We’ve all been there—scrolling through our inboxes, mindlessly deleting the newsletters we subscribed to but will never read. How do you keep your small business newsletter from ending up in the trash? And even better, how do you convert subscribers into paying customers? The average user spends less than one minute reading an email newsletter once he or she opens it, according to the user-experience experts at the Nielsen Norman Group. We have the best tips and tools to help you convert subscribers into customers:
Choose the Best Platform for You
- MailChimp gets great reviews for its simple user interface, even for the free version, which supports up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. They do not offer live customer service, so you will have to figure out the system using their online guides.
- iContact lets you choose and customize templates, as does Constant Contact. Both have base plans for 500 subscribers: iContact costs $14 a month and Constant Contact costs $20 a month. Both have live customer service and upgrade options.
- If you’re already a savvy email marketer, consider ExactTarget, where you can customize existing templates, build robust views of your customers, create custom reports and deliver content to multiple platforms. Prices are available on an individual basis through their global support team.
Create an Action-Oriented Newsletter
- Target the subject line to your audience. If you can split your subscribers into targeted lists (new customers, existing customers, small business owners, industry), you can tailor newsletters accordingly. Once you have established your objective for the email—including what action you want readers to take—tell them what they will get from opening your email.
- Offer actionable deals (like coupons) or provide content (think webinars or e-books) that supports your objective.
- Make it simple for readers. Let them click on a button within your newsletter that takes them directly to a sign-up page. Services like Chargify can help you sign customers up, take payments and process coupons.
- Use white space and visuals, and keep it short. Remember, you only have a brief period to convey your message to readers before they stop reading and move on.
Test What’s Working and What Isn’t (Just Test One at a Time)
Don’t blindly send out newsletters hoping they are right for your audience. Conduct A/B testing for your emails, including:
- Different timing: Play around with days of the week, time of day or after a particular trigger event. Research from Experian shows sending emails on weekends or very early in the morning may have higher click-through rates. Also consider altering the frequency of your emails.
- Different subject headings: See if your audience likes long subjects, short subjects, personalized subjects or actionable subjects.
- Different offers: Which topics does your audience prefer? Do they prefer webinars, e-books or free trials? Do they want small offers like top 10 lists or a bigger, meatier education?
- Different formats: Does your audience prefer lots of text, mostly white space or multiple images to click on? Do they want many offers in one newsletter, or one strong offer?
Ask your email newsletter service provider about their ability to conduct A/B testing. Almost all paid plans offer it.