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1. Define your list
Look over your email subscribers. Who are they? How did they sign up? Study their demographics such as age, income, marital status, whether they have kids, where they live, and other factors that could influence how they interact with your brand.
Think about segmenting your list by large demographic groups, but don’t make any permanent changes just yet. You probably won’t send the same message to 20-year-olds as 50-year-olds, and you may want to time-delay the message for customers on the West Coast if you are working on the East Coast. The importance of segmentation will become more apparent as you start drafting your content.
2. Decide on a posting schedule you can stick to
Once a month is good to start. Don’t over-commit before you’re sure you have enough content (don’t forget about the details, like images and interviews, which can take extra time).
Have a lot to say? Break it up. It’s best to have a focused, short, single-issue newsletter.
However, there is such a thing as emailing too often; more than 2 or 3 times a month can turn readers off. If you have constantly breaking news, talk about it on social media.
3. Write content drafts
Think rough draft and brainstorming. Collaborate with your staff to collect as many ideas as possible; hone and polish them later. Expect a lot of revisions until you have something ready to go public.
As you’re putting down your ideas, you will have a better idea of what kind of message you want to send to whom. Now is the time to divide your list for each specific email. Make sure that everyone gets some version of each message.
4. Gather multimedia
- Images and multimedia are the icing on the strong content cake. More than half your web readers have images blocked for virus and privacy concerns, and many mobile devices either block multimedia or don’t render it properly.
- Make sure your email looks professional, eye-catching, and clear without the multimedia. Use alt text in the img tags so readers see what they’re missing. Don’t hide important info in images, and use short chunks of text that’s scannable with HTML formatting elements like headers, bullets, font decoration, and CSS boxes.
5. Decide on a template
Deciding on a template may be an evolving project, but you eventually want to land on one template for all commercial emails, including transactional email. That doesn’t mean every email has to be a clone, but you want to create a familiar brand look.
Customize your ESP’s templates if you aren’t very good at HTML. You can’t use the head or body tag in email, but you can use in-line CSS and HTML nested tables to control the look of your email.
6. Test. A lot.
Just because your email looks good in your ESP’s preview pane doesn’t mean it will load properly on every customer’s computer or mobile device.
- Email is much less forgiving of HTML or code errors than webpages, so validate your code by copy/pasting it here .
- Send your email first to co-workers and friends who can read it on different machines and devices.
- Split your list and send half of them one version of the email and one version another. This is called A/B testing.