eNewsletter Tips


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Participants will learn how to avoid being mistaken for junk mail and create an impactful retention (and acquisition) program with newsletters. Topics will include the subscription process, content, presentation and design guidelines. To top it off, we will showcase real world examples for inspiration (and imitation).

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  • I wanted to do a webinar on eNewsletters because, Newsletters that arrive in the inbox tend to have a highly emotional reaction from the recipients. They feel much more personal than the average email because they users have an on-going relationship with them. They also have a social aspect, as user often forward them to colleagues and friends. + create more of a bond between users and a company than a website can A newsletter’s usability problems have a much stronger impact on customer relationship than website usability problems 69% of users said that they look forward to receiving at least one newsletter and most users said a newsletter had become part of their routine. (according to Nielsen Norman Group) Very few other promotional efforts can claim this degree of customer buy-in. This is why this webinar is so important to me, to communicate how to optimize this relationship with a few best practices and tips.
  • With each subject area, I will be showing examples I’ve found in the marketplace (some clients/some not). The tips I am providing will not be a list of bullet points but a reflection of each sample that I’ve chosen to illustrate some good and bad efforts alike. Key element when designing the subscription process: Speed. Speed matters, whether unsubscribing or subscribing it should take less than 2 minutes (and 2 minutes is generous) The slower the process the less people will like the site.
  • They refer to this as a club, but are very clear that you are getting newsletters and subscribing to them. This makes the user feel a part of something bigger. Like the use of “Subscribe” to name the button. Shows action, and is very clear. When using an open small form Make sure if a user hits “Enter” that it captures the request If there is text in the small form make sure it disappears when the box is clicked on Make subscription via a small form on the homepage or other page of the site a one-step process. If it leads to a longer process, indicate that there are further steps and pre-populate the email address on any subsequent forms.
  • The fact that I didn’t automatically sign up was deceiving. There was no indication that there was an additional two steps, which will prove frustrating. I would bet that they loose a significant portion of people abandoning at this point, and I would measure this process. Once I’m here, they do clearly mark the steps which is nice, once I am committed
  • Ask for minimal information. Ideally, only an email address, but this isn’t always possible, so try and minimize the amount of fields as possible, unless there is a clear value proposition for the user to be providing this to you. In this case, I’m clearly getting information on shows that I am interested in. I can mark my city as well as a destination city I go to. Although adding a city was slightly confusing in this case. I had to click “add a city” half way through the form, which wasn’t comfortable. It’s important not to preselect for users (ie… if there was a default city used) It would be even better if they offered a description in the drop down choice “Select a City” instead of “city” It is always a good idea to indicate action in your words when you want users to do something. This was a lengthy process, and could have been shortened for a better user experience.
  • Double Opt-in is ideal. However, people are afraid of this, but they really shouldn’t be. The loss of people abandoning your process is less significant that the emerging of engaged users on the other side. Marketers need to get over the attitude that it is about quantity, because it really is more about quality when it comes to retention and building relationships and that is the essence of newsletter campaigns. Very clearly stated in the step that they need to confirm through an email that they will receive, and make sure that email comes immediately. If a user has to wait even 2 minutes you may have lost them. They are in the mode to act, don’t give them reason to hesitate. The reply to address and subject line are very clear and identifiable, this is essential to the process. Should have confirmed my email address and what newsletters are have agreed to receive ie. The city I selected… This should have been much more personalized than it is.
  • Make the web site experience seamless. Most users don’t distinguish between the newsletter and the web site once they click through, it is part of the same experience.
