My brother had a brief, amateur career in break dancing. That was several decades ago, and I have a hard time now picturing what he looked like then, spinning around the kitchen linoleum on his head. I know it happened, though, because it’s immortalized in our “Across the Miles” newsletter, one of my first forays into content creation and distribution.
That family newsletter had a short run – only a few issues. However, it hit on some key best practices that apply to modern e-newsletter programs. It gave readers educational content they could use (like a recipe for making Grandma’s Cuban rice), it was sent only to readers who had opted in (through blood or marriage) and it was short (by necessity, because my electric typewriter presented serious production challenges).
Best practices for e-newsletters
Today, companies are re-embracing email newsletters as part of integrated communications programs because they continue to deliver returns on investment. It’s not hard to see why. The content your prospects ask to receive should be among your most valuable when it comes to lead generation and nurturing, awareness and other strategic goals. After you define those goals, follow these best practices to ensure you get the highest returns from your newsletter program:
- Give audiences educational content they can use. Aim for about 90 percent educational information and only 10 percent promotional.
- Keep it short and digestible. Aim for 400 to 600 words, tops.
- Make it easy on the eyes. Use lots of white space.
- Keep your subject line to 50 characters or fewer, make it compelling and make sure you fulfill the promise in your subject line.
- Drive audiences to premium content on your website by focusing on one primary call to action (CTA).
- Create a button for the CTA, and experiment with placement. Do you get more clicks with the call to action at the top? At the bottom?
- About half of email opens happen on mobile devices. Your e-newsletter should be as enjoyable to read on a smartphone as it is on a desktop computer.
- If you’re using images or buttons, don’t forget the alt text. This will be key for any readers who have images disabled.
- Send your e-newsletter ONLY to recipients who opt in.
- Make it easy for people to unsubscribe if they choose to do so.
- Ask for opt-ins on your website homepage, in your blogs, in your email signature, on social media, and at company and industry events.
- Run A/B tests to determine which distribution times will be most beneficial with your target audience.
- Create an editorial plan and stick with it, so recipients know when to expect your emails.
- Analyze your open rates, click-thru rates, site registrations and other data monthly in order to refine your strategy.
Should e-newsletters be part of your broader PR and marketing efforts? Ask Metis.