From content distribution to customer retention, email newsletters are a critical tool for the success of digital publishers.
But it’s not enough to just send your audience a newsletter. To make the most of this ever-important channel, you need to offer an outstanding newsletter experience that ensures your subscribers open your emails – and keep opening them. While a good newsletter experience is important for all verticals, publishers have been particularly successful in creating newsletters that readers can’t wait to open, and marketers in other verticals are starting to implement publisher newsletter strategies in their own brand marketing.
Ready to revamp your email experience this year? Whether you’re a publisher or a brand marketer looking to learn from the success of publisher newsletters, here are a few tips you can try.
Match your newsletter tone to your audience.
The email inbox gives you a space to build relationships with your audience through more personable, friendly content than may normally be found on your site. Perhaps newsletter expert Dan Oshinsky puts it best:
“This has always been a loyalty type of business. You don’t last that long without building strong relationships with readers. Email is kind of like a living room. It’s a very personal space. You let in your friends, the coworkers you like, and a couple of brands you really trust.”
That being said, to build newsletter relationships, it’s important that your tone resonates with your audience. Consider your brand and the expectations that your audience has for your content. Some audiences may welcome a funny, casual newsletter, while others may prefer crisp, concise copy. You know your audience; focus on crafting a newsletter tone that best connects with that audience.
Gather user feedback to guide your newsletter products.
According to Digiday, publishers are increasingly turning to user feedback to establish Net Promoter Scores, learn about what content readers find valuable, and assess their user experience.
As a direct channel of communication with your audience, email allows you to reach out directly to your most dedicated readers and learn how you can improve their newsletter experience.
Capturing user feedback via email, onsite forms, or your other channels enables you to listen to your audience and turn those valuable insights into action – whether in your newsletters, your site content, or even what stories your writers cover.
Optimize your newsletters for mobile.
With a majority of email opens occurring on mobile, building email newsletters that look great on mobile has never been more important. However, email HTML is notoriously fickle. Different email clients render can render the same emails very differently.
Have you checked how your newsletters render on mobile lately? Email render testing allows you to view dozens of versions of your newsletter, allowing you to optimize your newsletters for viewing on any device. Once you know how your emails look across devices, you can take steps to improve the email experience, especially for your mobile audience.
Optimizing your newsletters for mobile may require you to implement responsive email design, or you may take a mobile-first approach where you build your email specifically for mobile. Ultimately, it depends on your audience. Do your readers browse your newsletters at their work desktops? Do they read them on their phones during the evening? On their morning commute? Take a look at your open times and device data to determine the best strategy for your newsletter re-design.
Use email newsletter automation where appropriate.
Automation likely won’t help you write long, personal newsletter copy (at least not yet), but it can free up more of your time to focus on writing newsletter copy. Email service providers (ESPs) like Upland PostUp and Upland Adestra integrate with your CMS to curate and assemble newsletter content automatically based on criteria you set. For instance, if your sports website offers content about different sports, you can automate your newsletters to pull your top soccer, basketball, or hockey content and send it to readers in separate daily digests.
If you have multiple newsletter products that deliver content to your audience, automation can significantly decrease your newsletter creation time from hours down to minutes, like PostUp did for Apartment Therapy Media. On the other hand, if you currently only send one newsletter, automation can help you scale your newsletter program by making it easy to create more automated newsletter products. The more newsletter products you offer, the more chances you can earn to engage your audience.
Focus on email accessibility.
Creating a better newsletter experience for your readers means ensuring that none of your readers are left behind. This includes readers who have visual impairments. By implementing email accessibility best practices, you improve the user experience for all of your readers.
Here are a few things you can do to make your email newsletters more accessible for your audience:
- If you use images in your newsletters, include ALT text that describes the images.
- Use fonts that are large and clear enough to read comfortably
- Consider your color-blind readers when choosing images and template colors
Ensure your emails make it to the inbox by improving your email deliverability.
Once you’ve created an email product that fits your audience, it’s important to make sure your email gets to your audience. If your emails land in the spam folder, your audience will likely never see your email, which makes inbox placement an important part of an effective newsletter program.
Some email service providers, such as Upland PostUp, offer access to deliverability monitoring and seed testing tools, making it easy to determine what percentage of your emails arrive in your subscribers’ inboxes. Taking simple steps to improve your email deliverability can help publishers drive more engagement and, ultimately, revenue.
Evaluate whether your current email service provider (ESP) still meets your needs.
As publisher business models change, so do their newsletter programs. Maybe you’ve graduated from offering a single newsletter to a dozen newsletters, and you need to make your email program more efficient; does your ESP offer adequate newsletter automation options? Perhaps you’ve moved to a subscription business model, and you need your email program to nurture paying subscribers; can your ESP handle complex automated customer journeys? Or maybe it’s your technology stack that’s changed; does your ESP integrate with your other publisher technology?
Creating the right newsletter experiences for your readers requires the right technology. Whether you’re looking to monetize your email newsletters or migrate to an email newsletter solution built for the needs of publishers, we’re here to help!