  • This is quite different from the Cirque sign up process, although both consider the element of joining something. This one is not as successful. The newsletter is hidden as a member benefit, always allow users to sign up for newsletters without requiring membership, suggest this after they sign up for the newsletter If membership is required at least they are accommodating for new and old users on the page, which is nice. 3. Use the word “newsletter” or the phrase “sign up” in the link to email newsletter subscription. Don’t rely solely on the branded newsletter name to link to content, unless the name includes the word “newsletter.” (and be clear if there are more than one) 5. If your site offers multiple newsletters, highlight individual newsletters as needed, but also include a link to all newsletters. 6. This is not a paid site, but if you do have offer both paid subscription materials and free email newsletters, use the word subscribe carefully. 11. Don’t use pop-up windows to promote newsletters.
  • However, using a pop up in this fashion to speed up the process of signing up is a good idea. I like the pop up window with shaded background to give me the sense that I haven’t left the web site. This does eliminate distractions on the page, the pop up is very direct. You should not cloud the user with too many messages and keep them focused and not navigating away from the process They pre-check the newsletters which is not a good idea. Frequency is only indicated on “Daily dish” and not the others. They are relying to heavily on the name of the newsletter, there is no sample or description. Must make the name of the newsletter something easily identifiable. It would be better if this was one newsletter where I was customizing the content of it to make it more personal and relevant to me. If there are more than 10 newsletters, categorize them to make it easy to navigate through all of them.
  • Send new subscribers one welcome message. Confirm their successful subscription to any and all newsletters and instruct them how to easily unsubscribe if they were signed up erroneously. Send the message from the newsletter’s sender, and include whitelisting information. 50. If possible and appropriate, send users the most recent edition of the newsletter. If not, tell users when to expect the first newsletter. 51. If recipients are automatically signed up for a newsletter as a result of membership, employment, or due to purchases made with the newsletter’s company, send them a welcome message explaining why they are receiving this unsolicited information. Whenever possible, allow members, employees, or customers to opt out of receiving email communication before they receive it, or at least allow them to unsubscribe afterward. 52. Don’t automatically subscribe users to new newsletter offerings from your organization.
  • 1. Place the newsletter link in the site’s main top or side navigation, or at the bottom of each page. 2. Promote relevant newsletters in the body of the page where appropriate, in addition to providing a consistent link to the newsletter in the site navigation. 6. If you offer both paid subscription materials and free email newsletters, use the word subscribe carefully. 7. Include newsletter information in your site’s Help or FAQ sections, and include newsletter-related terms, such as “subscribe,” “unsubscribe,” “email,” and “newsletter,” in your site search. Talk about the many places including main navigation that you can sign up for a newsletter.
  • Speed is essential. It should take less than 2 minutes to subscribe and unsubscribe. Ask minimal information, and gather more information as your relationship is engaged There is a sample newsletter shown in the graphic, but it would be nice to click on one to see more. For security reasons they are requesting your fill in the code provided. If you are to do that, make sure there is the ability to listen to the letters being spoken. They are very clear about what you will receive and their privacy information, with a link to it immediately. This is a must have these days, it provides users a reassurance that you will not abuse the information you are collecting. I feel strongly that transparency is the key, especially in this very vocal, very community driven environment that we live in.
  • Thank you page is a must… Include any additional information that users may need to do. Keep in mind that a user will not spend much time on this page, and it is good practice to test cross selling or just further engagement of the end user. (white listing info… )
  • Clear from address, and subject line All text Cross marketing message Short and sweet.
