6 ways to craft newsletters that boost your brand—and bottom line

Once you’ve built your website, feed it with the email marketing tactics that can help you generate leads, increase traffic and show off your content.

Even though you’ve completed a website that appeals to visitors, your work is far from over.

You have to drive traffic there so you can generate leads, collect email addresses, update visitors on company news, or share educational information. An e-newsletter may be the best solution.

Emails have been shown to be successful in gaining new readers and clients. In 2016, eMarketer reported that email’s return on investment (ROI) outperformed all other digital marketing tactics, including social media.

There are six things to consider when building your newsletter:

1. Content. Will it feature one main story and a call to action (CTA)? Will it present multiple articles and a list of upcoming events? It is most efficient to create a template once you know what content is going in it. You could build a very basic layout, but more than likely you’ll have to rework it once you decide on text and images. This can result in wasted time (and money). Plan your newsletter content so can design around it.

2. Branding. If your company has a specific logo, brand colors and font in place, use them. With our recent redesign of the Cary Magazine website, we also gave the newsletter a makeover, and many branding elements from the website also appear in the email design. For instance:

  • The CM logo is prominently displayed in the newsletter’s header.
  • The gold color is used to make clickable buttons and links more noticeable.
  • The heading font on the website is mirrored in the heading font in the email.

All these things make the newsletter look cohesive with the website. (Note: When using web fonts, keep in mind that some email applications that don’t support them. You can either use an image of the text, or use a web-safe font that closely resembles the text. Avoid putting important text into your email as an image, because images do not always display properly.)

3. Mobile. Consider these statistics:

  • Mobile email opens have grown by 180 percent in the last three years. (emailmonday)
  • In 2016, more than half (54 percent) of emails were opened on mobile devices. (litmus)
  • By 2018, eight in 10 email users will access their email accounts exclusively from their mobile devices. (emailmonday)

For all these reasons, your email must work on smartphones. To create responsive email:

  • Use a one- or two-column design. Find a responsive template, and alter it for your needs. These frameworks can create emails that are multiple columns on a desktop, but one column when viewed on a mobile device. Zurb offers free responsive templates.
  • Include only vital information. Don’t cram in so much text that a user must scroll forever to find vital information. Narrow your focus, and limit your calls to action. You want to get people to sign up for an event, continue reading a story or request information. Respect their time by being clear and concise.
  • Create big buttons that are easy to see and click, and make sure there is enough space around the buttons so that clicks are intentional, not accidental.
  • Include ample white space to give readers’ eyes some relief.
  • Refrain from stuffing the newsletter with large images that slow loading times.

4. Compliance. You must include an unsubscribe link in your newsletter. The link must be easy to find and understand. Other rules include using accurate header information (the “From,” “To,” and “Reply-To” fields), using honest subject lines and being transparent about your location. Not following these rules can result in hefty fines. You can read more about these regulations on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

5. Testing. Before sending out your newsletter, test it. Not all email applications are the same. Gmail can render emails differently from the way Outlook does; Gmail on an Android phone can render emails differently from Gmail on an iPhone. Test on different devices with different email applications to ensure that your email will be viewed correctly.

6. Analyzing. After you’ve sent out your newsletter, take advantage of any analytics tool you have so you can determine what is working and what isn’t. You may also want to try A/B testing.

Once you decide to set up a newsletter email, you might consider using pre-made templates and customizing them for your needs. There are many free templates out there, and many services such as Listrak, MailChimp or Constant Contact provide them.

Rachel Sheffield is the web designer at S&A Communications. A version of this originally appeared on the agency’s blog.

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