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Written by Ann Hadley (MarketingProfs) and C.C. Chapman (Digital Dads), Content Rules provides you with the guidance you need to create irresistible blogs posts, white papers, ebooks and other content, interwoven with case studies of companies successfully spreading their ideas online. Content Rules will show you how to use content marketing to establish credibility and build a loyal customer base. A $25 value, I’m giving this book away for FREE to one newsletter recipient on Monday, April 30th.

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4 Reasons To Have a Print Newsletter

For several years now, there’s been an ongoing discussion about print as a dying medium – this simply isn’t the case! The role of print has undoubtedly changed – evolved. The fact remains that people see real value in print. E-mail certainly has its advantages as a simple, low-cost method of communication, but its advantages are also the source of some of its greatest weaknesses (read the Four Pitfalls of an Email-only Approach). Here are some reasons why you should consider using a print newsletter:

1. The all-powerful ‘Delete’ button.

Whether it’s by accident or due to an overcrowded inbox or your client/prospect having a terrible case of the Mondays, your e-mail newsletter always faces the chance of being deleted before it’s even read.

2. E-mail addresses are subject to change.

What’s more likely to change: a recipient’s e-mail address or their business’ physical address? How many of your e-mail campaigns have bounced due to a bad e-mail address within the last six months? With a print version of a newsletter, your message has a high probability of reaching a lead/prospect at a company – even if a contact or e-mail address changes.

3. Print has a higher-perceived value than e-mail.

Because a newsletter can be easily kept within reach, shared with friends/associates, and doesn’t involve accessing a computer to read, print versions are more effective in the long-term. Additionally, the quality of a printed piece has shown to speak value of a company’s products or services. According to the fourth annual Signs of the Times report by Fed Ex, over 90% of small business owners believe that a company’s print marketing/advertising materials reflects the value of the company’s products and services. Read more about additional findings of that report here.

4. Print is still preferred by many.

The fact is that while some people prefer to receive an e-mail, others would much rather receive something in print. It’s likely that a person’s age, profession and proficiency with a computer will to some degree influence his/her delivery preference for marketing materials. Interestingly enough, even young, tech-savvy adults still prefer to receive marketing offers in print, rather by e-mail. For example, a 2010 survey by ICOM (a division of Epsilon Targeting) found that by a wide margin, 18-34 year-olds prefer to learn about marketing offers via mail rather than through online sources.

What Should My Print Newsletter Include?

Aside from collecting content, the most difficult or time-consuming task will be designing your newsletter. For this,  it would be wise to consult a design professional; someone who can present you with several concepts, design around your copy & images, and also provide more information on printing & production. If you’re already sending out an e-newsletter with some success, then you probably have a very good idea of what constitutes creating a print version, but whatever the case, here are a few key components that your print newsletter should include:

1. More about you.

If you’re implementing a print newsletter to generate more business, try not to be too “salesy” in your approach. Look for a good balance of marketing/sales content and personal content. Aside from showing recipients what you have to offer, use the newsletter to reveal more about you. They may not want to hear your life story, but a personal touch to your content will give them a better idea of who you are.

2. Case studies using work that you’ve done for past/current clients.

These are integral to your newsletter because they provide insight into how you’ve successfully addressed your others needs. Your newsletter recipients need to know that you have a history of helping others with their needs before they can trust you with their own.

3. Client testimonials that speak for themselves.

What your clients have reveal about working with you is much more powerful than what you have to say about yourself. Ask your clients for their endorsement/recommendation in writing and then use these in your newsletter to establish credibility.

4. Loads of valuable content.

Provide your recipients with valuable information that they would have difficulty obtaining on their own. You’re ultimately the judge of what you feel is important enough to make it into your newsletter,  but your content should focus on content that’s relevant to your recipients. There are plenty of ways to go about collecting/creating content for your newsletter – here are just a few:

  •  Start a blog and write your own content that addresses the problems and concerns of your clients, leads & prospects.
  • Write a white paper dealing with a specific subject, then use that content elsewhere.
  • Subscribe to several industry newsletters, RSS feeds and publications. These are great sources of content for your own newsletter – just remember to cite the source!
  • Invite guest writers to write about a subject.
  • Hire a ghost writer to generate content for you.

