Newsletters are like the Jason Bourne of marketing. They just don’t die! You may think driving your social media campaigns, Google AdWords and search engine optimisation will remove the need for newsletters. But the reality is, they are the number-one strategy for customer engagement.
Newsletters and electronic direct mail (EDM) allow you to engage with potential and current customers. In fact, your newsletter should be one of your most valuable marketing tools, especially for service-based businesses because it will add leads to your database, explode your conversion rate and foster effective relationships with existing customers.
Research by the Direct Marketing Association found that 66% of online consumers made a purchase because of an email marketing. It’s no surprise then that 89% of marketers say email is their preferred channel for lead generation. Depending on which study you read, you get $35 to $40 back for every dollar you invest in your email campaign.
There are countless email marketing platforms available, including MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, AWeber, iContact, Infusionsoft and Constant Contact, to name a few. Prices vary but you can often use them for free up to a certain number of subscribers.
As an influencer, you don’t want to simply add to the “noise”. Your newsletter isn’t about sending out content for content’s sake. You must add value to your audience by providing content that will delight people by sharing unique insights with them on a regular basis. That’s what will drive your open rate. An average open rate is a measure of how many email recipients open an email compared to the total number of emails delivered within a campaign. According to thought leadership expert Matt Church, the magic number we’re looking for is an open rate of 40%
Typically, an organisation’s EDM or newsletter open rate is under 20%. This could be because their product has become commoditised and there is a reduced emotional connection with the person sharing that expertise. Remember, subscribers want your newsletter – that’s why they’re on your list. They want to know more about you and your thought leadership. In a sense, a newsletter is a little like dating. Each newsletter increases the number of touchpoints you have with your customer, helping them decide whether they want to engage in a relationship with you.
If you don’t increase your newsletter open rate, you will need to work incredibly hard to increase your business’s revenue. For example, I recently worked with David, an expert with more than 7,000 people on his database. Although he had a sizeable database, he was struggling to engage his audience with his newsletters and his sales were suffering. He needed his EDM to connect with his database and be an organic part of his marketing and lead generation strategy.
So, how do you increase your open rate to 40%? There are seven steps you need to take.
1. Consistently create value-added content
Look at your style of content. Does it provide enough value and insight? Does it cater to the differing preferences of your audience? Is it captivating? Does it tell stories? Does it connect to your personal brand? For example, you may only send videos to your database but not everyone wants to watch a video. They might not have the time to watch a video or they may be sitting on a bus with no headphones, yet they would be happy to read or scan a newsletter on their smartphone. So, I recommend including a combination of media such as video, audio and written content in your EDM to ensure your content is easy to consume.
2. Tailor your content to specific audiences by splitting your database
When people receive content from you that’s not relevant to them, they will unsubscribe. They will lose trust in your message and the value you bring to them. It’s important you tailor your content by segmenting your database. For example, if you want to increase the amount of speaking you do, your newsletter should link to your speaker kit and showreel. There should also be a link that enables event organisers to book you as a speaker. However, if the same newsletter is being sent to people who simply want to attend your public programs, they don’t want to see your speaker kit. They want information on your courses and coaching programs. By splitting your database, you ensure the correct content goes to the right people, dramatically increasing your open rate.
3. The timing of the email is important
Timing is important to open rates. If you send your EDM on a day when people are less likely to read your email, then you could be missing out on a lot of interested customers. To know when to send your email campaigns, you have to know your audience and the best times to send. Research by Get Response found that the best day to send emails in order to get the highest open rate is Tuesday. Further research shows that readers are more likely to open emails after 12 p.m. And that 23% of all email opens occur during the first hour after delivery. After 24 hours, an email’s chance of being opened drops below 1%!
4. Be creative with titles and headlines
The impact of your newsletter’s title and headline cannot be underestimated. They are usually the first things people see in their inbox and can be the difference between your audience opening your newsletter and hitting delete.
Sometimes we forget to stay on message in our EDM. It’s important your message is clear and consistent in your newsletter titles and headlines. For example, if you’re a leadership expert and your thought leadership is around resilience, you need to use one of those words in all of your newsletter titles and headlines. There are online tools that can help you test the effectiveness of your headlines. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer is one such tool. You know your headline is on the right track if it gets a score above 70.
5. Keep your content above the line
As influencers, our job is to help people to see their potential. We need to show them the opportunities and possibilities available to them. However, occasionally we fail to show a hero’s journey in our content. Anthropologist Joseph Campbell’s research into the stories told across different cultures and countries found a common pattern, which he called “The Hero’s Journey.” The character or “hero” undergoes a physical and/or emotional battle, then rises to victory. The hero’s journey is something people can relate to.
Sometimes when I meet an influencer, they’re super inspiring. They have lots of energy, they are vibrant, but their content is flat and uninspiring. Their content and case studies focus too much on the negative rather than how people can overcome their issues to achieve success. If you can bring your content above the line, where it is future focused, it will be much more engaging. Your audience will be more likely to want to work with you because they want you to take them to that world of possibility you’re showing them.
6. Use stories and metaphors
Effective EDMs provide insight. A list of the “top 10 tips on how to be a great leader” may sound good, but does it truly offer value and make an impact? What does make an impact are the use of stories and metaphors. For example, you may want to emphasise the point that senior executives need to eat well to have the energy to be great leaders. Instead of simply telling a story about somebody who wasn’t eating well, relate your point to something in your world. For example, you may have an interest in cars. Perhaps one time you were on holiday and hired a luxury car. You can draw a parallel between the fuel required to drive an upmarket car and the fuel required for a high-performance leader.
In the business-to-business world, experts often say to me, “I don’t want to write a long newsletter because most of my clients are really busy and they don’t have time to read a long newsletter.” That’s fair enough. But the research tells us that in Australia, people are consuming more content than they ever have before. In fact, we influencers can’t keep up with the demand for content! By 2019, the content marketing industry is expected to be a $300 billion industry, up from $165 billion in 2016. So, while you may think your audience is too busy, these people are your fans. They’re on your newsletter database because they want to read what you have to say.
Typically, there are two types of newsletters: long form and short form. I often suggest influencers send out one long-form newsletter, which can be about 2,500 words, monthly or even quarterly. Short-form newsletters are sharp and concise and 500 to 800 words is the sweet spot. They’re ideally sent each week.
I hope these seven steps will help you increase your newsletter open rates. I’d love to hear what works for you and the tactics you’ve used to increase your open rate.
Jane Anderson is a communications expert, speaker and the author of 5 books including “EXPERT to INFLUENCER: 12 Key Skills to Attract New Clients, Increase Sales and Leverage your Personal Brand to Become an Industry Leader.” With over 20 years experience helping people step into their personal power, she is obsessed about creating human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.