  • People get a lot of email. They don’t have time to read a lot of text. In our most recent study, users spent an average of 51 seconds on each of the newsletters they read from their own inbox. Users spent an additional 33 seconds on information found by pursuing newsletter links on websites. (according to Nielsen Norman Group) It’s worth is to use informative and enticing subject lines that encourage users to read a newsletter while it’s fresh. The most frequent complaint is the newsletters arrived too often, and the most frequent advice is to keep it brief. Subject line is crucial. Both in encouraging users to open the newsletter and helping users distinguish the newsletter from spam. We recommend including content from the issue in each subject line, even though it’s a difficult job to write good microcontent within the fift- to sixty- character limit that many email services impose. Send the newsletter from the same identifiable sender, such as the name of the newsletter or site name, each time it’s sent. Only use a person’s name as the sender in special cases, where the newsletter is always written by the same, well-known person. If the newsletter is about a well-known person, but not written by that person, don’t use the person’s name as the sender. Carefully consider before associating a specific name or individual, real or fictitious, with newsletter content. 60. Include content in the subject line. Treat it like a headline. 61. Limit the subject line to fifty to sixty characters. 62. Don’t repeat information in the subject line and sender line. 63. If your site offers multiple newsletters, send them all from the same sender, and distinguish them from one another in the subject line. (unless of course they come from different brands
  • Test in different email readers Users reported having an average of 3.1 email accounts each. Typically, this included multiple personal along with primary work account. Even in the email readers, there are different options
  • Test preview pane review… with graphics off and turned on. This is how most people first read your email. In mobile phones it may be even less. Keep important information in text and near the top. Have the ability to still get the offer as the header if they are seeing it in text on their mobile phone. Always use alt tags, some email readers reflect this copy Use large glamour shots only when appropriate and sparingly when it comes to newsletters.
  • This is the newsletter with graphics turned on, outside the email reader.
  • Newsletters must be designedto facilitate scanning Only 19% of the newsletters that arrived in an inbox were read thoroughly. Most people skim them. Scanability What have you done for me lately Predictable publication frequency Designing for users who scan rather than read is essential for a newsletters survival This implies the need for layouts that let users quickly grasp each issue’s content and zero in on specifics. Content and writing styles must support users who read only part of the material Newsletters must be current and timely Informs of work-related news or company actions Reports prices/sales Informs about personal interests/hobbies Informs about events/deadlines/important dates
  • Content of your newsletter! 64. Know your audience. 65. Only include content relevant to the newsletter’s subject matter. Focus on your area of expertise. 66. Make sure newsletter content is timely. 67. Keep the newsletter timely by incorporating news events or seasonal information. 68. In sales-related newsletters, consider adding at least a small amount content that is not sales-related. 69. Use a consistent and clear writing style appropriate to your topic and audience. Limit catchy phrases and promotional hype. 72. Include aspects of community in the newsletter where appropriate.
  • 73. If you asked for personal interests during registration, make it clear that the information was used to personalize the newsletter. 74. Be cautious when personalizing newsletters based on users’ previous actions or purchases on the site. They may not accurately represent users’ interests in your newsletter. 75. Carefully consider whether to use subscribers’ names in email newsletters. If you think it’s beneficial to do so, make sure you don’t offend the person by using informal language or an incorrect name. 76. Allow users to change the name used to address them. 77. Start the newsletter with content, not a lengthy definition of the newsletter, excessive logos, or large images. 80. Limit your newsletter’s length to four printed pages. 81. Limit file size to 40–50 kB. Keep file size as small as possible.
  • Design of the Newsletter! 82. Design the newsletter to relate to the website, but not replicate it completely. 83. Follow a standard template design. 84. Use headlines, section headings, and spacing to clearly define content areas. 85. If the newsletter covers more than five topics or articles, provide brief, concise headlines followed by two- to four-sentence blurbs. Also, provide a link to further information on the website. 87. In headlines, use no more than ten words, or one line of text, and state the content’s key point. 88. Keep content elements, whether headlines, blurbs, or paragraphs, as short as possible, providing information to users quickly. Focus on one key point and provide supporting details. 89. Prioritize information within the newsletter, and use information carrying words at the start of headlines, paragraphs, blurbs, and bulleted lists.
  • I’m showing you the bottom of this email, because there is one thing that makes this stand apart… “ Rate this email” If there users are engaged they will rate the email, and instant feedback is not only wonderful, but you are really strengthening that emotional tie with your audience.
