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10 Tips to Creating the Perfect eCommerce Newsletter

 by zack on 01 Feb 2013 |
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It’s no secret that newsletter marketing is one of the premiere ways to effectively target your customer base. Putting together beautiful, informative, and high converting newsletters is a powerful and precise process through which many marketers have increased their company’s bottom line by surprising margins. So this information begs the question: how can you do the same? Well, to grossly oversimplify, it’s going to take a lot of hard work. To answer more thoroughly, we here at the Ashop blog have come up with a list of 10 supremely necessary tactics to employ in any newsletter marketing strategy.  
1. Have a Simple Subscription Process

Subscribing to your newsletter is one of the things that your website visitors are most reluctant to do. They don’t like to hand out personal information if it’s not completely necessary, or in some way beneficial. The trick is to make the whole process as easy, simple, and compelling as possible. The last part should be emphasized, because of the tendency to overlook it.

Compelling content for your newsletter emails is vital to getting them opened. If you can illustrate how the information in these newsletters is compelling to your customers, you’ll be very successful in the clickthroughs from the campaign right off the bat.
Beyond showing the customers that a subscription to your newsletter is beneficial, it’s also very important that it be a quick and easy process. Any barrier between the user and the dotted line, is by virtue of brevity, a very bad thing. It’s always preferable to keep an opt-in form brief and highly visible. You want to take up some space on your page with the form, but you don’t want it to overwhelm the rest of the page's content.

One or two clearly outlined spaces for a customer to leave their email address and indicate whether or not they want the newsletter subscription should do the trick. Again, make certain that it’s easy to find, and easy to sign-up. Otherwise your contact list won’t be gaining addresses anytime soon. 

2. Prepare Consistent Content- It doesn’t make much sense to have a newsletter subscription and no newsletters, now does it? Sometimes it’s a good idea to spend some time building up your stockpile of relevant or entertaining content. Then, once you have enough material to cover your weekly/monthly newsletters for somewhere between 30 and 90 days, that’s when you drop the knowledge on your subscribers.
The goal with these subscriptions is to stay consistent. People have subscribed because they expect something from you. You have to set yourself up as a dependable resource of information within your niche, and to do that you’ve got to provide the data your customers want on a regular basis. So decide on a schedule and stick with it!
3. Encourage Engagement– Engagement is one of those things you’ll hear us hammer on a lot in this blog, and there’s a reason for that. It’s because keeping your customers engaged is the number one way to build relationships online. Remember above when we mentioned that you have to set yourself up as a trusted resource? The key word there is “trusted.” A measure of trust implies a relationship. A relationship requires interaction, and interaction is exactly what we’re talking about when we say the word engagement.
Keeping your customers engaged means that you need to ensure they are interacting with your brand in some way, shape, or form. So how is it done? Easy. Ask questions. Then, the not so easy part: stick around for the answers.

Think about it as a game of conversational volleyball. You want to keep the volley going because the game is more fun that way. So serve up a conversation with your newsletter, the customer will bump it back by opening up and reading your email. You’ll set the ball with the CTA contained in your newsletter.

This can be something like an invitation back to your website, an advertisement for a certain product or promotion, or just ask for general feedback about the service you’re providing. If the customer responds then you’re all set to spike the ball into their side of the court for the point.

Metaphorically speaking, that means you gain the conversion.
4. Less is More– This is a newsletter, not a novel. You sir, are no Shakespeare. Unless you are a brilliant poet and playwright, in which case you should be writing satirical social commentaries instead of newsletters. Regardless, you need to keep it brief in these things. It’s okay to go into some technical detail in the email, but don’t make a reader’s eyes bleed with an exhaustive thesis on your subject du jour.

People are trying to get through their emails quickly, and get back about their business. So you want your newsletters to be nice and easily digestible bytes of information. If you run too long with your well thought out philosophies on the necessity of your place in the niche market, you risk alienating or irritating your readers. Remember that attention span is in short supply on the web, and that goes double for reading emails.

