According to recent data, the average audience member spends 10 to 13 seconds reading email newsletters. This may lead you to wonder: What's the ideal length for an email marketing newsletter? Should I be testing? How do I do that?
Luckily, we've got a Mailchimp Certified expert on our team—Collin Quinn Rice—who is at the ready to answer these questions and more. Here, we share data on email marketing newsletter return on investment (ROI), answers to FAQs, and general tips you can follow to make your newsletters as strong as possible.
Email Marketing ROI
As noted above, email marketing newsletters have a limited amount of time to hook prospective readers. Despite this initial challenge, emails continue to demonstrate a reliably high ROI (return on investment) across multiple industries. For example, HubSpot data has shown that, on average, email marketing generates a return of $42 for every $1 spent.
Also noted by HubSpot:
7 Email Marketing FAQs: Answered
1. Why should I be segmenting my audience?
First, let’s talk about what segmenting means. When you receive an email newsletter from, say, your favorite clothing brand, what stands out in your mind? For me, it’s usually a intentionally-crafted promo that points out specific items that feel relevant to my interests. The key here is personalization and specificity.
Segmenting our audience allows us to create personalized, relevant, and engaging email newsletters for our readers.
There are many ways to approach segmentation for your organization’s audience; the most important is to identify the ways in which we can specify our content to our audience’s interests. If you’re using Mailchimp, that means creating systems for internal Tagging or asking your audience to self identify into Groups.
Tags are a feature that allow you to organize and identify your audience based on behavior or demographics. Some common Tags might include “VIPs,” “Donors,” or “Lapsed.”
Groups, on the other hand, are contact lists your email audience can sign up for. This allows your audience to tell you about their interests and gives you the power to create targeted campaigns.
Here are some examples of audience segmentations to consider. You can segment based on:
2. Should I be testing (and how do I do that)?
The short answer is YES. Before you even start drafting your email content, you should be identifying possibilities for testing. This could be subject lines, send times, button colors, anything that can help us identify how to better serve your audience.
Every organization has a unique audience, so how are you ensuring that the email content you are sharing is being seen and engaged with?
The first step is to identify a metric you’d like to test:
Once you’ve identified the test, set up your parameters and send out the campaign. Most important, however, is to wait for your test results.
The impulse when beginning to test is to test through every campaign. But you have to make sure you have actionable results from your initial test before you start refining your strategy and creating a new test situation.
If your subject line test did not provide substantial, definitive results, consider switching up the types of subject lines you're testing in your next campaign. Or, run the same test again and see if the results change. Patience and attention to metrics is key to running and effective testing strategy.
If you’re using Mailchimp, or another provider that can A/B test your content, explore the possibilities and let your creative juices flow! If starting from scratch, consider splitting your audience in half, and assigning one variable to each segment. And make sure you can track the results in your metrics.
3. What's the ideal length of an email newsletter?
As noted earlier, you have a limited time frame within which to capture a reader's attention. So, brevity, specificity, and clarity are incredibly important when crafting your emails
In general, a strong lead image, a paragraph or two, and a call-to-action/button will suffice, depending on the content you’re sharing. If you’re sharing exclusive content, or a long-format newsletter, you can play with length.
Most emails are never the last stop for subscribers. We are usually asking them to do something, visit a website or fill out a survey. So in order to ensure your audience has the motivation to follow these actions, we have to entice them and follow through with clear direction. Transparency and meeting expectations are instrumental to a strong email strategy.
4. How many items can I include in one newsletter? Is there a cutoff number?
If we are thinking about emails as a stop along the journey to a final destination, then ideally we should only include one major item in our campaigns. It’s okay to follow up with additional points, but make sure that your main topic is given a strong platform, both in terms of layout architecture and copy.
5. What's the best way to write subject lines?
Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. What would make you open an email? Was it personalized? Did it spark your curiosity? Did it offer a great deal? Was it funny? All of these tactics can be tested to craft the perfect template for your emails.
Overall, strength over length is key, with clear expectations as to what subscribers will find within the email.
6. How many CTAs or buttons can I include?
For retail or product-oriented emails, you ideally want to include one strong CTA button, and maybe another link or two leading to the same destination. If you’re following up with additional content, use smaller buttons or a different color so that your content hierarchy prioritizes the main CTA.
For email newsletters that occur on monthly or quarterly cycles, you can include more content for readers to access; however, you may still want to distinguish between primary content (e.g., your main CTA) and secondary content. Your secondary content could include two to four more items, but in that case, consider changing the buttons or layout to differentiate from the primary content.
7. Why is my unsubscribe rate so high (or why is my email going to spam)?
There are a number of reasons for unsubscribe rates being high. Is your subject line clearly identifying the purpose of your email? Did all of your links work? Was the campaign mobile-friendly? (Remember, 40% of all emails are viewed on mobile devices.)
All of these things can contribute to people deciding to bail on your email list. Think of every email as a personal interaction with your audience. If you are failing to meet their expectations, or “spamming” them with content they didn’t agree to receive, they are fully justified in deciding to unsubscribe.
It’s recommended to engage with your audience every few years to ask them to “re-subscribe” to your email. Though this is a scary, daunting ask, it ensures that everyone wants to be there. Sure, you might lose some folks along the way, but it’s more important to serve the audience members who are excited to be a part of your organization.
General Tips from Our Mailchimp-Certified Expert
If you're still not sure where to make improvements, here are a few more pieces of Mailchimp-Certified-expert advice:
For more insights on boosting email marketing newsletters, check out our IACFP Case Study. And if you’re looking for help with copywriting, strategy, or management - we offer wraparound email marketing services tailored to your needs.
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