Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 23 - Do's and Don'ts for E-Mail Newsletters

If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours. 
- Ray Kroc

One statement I've seen over and over in my research about the benefits of e-mail newsletters is that it is one of the most effective forms of communication you can have with potential and current customers. Did you know that the open rate for an e-mail newsletter is 15.7% and the click-thru rate is 1.9% (as documented by MailChimp)? That really makes you wonder about the success of other avenues such as Facebook, print ads, on-line ads, etc.

As I mentioned in my last blog post (Day 22 - Publishing My First Newsletter) I sent out my first e-mail newsletter this week. While my distribution list is still fairly small (I just started subscriptions last week), my first newsletter had a 67.9% open rate and a 28.6% click-thru rate! Needless to say, I was thrilled with the results.

I read up a lot on the do's and don'ts of e-mail marketing etiquette and tried to apply what I learned. Here are the top tips that I found:

  • Don't send out newsletters too frequently and clearly state during the opt-in process how often you plan on sending e-mails.
    • I make it well known that subscribers will only receive e-mail newsletters from me once or twice a month. That's definitely on the low side, but at this point, I don't need to send it more often. It's more important to make sure the information is relevant.
  • Have a catchy subject line and don't make it over 50 characters.
    • I did go over the 50 characters in my subject line "Theresa Rose Designs - Jewelry Giveaway Contest and Special Sale This Week". Looking back at it, I could have easily taken out a few of the words.
    • Having a subject line over 50 characters puts it at risk for being sent to a spam folder - so it's a good idea to keep it short and to the point.
  • Make sure the design of your newsletter is uncluttered.
    • Stick to 2-3 easily read fonts and colors. Too many colors, highlights, bolding and fonts makes an e-mail difficult to read and actually encourages the recipient to skim over the text rather than reading the important information you want to convey. It is distracting, which is the last thing you want to do!
  • Be concise - shorter is better.
    • Most e-mails are skimmed, not read in its entirety. So, in addition to an uncluttered design, you also don't want it cluttered with too much information. Your recipient will likely skim the first few bullet points (if that!) and then delete the e-mail. I know that when I receive an long e-mail, I actually read less of it than if it was a shorter e-mail. 
  • Have a call to action.
    • You will read this ALOT when  researching e-mail newsletters. In short, a 'call to action' is when you ask the recipient to do something, such as reply or click-thru. My newsletter included information about my current giveaway with a link to enter.
  •  Make sure images have alt text.
    •  When designing your newsletter in MailChimp, you have the option to select alt text - make sure you do it! Alt text is the text that pops up when your cursor hovers over the image. Since some recipients may not download the e-mail completely, images may not be displayed. Having relevant text display when hovered over the image will encourage them to download the e-mail in its entirety.
  • Send out newsletters on Tuesday between 10am and 1pm.
    • Studies have shown that Mondays, Fridays, and weekends are the worst days to send e-mails. By sending on Tuesday in the early afternoon, you have a greater chance of having your e-mail opened and the call to action performed. 

There are many more tips I could list regarding e-mail newsletters, but this is a good list to get started.  So much of it is common sense and I always figure that if I don't like something in an e-mail, then there's a good chance that others don't either. I will always err on the side of caution.

What do you think? Do you have any other tips or 'rules' that you follow when sending out newsletters?

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