It would be nice if you have already built an email list for your business. Because building an email list is a great start to putting your business in touch with a targeted group of interested followers and potential customers, with whom you can share information about your products and services via email marketing. Why and how to do that in MailChimp, you can read here.
The first step in effective email marketing is of course to create your own email list and encourage the ‘right’ people to sign up.
You should give away something that is useful in exchange
It is useful to encourage sign-ups to the e-mail newsletter with a special opt-in gift. This could be a Pdf with tips and tricks that are interesting for your target group.
The second (and equally important) step in growing your email list is to engage your subscribers. In other words, you regularly send content of value or an appropriate area of interest to your readers.
We call these messages ‘newsletters’, but you can think of them as ‘updates’, ’emails’, ‘notes’ or whatever name suits your business purpose for triggering email subscribers.
Benefits of regularly sending email newsletters to your mailing list
By sending high quality news items to your email list on a regular basis, your target group will stay informed and engaged with your company and your services or products.
You can use your email newsletter to:
- Offer educational content that is relevant to your audience
- Position your company and brand as an industry expert
- Share important updates about your company, products or services
- Provide examples of relevant content your audience will enjoy or may have missed (such as previous popular blog posts)
- Share reminders about the products or services you offer and how to access them
- Letting your readers know how to contact you
- Further establish your brand personality
- Highlight special exclusive offers
And this list can be tailored to your objectives. Your newsletter is an opportunity to incorporate one of these strategies that will benefit your business.
Below, we go through a step-by-step process for setting up your email newsletter template to achieve each of these goals you’re targeting.
MailChimp is a widely used email marketing tool
While there are many email marketing tools to choose from, MailChimp is one that I often recommend and this is why:
- It integrates seamlessly with your WordPress website, allowing you to easily collect email addresses on your website and send them directly to your Mailchimp list(s).
- The simple drag and drop editing interface is easy to learn and use.
- It offers a wide range of email templates that can be customised to your business needs for a seamless user experience.
- It offers a free subscription for your first 2,000 subscribers.
Whichever email marketing platform you choose, you can apply the same principles outlined below. But we’ll run through them with specific instructions and examples from Mailchimp.
How to give an email newsletter a good structure in MailChimp
First of all, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to structure your email newsletter.
Do what fits your business: share your company’s personality, share valuable content with your audience and don’t be afraid to be different. (And don’t worry about pleasing everyone. As discussed earlier, the most efficient and impactful way is to write directly to your target audience. These are the people who want to be on your list because they find the content you share useful and valuable).
Create your newsletter template
To create consistency between your newsletters (and also to reduce duplication of effort), it is a good idea to create a newsletter template in your MailChimp account.
To do this, go to templates section. There you can choose a sample layout or theme that suits you and customize it further.
Customize your MailChimp newsletter template
The best thing to do is to adapt the following MailChimp parts and include them in your newsletter template:
1. your logo
It is of course important to add your logo to all your marketing. Usually this is added at the top of the email to give clear context for what the reader is receiving and from whom – but feel free to add it somewhere else in your layout if that fits better.
Use a high-resolution image less than 800 px wide (large images should be avoided as much as possible.) Update the image’s alt text with a simple, descriptive title (this will appear if the image cannot be loaded, in my case it would say Web&Co)
If applicable, add a link so that the logo points to your website’s home page. The logo is usually a place where readers expect to find a link to your website.
2. your colours
Mailchimp allows you to format your newsletters to match your branding. One way to do this is by including your brand colours.
For example the buttons: make sure you use a suitable colour for the buttons in your branding and apply it to all buttons to create a clear unity and the subscribers will recognise this.
3. An intro message
In most email newsletters you will want to include some sort of intro text. This can be a bold headline about the content below, a heading with updates or important information, or a personal message from you (or someone in your company).
Newsletters can be written in your company or brand style, or by a specific person in your company.
Although there are different opinions about the advantages and disadvantages of using images in newsletters, Mailchimp is built to easily add images.
Disadvantages of using (many) images in your email newsletters can be that:
- Emails with many images may take longer to load.
- Some email clients (or email settings) do not automatically display images, which can lead to your emails not displaying as they should.
- Some email clients are more likely to mark emails with lots of images as Marketing or Spam (which means they may end up in the junk mail).