  • 91. Use formatting to help users scan content, draw attention to key words, and make text more readable. Use bold type, identifiable links, short lines of text, and bulleted lists. 92. Be cautious if using narrow columns to display content. 93. Determine which information is most valuable to readers and make that information easy to locate. Use recognizable patterns to organize or list pieces of content. 95. Add a brief table of contents to any newsletter containing more than five content areas that fill more than two printed pages. List specific topics, not general content areas. Place the table of contents so that it, along with some content, is visible in the first page of the newsletter. 96. Only use images and design elements that add substance and increase readers’ understanding of the newsletter. In this case they used an image of a person, people tend to look at other people’s faces. 98. Use color to help differentiate newsletter areas, making sure to use colors with strong contrast so that type is easy to read. 101. Make links look like links. Don’t try to be fancy, people are use to knowing something underlined in blue will click, they don’t always realize that you’ve changed the formatting to orange and bold to click… 102. Use descriptive, information-carrying or action-oriented words for links, and make it clear what they lead to. Avoid the words “Click here.” 104. Link directly to the content mentioned in the newsletter, not just to the homepage or a random page on the site. 107. Make sure links to content will not expire. 108. Include a prominent expiration date on any limited-time offers promoted in newsletters. Acknowledge past offers if users click through old newsletters. 113. Make it easy for users to print newsletters and the content they link to. 114. Include the date in the email newsletter. 116. If you accidentally send a message with formatting problems, incorrect content, or another error, send a brief apology, attached to a revised copy of the newsletter when appropriate.
  • FTAF or SWYN?
  • I like that they have a link to their blog, facebook, twitter, FTAF… but the deal is so good, why not allow users to automatically post this on their web site?
  • Even better way to use customer testimonials to talk about a product, and encourages users to become a follower
  • Bottom Right, after the offer… SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS, with options.
  • Although the Share with your friends option, did not duplicate the offer by went on to a different Hallmark offer about their facebook calendar… a little confusing for users.
  • Use of the SWYF as part of the call to action. LOVE IT!
  • Challenge you to put your unsubscribe at the top! Realization is… it is better to click the unsubscribe button than the spam button. SPAM is in the eye of the beholder. When they are tired of getting your email When the content is no longer relevant Reality is people tend not to unsubscribe from newsletters. Reasons people don’t attempt to unsubscribe - Emotional attachment to newsletter - Low expectations for the websites usability - Fear that unsubscribing would fail and would subject the user to even more mail Easier options (the spam button) Whatever the reason, it’s clear that mailing list owners shouldn’t assume that all subscribers actually want to receive their newsletters. Many users might have simply neglected to unsubscribe. In reality, however, you don’t have users’ “permission” once they stop wanting the newsletter. If users keep getting unwanted newsletters, the messsages will start to backfire and become regular reminders that they’re annoyed with your company. Better to let them go.
  • Speed matters – under 2 minutes in less than 1-2 clicks Maintain the brand, even in the unsubscribe Offer them options… they may still like your newsletter, but it comes to frequent. They may still like your newsletter, but they have moved… give them the option to update their preferences first and foremost, or during the unsubscribe process.
  • Always send a confirmation with a link back to the subscription center. In case they have falsely unsubscribed from the newsletter, or forwarded to a friend who accidentally unsubscribed them.
  • What other marketing newsletters would you recommend I should subscribe to? eMarketer - Click z ExactTarget Sites I use specific to email: Email stat center, EEC, ExactTarget, EmailLabs How do I get the SWYF functionality on my newsletters? – this is a service provided by your ESP, some ESPs are farther along the curve than others. But most of the ones that are leaders in the industry have this function: ExactTarget, Silverpop, Strongmail,… certainly look at your provider first and foremost, and we would recommend ET of course, because we are a platinum partner. Also, they just acquired CoTweet, so their platform will certainly expand to encompass more social features soon.
