The very first email was sent in 1971, almost 50 years ago now. It was the first form of online communication, and therefore, it can be difficult to believe that it is still a relevant marketing tool – but it is.
Recent data from HubSpot shows that over half of the world’s population use emails on a daily basis, and more importantly, not just for personal- and work messages. The data also discovered that 73% of millennials actually prefer that communication from businesses comes through email.
The first hurdle to overcome is to get people to sign up for your email newsletter, and the second, if not bigger, challenge is to keep them there.
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Once people sign up, you have a small window to engage them so that they continue to open and read your newsletter. If successful, your newsletter is the first step in creating a bond with your subscribers that can last for years to come.
There are many ways you can choose to make your newsletters interesting and engaging. I have looked at loads of inspiration for how to create an effective email newsletter, and have made my findings and experiences easy and manageable for you in this post.
My main advice when it comes to everything in marketing and connecting with consumers is: Keep it simple! Just keep that in mind, and now let’s take a look at some simple steps that can help you engage more subscribers from the get-go.
1. Present Yourself
Consumers subscribe to email newsletters when there’s a benefit for them, and let’s face it, there is always some kind of benefit. This means that you have to find a way to make your newsletter stand out.
Make Them Get to Know You
Introduce yourself to your subscribers and new members. Don’t worry too much about a fancy design, just make sure that you are showing your brand and company identity. Let them know who you are and what you are all about, through the design and layout of the email.
This is something that e.l.f. Cosmetics does really well in their welcome email, where they first welcome the new subscriber with a picture that shows it is not all about makeup, and also offer a token of their appreciation:
Then they present all the benefits of being a subscriber and a loyal member of the ‘frequent appliers’ club:
And finally, they categorize the product options that they have and tell a little something about themselves that they value:
“Cruelty free and vegan”.
Show Them Who You Are
Give your subscribers a little information about you, your brand, an employee or a brand ambassador in each email. Let the consumer get to know you and let the relationship continuously develop through your newsletter, then they will automatically want to want to hear more from you.
It can be done as simple and briefly as Glossier that manages to present themselves in just one sentence: “We’re a beauty brand inspired by real life, made by editors who get what works.”
You can keep it that simple, while sharing just a little more with each email.
You can also let your subscriber know you and your values by speaking up for what you believe in. This can either be a cause that you feel passionate about, and therefore, spend time on educating your subscribers about, like Chubbies who dedicated one email newsletter to explain their stance on pride.
You can, naturally, choose a less controversial case, if it fits your brand better. As the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded, many companies were struggling, but many also decided that they continuously had to help those who were worse off. Makeup brand Bobbi Brown partnered up with Medecins Sans Frontieres and sent out an email newsletter where they not only informed about what they were doing, but also encouraged their subscribers to join them.
All of these approaches help your subscribers get to know you. It makes them create a relationship with your brand and establish an emotional connection, whether that emotion is based on your brand vision or your world vision.
2. Create Connections
While helping subscribers get to know you,you should also show them that you care about them, and that you want to know them.
With millions of promotional emails sent and received every day, companies are constantly fighting to gain your subscribers’ attention. Here are a few simple things that you can do in order to create connections that will be sure to engage your list and make your emails stand out.
Make it Personal
Your email newsletter is just going to be one among so many others that are all struggling to get the attention of the consumer. Make sure that you are gathering as much information about your subscribers as possible and then use it to show them that you know them, and you care.
One simple tactic is including their name in the email, and in the subject line of the email that you are sending out. Just like this one from Torrid, that recommends a product, but also makes it personal:
Email personalization improves the chances of the email being opened by more than 5% compared to an email without a name. Again, I repeat myself, it is as simple as that.
The more you know about your subscribers, the more personal you can make your newsletter. If you want to make it more advanced, then do like Topshop, who identifies the style and preferences of a person as they sign up. This enables them to send out a very personalized welcome email that lets the new subscribers know they are seen.
They create a wardrobe for each consumer and keep track of what they have been looking at so that they can continuously update it and adapt their newsletter to the style of the individual consumer. Now, this is genius, but you don’t have to go this far to engage your subscribers – just make them feel seen.
Another thing that will make consumers continue to open your newsletter is if they know they will be entertained when doing so. One company that does this really well is Poo~Pourri who continuously uses puns and catchy phrases in the subject line to engage the reader.
They even take it a step further and include short, funny commercial videos that their consumers can enjoy while they 💩
It is all about creating a bond with the consumers, and if they feel entertained it doesn’t matter if the product is something they are missing right now. They will keep it in mind for when they do need a product like yours.
Connect Consumers Through Your Brand
Everyone is on social media these days. If not on Facebook, then Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, or even YouTube. Most companies are too. One of the trends that we see growing rapidly is that consumers are engaging with brands when they see their peers doing so.
