Newsletters are an essential part of customer communication. They are simple to create and cost-effective to deliver. They allow you to let existing customers and interested parties know about the latest news, offers and changes in and around your shop. But in order for newsletter campaigns to also be successful, merchants should be sure to do the necessary planning up front. The ePages blog will show you what to keep in mind.
Provide a structure
Create brand recognition for your newsletter by giving it a solid structure. Determine in advance which topics and themes are to occur regularly. Then create a template that will apply to all future newsletters. From time to time you can send a completely different newsletter which will stand out. You can use this one for particularly spectacular sales, for example. You'll be sure to get the attention of your readers.
Stay in touch
You should send out newsletters in a regular cycle so that your customers are reminded of you in an optimal way. But don't overdo it and choose intervals between mailings that are not too short. Place yourself in your customers' shoes: How often would you like to be "bothered" by an online shop where you have only made one purchase?
Find the optimal interval
Not every day is equally suitable for sending out a newsletter. Not too long ago, a study by an Austrian e-mail marketing company identified the days of the week which are particularly suitable. They determined that the opening rate on Mondays was around 40 percent and decreased as the week progressed. It turned out that later Monday evenings were the optimal time for sending out a newsletter.
But have a look at the e-mail addresses of your customers. Are they primarily companies or private addresses? For company addresses, concentrate on delivery of the newsletter during the week. For private addresses, it makes sense to send it out on Saturday or Sunday. On Sunday evening in particular, you'll be able to reach customers in a relaxed, sales promoting situation.
Plan in advance
Many shop operators send out their newsletters based on a gut feeling that it's time to get in touch with customers again. They write up a quick text and fire it off to customers. Show your customers that you can do better. Always be thinking about new material for the next two mailings so that you always have a reserve from which you can create. Occasions like Christmas or Easter offer regular opportunities for special sales and a newsletter text. But why not try a special promotion on "International Kissing Day" or on "World Poetry Day", for example?
Entice your customers
The opening rate of newsletters is usually surprisingly high. Studies show that it lies near 40 percent. But with a little intuition about your customers, you can increase this opening rate even more.
A few options: Everyone likes to be entertained. Try being a little provocative and funny in your texts. Present your offer in a refreshingly different way than your competition. Or use special offers for subscribers, for example, coupons that don't require a minimum order amount. Invite your readers to send the coupons to their friends as a way to gain new customers
Give yourself an unmistakeable look
The best way is to first use a suitable HTML editor for the design of your newsletter in order to utilise the full potential. Orient yourself on the design of your shop in order to create a brand recognition for your customers. While doing so, consider the limitations of a newsletter and how it differs from the limitations of a website: A good newsletter should have a much smaller breadth than a website. The reason for this is the standard way e-mail clients like Outlook or front ends of freemailers like web.de display HTML-formatted e-mails. Also make sure you don't create endlessly long newsletters – nobody wants to have to scroll through advertising e-mails. Don't waste valuable space with long introductions. Get right to the point and start with the most important first.
Is creating HTML templates for newsletters a mystery to you? Then take advantage of one of the many free templates that you can find on the Internet. Or ask a friend who knows how to design webpages to help you make a template. But even better than this: Contact an agency and ask them to create a template for you. The few hundred Euro it will cost you will pay off in the long run.
Think about the inevitable
Newsletters also have obligatory data that you absolutely need to have. The imprint of the sender and contact information must be present in every newsletter. You also need to offer the option for recipients to quickly and easily unsubscribe from your newsletter at any time. A request that the recipient send an e-mail when they wish to be removed from the recipients list is not sufficient in this case. Instead, place a link to the newsletter subscribe/unsubscribe page.
Create an archive
Newsletters that have been sent out should not be subsequently deleted. Instead, create an archive of your newsletters in your shop. You'll kill two birds with one stone: On the one hand, you can provide a link to the HTML version of the newsletter in your shop thus offering recipients with technical problems the ability to read the newsletter online. On the other hand, it gives you a simple and elegant way to have additional content and a regular update on your website. This will help you with search engine optimisation.
Volker Schwarz studied German, History and Politics at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. From 2004 to 2009 he worked as a freelancer for several marketing and communications companies in Hamburg, including e-commerce companies. Between August 2009 and December 2011, he worked as an online editor at ePages.