Saturday, April 2, 2011

E-Newsletter 101

Now that people are engaging with your brand on a daily basis, you are more concerned about your newsletter and planning to send it out regularly, monthly, weekly or maybe daily if you generate that much content. Below is a list of items that you already know, but I just compiled them for you:

1. Starting with your "TO" field. People often select "no-reply" or "webmaster" as the "TO" field? Why? what is the purpose, is it like a "We talk to you, you don't talk to us" like approach? If you are asking people to enjoy your brand, then you are better off stating that you are ready to hear back their thoughts. "no-reply" isnt quite inviting. Go with something friendlier, choose a friendly name: Matt, Helen, Joan, Melissa...whatever you want, just make it sound human.

2. "CC" and "BCC", a definite NO for both fields. Keep them nice and clean, don't use them

3. Subject: Keep the subject short and self explanatory, avoid using characters or expressions that help in marking you as a spammer: All Caps subject, exclamation marks, question marks. Special keywords such as "Free, Win, Now!, Enjoy...etc..." are all a no-no for most spam engines.
Also keep in mind that some recipient would like to archive your e-newsletter (or quickly find it in their inbox), so make sure you introduce a certain pattern within your subject (or just a keyword maybe), that would simply allow the user to search for one term in the subject field and get all your newsletters.

4. Your email body: Start by stating why your recipient is receiving this email. Should be something like: You are receiving this email because you are subscribed to, a website description.
Afterwards start with the body of your newsletter, you usually put in whatever you want in here, just try to reduce the number of images as most mail clients don't allow much images to be sent thru, and outlook becomes really heavy when downloading a lot of images, and might result a deletion of your email by the user.
Finally, You must have added your social media links to the newsletter, and are asking people to follow you / join you, you'd better state why they should follow you. For example follow us on Twitter for regular news updates, Follow us on Facebook and be part of our competitions...etc...

In your email body, think about:

  • Users who are opening up the newsletter on mobile devices
  • Users who are previewing your newsletter (Either using the reading pane of outlook or any other email client, or the desktop notification of popular email clients)

5. Your newsletter footer: This is an area not to be disregarded, your footer should definitely include an un-subscribe link, I know you don't like this, but hey - give people the choice :) - Also, make sure that your unsubsribe page on your website pushes people to change their mind...don't just put in a message "Thank you for unsubscribing....blablabla..." It would also be a good idea to ask the un-subscriber: WHY? (Never too late to ask for advice  and compile more insights)
Finally, the footer should also include the physical address of your company, with the POBox number. This helps you in gaining more credibility (and decreases the chances of you getting marked as spam)

Some notes you should consider:

  • If you opt for a full graphical newsletter, keep in mind that most email clients would block the image downloads. Make sure you have enough TEXT showing what the newsletter is about to incite the user to download the pictures...and why not inform the user that he needs to allow picture download to fully view the newsletter (This could be put in the image "ALT" attribute).
  • Keep in mind that most email client do not support more than 50 images as attachment (In case you are embedding the images within the email), in case you are referencing the images from your server, make sure you keep old images, so that users archiving your newsletter can still have access to it
  • Never forget to track: How many users are coming to your website via your newsletter, to your facebook page, and how many followed you on Twitter, what is the most "clickable" area of your newsletter...etc... Data Data Data help you learn, improve and target.
  • Don't forget to add reference numbers for your e-newsletters. Help users organize themselves and quickly identify what they are looking for, whether in their inbox or on your website.
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