Your e-newsletter is a brand touchpoint. That means each step of the process can be used not just to market effectively, but to build customer loyalty and trust.
Devote one page on your site exclusively to describing your e-zine. Make this a compelling pitch! People are overloaded with information, so you need to offer something of very high value to motivate them to sign up.
Link to an archive of sample newsletters so they can see the types of value they’ll receive. Offer your sign-up bonus or, at the very least, include a compelling call to action so they’ll sign up. Explain the sign-up process—tell them what to expect once they sign up (opt-in or double-opt-in?). And be sure to tell them what e-mail address you’ll be sending from so they can add it to their friends/whitelist so your messages get through.
The sign-up section is a great place to collect marketing information but you can’t go overboard. Aside from subscribers’ names and e-mail addresses, what would be most useful to know about them? One possibility is to have a series of checkboxes that allows them to tick “when was the last time you purchased our product/service?” Another classic is “How did you hear about us?” These questions should be limited to an absolute minimum and should be of the highest relevance to you. The sign-up process should be as short and simple as possible. You can get away with one or two marketing questions but keep ’em short and sweet.
What‘s left? Publishing! Keep your promise and deliver high-value content on a regular basis. If your e-zine is informational, archive past issues on your site. You can then refer back to them in future issues or in articles your write for other arenas. They also serve as additional “gateways” to your site; search engines will archive these pages and can deliver them in search results.
Your subject line is the most important component in determining whether your e-zine gets opened. Make it 60 characters or fewer. Make it intriguing. Then check your open rates against the different subject lines to see which subjects are most interesting to your subscribers.
(As an aside, don’t fret if subscribers don’t open every e-mail. They won’t. But as long as your e-mail is still reaching their Inbox, you still receive a brand-boost by having your name in front of them.)
E-mail communications are different from print ads or even websites. They are more personal, more intimate. Keep your brand voice but tweak it slightly to fit the medium. That may mean injecting a little humor, using the more informal “you,” and even writing in first-person if it fits the brand. Some e-zines are tightly chunked bursts of information. Others are leisurely stories that capture the heart as well as the mind. Others include cartoons or movies to make people laugh. Whatever option you choose, make sure it’s in keeping with your brand.
Pay attention to your tracking and to feedback you receive from subscribers. To build your brand, your e-zine must carry on a living conversation that adapts to meet people’s needs. A common request we receive from clients wanting to start an e-zine is to include short trivia quizzes or surveys. In our experience, these often receive very low response rates, usually because the subscribers are primarily interested in scanning the e-zine for pertinent info, not taking extra time out for a quiz that has no relevance to them.
If you find that certain areas of your e-zine aren’t working, re-vamp or chuck ’em. Keep innovating, paying attention to your subscriber’s needs, in order to be most effective at building your brand.