5. Provide Easy Opt-Outs - Make sure you provide an easy and obvious "Opt-Out" or "Unsubscribe" button in your newsletters. That way any readers who're no longer interested in reading your content can get off of your list. This will improve your reputation as an ethical business and keep you out of trouble with anti-spam laws. More practically, it will actually keep your content from being spam.

Remember that you’re in this business to provide a service, and your newsletters
should all work to meet that goal. You definitely don’t want to be known as a 
source of annoyance rather than information.

6. Provide Reminders and Notifications– Newsletters are excellent promotional vehicles, so if you have any events, new products, or special discounts that you’re trying to pump up ahead of time, you should always include a few lines of copy describing them in your newsletters.

Most of the newsletters you send are going to stay unopened in a customer’s inbox. It’s just a fact of life you’ll have to get over. However, this means the ones that are read will be done so by the truly valuable customers. The ones who are most engaged with your brand, and therefore the most likely to take advantage of any advance notice you provide as to special deals, products, etc.

7. Observe Your Metrics and Take Appropriate Action – Metrics drive ecommerce, Having access to this data, is what really sets online retail above and beyond the reach of brick and mortar counterparts. Keeping track of your customer’s behavior and adjusting your content accordingly is a ludicrously sound marketing strategy.

We almost feel like a broken record harping on this point so much, but it makes too much sense not to bring it up.You get to learn where your customers go online, what they do while they’re there, what they’re buying and why they’re buying it. Observing and understanding your consumer metrics will provide you with valuable insights on the function your newsletter is serving, as well as where it is falling short.

Keep an eye on the metrics related to your newsletter marketing campaign, and use the data to inform and influence your content choices. This way you’ll be able to maximize engagement and keep the revenue flowing.

8. Stick With Simple Designs– Online reading used to mean sitting at a desktop at (or after) work, where people had a nice, giant, boxy monitor with which to peruse the numerous notable websites of the world. We refer to this long ago time as the 1990’s, or the Dark Ages, if you prefer.

These days, you can read a newsletter just as easily on a plane, train, or in an automobile, (hopefully in the passenger seat). And that means your emails need to be legible and attractive on a tiny screen as well as a sweet sixty inch LCD TV that's being used as the ultimate gaming monitor. This can be quite challenging from a design standpoint, which is why we recommend sticking to a simple template that works well in plain text or html.
9. Infuse It with Your Personality– Reading a newsletter does not have to be an intellectual exercise. You want your words to sing in the reader’s mind as a serene and beautiful swan song, not fall flatter than a Henry Kissinger voiceover for a documentary on stamp collecting. Obviously a subject matter of such compelling nature deserves to be narrated by Morgan Freeman. 

To truly let your personality shine is no small feat. You’ll have to make jokes, go off on tangents, and generally adopt a conversational tone to your writing. And you'll need to do all that while keeping the newsletter brief, pointed, and focused. Not exactly and easy endeavor.

Good writing is hard to come by. So if this isn’t already an area of expertise, it might be a good idea to hire a professional copywriter to put together your newsletters. The key thing to remember is your newsletters are a form of interaction. You need to individualize them to avoid sounding robotic.
10. No Spamming! – Make sure you take the time to fully read and understand the various anti-spam legislation enacted by governments around the world. In the United States there’s the CAN-SPAM act, which has specific rules and practices for businesses that wish to send marketing materials to their customers through email while avoiding legal suits. Similarly, Australia has the Spam Act, which has even more stringent policies concerning the prosecution of spammers than it's more capitalist-friendly American counterpart.

It’s understandable that internationally enforced legislation may not by your forte, so if you don't fully understand these laws, it's never too difficult to ask someone who knows a bit more about it (Like Us!)

So there you have it. A top 10 list that you can bank on. Put these newsletter guidelines into effect and there’s no way your campaign won’t be successful. Be sure to visit the Ashop blog again soon, for more helpful hints and valuable ecommerce advice. 


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