5. A call to action.

Case studies, client testimonials and other content gives you credibility, but more importantly it shows recipients that you have something valuable to offer them. A call to action (CTA) encourages your recipients to take the next step through a simple, focused command. “E-mail me for your chance to win”, “Call for a brochure” and “Use this code with your next online order” are examples. A CTA can take several forms, depending on how and through what medium you would like your recipients to respond. Whichever medium(s) you choose, make sure you can measure the results.

6. Other ways to connect with you.

Along with your street address and phone number, be sure to include the URLs of any social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) that you presently use along with your website and e-mail address. Show your recipients that there are several ways to engage with you on their own terms, online or off.

7. Ask for feedback.

Requesting feedback may be the best way to tell whether or not your readership is finding your newsletter as resourceful as you hope it is. Feedback you collect can be used to fine-tune your newsletter or make drastic improvements if necessary.

Other things to consider:

1. Send your newsletter as bulk mail.

If you are mailing out 200 or more pieces, you may be able to send your newsletter as standard mail at a significantly lower, bulk mail rate.

2. Have both print and e-mail versions of your newsletter.

Not only are you giving recipients control over how they would like to receive information from you, but you can then tailor future campaigns based on their preferences.

3. Offer your newsletter for free.

This sounds a little ridiculous as you probably already offer it for free, but doing so means it will be perceived with additional value.

4. Encourage referrals.

Asking current clients or associates for referrals via phone or e-mail can sometimes be uncomfortable and may take a great deal of time, whereas a print newsletter can do the job for you.

5. Print your newsletter on recycled paper.

When it’s possible, consider printing your newsletter on paper containing post consumer waste (PCW). You should also encourage them to recycle your newsletter once they’re finished with it.

6. Keep copies of your newsletter on hand.

For all of its valuable information, your print newsletter may be one of your most powerful marketing pieces. Consider distributing your newsletter by hand around town or as handouts at networking events, conferences and similar events. Providing new contacts with highly valuable information is a great way to make an introduction.

7 Keys of Successful Email Marketing Campaigns

Essentially, email is a copy-driven medium, but the design considerations of your marketing email campaigns are just as important as their message. Not only does a well-designed email enhance a campaign’s message, it can actually lead to higher open and click-through rates, and potentially a higher return on investment. Whether you’re launching your first email marketing campaign or are looking for ways to improve them, these seven keys can help you make your future email campaigns a success.

Pick a Frequency and Stick to It

An integral part of planning ongoing email campaigns is choosing when to send them. Whatever the frequency, it’s important that you stick to a regular campaign schedule. If recipients have opted-in to receive your emails for a source of relevant content, than it’s likely that they are going to be looking forward to receiving your emails regularly.

First, determine what time email campaigns will be sent. Generally speaking, email sent in the morning (specifically between the hours of 6:00 – 7:00 am) has been shown to produce higher click-thru rates than email sent later in the day. It makes sense that if a campaign is sent early in the morning, recipients probably have reserved some time for email at the start of their day. If you have been sending your email campaigns later in the day or into the evening, put this theory to test in your next campaign and see if your open and click rate is higher earlier in the day.

Next, determine which day you will be sending each email campaign. Though you would think that the best time to send an email campaign would be early in the week (Monday or Tuesday, for example), results of studies conducted by Hubspot show that the click-through rates of email campaigns appear to be much higher on weekends. Email campaigns sent on Saturdays carry one of the highest click-through rates and the lowest unsubscribe rates of the week. It’s understandable that people have a lot more time to read through their emails on weekends; target your next campaign for a Saturday or Sunday and measure the results.

Lastly, after launching an email campaign, evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign schedule and make changes when and where you see fit. Service providers like MailChimp offer data on opens and click-through rates over the length of a campaign. When you begin to see a slip in open or click-through rates, use this data to help you fine tune your campaign schedule.

Use a Strong Subject Line

Every time you launch a campaign, that email is competing for both space and visibility in your recipients’ inboxes. For that reason, developing a strong subject line is integral to a successful email marketing campaign. Strong subject lines are built to resonate with your audience through the use of relevant keywords. Before opening your email, recipients should be able to easily identify who is sending the email (use a sender name that your recipients will easily recognize), what the email is about and why it’s important to them.

