. Meanwhile the Radicati Group predicted
in "Email Statistics Report, 2014-2018" that the number of mobile email users will grow by 23% this year. Mobile open rates certainly vary by industry, as illustrated in sign-up.to's 2016 Email Marketing GRAPH: device opens on mobile devicesBenchmark Report. But regardless of your industry, you can't afford to ignore the growth in mobile open rates. 

Work closely with your designer and developer to craft an email newsletter template that will render well on mobile devices. A few best practices to keep in mind: 

  • Stick to 600 pixels. That's the perfect width for a mobile-friendly email; more than 600 will require users to scroll left and right to see the entire email. 
  • Aim for a single-column layout. Multiple columns will appear tiny on a phone screen, forcing the user to zoom in and scroll around the page. 
  • Make fonts legible. It can already be tough to read emails on a small screen, so stick with fonts of 14 px and larger. Also steer clear of fonts with many flourishes — and of course Comic Sans
  • Make your links finger-friendly. Display CTA buttons prominently, so they're easy to click with a finger. And avoid closely adjacent or stacked in your body text. 

3. A Clear Path Back to Your Website

Many marketers make a critical mistake in treating their email newsletters as standalone content pieces. But your email communications offer a golden opportunity to bring people back to your website, where you can then share more value and learn more about your contacts.

The most obvious way to include links back to your website is by using snippets of blog content for your email newsletters; at the end of the snippet, invite your contacts to continue reading with a link to the full article. This is particularly appropriate if most of your recipients are relatively early in the buying cycle. If your email will go to contacts who are further along in the buying cycle, include a link to a relevant offer with a clear, prominent call to action. 

Remember that every link in your email is an invitation for your readers to go somewhere else. Be strategic about the links you include; they should all lead to content designed to both deliver value to contacts, and to help you learn more about your contacts' challenges, interests and mindset. 

4. Personalization

What if adding one word to your company emails could improve everything from open rates to transaction value? That one word might just be your contact's name. According to Marketing Sherpa, research from Experian Marketing Services showed that personalized subject lines increased open GRAPH: personalization and email open ratesrates by an average of 29.2%. And personalizing emails also quintupled transaction rates. Personalization is a simple email marketing tactic with demonstrable and meaningful ROI. 

Try out personalizing your subject line or adding your contacts' names to your email greeting. But there's no need to stop with contacts' names; add a name and a face to your company by sending email newsletters from a specific employee. Include that employee's name, photo and contact information in the email message. That simple method can greatly improve customer engagement and other key metrics. 

The next step: personalize based on your contacts' behavior. Called trigger emails, these communications can be incredibly effective — and KissMetrics reports that they have a 152% higher open rate than traditional emails. Trigger emails can often be automated, so you don't even have to think about sending them. Free Checklist: How to Run an Inbound Marketing Campaign

Kristin Masters

Kristin Masters is a content marketing specialist with almost a decade's experience in SEO and social marketing. A HubSpot maven, Kristin has developed and implemented inbound marketing strategies for a variety of B2B and B2C clients. Kristin graduated from the University of Florida with an ever-useful specialization in 18th-century British literature. She teaches Bikram yoga.