A little bit about writing mail
Last week, I promised you a blog about newsletters and mail campaigns. It comes hot on the heels of my “Nail your Mail” workshop for which I did lots and lots of research. I can’t possibly summarise 3 hours of workshop and several months of research in one blog, so here is just some of the most important things to remember.
What’s in a name?
I always think that the name newsletter is a bit of a misnomer because sadly nobody is that interested in your news. And it’s super important to bear that in mind. Calling your regular mailer “Our Newsletter” is not massively inspiring either so try and come up with a new name. Equally, work hard on your subject lines: “This month’s newsletter” is not going to pack a punch when it comes to your open rates.
Make it useful
You’re not going for the hard sell with your newsletter. As a very rough rule of thumb, various industry giants suggest 90% interesting content and 10% sell. That might not be perfect or suit you, but keep it in mind as a yard stick.
Don’t make your newsletter all about you and your news. A round up of your other recently published content works well, with a little teaser of a paragraph and a link to take them to the full post. Industry news and developments and snippets of information which they’ll find useful can also go into the mix. If you always keep in mind that you want your reader to be really glad he read your material and to leave it with a sense that he has gained something from it, you’ll find yourself on the right track.
As I’ve learnt the hard way. My advice would be, unless you’re a Mailchimp whizz or already have a fabulous design, it’s worth a little investment. Once you’ve got a template in place, you can focus on fitting your copy into your template and not the other way round.
Subscription details matter too
Make your subscription very clear (how often you’ll be mailing etc.) and remember the law on this. You have to have someone’s permission before you start sending them marketing material.
A debate still rages about whether a double opt in or single opt in (you don’t have to confirm your subscription with a single opt in) is best. I’ve read persuasive arguments for both sides and while there doesn’t seem to be a clear winner, I’d say double opt in comes out slightly on top. Perhaps I should do a separate post on this.
Please, please, please keep an eye on your stats
In other words, your open rates, your click throughs, your shares and your list size. Most platforms make this very easy to do. Keep an eye on industry averages and how you compare and aim to improve with each edition.
Your mail campaigns
A very different beast, you may find yourself running a direct mail campaign or an email campaign of some sort. I tried hard to get consistent statistics about these two types of campaigns and how their open and conversion rates compared. The figures I uncovered differed significantly with email open rates being reported as everything from extremely low (less than 1% in one case – really!) and up to as high as 35%. However household mail open rates would appear to achieve open rates as high as 80/90%. Wow!
Conversion rates had less disparity but all the figures were very industry and campaign dependent and I was left with a feeling of scepticism about them.
But despite a lack of clarity on the stats, direct mail can still be a very effective tool and there are 4 main factors that are key to success: your list, how well planned your campaign is, how personal and relevant your content is and how timely.
List quality really matters as this is your target audience. My Mailchimp account suggests I could increase my open rates by as much as 14.99% if I segment my list. Why? Because of course, I can then tailor my writing so it’s really relevant to each segment. Those are stats that you just can’t ignore so ask yourself how you can segment yours. And whatever you do, make sure you audit your list to keep it in good shape.
A good plan
As always, the more research you can put into the what and the why of whatever it is you’re trying to sell, the more material you’ll have. Get a strategy together first and get absolutely clear about your objectives and what it is that you’re actually selling.
Explore your competitors, any objections and your market place and make a list of your features and benefits and the problems you solve. Think about any incentives or reassurance you can offer, such as guarantees, social proof or testimonials. And don’t forget to try and put together some very persuasive arguments about why they should do what you want them to.
One example of how useful background research can be which came up at the workshop was Lavender! I recently spent some time at an organic lavender distilling plant in Provence (really). While there, I learnt a huge amount from the owner about the different types of lavender, the harvesting processes and the distilling processes.
For the attendee at the workshop who sells essential oils including lavender, that sort of trip provides a wealth of information which potentially gives her, her USP and her angle. Yes I know you don’t often get the chance to swan off to the factory where your product is made especially if it’s in France. But if you can…jump up at the chance.
Pens at the ready
Not yet. Once you’ve done all your research, only then is it time to write. That in itself of course takes time and is not to be rushed. Rather than rush it here…I’ll make it the subject of a new post, otherwise you may nod off. You are still awake aren’t you?
Until next time.