Any digital marketer worthy of his or her name will tell you that email is still the best and most reliable way to connect with your customers. What's better than getting directly into their computers and phones?
Guy Steeves of Constant Contact presented a useful talk about e-newsletter marketing, and why it's still the "sexiest new social media app" (direct quote) around. Here are the highlights of his presentation.
Clicks matter most
When people discuss newsletter analytics, they tend to focus on the open rate. But according to Steeves, it's the click rate that matters. High click rates show that your readers are interested in what you have to say; they are telling you to "show me more".
The problem is, how do you get those clicks? How do you engage people with a newsletter so that they will be not only tempted, but compelled to click through?
Be of service
If you're an expert, be of service to people. Help them with questions, problems and issues. People love to get free help, so providing that help through email newsletters is the best way to increase trust and engagement. Bring your expert knowledge to those who need it the most, and they will love you for it.
Of course, the point of the newsletter is to get people on your website. This is why you only provide snackable bits of content in the email, and share the rest on your website.
Call to action details
Calls to action are the link between your newsletter and your website. Without clear, obvious and urgent calls to action, your readers are not likely to click through your website. Calls to action need to be big and obvious, and normally placed above the fold (i.e. before people need to scroll). Make sure that your calls to action are "thumbable"; that you can click them with a thumb on a smartphone. All your pictures should also be linked to content because they are also easy to click on a smartphone screen.
The best calls to action elicit a physical, measurable response.
Measure more to engage better
According to Steeves, if you're not measuring, you're not marketing. Keeping track of your opens, clicks and other engagement measures will help you figure out what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong.
You should also use your email newsletter to survey your customers at least a few times every year. The surveys don't need to be long–3 to 5 questions–and they can reveal lots of interesting information about your readers that you wouldn't learn otherwise.
The 2-2-2 Principle
This is Steeves' formula for email marketing: you have 2 seconds to attract attention, the first 2 words are crucial, and your readers should want to open your email today (2day).
Your subject line is the most important element of your email. It's how readers know that they should open your email right away. Without a sense of urgency (or a reputation for outstanding content), readers have no compelling reason to stop whatever they're doing and read your email.
Be aware of CASL
If you're already using a newsletter or planning on starting one soon, you need to be aware of CASL, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law.
In summary, the law requires you to receive consent for email newsetter opt-ins. The consent should be expressed (as in clicking a box in a signup form). Implied consent is okay too, but it's better to receive expressed consent. After it comes into effect, the law requires that you get expressed consent from all subscribers within the next 3 years.
I'll get around to writing a summary of the law as it affects businesses who send email newsletters in the next few weeks, but keep this in mind as you reflect on your newsletter practices.
My clearest takeaway from this session was that email is a way to get heard, while social media is a way to get shared. A newsletter is more intimate, and ultimately more effective, than just posting on Facebook or Twitter.
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