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1. A regular schedule
Too many customers say they sign up for a small business’ e-mail list and never hear from them again; others say they feel harassed with messages from an overly zealous company. A sporadic posting schedule comes off unprofessional and disorganized. For you, without consistent metrics, you can’t test and optimize your variables.
Once you’ve passed your testing phrase, schedule at least one newsletter a month, and stick to it. Gradually ramp up a secondary, targeted newsletter. And don’t forget to send a welcome newsletter to new sign-ups.
2. A consistent format
Your e-mail marketing software has provided those templates, but for whatever reason, you haven’t picked one and stuck with it. Maybe you’re still testing, or your staff can’t decide on a single look. Time to make the executive decision.
An e-mail format is part of your brand. A consistent look shows professionalism, investment in your business, and stability; recognizability engenders trust and will raise click-throughs and conversions.
3. Write briefly, to the point
You might have a lot to say, but the e-mail isn’t the place to put all the details. Your e-mail is an advertisement piece to showcase the most important ideas; the landing page is the place for more information, videos, and product details.
Write in text chunks of 200 words and separate them with headings and formatted boxes.
4. Writing a call to action in every text-chunk
There’s a reason why every infomercial actor behaves as if the world is ending if he doesn’t sell just five more juicers in five minutes. Procrastination is the enemy of sales — your customer can by a generic widget anywhere, anytime; you want them to buy your widget before they forget you exist.
Don’t just describe what your company does, and why your product is better than the rest — tell your customer how to get involved. It can be as simple as “Call Today” or “Visit us on the web.” Also remind them to “Friend us on Facebook,” “Tweet your purchase,” “Review your recent purchase” or “Post a photo of your new widget on Pinterest to enter our World Widget Contest!”
5. Regularly check your analytics
You can read lots of advice on how to send the most effective e-mails, but ultimately, your business is unique, and your customer base is comprised of individuals. You need to test your subject headers, times and days you send, different formats, and graphical elements against open rates, click-throughs, and conversions.
Some surprising rule-breakers are:
- Many businesses have found that their customer base has defied the standard advice never to send an e-mail after 5pm, because their customers prefer to read e-mail over dinner, during the commute, or in the middle of the night.
- Some non-profits have found that the advice not to put “help” or any words related to money in the subject heading don’t apply, because their recipients trust their organization enough that they will open an e-mail that frankly is soliciting donation requests (other non-profits have found the opposite).
Your newsletters should reflect your business, and there’s always room for creativity.