Keeping your business top of mind for your customers is essential, and one effective way to do that is to create a company newsletter. But you don’t want to create a newsletter that gets immediately deleted, or one that is so self-promotional it turns your customers off. So how do you create a newsletter that is engaging and informative?
B2 helps create newsletters for many types of corporate and non-profit clients, and we have learned what works and what doesn’t. Here are eight tips for creating effective company newsletters:
Make sure your email works on mobile devices
More than 60% of email opens are on mobile devices, and nearly half (about 47%) of all web traffic happens on mobile. Make sure your email provider optimizes the content for mobile devices, and allows you to preview each newsletter on a mobile device. Some email providers allow you to do this preview process with a click of a button through their services, so you don’t have to send the preview to yourself and check your own phone (though that will work, too).
Ensuring that your email newsletter works on mobile also means avoiding sending a newsletter as a PDF. While you may be tempted to tap into your team’s design skills and have them create a beautiful newsletter in PDF form, mobile users are likely to delete the email without opening the file. And even if you get great open rates with a PDF, you may lose the ability to track click rates and other key statistics.
Clean up your distribution list
It’s tempting to think that the more people you send your newsletter to, the better your results will be. This leads many marketers to buy lists of email addresses and to amass giant distribution lists.
In our experience, it’s better to have a smaller, cleaner, more targeted list of active prospects and clients than a big list of maybes. First, people respond better to emails from companies they know and trust, so sending emails to people who don’t know your company probably won’t work. Second, your analytics will be meaningless. A bad list means lots of unsubscribes and very few opens, which makes it hard to track trends and preferences among your core constituency.
Act like a reporter
You don’t have to be an expert in the field you’re writing about to get great content for your audience; you just have to know who to talk to and how to ask the right questions. We work with an accounting firm on content for their website and newsletter, and we are certainly not tax experts.
In fact, not being an expert in the subject matter makes you a good stand-in for your audience, who are also not likely to be experts. Act like a reporter — conduct interviews with your company’s staff via phone or email, follow up on news stories that affect your industry, and always use real examples where possible.
Use real, authentic photos where possible
Your staff and clients are what make your business successful, so why not showcase them in your email newsletter? Doing so conveys authenticity and personality in a way that stock photos just can’t match. Consider working with a professional photographer to capture images of your team, clients, facilities, or products that you can use in your newsletter all year long.
For some businesses and for some newsletter topics, custom photos may not work. When this is the case, it’s fine to rely on stock images. Be sure to pay for stock images (you don’t want to run into copyright issues or incur heavy penalties for borrowing photos from the internet) and to give credit to photographers where appropriate. The photos you use reflect the diversity of the community you serve as well. Sending newsletters that don’t show a diverse range of people sends the message that your business only caters to a select few, and that won’t serve your business or your clients well in the long run.
Think about what your audience wants
Imagine what kinds of information might be most helpful to your audience. Are you talking to business owners? Parents? Fitness enthusiasts? Think about what will be most interesting to them.
You may need to segment your audiences into separate newsletter lists if you serve widely diverse groups. For example, if you own a software company that creates products for public schools and for parents, consider doing one newsletter for each group.
Focus on “news you can use”
You are creating a newsletter to keep in touch with your clients, but if you’re too self-promotional, they will stop opening it, which is counterproductive. Make sure your content is useful to clients, new clients, and prospects. For example, the newsletter for our accounting client consistently covers the latest news about government programs available to business owners, including who is eligible, what the credits or incentives might be worth, and how to apply. Those who receive the newsletter may or may not need the firm to help with their applications, but they all benefit from having information about the program nonetheless.
Of course, you may want to occasionally share stories about your company. Just be sure to make that content relevant to your audience, too. Are you expanding? Maybe this allows your clients flexibility in where they do business with you. Are you particularly proud of a project? Share lessons you learned in the process so others can benefit.
Write a good, short headline
When printed paper newsletters were common, they always had the date, the title of the newsletter, and maybe the issue number at the top. If you include any of this information in the headline of your email newsletter, you will eat up too many characters and your audience won’t see the real content of the headline. Leave out “update” and “newsletter,” too, as these take up space without increasing open rates.
We recommend using the 50 or so characters you have in the headline to accurately summarize what’s in the newsletter or what’s in the lead article, without feeling like you have to be cute or snappy. If you are feeling creative and want to play with headlines, check whether your email provider offers A/B testing. That will allow you to create multiple headlines, send emails to a small portion of your list, see which headline works best, and then send the best version to the bulk of your list.
Make sense of your stats
When you log in to your email provider, chances are you have access to more data than you need. From unsubscribe rates to clicks and bounces, it’s hard to make sense of what you’re seeing. Stats are only useful if you understand them and can make decisions based on them. Choose a few things to track consistently, and then see if you notice any patterns. Then, make some informed guesses as to what might be causing a change in pattern, like a spike or a drop in open rates or unsubscribes, and use that information as you plan upcoming newsletters.
If you’re curious how your emails stack up against the competition, your email provider (Constant Contact, HubSpot, Mailchimp, etc.) likely publishes average statistics by industry. Check whether your emails are performing in a way that’s comparable to those averages, and make changes slowly over time if not. Be mindful that sometimes your stats reflect more about your list than about your content — a very high unsubscribe rate could mean that you have a bloated distribution list that could benefit from some cleanup.
If you’re unsure of where to start with your company newsletter, B2 can help. To schedule a free consultation call with B2, contact us.