Does your marketing strategy include email newsletters? If so, you’re among the 77 percent of B2B marketers who use them. It’s one of the top content marketing tactics, according to Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report. Traditionally, email newsletters have one of the highest engagement rates and returns on investment.
But how do you know if your emails are really working? Typically, the first metric you look at is your open rate. And sure, open rates may not be fool-proof — they can be slightly inflated or deflated depending on mail clients. Because of that, many say click-through rates (CTR) are a better performance indicator.
Still, for the reader to click, he or she first has to open the newsletter — so you absolutely need to track that open rate, too. Even if the rates might be skewed, people have to see what’s on the outside to engage with what’s inside.
So how do you make sure your audience is actually reading your newsletter? Here are some tips to make sure your email newsletters click.
- Make a good first impression with smart subject lines. About 35 percent of email recipients open email based on subject lines, according to Convince&Convert. So what exactly makes a great subject line? Best practice is to keep subject lines short and sweet: ideally 50 characters or less. Insight: About 40 percent of emails are opened on mobile devices, which fit four to seven words on screens, according to ContactMonkey. In those important little words, avoid sounding like spam (“free,” “winner” or “not spam”). But, use actionable words that make it clear what the recipient can do with the email or how they will benefit. Then experiment with A/B testing to find out what kinds of subject lines perform best for your audience.
Don’t forget to use preview text, which appears next to the subject line and provides a brief description at the top of each email.
- Get personal. I’m talking about more than just adding “Dear [First Name].” Persona targeting can help you achieve higher open rates and ultimately higher CTRs. But it does take some effort to develop.
Here’s what you’ll want to do: Create a buyer persona, or research-based representations of who buyers are, what their goals and behaviors are, and how they make their purchasing decisions. Give this persona a name, job title, details about his or her role, demographics, goals, values, fears, and other information that would help you segment and target emails.
The buyer persona will ultimately allow you to customize content for different segments of your audience, as well as industries, leading you to higher open rates and deeper engagement. Also, discovering the time of day your audience most likely will read your email is key. Test a variety of send times (including weekends, depending on your audience) to see the changes in open rates.
Another personal touch: Send your email from a real person (not firstname.lastname@example.org). According to Convince&Convert, 43 percent of email recipients click the spam button based on the email “from” name or email address.
And, to further customize your newsletter, think about celebrating recipients’ milestones, such as birthdays and anniversaries, if that jibes with your company’s personality.
- Don’t forget to give your list some love. Purchased lists typically have low open rates. You need people who are actually interested in your business. Just saying. Each time you send a newsletter, monitor your list’s performance, check for things that might have an effect on your open rates, such as inactive subscribers or addresses with hard bounces, and clean it up accordingly.Continue to proactively build a stronger list, too. Explore co-marketing partnerships and leverage the success your partners are having.
- Get automated. As you scale your email marketing efforts, you might want to consider marketing automation, which can take your email marketing strategy to the next level and really increase your open rates. Email marketing alone requires you to do a lot of the heavy lifting, making sure targeted sends are deploying at the right time. Email service providers such as MailChimp or Constant Contact send mass emails and track open rates and clicks, but with more advanced marketing automation platforms such as Pardot and Marketo, you can go beyond the basics and be even more strategic and effective.
With marketing automation, you can integrate other marketing tactics and multistep campaigns, score leads based on how they interact with your content, nurture leads, monitor website actions, and measure the impact your emails have on your marketing initiatives based on revenue.
Email newsletters are a fantastic marketing tactic — but only if your readers actually click into the email and read your content. If you need help making your email newsletter a success, we can help.