Newsletter Design: Change is Good

The first quarter of “Twenty-Eleven” is off to a great start here at Hart-Conklin Marketing.  We’ve survived a holiday shopping season filled with retail businesses cashing in (literally) using FourSquare.  We’ve also survived the first major Skype outage in a long while that actually ended up getting them into some hot water when their inner-workings were exposed during the down time.

Best business practice: Always do things the right way.  Sure, it might work the wrong way, but when something goes awry, all the defects are exposed and you’ll end up having to spend that much  more time making corrections.  Time is money, people.

In that same vein, you owe your audience the due dilligence of doing your newsletter the right way by giving them what they want.  This is a very exciting time for us as we help a client prepare all of their marketing, media, and press for their biggest event of the year.  A busy time, but never too busy to learn new things.  We designed an entirely new e-mail campaign to promote this event for them and saw record-breaking results from the exposure this tactic got them.  Newsletter design is tricky.  It’s just as important to put valuable content in your campaign, as it is to have aesthetically pleasing graphics/layout.

Sending a newsletter to your clients or customers can be tricky.  It’s a constant game of staying on the front of the information tidal wave- and keeping the content relevant to a fairly diverse audience.  It’s necessary to cater to what many people want in one marketing piece.  Here are some things I learned with this most recent e-mail newsletter campaign:

1) Change is good.  A new design periodically keeps your audience from growing tired of the same thing every time.  While it’s important to make sure your newsletter is cohesive with your branding strategy, it’s also important to keep the readers stimulated with a fresh look.

2) Pictures are good.  Make sure all of your pictures, when clicked, go to a relevant website.  People love clicking pictures so give them a place to do it!

3) Use “learn more” buttons with directs to your company e-mail.  I recommend setting up a catch-all e-mail address on your company’s server to collect the incoming e-mail and info requests from your newsletters.  People like using these because it’s convenient and just pops open your outlook right then and there.

4) We changed our clients subject heading to be a little more specific- and introduce a new product.  This client saw the highest open and click-through rates of any campaign yet.  Very exciting.  What’s good about this is you can then populate a list of e-mail addresses you need to follow-up with and strike while “iron is hot” so to speak.  This is a very good tool in sales and marketing: the ability to reach out to your customers and build the relationships by following up while you are still on the top of their minds.

5) Pay attention to your click map on newsletter interface- where are people clicking, and how many times?  If people are clicking on certain content blocks a lot, you  might want to consider putting more of what they like in the next newsletter.

6) Be patient.  This is not over night.  It takes time to see results, but in the process you will be establishing yourself as a master of your craft, and someone who always puts forth the gold standard of customer service.

All in all, this campaign was a huge success.  These strategies will help you improve how effective your marketing campaign is.  What other strategies do you implement to enhance the newsletter experience for your audience?  What have you found to not work?