- In general, it is best not to rely too much on images in your email newsletter. They can certainly be used to support and enhance your message, but they should not be your entire message.
Mailchimp image tips:
- Use high resolution images of around 800px wide. Large images can cause problems in emails. Fortunately, MailChimp has a feature that resizes very large images.
- Update the alt text of the image with a simple descriptive text (this will be displayed if the image does not load)
- Images can be linked. It is always good to provide enough links to relevant pages on your website.
- Make sure your message is clear to the recipient both with and without the image.
While your newsletter will be full of appropriate content and opportunities to spur the reader into action, it is best to emphasise only one call-to-action that encourages your readers to click.
There are many ways to highlight your call-to-action, although most links are best in the form of a button in a clear colour.
6. Links to relevant content
Your newsletter will usually be used as a way to share new content with your audience. This usually means promoting and sharing links to specific pages on your website.
Whether you write a blog or not, find ways to share relevant content with your readers so they know that when they open an email from you, they will receive new and appropriate information that matches their interests.
7. How to get in touch
Email marketing is a one-way street for sending content to your audience. But it is also important to let your subscribers know how to contact you. Perhaps your company has a customer support team that your subscribers might find helpful, or you are available to answer questions yourself.
You can enable your subscribers to respond directly by adding a ‘direct response’ button in the newsletter. If you want to do this, just add a little text in your newsletter template to let people know that this is possible. (Make sure that the ‘reply to’ email address of your newsletter is set to the account you want to check for these messages).
8. Social buttons
Of course you should also include social media links in your email newsletter.
If your main call-to-action is to send readers to your website, you’ll want to reach them in other ways too. But in general, it’s just handy to indicate in your newsletter that you are also active on the listed social media channels.
Although many newsletter templates are virtually blank so you can do as you please, there are a few essential elements that you must include in the footer of your email newsletter to ensure you comply with the AVG law.
These are the mandatory elements you should include in the footer of your email newsletter:
- Your business postal address
- A link to unsubscribe and/or update email preferences
- And specifically with MailChimp:
- Copyright information: Reminds readers that the content in your email is your intellectual property and cannot be reproduced without your permission. Mailchimp automatically updates this with the current year and the name of your company (as defined in your Mailchimp account settings).
- An email subscription description: this is an explanation to let people know why they are receiving an email from you. This explanation can be set up separately for each mailing list you use. Usually you remind readers that they subscribed to your list through your website.
- MonkeyRewards: if you have a free Mailchimp account, your email footer will contain a MailChimp logo. (When you upgrade to a paid subscription, you will have the option to omit this logo).
10. Subject line
The subject line is one of the most important elements of your email as it affects whether subscribers actually open your email and read the content.
When drafting your subject line choose a sentence that:
- Is descriptive of your email content
- Uses keywords that are of interest to your readers
- Uses an element of surprise or curiosity
- Evokes an emotion or feeling that your readers would like to have
When setting your subject line for each email newsletter in Mailchimp, there are also some other important pieces of information you need to provide about your email:
Mailchimp email information
You need to update these items for every email you send with your newsletter template:
- Name your newsletter: this is an internal name only, so choose a name that helps you understand the content and purpose of each specific email. Choose something along the lines of ‘Newsletter: [subject/date]’.
- Email Subject: This is the subject line your subscribers will see. You want your subject line to be a description of your email content and compelling enough that subscribers want to open it.
- From name: this is the name of the sender that will be shown to your subscribers. Choose something they will recognise, such as your personal name or your company name. Some people choose to personalise their message with a hybrid of name such as “Dirkjan from Web&Co”.
- From email address: this is the email address from which your message will be sent, so choose something appropriate for the purpose of the email. Typically, your welcome email series should be sent from your company’s primary email address (such as firstname.lastname@example.org). It is also fine to send from a person’s email address if this is the person who will be communicating with the subscriber list (e.g. email@example.com).
Preview and test
When you finalise the newsletter, it is a good idea to send a live test to yourself to confirm that everything looks as it should.
Go to Preview and test at the top of the page> Send a test email and enter your email address. Make sure you check the message on both desktop and mobile, as it will display differently on each!
When your newsletter is ready, save your changes and click Start sending.