Does your business use e-mail newsletters? If you do, are yours well designed and do they use a template that controls how it appears in the recipient’s e-mail client or HTML e-mail? Do you send a text only e-mail to those who opt to receive only text or whose e-mail clients block images? Do you have permission from all your recipients to send them your newsletter? Do you offer an easy opt out for those who decide they’d no longer like to receive your updates?
E-mail marketing is so common these days, that many business owners forget the point of it: To engage and provide information that causes the customer to transact business with your company.
Your e-mail newsletter should:
- Be CAN-SPAM compliant. You say, “What’s that? I don’t spam.” Well, if you add people to your mailing list and then send them your latest news updates without their permission, you are in violation of the most important part of the law. From the FTC:
…the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.
Assuming that you are compliant with the law, what is next on the list of important information about your e-mail marketing?
- Be visually appealing. There is a reason good design works. The brain assimilates information in a particular order. A professionally designed template (most commercial e-mail marketing services offer them and you can customize them to suit your needs) is important to use. Don’t use 5 fonts in every version (bold, italic, all caps—in fact avoid all caps like the plague.) Don’t make your newsletter look like a bad church newsletter.
- Offer information that in keeping with your brand’s message and which is of interest to the reader. It is better to avoid sending a newsletter than send one with information that is not of interest to the reader. If you don’t know what to write about, ask your customers what is important to them and then write about that.
- Make sure it is well written. Check your use of pronouns as well as subject and verb agreement.
- Use photos. Remember a picture tells a story and is worth a thousand words is not just all hyperbole.
- Have a call to action. Request your customer’s interaction.
- Monitor and test subject lines. Not all subject lines are of interest. Most e-mail programs allow you to test your subjects to see which produce quicker opens and higher open rates.
- Monitor open rates. So you know who is reading your newsletter and when. With fine tuning you can get your open rates higher by monitoring how soon after receiving readers open or what time of the day gets the most opens.