Sunday, March 1, 2009

Does Your Newsletter Taste Like Chicken?

Since it's the start of a new month and a new quarter, many newsletters are, as we speak making their way into unsuspecting inboxes everywhere. But how do you insure yours makes it through all the clutter?

5 Key Strategies for Effective Newsletter Design

#1 - Make Them Memorable
Here is a very clever example of labeling the typical types of content found in most Newsletters:

#2 - Include Only Your Best Stuff
Your Newsletter is not the place to stick all the leftover assets you don't know what else to do with. The sole purpose of your newsletter is to inform your customer about their industry. Only assets that position you as a Thought Leader ever belong in your Newsletter. It should NEVER be about you, but rather about your customer.

Content that typically generate higher click-through rates include:
  • "How-to" Articles

  • Customer Experiences (Case Studies)

  • Best Practices

  • High-level Strategy Articles

  • Interviews with Industry Thought Leaders

#3 - Make it Relevant
Leverage the power of your marketing automation app in segmenting your Newsletter. Sending your IT Newsletter to someone in sales is probably not going to get you much attention. Hopefully you have the tools available to dynamically add content to the newsletter specific to the recipient.

#4 - Design the Announcement Email as the "Cover" of your Newsletter
Don't make the email you are sending to announce the Newsletter also serve AS the Newsletter itself. It's typically too much to try and squeeze into an email.

Instead, take a tip from magazines and make the announcement email act as the "cover" to entice users to click through to the actual Newsletter.

The above is a perfect example of how magazine covers get you to pick them up off the shelf. They typically imply an "easy read", with numbered bullets to entice you to want to learn more:

  • 2 Rules for…
  • 3 New Ways to…
  • 4 Lessons from
  • 5 Critical Steps…

But be careful - don’t imply too much time or effort:

  • 99 Ways to Succeed
  • Take Our 45-Minute Survey
  • Free 600-page Report

Learn which topics get read and which ones get ignored. Always seek to better your last Newsletter's performance by benchmarking against yourself. Forget what the industry "averages" are. The only benchmark that really matters (and is 100% accurate BTW) is where you currently are right now.

Newsletters have been around forever. They were the original Blog. But today, effective newsletters are less focused on what your company has been up to, but rather on providing tips, tricks and strategies your customers can leverage in helping them do their jobs better.

Steve Kellogg
Eloqua Certified Marketing Best Practices Consultant

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