For many Internet marketers email newsletters are one of the main means to not only promote their products or services but also to build and enhance relationships with existing and potential customers and generate leads. Achieving these goals is possible only if the newsletter contains valuable and trusted content for the readers, clients, partners or prospects. Otherwise, they won’t simply read the newsletter.
A newsletter that gives something of value moves the prospect or customer to the next level of the relationship, impels them to visit your website where they will probably take a desired action: download software demo version, subscribe to another newsletter, or maybe purchase some of your products or services.
To ensure that your email looks interesting and informative, consider the following tips for creating a better newsletter content and layout:
- Follow opt-in page expectations. A good approach to the message content starts with your opt-in process. Be sure that you justify the subscriber’s expectations. People can subscribe to receive articles about best practices, news & tips, new trends and the like. So, they may not like to be overwhelmed with sales or promotional messages. If you have an archive of previous issues of your newsletter on your website, you can provide a link to back issues in your message so that the subscribers can see exactly what to expect.
- Provide a table of contents. If your newsletter deals with more than one or two issues, consider including an “In This Issue” or "Here is the agenda of this email" section at the top of your newsletter. This will help the readers quickly understand what you’ll talk about in the message and if appropriate provide a link down to each topic within the newsletter.
- Include short teaser articles. For articles longer than three or four paragraphs, use short “teaser” introductions that warm up your reader’s appetite and motivate them to click the link to read the entire article posted on your website. This approach lets the readers quickly find the article they are most interested in and enables you to track which articles and topics are mostly read.
- Use sidebar boxes and columns. Here you can provide your company and new product information, news, events, resource links, brochure links, etc. This way the readers can easily find this information while clearly separating it in their mind from the primary editorial value of your newsletter.
- Be personal. If you write on behalf of your company, it doesn’t mean the newsletter can’t have a personality. Let the readers feel that a human is communicating with them. Establish someone as the editorial face of your newsletter and address the reader on behalf of that person.
- List tips and best practices. We discovered that the emails including “tips” had a higher open rate. No matter what profession your subscribers have, they are always interested in practical ideas they can implement. For this reason, consider including a "Quick Tip" section into your newsletter focusing around actionable tips.
- Use an unobtrusive self promotion. While providing your readers with tips and best practices, include a subtle reference to your company’s products or services when appropriate. If it fits in the context, it will help your customers put your tips into practice at the same time helping you achieve your marketing goals.
- Provide case studies. Special case studies are always interested to readers as they give examples of how methods and practices work and prove their effectiveness and vice versa.
- Include FAQ/Ask The Expert section. Topics dedicated to answering questions are a great way not only to excite the reader’s interest but also to establish your company as an expert in your marketing area.
- Provide a “Feedback” link. Using this link at the end of your newsletter readers can easily send you a feedback and suggestions for other articles.
- Highlight new features. While focusing on the email Subject line, do not forget about the message preview. Many recipients open the message in the email client’s preview window. That’s why you should pay close attention to what your recipients will see in that little window. If you write about new products or services or list the product’s new features, consider placing that important information, key links and images in the way they fit the preview panel.