Unloved, badly presented and wallowing in the nearest spam folder, the email newsletter is too often the poor relation of online marketing. But it really doesn’t have to be that way.
With a glut of email newsletters piled up in our inboxes, it becomes a knee-jerk response to hit the delete key. Yet twinkling away among the three-for- two offers and ‘Click me, for God’s sake, click me!’ missives are newsletters that shine.
These little gems know us. They entice. Smart, witty, attractive and compelling, they stand out like beacons of sanity in the dirge that email marketing has become. So let’s celebrate the good in the hope of transforming the bad. Creating the ultimate newsletter is what we should be aiming for when a brief for one comes our way.
Your first instinct may be for us to jump into something like Photoshop and create a layout. However you need to consider;
- Who you’re sending the newsletter to?
- What you want to achieve?
- How do we create copy that fits your brand’s tone?
As community manager for ITV’s X-Factor website, Rebecca Cryan was responsible for the show’s newsletter production.
“Email marketing can be much improved by more effective information gathering,” she explains. “Factors such as age, sex and interests ensure that newsletters reaching people’s inboxes are specific to them and their lifestyle.”
This ‘plan first/be creative later’ approach is echoed by Phil Ryan, head of digital for Four Communications.
“We like to look purely at the objectives first. Some clients will fixate on the creative but we like to take a step back and review what they want to achieve with the email in the first place.”
Of course, something everyone wants to achieve is high open rates. Effective planning can go a long way to help a newsletter gain the recipient’s attention.
The interactive team at Fremantle Media had the task of creating HTML and plain text newsletters to support BBC1’s The Apprentice. This required careful planning and a thorough understanding of the show’s demographic.
“In the planning stages, we had the target users very much in mind when trying to create a compelling piece of communication,” explains interactive producer Oliver Davies.
Fremantle Media had also produced email newsletters for other reality TV shows such as X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, but The Apprentice appealed to an older demographic.
“For this reason, we decided to produce something that was more content-rich and took longer to consume than other, more visual styles,” says Davies.
They dubbed the tone ‘Apprentice snacking’. If the recipient didn’t have the time to click through to the main site, there would still be something substantial to satisfy their Apprentice fix.