Whether you’re creating a newsletter for the first time or just need a refresher, there are a lot of do’s and don'ts to keep in mind. Instead of just giving you "free advice", I’ve decided to tell you how we implement these things at Volacci.
- Use an Editorial Calendar. Consistency is key. An editorial calendar is a great way to get organized and get buy-in from your writers - whether they’re contractors or the CEO. Pick a frequency that is sustainable in the long term and stick to it! By having a calendar, you can schedule tasks to the appropriate people weeks ahead of time so they don’t feel stressed. Also, when they’ve got some down time (as if) they can always work on the next assignment.
At Volacci, we have our editorial calendar in Basecamp because that’s what we use to manage projects. It’s not ideal, but it’s easy and everyone has access to it. Try to get your newsletter out on the same day every week. We recommend Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays for the best open rate.
- Send in the Afternoon. Mornings tend to be the busiest time of day for most professionals. I can attest that the first thing I do when I get into work every morning is clear my inbox of anything that isn’t pertinent to my day. E-mails sent in the mid-afternoon have the highest open rates.
At Volacci, we send our newsletter around 12pm-3pm EST to ensure that we have the best open rates.
- Avoid “spammy” subject lines. We’ve all seen it - the e-mails that come into your inbox daily offering you “FREE” stuff and “GUARANTEED” results. A spammy subject line is a surefire way to get picked up by spam filters, and leads to low open rates. Focus your subject lines on the content of the e-mail. Keep your subject lines under 60 characters.
Our Marketing Brief generally has a date in the subject line to ensure that our subscribers know that the content is fresh. We put “Volacci” in the subject to improve its credibility.
- Include a call-to-action. When designing your newsletter template, treat it like a landing page. Include a powerful call-to-action to drive prospects to your website. Consider integrating a small navigation bar in your newsletter.
Here at Volacci, our Digital Marketer’s Brief includes three links. One that goes to our solutions page, one for our blog, and one that directs folks to our contact form.
- Keep it simple. Don’t use excessive amount of images. When you do use an image, make sure that there is an alt-tag describing that image for folks who do not display images in e-mails.
The Volacci newsletter always includes the company logo. Occasionally, we will put an image next to the article if it fits well. In the footer we will place small social icons next to a textual link.
- Design for Mobile. Chances are that a huge number of your newsletter recipients use tablets and mobile phones to read their e-mails. Keep the width of your e-mails at 600 pixels so that they remain legible for small screens.
The Volacci Digital Marketer’s brief uses a size 14-16 font for most of the textual body content. Our headers use a size 21 font size.
- Make it Scannable. The best newsletters are easy to scan. Write a short synopsis of each article (2-4 sentences) and then link to the full article on your website. This drives traffic to your site as well as making it easier to comprehend the content in the newsletter.
At Volacci our newsletter uses a short recap of each article. We stack our articles, so that it is easy to scan and use different font colors for our headlines.
- Establish expectations. When someone subscribes to your newsletter, send them a welcome letter that thanks them for subscribing. Explain the newsletter content and let them know how frequent that you will be e-mailing them.
We send a short thank you message that directs our subscribers to Volacci’s social media channels.
- Monitor success metrics. While there are dozens of metrics that indicate success, we recommend monitoring your open rates and clicks on a regular basis. You may be surprised at how revealing some of these metrics can be. Update your editorial calendar to refocus your content creation efforts on the subjects that interest your subscribers the most.
- Test and then test again. Test subject lines, design, etc. Review your identified success metrics to see which ones lead to more clicks, opens, and leads. Then test again.
Once you’ve finished your newsletter, be sure to send it using a good marketing automation platform to maximize its effectiveness.
Interested in learning more about newsletter creation? We have a comprehensive whitepaper and a video series about newsletter creation best practices that will be posted in the near future. Stay tuned!