3 Essential Elements for an Amazing Email Newsletter
3 Essential Elements for an Amazing Email Newsletter
Updated Jul 26, 2022
People keep saying, “Email is dead.” Sometimes, they even say it in emails.
The reality is that bad emails were always ineffective, but awesome emails are more valuable than ever. With all the new platforms vying for our time and attention, sometimes it seems like our inboxes are the only place we can maintain a little control.
Amazing email newsletters deliver surprising insights or create joy. They sound like they were written by an actual human being, with a personality, not the Voice of a Brand.
So what does it take to get the right people opting in and reading your content so you can build that authentic connection?
Building an Engaged Audience
Without an audience, your weekly newsletter is just a digital “note to self.” But you have to earn every subscriber.
Articulate Your Content Value Proposition
The goal of B2B email marketing should be quality, not quantity. You want to send an email newsletter designed to deliver value to a highly targeted and engaged audience. Think of your newsletter as a product in itself.
You might get newsletter signups from people who randomly discover you, but you will grow your list most effectively by clearly articulating your target reader and explaining how signing up for your newsletter will improve their life or business.
One structure for this pitch is the classic value proposition formula: What for Whom. What benefit will someone get from signing up? Who will it be most valuable for?
Once you’ve clarified your content value proposition, proudly share who you are and what your newsletter offers. You want to be clear, but you can still be enticing and even a little mysterious. Tease your audience with enough information to compel them to click through to your site and/or fill out the email signup form.
Speaking of signup forms, you want a dedicated landing page for email signups, even if you have signup boxes elsewhere on your website. This landing page is a great place to express your newsletter’s value proposition.
Give Your Subscribers a Choice
This is the cardinal rule of effective newsletter marketing: Don’t send people emails they don’t want. This applies throughout the email subscriber life cycle. Send emails to people who have signed up, send them only what they’ve agreed to receive, and stop sending them email if they unsubscribe.
This is the ideal method for growing your list – and the only kind we support at Rep Cap. This puts the power in the hands of your audience and, by requiring confirmation, ensures they actually want to be part of your audience. Some email publishers even practice double opt-in subscription, in which the user signs up by entering their email and receives a confirmation email they must engage with before being added to the list.
Under this approach, you automatically include the recipient on your emails and require them to actively unsubscribe to change that. This tactic has its uses, but opt-out lists, as you might expect, have significantly lower engagement rates. Opt-in lists perform as much as 21 times better, according to one case study.
While it isn’t illegal to send cold, unsolicited emails or even spam email, the CAN-SPAM Act places certain demands on email senders in the U.S., as recipients must be given an option to unsubscribe and a physical address to contact the sender. Sending unsolicited or spam email annoys people, and you also risk running afoul of privacy laws and other regulations in the U.S., Europe and other jurisdictions.
Rather than looking for loopholes in the laws, follow their spirit and don’t trap people on your list without permission.
Grow Your Target Audience
Myriad marketing strategies and tactics are available to grow your lists, from partnerships, to social media promotion to referral programs and word of mouth.
Word of mouth can be especially difficult to spark, but these subscribers can become your most engaged and loyal fans because they’ve heard how great you are before signing up. And those are the readers you ultimately want. You aren’t just building an audience — you’re building a community.
Likewise, if your readers love your content, encourage them to share the newsletter with their friends and colleagues. Many newsletters have found success with referral incentives, such as offering swag or other perks for people who generate a certain number of referral signups. Make this process easier with visible sharing buttons and/or clearly written instructions. Don’t just ask readers to help you; explain to them the cachet of being a referrer.
Your social media channels, website and existing content are also powerful tools for building your email list. When people register for your gated content or events, give them to option of signing up for your newsletter, too.
Before these people get a single newsletter from you, they’ve already engaged with your brand.
Getting Deliverability Right
It’s impossible to build an audience if subscribers aren’t actually receiving your emails. Keep your content flowing by optimizing deliverability.
Watch Your Bounce Rate
A variety of issues can trigger an email bounce – the email itself may no longer be valid or your sending domain may be blocked because you’ve spammed people in the past. Healthy email lists have only a few bounces with each send.
- 0.5% — The bounce rate industry standard
- 2% or more — The bounce rate danger zone
A bounce rate over 2% creates the risk of being flagged by your email service provider (ESP) — and it could get your account suspended or shut down.
Invest in a Reliable Email Validation Service
If you’re using an imported contact list, run it through an email validation service before you upload it to evaluate the quality of the list. This scrubs email addresses that would bring down your engagement rate, such as invalid email addresses, spam traps and addresses known to frequently report abuse.
Email validation services increasingly use artificial intelligence and other technologies to score the quality of email addresses. This helps optimize campaigns and avoid negative impact to your list.
We love ZeroBounce for its excellent security practices, which is particularly important if you work in a regulated industry such as financial services or health care. Other options include:
What Is a Spam Trap?
Spam traps take several forms, one being accounts created by internet service providers (ISPs) with the express purpose of catching email spammers who are building their lists through disreputable means. Getting caught in a spam trap can hurt your deliverability, and having spam emails or other inactive addresses on your list can also affect the accuracy of your data.
Pick the Right Email Marketing Platform
A good email marketing platform centralizes all of your email newsletter operations and helps you learn from your send data. These platforms also help you send a variety of email communications, including newsletters, while keeping the look and feel consistent from send to send.
Your email marketing platform should offer features like A/B subject line testing, inbox previews, open rates and mobile options. We recommend Campaign Monitor as a standalone email marketing platform in large part because of its deliverability performance. Other options include:
If you use a full marketing automation platform, such as HubSpot or Marketo, your email marketing should run through it.
Whichever digital marketing platform you decide on, commit to it. Your platform tracks your data, and the more emails you send, the smarter it gets, which can only help improve your email marketing campaigns and newsletter performance.
Creating Compelling Content
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which email platform you use is if your newsletters aren’t delivering compelling content. Here’s what you need to create great content that resonates with your audience.
Deliver an Irrisistible Subject Line
Think about how many emails you receive each day. How many do you even notice, much less feel compelled to open? If you want your emails to stand out, your subject line needs to evoke an emotional response. You only get five to seven words, or about 40 characters — each one counts! If you want people opening your emails, you’ll need a strong subject line.
- Match the tone of the email and your brand.
- Avoid jargon.
Craft Newsletter Copy With Punch
Once you’ve got your reader’s attention, make it count! The body of your email newsletter has to deliver on what your subject line promises. Crisp copy and images with punch are essential.
You have a message to share, so get to it. Be bold and direct with your call to action rather than ramble or bury your point. Long blocks of text won’t keep your readership’s attention and could reduce their engagement with any links or CTA buttons you include.
At the same time, quality matters more than length. If you have something of value to say, don’t cut yourself short.
Break up your text with sections and images. For example, your top section might cover the main topic or be a first-person short essay, while the next section links to informational content, shares an upcoming event or promotes a product update.
Images also break up text while adding value of their own. Experiment with GIFs to inject movement (and humor) into your content. Swap out the stock art for casual yet custom images. Sharing behind-the-scenes photos of your team or your work processes humanizes your brand.
This kind of content elevates your brand. Provide value to your subscribers and they’ll move organically down your marketing funnel.
Thought Leaders Are Market Leaders.
Email newsletters are a powerful vehicle for communicating your thought leadership and building long-term relationships with your prospects and customers.
Ready to see how content marketing can drive growth for your firm? Schedule a brief consultation and learn how our framework can help you:
- Develop your reputation for thought leadership.
- Fuel your account based marketing with differentiated content.
- Strengthen your employer branding by telling the stories of the people who power your company.