The old school version of this, which is still as applicable today, is the customer reviews. The personalized vitamins company Care/of does this in the most simple way by just sending an email where they have listed several reviews from happy customers.
The next level is when you start connecting it with the social media profiles of your brand and your consumers. As the world of influencer marketing is growing, it is becoming possible to ask your consumers to create content for the chance to be featured as a part of your brand.
This is something that Urban Outfitters have gotten all figured out in their email newsletter where they use pictures from their customers’ Instagram accounts along with reviews.
Here the consumer gets to see a peer, someone they can relate to, style a product, and recommend it. It automatically creates an understanding of the brand, and that creates a connection. It gets them talking.
One last example of creating connections comes from Nicehair that has created an entire Facebook page for their live-auctions.
This is a brilliant example of how you get your consumers to “join the club”. On this page, the company streams live auctions of its products at a discounted price. During these auctions, consumers then chat with Nicehair’s employees, as well as with each other.
It is a social event that is all about the sale, but it is a space where consumers meet each other through a shared interest in these products.
3. Stay Relevant
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in email marketing is to forget why you are doing it. You are the one who needs to know why the consumer should spend time on what you have to say. It needs to be easy for the consumer to identify what the message is and how it is relevant for them. There are a few tricks that you should keep in mind in order to make sure that your newsletter stays relevant for your email list.
Know the Purpose
First of all, make sure you know exactly what message you want to convey to the readers of your newsletter. If your subscribers have to look for the purpose of your email you will lose their attention, and then you are just wasting your time. It doesn’t need to be extraordinary or something your subscribers have never seen before, it just has to be clear.
It can be a simple product promotion, like Banana Republic that used an entire email newsletter to show their new skinny pants to the consumers.
Or Vinomofo, who sent out a newsletter to let their subscribers know that they were still open despite Covid-19. Also informing them that they were very well aware of the ongoing difficulties, however they would do as much as possible to keep things running smoothly.
Again, simple. So whether your email aims to increase traffic on a specific product, to inform readers about the terms of an ongoing crisis, to create suspense about an upcoming product, or to tell them a little something about yourself, just make it clear. It doesn’t matter what it is, the message just has to come across without a hassle.
Nail the Timing
A great way to make sure that your email newsletter remains relevant for the readers is that its timing is right. If your message comes across at the right time, it will engage your subscribers much more. Now, how do you make sure that your timing is right?
First, you conduct a little research, or you let others do it for you. We recently wrote an article on the best time to send emails, where we gathered data from several studies. The data showed that the best days to send emails are Tuesday and Thursday, and the best times during the day are at 08:00, 13:00 and 16:00. These timings would result in the highest open rate and click-through rate.
Second, you consider the seasons, the holidays, and the special occasions that can help you stay relevant all year long. It is about reminding the consumers about what is coming that they need to prepare for, and make sure to do it at the right time. Match your product to the season where it makes the most sense. If you are selling summer dresses, then don’t promote them for Christmas, unless you live in Australia, of course.
The sock company Bombas made the most of the seasons with this newsletter, where they created a fall mood, and reminded people of how much a pair of socks can do as the weather goes colder.
It doesn’t matter what the occasion is, just make sure that you make the most of it, and don’t be afraid to make something out of all of them. Whether it is a sales promotion just in time for Black Friday, a gift reminder for Christmas, an Easter Special or a whole other holiday, make it something special in the eye of the consumer.
Remember that it’s okay to use some of these recommendations at the same time. It just makes them even more interesting and engaging. Look at this extremely simple email from Tuft & Needle that combines Father’s Day with humor in the form of dad jokes.
The email then continues in a list of nine more dad jokes and then ends with this simple message:
So easy, so simple, yet hilarious and informative. You are reminded of the silly humor of your dad, and know you better get him a present for Father’s Day.
Events and occasions can be combined with practically anything. Another easy combination is to make the birthday greeting personal, either by using the subscriber’s name or birth month. If you know that your subscriber’s birthday is in July, you can easily make them feel seen by sending an email like this one from Give Lovely, where the subject line says it all.
Email marketing is here to stay, and you need to make sure that you engage your consumers with the email newsletters that you send out.
By making use of the simple tips and tricks that I have listed for you above, I guarantee you that you will keep your subscribers engaged. Just remember not to overcomplicate it. If in doubt, then the old saying “less is more” is still the golden rule in most cases.
Make sure that you have fun with it. If you are enjoying finding new ways to engage and intrigue the consumers, then they will definitely feel it. It will be conveyed through your newsletter, so make sure you know what you want to say and why the consumers should be listening. This makes it much easier when trying to display a little personality as well.
I can’t wait to see how you mix and match these different techniques to create a plan of action for the making of an interesting newsletter.