Welcome to our first guide in the #BareNecessities series.

Newsletters are a large part of our inbox. A very large part. Buy clothes, food, insurance or train tickets for example and you can be pretty sure an e-newsletter will follow. It’s overwhelming, you’re being spammed left right and centre and eventually you snap and go on the unsubscribe rampage – don’t tell me you haven’t done it.

The fact is the average open rate for an e-newsletter is 20%, and the average click rate 2%. And that doesn’t even cover what your customer does next. So first of all ask yourself is an email newsletter the best thing for YOU?

At Bare we’ve worked with a number of organisations to help them improve their e-newsletters. We’ve doubled that open rate, with click rates rising to over 20%. We’re happy to share some key ingredients to our success.

This is crucial yet often overlooked. You’ll be surprised how many companies send unsolicited emails and don’t stop to ask if the recipient is in their market, or even remotely interested. This is a big mistake, not to mention against data protection legislation.

Relevancy is number one. If someone’s buys a printer (or other durable good) from you why do they need another one the following week? When someone visits your bar in Croydon but lives in Scotland chances are they’re not coming back for Friday’s Happy Hour. Similarly, if someone chooses the vegetarian option for lunch, safe to assume they won’t go for steak night. You get the picture. Don’t just send stuff out. Demonstrate you understand your customer’s needs. Not just the basic information, but likes, dislikes, preferences and more.

Equally, just because someone bought your product or service once doesn’t mean they want an email shortly after flogging them something else. Why not ask them for feedback on their purchase and let them know you value their opinion. Or tell them how to get the best from their product with inside tips from other buyers. Building a two-way relationship is a vital first step.

For longer term customers a different approach is needed. Why not reward them with first dibs on your new product offer, exclusive tickets to your event, or tell them how you sourced their favourite item. Storytelling and use of video is a medium that will encourage loyal customers to talk about you and share their own experiences online. Bare can help you explore ideas and build a plan that fits you and your business.

Timing is everything and this is about knowing your audience. If your customers are time poor Monday to Friday, save your email for the weekend. Do they check their phone on the daily commute or after they’ve done the school run? When in the month/year do they make their purchasing decisions and when are they snowed under with other business priorities? Knowing when to strike is key.
Don’t forget to also consider the news, half term holidays or any other external events that might affect your communications. Who really expected the Prime Minister’s announcement on a snap General Election straight after the Easter holidays. Be ready for the unexpected!

Think about the emails you enjoy receiving, and why. They might feel personal, authentic, useful, exciting, or even alarming. Emotion plays a big part in decision making and helps build lasting connections with your customers. Email newsletters rarely work as a cold sell, like anything you need to work on your relationships and earn your trust.

Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is one example of using emotion to create engagement. So your email newsletter could for example deliver breaking news or opinion to make your customers feel part of an exclusive club. Make sure your content is fresh and unique and doesn’t rely on curated news. There are many ways to make your email more purposeful and one your customers will not want to miss.

Every individual element of your email newsletter needs consideration.

Here are some starter tips on how to write effective newsletters:

  • Be human – emails come from people not machines, personalise your content as much as possible.
  • Subject title – don’t be too clever, tell the reader what the email is about!
  • Keep titles, sentences and paragraphs short
  • Establish a tone of voice that is mirrored across your company as a whole
  • Use images that add value to your story and don’t just duplicate the message
  • Use calls to action to lead your customer to your business goal
  • Include social media buttons so content can be shared
  • Test your emails on different browsers and mobile devices

Make your newsletter ‘smart’ and you can track and use the data it generates to great effect.
Before you start be clear about how your newsletter will serve your business goals. Whether that is to generate brand awareness, customer acquisition or increased sales. Your newsletter should drive activity which supports these goals, whether that is via your website, in store or otherwise. It is very important you track engagement with your newsletter to check its success against these goals and ultimately its value to the bottom line.

There is a whole range of email marketing software out there from icontact to communicator. These are easy to use and make it easy to track engagement with your newsletter such as open rates and link clicks. By comparing this information with data on Google Analytics you will able to analyse how your newsletter is driving website traffic and your customers’ journey across your site.

By linking your CRM database (customer relations management) and email marketing software you can one step further and explore how individual or groups of customers are behaving and tweak your newsletter content accordingly. Whatever you do, don’t send out a newsletter and consider the job done. This is really just the beginning.

For further advice and support on how to send effective email newsletters please contact Bare.