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How to Cultivate Customers with eNewsletters
Marketing Foundations

How to Cultivate Customers with eNewsletters

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “Heather, is email dead?” in the last few years, I could have funded my next vacation… or at least have taken myself out to a very nice dinner.

I get why people ask. There is no shortage of channels in play when it comes to reaching or engaging with your audience these days. From Podcasts to SMS to Chat Bots (and too many others to list), some days as a marketer it feels like there’s always something new you should be focused on trying.

Yet email still remains a part of daily digital life. Not just any part. A huge part. Information from Statista confirms it:

“In 2020, approximately 306 billion emails were sent and received every day worldwide. This figure is projected to increase to over 376 billion daily emails in 2025.”

With numbers like that, I defy you to find someone that doesn’t check their email at least twice per day.

Of course, there are plenty of messages in that mix of 300+ billion that you scroll past or trash immediately. But I bet there are a few you never miss. And, if you ask around, your friends and colleagues probably have some recommendations for eNewsletters they read every time one lands in their inbox, too.

My hot take: email, and eNewsletters in particular, can be an effective tool for cultivating relationships with your prospects and customers. Let’s dive into why they’re so useful.

Why are eNewsletters a compelling tool?

1. It’s delivered directly to the recipient. Your message is not at the mercy of being sought out through the perfect keyword search or a nuanced audience targeting parameter. With an email address* you’ve got a direct line to a recipient’s inbox.

*B2B marketers: do not be discouraged by seeing Gmail addresses or those beautifully disguised emails through Apple’s Hide My Email. The pandemic has blurred the lines between work and personal life in new ways, and email addresses and inboxes are part of that equation. Check Adobe’s 2021 research on it here.

2. They’ve opted into it (hopefully)**. That direct line that you have? Your reader asked for it. These people have filled out some kind of form to indicate they’d like to hear from you on a regular basis. You don’t have to hope and pray that you’ll reach them. They’ve literally asked you to. All you have to do is deliver on your promise.

**Hopefully because of all the marketers that give other marketers a bad name by taking any email address they’ve ever received and slapping them into a subscriber list. Please don’t do this. Be better. BTW you can opt-in to our newsletter here.

3. You can personalize the $h1t out of them. I’m not just talking about adding someone’s first name in a subject line or salutation, although that’s a nice start. You can also personalize it by offering subscription types in your opt-in forms ("Keep me updated on new products/special offers"). Yes, this might mean you now have two (or more!) newsletters. But in the name of providing value to your audience and serving them the content they want, that might be the way to go.

If that feels overwhelming, let technology help you out. Most email platforms have the ability to insert dynamic content snippets, so you could show content to people that meet specific audience criteria.

Example: maybe you send one email newsletter out to ALL subscribers. But, if the
contact is a known customer of your company, you include a snippet/content block with a photo and contact information of their Account Manager or Customer Service Rep so your customer has a reminder and an easy way to get in touch.

4. It’s an opportunity to showcase your brand and its personality. I know I could have said brand personality, but I really mean you can think about it in two ways.

From a visual perspective, you can create a consistent look and feel with your brand color, typography, logomark, etc. But you can also take the opportunity (especially once you have a loyal audience) to push the boundaries a bit. Have you been wondering about expanding your brand’s color palette? Try it in a newsletter and see if you get a response. Better yet - ask for one! (Just make sure you have the ability to receive email replies.)

From a tone and voice perspective, you can showcase different aspects of your business or culture through newsletter categories. For example, you could showcase your own team through a “Get to know us!” feature with a photo of a team member and a great quote. Or, maybe it’s sharing something like an article that’s passed around the office like wildfire as inspirational. Even if you’re B2B, it doesn’t have to just be straightforward educational content. Think about ways to make it engaging and connect with your readers. Remember, they’re people too after all.

Ok, clearly now you’re convinced that emails are a great marketing tool. So how do you get an eNewsletter started or freshen up one you have going? We have 3 tips for creating a successful B2B eNewsletter right here. (Don’t worry - they’re helpful for B2C too).

1. From Name and Subject Lines
These might be two of the most important things for any email as they are going to be the very first thing your recipient sees. And yet I’ve seen them get used and abused and overlooked so many times!

If it’s an eNewsletter from the company, it should come “from” your company name. Unless someone in your company has huge name recognition with most of your audience, save personal names for personal (1:1) emails.

Subject lines should be brief, to the point, and inspire the reader to open. If you can fit personalization, great, but don’t force it or feel like you have to for every issue. If you’re publishing daily or weekly, you may want to consider something really straightforward like “Our Company | Newsletter Name | Issue #XXX” But if you start that format, you have to keep it up. Which is a great segue into…

2. Cadence
Determine the right cadence for your newsletter. Remember that 300+ billion number from the beginning? It’s a lot, and figuring out where your email cadence fits best into that can be a little tricky. On the one hand, you don’t want to bombard someone’s inbox with multiple emails per day (typically). But send only 1-2 a year and you risk being completely forgotten about by your audience. My advice is to think about this from two perspectives:

  • How often does my audience want to hear from me?
  • What’s actually manageable within my marketing resources (talent, time, and budget)?

Use data to inform the first point, noting it may change over time as you see how your newsletter performs. Remember, you can also ask your audience directly, through your subscription preference form or a survey question in your newsletter.

Be honest with yourself about the second point. Whatever cadence you choose, it’s important to set an expectation with the audience. If you promised them weekly, and miss a week, how would that look? Commit to what you actually can deliver, but note anything less often than monthly will be difficult to build momentum with subscribers unless you have a heck of a promotional strategy.

3. Design and Layout
Most email platforms have drag-and-drop editors for a reason: they work. So our advice here is to keep it simple.

Include a header that creates recognition with your audience, but see the earlier point about finding ways to keep it fresh and treat it like a branding playground.

In terms of links, this is a place to experiment a bit - try just text links one time, but then try all button links another time. We’re talking mainly about CTA type of links (not mid-text links).

Include images throughout for scannability and visual cues. Again, if you use drag-and-drop template functionality, most email platforms will ensure the images aren’t too big and will also auto-optimize them for mobile. Speaking of - make sure you preview and test your newsletter in both desktop and mobile views.

Don’t just take it from me
On a recent episode of This Old Marketing (if you’re not listening to this podcast you should be), hosts Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi point out (potentially for the 352nd time) that marketers or any content creators should be cautious about building their audiences only in places they can’t control. Which kind of places? Any platform - YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.

These “walled gardens” come up with programs seemingly for brands or content creators. But they are often designed to improve overall platform performance in a way that looks great to shareholders. When those metrics don’t get them what they promised, they kill the program. That means there are no guarantees for you if you put all of your eggs in any of those baskets.

You know what you can control? Email newsletters. As Joe stated in the episode:

“2023 is going to be the year of first-party data… and yes, that’s why we’re going to see this continuation of the email newsletter being more important than ever before. And the opt-in to these personalized content experiences. And email is where we have the most control right now, so that’s where we’re going."

We’re totally on board. And since we’re all about practicing what we preach here at CID, I should mention again that we have our very own newsletter that you can subscribe to.

Get help getting your B2B newsletter off the ground and into your prospects’ inboxes. Contact CID to get started.

Heather Vaughn

Heather Vaughn

Executive Director of Marketing

Heather Vaughn is CI Design's Marketing Services Director. Her marketing career has been split with equal time on the agency and client sides, giving her a 360 perspective on marketing, and a keen understanding of how to use all its glorious data effectively.

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