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The Trusty Newsletter - Guest Blog by Chris Gordon #Swiftpage

by on ‎09-15-2011 11:56 AM (4,905 Views)

I would like to welcome Chris Gordon to the Journal!  Chris manages Channel, Social Media and Affiliate Marketing for Swiftpage and will be a regular guest blogger here.  Be sure to check out Chris' bio - he's got a really interesting background!

 

Chris, we're so glad to have you here, thank you for your contribution!

 


by Chris Gordon

 

Businesses use newsletters as a tool to actively engage and inform their clients. Sending an electronic newsletter, or E-newsletter, is extremely cost-effective (especially when compared to mailing a print newsletter) and has a measurable ROI through the use of online reports.  When done properly and consistently, E-newsletters can become a staple marketing piece for nearly any business.  Getting the results (open-rates, clicks, forwards, new subscribers) you desire with your E-newsletter will take persistence, and the successful implementation of a few best practice guidelines is sure to help along the way.

 

1)     Scheduling the Send- Be consistent in your send so your recipients come to expect your E-newsletter. In deciding when you want to send your newsletter, do some preliminary research. Look into when it is most likely that your newsletter will be received well by your specific audience. Keep in mind that consistency is a key factor in setting expectation, so once you have decided on a plan of action, stick to it. If over time your open-rates remain low, test a different send day and compare your results.

 

2)     Testing…and MORE testing- Send your email to multiple internal recipients for a thorough copy and link check. Then send to multiple ESP’s (Email Service Providers) for a design and layout check, all before you even think about sending to your customers.  The more opportunities you take to test and review, the better results you will receive over time.

 

3)     Managing Replies- Manually monitor the replies to your newsletter@yourcompany.com email address to ensure that any manual unsubscribes or actual customer replies are quickly and accurately managed.  Many newsletters are sent from a "no-reply@" email address, which implies one-way communication opposed to client feedback. Don't make this mistake.  The best marketing is based on relationships and two-way communication. Take the time to learn from your customers by managing your replies.

 

4)     Reporting- Check reports at the same duration after the send (between 4-6 days) and record the results for easy comparison. This will help you compare your results to previous sends to determine what subject lines, timing, day of the week and links are most successful with your recipient group. It is important to know what's working and what's not so you can improve and adjust as needed for future sends. Make sure you record your results over time to ensure you are not repeatedly making the same mistakes due to forgetfulness.

 

Create your newsletter, test it, get feedback, assess the feedback, and adjust accordingly.  We hope that these tips will encourage you to a second look at your own E-newsletter, re-focusing on the fundamentals to help get the results you desire.  If you are having trouble with the design or layout of your Newsletter, consider contacting Bright Peak for help.

Comments
by
on ‎09-15-2011 12:16 PM

Re Testing - I remember doing some work with Amex and Readers Digest in the 80s (then leaders in direct mail) ... and I recall how important testing was. They'd send any new material to a few thousand and measure the hit-rate. If below the expected %, it was re-worked and sent to the next group... only once they got the required response twice was it sent to the full list.

 

Do you find any specific day/time gets a better response? Does it vary according to the campaign? If doing something global (or even across country), do you send to users in each time-zone separately?

 

Also, just wondering, with the way inboxes get so crowded and with the younger generation seeming to prefer social media over email ... how do you see the success of email newsletters Vs blogs (supported by rss, twitter and facebook)? Have you done/seen and figures on testing these that you can share?

 

Regards,
Mike Lazarus
ACT! Evangelist
GL Computing, Australia
http://about.me/GLComputing
http://Blog.GLComputing.com.au
http://twitter.com/GLComputing

GL Computing Facebook Page - http://www.facebook.com/GLComputing
LinkedIN ACT! Fanatics Group - http://www.linkedin.com/groups/ACT-Fanatics-49896

by ChrisG
on ‎09-15-2011 04:13 PM

Mike- Great feedback and questions here.

 

It seems that your questions center around one main issue… knowing your audience. From your description, what Reader’s Digest and Amex did well with their direct mail was spend time getting to know their respective audiences. The sample principle still applies today in the world of email marketing. If your audience is mostly people in the business world, chances are they read email more during the business week and use social media outside of work hours. If your audience is college students or folks with irregular work schedules, perhaps sending in the evenings or weekends would be more effective. Still, results can vary greatly depending on industry (ie. a Baker will likely open her emails at a different time than an IT Specialist). The best thing to do with your audience is to run several tests to see when your contacts respond best to your emails. We suggest the method of A/B testing using "send time" as your variable.

 

In response to your question about the use of social media vs. email, people tend to see the greatest results not by choosing one or the other, but rather by leveraging a combination of the two.  It seems the old adage, "different strokes for different folks" is quite relevant here.  Offering your content through different mediums gives your audience more options to engage through their own preferred methods of communication.  Those having the most success in their marketing efforts seem to be masters at leveraging their content and messaging, repackaging it across the board for broader reach and greater appeal to their audience. We recommend using social media and blogs as complements to your email newsletter by posting links and articles from your newsletter in those outlets. To your final point, if your audience spans the country or  globe, segmenting your list into time zones is generally recommended. Happy testing!

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