Identify what it takes to keep your emails out of the spam/trash folder. Subject lines containing words like sale, rewards limited time offer, and/or containing percentage values are often filtered as spam. Want proof? Just take a look at what’s currently in your own spam folder. One way to easily avoid the spam folder is to remind your recipients to add the sender’s email address to their contacts/address book. This can be done easily through a separate email or on your sign-up form.

Consider serializing your email campaigns. According to data collected by HubSpot on over 9.5 billion emails sent using MailChimp, the most clicked subject line words mention “newsletter”, or reference a “digest/bulletin/edition”. Serialized content provides recipients with an easy way of archiving/filtering your emails. An additional strategy to develop a strong subject line is A/B Testing. This involves developing two different subject lines for the same email campaign. Emails are first sent to a portion of recipients to determine which is most effective. The subject line with the highest rate of opens is then sent to the remainder of the recipients. CopyBlogger’s The Three Key Elements of Irresistible Email Subject Lines is an excellent source for research into drafting an effective subject line.

Content is King

Understandably, your recipients don’t have hours to sift through a marketing email. There’s work to be done and a full inbox of other messages waiting for them each morning (or evening). Stick to the point of what you’re trying to accomplish – and do it quickly. Easily digestible, highly relevant and valuable bits of content that utilize simple functions of design can result in a higher click-through rate.

As marketing emails are usually just skimmed over, put important bits of content in bold/italics as this design trick effectively draws the eye to that information. As the eye is also drawn to images, use them appropriately to enhance your email. For example, place a photo/image that’s strongly associated to a portion of copy (a sales pitch, information on a product, etc.) where it is seen before – not after – the copy itself. Enticing, relevant images will entice the recipient to read the copy associated with it.

More Links Equal Higher Click-Through Rates

Providing links within your content is another way of engaging your recipients, but the number of links also determines the success or failure of an email campaign. Using data provided by MailChimp, email marketing professionals at Hubspot also found that there’s a strong correlation between the number of links in an email and that email’s click-through rate: emails containing a high number of links have a high click-through rate and a lower unsubscribe rate than those containing a low number of links.

When it comes to placing links, don’t limit yourself to segments of text. Internet users are accustomed to clicking on graphics/images, so include links within these as well. Consider links to be a litmus test of an email’s content: If and when people aren’t clicking on links, it’s likely that you’ve failed to engage your recipients, or you simply provided too few of them. If that’s the case, make some adjustments for your next campaign.

Optimize Your Emails to be Seen and Read Everywhere

Recent surveys tell us that a large number of mobile devices are used to check and read emails. One recent survey by HubSpot found that over 80% of respondents use mobile devices for reading email. Considering that the market for mobile devices is such growing so rapidly, optimizing your email campaign for viewing on these devices is a necessity. Owners of smart phones and/or tablet computers will tell you how frustrating it can be to decipher a website or email that isn’t optimized for a mobile device: use or develop an email template that is suitable for this audience.

As a great deal of email is still viewed on a laptop or desktop computer, you must still optimize images to make them suitable for viewing on the web. This keeps loading times of graphics and your recipients’ frustration with slow loading speeds at a minimum. Popular third-party photo editing/manipulation software such as Adobe Photoshop can be used to alter, manipulate and optimize graphics for the web with ease.

Include a Text Only Version

Many email providers have settings that prevent images within an email from loading, may block images altogether. Obviously, if your marketing email consists of one graphic that contains all information of an offer or promotion, you have a big problem. Not only could the content of your email be temporarily blocked from view, it may not load at all. In such instances, a text-only version can be utilized as a fail safe of any email campaign. Usually, it’s simply a carbon-copy of an email excluding any graphics. Though it may not be as attractive as your carefully designed email, at least the content stands a chance of being seen, read and clicked through.

Won’t You Follow Me?

In the internet age, a strong online presence may be an integral part of your business. If you haven’t already, consider opening accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites before making email campaigns a part of your marketing plan. Once these accounts are established, include icons and links to each corresponding page/profile.

You may have doubts about the usefulness of these popular social networks, but audiences both young and old find a lot of use in them. In addition to your website/blog, displaying your social networks in email campaigns shows your recipients where for additional interaction with your brand/business. Utilize these social networking platforms as sources of additional news, sales and offers.