  • eNewsletter Tips

    1. 1. eNewsletter Tips: Develop a newsletter program that users look forward to getting in their inbox Thursday, April 22, 2010 05/04/10
    2. 2. Webcast “Housekeeping” <ul><li>Ask questions throughout the presentation using the “Questions” button at the top of the screen </li></ul><ul><li>All questions will be answered at the end of the presentation </li></ul><ul><li>Please report any technical difficulties to [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>At the end of the presentation, please evaluate the webcast by clicking the “Rate” button at the top of your screen </li></ul>05/04/10
    3. 3. Today’s Presenters <ul><li>Marci Hower </li></ul><ul><li>Vice President, Interactive Services at Metrics Marketing Marci has 15 years experience in online direct marketing. Prior to joining Metrics, Marci was a Business Development Manager with a national e-strategy consulting firm. She was also an integral part of growing a start-up company as the General Manager of a Midwest interactive agency. Marci blends her experience in sales, marketing, design and interactive technologies to help clients such as National City, Kelly Services, Midas, World Market Center and American Greetings create and implement their online strategies. A local thought leader, Marci is honored to be a past president of DMA Cleveland. Marci is a past recipient of Crain's Forty under Forty award, and she is a frequent speaker at events and seminars. </li></ul>05/04/10
    4. 4. 05/04/10 eNewsletter Tips Develop a newsletter program that users look forward to getting in their inbox <ul><li>The Subscription Process </li></ul><ul><li>The Battle for the Inbox </li></ul><ul><li>Content & Design </li></ul><ul><li>Email is Social </li></ul><ul><li>“ Unsubscribe” is Not a Dirty Word </li></ul>
    5. 5. The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful: Studies in the Subscription Process 05/04/10
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    11. 11. Subscribing and Unsubscribing 05/04/10
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    18. 18. 05/04/10 eNewsletter Tips Develop a newsletter program that users look forward to getting in their inbox <ul><li>The Subscription Process </li></ul><ul><li>The Battle for the Inbox </li></ul><ul><li>Content & Design </li></ul><ul><li>Email is Social </li></ul><ul><li>“ Unsubscribe” is Not a Dirty Word </li></ul>
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    23. 23. 05/04/10 eNewsletter Tips Develop a newsletter program that users look forward to getting in their inbox <ul><li>The Subscription Process </li></ul><ul><li>The Battle for the Inbox </li></ul><ul><li>Content & Design </li></ul><ul><li>Email is Social </li></ul><ul><li>“ Unsubscribe” is Not a Dirty Word </li></ul>
    24. 24. 05/04/10 Scanability
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    30. 30. 05/04/10 eNewsletter Tips Develop a newsletter program that users look forward to getting in their inbox <ul><li>The Subscription Process </li></ul><ul><li>The Battle for the Inbox </li></ul><ul><li>Content & Design </li></ul><ul><li>Email is Social </li></ul><ul><li>“ Unsubscribe” is Not a Dirty Word </li></ul>
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    38. 38. 05/04/10 eNewsletter Tips Develop a newsletter program that users look forward to getting in their inbox <ul><li>The Subscription Process </li></ul><ul><li>The Battle for the Inbox </li></ul><ul><li>Content & Design </li></ul><ul><li>Email is Social </li></ul><ul><li>“ Unsubscribe” is Not a Dirty Word </li></ul>
    39. 39. Unsubscribe (top or bottom)? 05/04/10
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    42. 42. Questions? 05/04/10
    43. 43. Other Metrics Marketing Webinars <ul><li>Next Webinar: Twitter for Business May 18th, 2010 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST Presenter: Metrics Marketing Group and CoTweet Learn more at http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/20749 </li></ul><ul><li>Other Previously Recorded BrightTalk Webcasts: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Automated Triggered Opportunity Marketing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Presenter: Todd Thompson </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BrightTalk: http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/5670 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Landing Page Optimization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Presenter: Cathy Zapata </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BrightTalk: http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/5667 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer Conversion Optimization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Presenter: Mike Kihalek </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BrightTalk: http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/5671 </li></ul></ul>05/04/10