One channel that’s just not going away, and in fact is seeing something of a revival in 2016, is newsletters, or Email Direct Marketing (eDM).
Newsletters fell out of favour when business owners started to abuse them, spamming users who already had inboxes overflowing with too much information and too many marketing messages. They also tended to be hard work to consume – lengthy, personal opinions that overwhelmed the reader who didn’t have time to read, or they were simply hard-sell advertising messages.
Plus, in an increasingly mobile world, many couldn’t easily read the information on their phones, and if the sender’s website wasn’t responsive, you couldn’t read it online on a mobile device either.
So users unsubscribed, or relegated the messages to their junk folder.
In a nutshell, newsletters fell out of favour not so much because people don’t like to receive newsletters, they just don’t like meaningless or spammy messages that they additionally can’t read across devices.
The change came about as website owners turned to responsive design, and heeded best practices for mobile display, ensuring their newsletters are welcomed and easy to read wherever the user is accessing their inbox.
Research by eMailmonday (Ultimate Mobile Email Stats 2016) estimates that up to 70% of emails will be opened on mobile this year, depending on the target audience and type of email you're sending.
Litmus Email Analytics for March 2016 stats narrowed this down, saying 55% of email is now opened on mobile devices, 26% on webmail clients and only 19% on desktop.
At the I/O Developers’ Conference in May 2015 TechCrunch reported that 75% of the 900 million Gmail users access their accounts on mobile devices.
Yet only 34% of US marketing professionals report that their email newsletters are truly mobile-optimised. Companies that don’t optimize for mobile shouldn’t wonder why their newsletter bases are dwindling.
Mobile email marketing opens. Source: Litmus.
Are email newsletters still a viable marketing channel?
Yes, newsletters are still one of the top permission-based marketing channels. Adweek.com reports email marketing is six times more effective than social media marketing and according to multi-channel personalisation firm Monetate email marketing drives more conversions than any other marketing channel, including search and social.
Polling by GetResponse’s State of Email Marketing 2016 found that 57% of marketers will increase their email marketing budget this year and 64% of companies rated email marketing as the most effective marketing channel.
The Direct Marketing Association additionally estimates email marketing yields a staggering 4,300% ROI and that every dollar spent on email marketing offers a return of $44. The yield is put into perspective when one considers that email marketing is still one of the least expensive direct marketing methods available.
What the most successful newsletters look like
Remember the word- and link-heavy newsletters of a couple of years ago? They’ve made way for eye-catching, inviting newsletters such as these that minimize reading time, work across devices and have high conversion rates (from Campaign Monitor):
Newsletter best practices
Responsive email design optimizes the mobile newsletter experience. A single-column layout ensures no content is lost outside of the mobile view, generous font sizes makes your message easy to read, and a large call to action near the top of the newsletter makes engagement more likely. Test your newsletter to ensure it renders smoothly across browsers and devices including desktops, tablets, mobile phones, apps and smart watches.
Good analytics and tracking provide data such as forwards, prints, geolocation, device used, email client, opens and whether users read, skimmed or deleted your email. Use this monthly to measure your success and see what you can improve on.
Ensure your email complies with anti-spam legislation so that it lands safely in the user’s inbox.
Use it to curate content from and integrate it with your other channels – tie in your social media channels, promote your latest content, and use your other channels to point to the newsletter signup page.
Personalise your message – it can increase click-through rates by 14%
What about frequency? Email marketing statistics from 2016 DMA Statistical Fact Book shows almost 50% of consumers prefer to hear weekly from companies sending promotional emails.
Average openrate across industries is 21.73%, average click-through rate is 3.57%, so use that as a benchmark.
Growing a newsletter base is harder than getting Facebook followers, but the rewards are greater. One way to increase your subscriber base is with a carefully-worded and -timed popup that grabs the visitor’s attention and entices them to sign up for one of your services (see image below from OptinMonster).
Smart lightbox popups (that appear just as the user is about to leave the site) provide the opportunity to convert abandoning visitors to subscribers. Annoying as these are to some people, they have been proven to grow bases. With cookie tracking, you can serve these on a user’s second or third visit to your site as by then they already have an interest in your service or product and signup is more likely.
Example of a lightbox popup aimed at converting leaving visitors. Source: OptinMonster
Good newsletter content offers value to the subscriber, is trustworthy, has a distinctive voice, has a catchy subject line and delivers quality, niche content that is clicked on by the recipient and shared with friends.
So don’t give up on your newsletter just yet. Crafted carefully and with mobile in mind, it is the most direct contact you have with potential customers and is your best chance to establish and grow a relationship with them that will stand the test of time.
Ready to redesign your newsletter for mobile? Indivirtual can help with that. Contact us right away..