A newsletter can help keep your brand community updated on news and events, announce sales and special promotions, and make sure that your brand community is staying top of mind, despite being bombarded with hundreds of other brands every day.
At Blade we’ve experienced success with newsletters for ourselves, and our clients in the condominium real estate, health and wellness, and food and beverage industries by keeping a simple checklist in mind for each brand.
Your newsletter starts with the quality of content you send out to your subscriber list. No matter how sleek or fancy your design, or how large your subscriber list, you can’t make up for bad content.
We have a checklist that we use at Blade to ensure that we are continuously providing top quality content in our own newsletters, and those of our clients.
A) Is it relevant to the brand community?
No matter how well your content is written, or how dynamic your visual content, if what you’re presenting in your newsletter isn’t relevant to the people you’re sending it to, it won’t connect.
Your subscribers want more of what they expect from your brand community, not unrelated content. Remember that!
B) Is it visually captivating?
It’s no secret that visuals capture more attention than thick blocks of text. So when you’re creating your newsletter, be sure you’re using imagery, and using it well.
Find quality images, gifs, or even videos, that relate to your content and your brand to grab the attention of your subscribers and pull them in.
C) Is it interesting?
Pumping out newsletters full of dull or boring content, no matter how relevant to your brand community, does not bode well for your click through rate. Creating content that puts an interesting spin on the events and ideas that you’re sharing with your brand community allows for more connection, intrigue, and deeper dives into more of your content.
D) Is it easy to find more?
At Blade we believe that the best newsletters offer multiple content options with strong imagery, quick copy, and links to learn more. We make it easy with “Read More” tags in stories, and links in headlines and images, giving subscribers easy access to the rest of the story once they’re drawn in.
The average person receives more emails each month, week, and day than they can ever care about. It is imperative that you offer easy to find, and easy to use access to more information from your brand in your newsletters.
When your subscribers make the decision to open your email, their eyes will quickly tell them if they’re interested in staying to see what you’ve got for them, or not.
For best results, your newsletter’s design has to be easy to understand and navigate, with clean formatting, consistent spacing, easy to read copy, and no useless clutter. If your subscribers open your newsletter and can’t immediately see a flow or breakdown of how your content is being presented, the likelihood that they will invest any time in your content will decrease.
At Blade we always ensure that our newsletters have a clearly defined space for each story, and include imagery to draw attention to the content that we are sharing. By working with customized templates we give ourselves control over the presentation and overall design of the newsletters we send to our subscribers.
Even the best content, laid out in a perfect design, and sent to a dedicated brand community of subscribers can fall flat with poor distribution execution.
Through experience we have found that sending newsletters leading into and coming out of holiday long weekends tend to have lower open rates, particularly in the summer months when people build their vacations around those dates. If you have content that needs to be sent out in the week before or after a holiday, we recommend looking at a Wednesday, to avoid having your email left behind.
We have also found that mornings perform best, with subscribers generally checking their email at the start of the work day, before being bogged down with the countless emails that may flow into their inboxes.
Your distribution strategy needs to include the frequency of your newsletters. On one end of the spectrum you have the risk of coming across as spammy by sending out newsletters too often. And on the other end of the spectrum you run the risk of being forgotten by your brand community by not sending a newsletter for long periods of time. To decide the distribution schedule that works best for your brand, consider how much content you are producing, how frequently you are producing that content, and the timeliness of the content itself.
Because we’re all in the business of getting more content in front of more eyes, adding subscribers is an important part of the newsletter process.
But how do you do it?
Depending on your industry, there are multiple options available to entice newsletter subscriptions.
If you’re a retail brand, one of the easiest ways to entice new subscribers is with a special offer. A one-time-only code for your online store can be offered in your newsletter, giving ample incentive for members of your brand community to sign up, open your newsletter, and interact with your brand in a purchase action.
We often include email newsletter opt-ins when running contests for our clients. And while it should be noted that some of the new subscribers you amass through contesting will not interact with your newsletter as you may hope, you have given yourself a chance to pull them in with great content and design the first time they receive your newsletter after signing up.
C) Email Signature!
It’s very easy to invite business contacts, new and old, to sign up for your newsletter by including a simple link and call to action in your email signature. The link should direct traffic to an easy to use signup page, and the call to action should be short and to the point.
At Blade you’re likely to see “Subscribe to Blade Brand Edge, our monthly branding newsletter.” at the bottom of your email interactions with our team. It’s simple, it’s to the point, and it’s easy to use.
D) Website Signups!
We just mentioned having an easy to use signup page on your website that you can direct traffic to. It’s an important part of adding new subscribers to your list on a regular basis. In addition to using the link to this page in your email signature, you can share it through social media channels and other digital promotional materials.
You should also make sure to have clear and well placed links or buttons to your newsletter signup page on your website and blog. There is no better time to invite someone to become a subscriber to your newsletter and stay up to date with your future content then when they are actively interacting with your current content.
E) Adding Business Contacts
While it is preferred for the long term to have all of your subscribers sign up through traditional opt-in channels, there are opportunities to grow your newsletter subscription list through “implied consent” rules.
The rules below from the CRTC website are guidelines for adding existing contacts to your newsletter list. It is important to remember that anyone added through implied consent is on a time limit, and it is your responsibility to either get them to signup with express consent, or remove them from your list at the end of the six month or two-year term, depending on the relationship.
• Has the recipient made a purchase or lease of goods, services, land or interest in land within the two-year period immediately before the day on which the message was sent?
• Has the recipient accepted a business, investment or gaming opportunity offered by you within two years immediately before the day on which the message was sent?
• Has the recipient made an inquiry or application on any of the items above within the six-month period immediately before the message was sent?
• Has the recipient entered into a written contract which is still in existence or expired within two years immediately before the day on which the message was sent?
Being CASL Compliant
In Canada it is imperative that you are following all rules of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) when working with your newsletter.
These rules include…
• Providing a clear option for newsletter recipients to unsubscribe from your list.
• Including contact information for your business in your newsletter.
• Following express and implied consent rules when managing your subscriber list.
Following CASL rules also makes your brand’s newsletter look more legitimate in the eyes of your subscribers, which adds to trust in your brand community, and in your content. That trust is a big part of the long term success of your brand’s newsletter.
Through quality content and design, thoughtful distribution, building your subscriber list, and following CASL regulations your brand can grow your community, strengthen the relationship with your current community members, and create opportunities for new business to develop.