6 Email Newsletter Best Practices That Will Keep Your Customers Hooked!

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Social media marketing and paid search advertising threatened to replace email marketing for less than five years. Email marketing has held its value, but how it works has changed.

There is a massive discrepancy in the email marketing landscape, with some lists getting poor results and others getting excellent ones. Newsletters are a format that has performed reasonably well.

Suppose your newsletter is customer-oriented and designed to entertain or inform the customer. In that case, your success with email marketing will be far more sustainable than if your email list is meant for sales emails only.

1. Have a Content Series

The best way to ensure that your clickthrough and reader retention rates remain high week after week and month after month is to develop a value-packed email nurturing series. Different newsletters have successfully done this.

Cartoonist Liana Finck has a 100% free newsletter that offers a series of exclusive cartoons. She plugs her paid newsletter into the free one, so potential patrons can support her and get even more exclusive content.

You can partner with a cartoonist to develop a content series that is specific to your niche. Alternatively, you can have a trivia series. These emails don’t sell products, but they earn the right to sell when you need to plug an offer.

Most email marketers assume that they have the right to sell via email and abuse their knowledge of others’ email addresses. As a result, their brand names get associated with spam and get ignored.

2. Use the Subject Line to its Full Potential

The subject line is the only thing that the audience has no choice but to see. They will see the subject line if your email lands in their inbox.

Apple announces its news directly in the subject line. But that works only for drops. Apple emails its customers 3 times a year at a maximum. So unless your business is built around the drop model, you should leverage your subject line to get your potential customers curious.

Here are two subject lines:

  • It’s not too late! Join Tomorrow’s Webinar 
  • I just found out my 6-year-old daughter isn’t mine (biologically). What do I do?

The first subject line is poorly thought out but reflects over 99% of how most subject lines go. The second subject line is from Quora Digest’s newsletter. Quora has one of the most successful email newsletters regarding click through and retention. But then again, Quora is a content platform, and not many businesses are content platforms.

You might need to use more of a curiosity-inducing subject line. But you can ensure that you catch your readers’ interest while remaining within the accepted conventions of your industry.

3. Develop Goodwill with Value

Click-baiting readers into opening your emails will destroy your goodwill and lead to a mass exodus. If you make a promise in the subject line, make it your responsibility to deliver on it. Trust is built by holding up your promises. And by delivering value in your emails, you can inject trust with an aura of goodwill.

Here are a few ways to add goodwill to your emails:

  • Use charity-match offers. These offers can position your company in a positive light and make your customers more likely to feel good about buying from you.
  • Announce discounts. Every buyer is a bargain buyer. Just make sure not to overuse discounts, or the discounted price will be seen as the base price.
  • Inspire a positive emotion. Positive emotions don’t come from learning new things only. Funny content, as well as wholesome content, can also produce a positive association as long as it aligns with your brand.
  • Offer valuable information. This is the easiest way to offer value. Information like tips, tricks, and relevant life hacks can positively make your customers associate with you.

4. Think Product Placement, Not Sales

The above tips revolve around the value and entertainment of the potential customer. If you’re a traditional or direct response marketer, you might be wondering: “where is the selling?”

In the age of email saturation, you must think of your product or service differently. It is not the main subject of your email, it is product placement.

Seth Godin’s email newsletter does product placement brilliantly. The marketing author sometimes plugs his digital and remote workshop company, Akimbo. His daily newsletter covers creativity, philosophy, and interesting trivia. Every once in a while, the newsletter’s content hits subjects like freelancing, public speaking, marketing, or business. That’s when Godin mentions his education company.

You might not have the exact same formula. Each one of your emails can plug your product. But it also has to include something your customers can use even if they don’t buy.

If your emails just sell products, your customers will not open your email if they’re not in the mood to buy. This attitude completely undermines your persuasion skills and copywriting. But if your customers know that they will get valuable information in each email, they’ll open the emails.

That being said, here are some ideas for different industries for product placement in an email newsletter.

  • B2B program. Tips and tricks on how to do whatever the reader’s business aims to do well (sell more, get accounts right, etc.). Listicle-style emails with the last tip being using your product to do their job better. (Related: B2B Email Marketing Best Practices)
  • Fashion brands. Pairing different clothes, accessorizing ideas, and outfit inspiration, are all uniquely valuable email types for fashion brands to plug their products in.
  • Food products. Food products like Hershey’s chocolate chips and Oreos can have email newsletters offering recipes. These recipes can be used with alternative brand products too. So the reader can close the email and have a valuable recipe. But he cannot unsee the product plugged into the email.
  • Restaurants. Restaurants can have emails dedicated to date night and get-together ideas. The logo of the restaurant can be the placement. The more subtle a restaurant is, the more elegant the offer seems.

5. Do not Underestimate the Aesthetics

Email marketers often have a copywriting background. As a result, they put disproportionate emphasis on the text content. But emails should deliver an experience. Apple, Maddox Art Gallery, and Masterclass have some of the most well-thought-out email newsletters in terms of visual appeal.

Never underestimate the rules of graphic design in your email newsletter. And no, the templates offered by most mainstream newsletter builders aren’t perfect!

6. Do not Cram too Much into the Newsletter

Often newsletter templates have too many boxes and columns. They are designed to mimic actual newspapers and magazines. The goal of your email newsletter shouldn’t be to look like a newsletter. It should be to make reading easier and more pleasant for the customer.

Gary Keller’s book, “The One Thing”, offers a focusing question for time management. This question is pretty relevant for newsletter design as well. “What’s one thing I can do today that makes everything else easier (or unnecessary) by doing it?”

In a newsletter design, that question would be, “What’s the one topic I can cover, and by covering it, every other subject becomes irrelevant?”

Final Thoughts

Email newsletters are valuable for building a positive relationship with your customers. But if you’re not careful, you can accidentally do the opposite and ruin your goodwill by selling too hard. (Related: 10 Costly Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid)

A great practice to adopt is to treat your newsletter as a content distribution tool and offer valuable content while placing your products in the emails.

About the Author

I have been in the 'online business' space since 2009 when I started an eCommerce business selling motorcycle parts (sold in 2012). Since then I have owned and operated several successful online business (and had a fair share of failures), along with owning offline home services businesses. Currently my focus is online businesses that are profitable with paid traffic. As a 'self employed individual' I do not use Linkedin, but you can connect with my on my personal instagram and youtube which largely revolve around my mountain biking passion!