We’re living in the age of social media. That means the tried-and-true B2B marketing tool — the email newsletter — is out, right?
Socials are an important part of any digital marketing strategy. Still, 81% of B2B marketers say their most-used form of content marketing is email newsletters, or e-newsletters.
Why? Well, the short answer is because e-newsletters work.
- Reach your target audience cost effectively.
- Build trust and brand loyalty.
- Generate leads.
How about some data to back that up?
- Email marketing delivers about $35 for every dollar spent — one of the highest ROIs across all marketing methods. (Marketer Email Tracker)
- 64% of B2B marketers say email was effective for meeting their 2021 business goals. (Hubspot)
- 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months. (Hubspot)
- Email marketing revenue is estimated to reach almost $11 billion by the end of 2023. (Statista, 2021)
Voila! How do you like them pommes?
Now that we’ve convinced you — using French, no less — that email newsletters are worth your time, let’s dig into exactly what makes them such winners for marketers like you.
In this post, we’ll break down:
- Why email newsletters are important.
- How to create a newsletter that connects with your audience .
- Five best practices to ensure your newsletters are opened and read.
What Is An E-Newsletter, And Why Does It Matter?
An email newsletter is a regular communication via email from your organization to customers and prospects.
According to Hubspot, “Creating an email newsletter is one of the most effective ways to provide value to your customers, drive them to buy more products and encourage them to keep engaging with your brand. Overall, newsletters are a staple in any high-performing email marketing strategy.”
For B2B companies, email newsletters are one of the best ways to target quality leads, build loyalty and keep customers informed and educated about your industry. With an email newsletter, you can:
- Build trust with customers and prospects through regular, value-added content that meets their needs.
- Stay in touch with customers, regularly reminding them why they love being in a business relationship with you.
- Gauge in real time what’s working and what isn’t either by tracking open and click-through rates or by surveying subscribers about preferences.
How To Create A Newsletter That Connects With Your Audience
As a digital marketer, you’re playing in a crowded field. An estimated 333 billion emails are sent and received daily around the world.
That means your newsletter needs to not only stand out but also connect with your audience enough that they want to open, read and engage with the content.
Start with your goal. What do you want your newsletter to do? Is it a tool to connect with customers? Nurture leads? Share industry news and information?
You don’t have to choose a single goal, but your newsletter should be consistent. Readers will open with certain expectations of what they’ll find. Make sure to follow the same format with each newsletter you send.
Understand your audience. Who you are writing to is just as important as what you write. In fact, your audience will inform your content from the beginning.
If you haven’t already, create a set of buyer personas for your business, then lean heavily on these personas when creating each issue of your email newsletter. Ask yourself:
- What is this persona’s specific pain point?
- What questions does she have that I can answer?
- How can I best meet his needs?
Create awesome content. We’re us, so we’re going to talk about content. But here’s the thing: We keep harping on it because it works!
The average consumer is exposed to upwards of 5,000 ads per day. We’ve become immune to the hard sell. Ya know what never goes out of style? Genuine connection.
- Repurpose content. Pull out a particularly relevant quote from a recent webinar, summarize key points from a blog post or create an infographic based on a podcast. A few content ideas to get you started:
- Blog preview/roundups.
- Industry news and events.
- Educational content, like tips and tricks or webinars.
- A behind-the-scenes look at your company or industry.
Pro tip: Repurpose does not mean copy and paste. E-newsletters are not blogs or social posts — they have their own identity and structure. Pull relevant information from other content sources, but then repurpose (i.e. rewrite) to make it appealing to the newsletter audience. Good e-newsletter content should be short and engaging, with a clear call to action.
- Tell, don’t sell. Stories connect, but sales pitches fall flat — especially for B2B clients who are hip to hard selling. Use customer stories and testimonials to demonstrate how you’ve solved problems in the real world.
- Get personal. This is where your buyer personas come in handy. Write your newsletter as if you’re speaking directly to that person. Ditch the lofty, academic language and write like you’re having a conversation.
Make it visually appealing. Design is just as important as content when it comes to creating compelling e-newsletters that engage readers. Design should:
- Enhance, not distract from the newsletter content. Use a limited and consistent color palette, and the same goes for font choice — easy-to-read is always best.
- Guide readers. Good newsletter design uses the principle of hierarchy to emphasize the most important elements and guide readers to take action.
- Work on mobile. According to Litmus, 41.6% of people regularly open emails on mobile devices. This means your newsletter needs to look as good on a smartphone as it does on your 15-inch laptop screen. Tools like Hubspot’s email builder allow you to preview the mobile view of your newsletter.
- Start with accessibility. Create your newsletter design with accessibility in mind. This means adding alt text to images, ensuring fonts are big enough and the color contrast is appropriate to be visually accessible to low-vision readers.
5 Components Of A Stellar E-Newsletter
Email newsletters take on many forms. Some are lighthearted and entertaining, while others have a more serious tone; a lot depends on your company’s brand and audience.
While there is plenty of room for customization, all email newsletters should include the following:
- An awesome subject line. The subject line is where any email — your newsletter included — lives or dies. Your subject line should be short (best practice is under 40 characters) so it is easy to see on mobile devices.
Bonus tip: Don’t forget the preview text (that line that appears in most inboxes just after the subject). It’s prime real estate and a great way to add personality.
- Personalization. Adding in personalization tokens (automated bits of code that allow you to include recipients’ names) in your subject line or newsletter body is an effective way to connect with readers. According to Business.com, emails that use personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Additionally, click-through rates are 14% higher and conversion rates are 10% higher when personalization is used.
Image of a personalization token being used for an email.
- A regular cadence. There’s no right answer regarding newsletter frequency. It largely depends on how much content you have to share and your customers’ preferences. The key is to be consistent. Nobody wants to guess when the next newsletter might pop in their inbox.
A good starting point for B2B businesses is monthly or bimonthly. Test and make adjustments as needed.
- A way to unsubscribe. This is not only a “best practice”— it’s also a legal issue. There are two laws that govern marketing emails: CAN-SPAM and GDPR.
Among other requirements, CAN-SPAM requires that you include a footer in your email that includes your address and a way to unsubscribe. GDPR applies to any recipients in the EU and requires that marketers allow recipients to opt in to any email communication.
Image from an email showing the footer with CAN-SPAM compliance options.
- A CMS that allows you to analyze results. Content management systems like Hubspot offer email marketing tools with everything from drag-and-drop e-newsletter templates to post-email analytics. Seeing how many recipients opened, clicked, converted or forwarded your newsletter gives you a good idea about what you’re doing right and what could be improved.
Image showing targeted email performance in Hubspot.
A Final Note About Stratégie
Starting a newsletter is one thing, but keeping it going is — as they say, a horse of a different color. To avoid petering out after a strong start, make your email newsletter part of your larger digital marketing strategy.
There are many online tools that can help you schedule and segment your email newsletter. Of course, if you’re looking to outsource the load, working with a data-driven content marketing agency is an ideal option.