The best-selling business book “Good to Great” was largely about the success of companies that stayed focused on their well-defined mission.
An email marketing strategy may not have a “mission” like a business, but it should have a goal that defines the benefit to the business.
That goal in turn defines the product and what it is supposed to do. Then the results can be measured objectively.
Some newsletters exist for the sake of paying subscribers. Some try to drive clicks from the newsletters to websites. Others have advertising to generate revenue.
It’s possible for a newsletter to have more than one purpose. But trying to do too much may end up diluting any benefit and confusing the subscribers.
I started receiving an email newsletter that simply consisted of a generic dated subject line with a PDF attachment.
The PDF is a multi-page newsletter packed with articles and ads. It didn’t have any links to a related Web site, Facebook page or Twitter account. Its purpose solely was to deliver the content and ads of the newsletter to as many subscribers as possible — mainly for the sake of the ad revenue.
The total subscribers was more than 10,000. It was serving its purpose. But it could have driven more benefit to the publisher with a compelling subject line and promotional teases about the content in the PDF.
The teases might lead to a higher open rate for the newsletter. Most newsletters do fantastically well if more than 30 percent of the subscribers actually open the letter. Some newsletters are lucky to have an open rate for more than just 10 percent.
Newsletters for the Sake of Clicks
In contrast, I have published quite a few email newsletters for clients and my own site whose purpose is driving traffic to the websites.
The newsletters have carefully limited content because too much content removes the incentive of the subscriber to click and go to the site, thus driving up:
- Brand awareness
- Site visits
- Pages per visit
- Time on site
- Ad inventory
- Ad revenue
- The potential for return visits
These publishers master the art of writing a compelling subject line to increase the open rate. The best ones do have open rates above 20 percent and sometimes 50 percent or higher if they are well targeted.
They also have compelling content in the newsletter that maximizes the click rate, which is more likely to range around two to three percent. Great publishers with highly targeted newsletters may achieve 10 percent or higher.
These newsletters serve a different purpose. They are not an end product like the other example but rather a pure promotional vehicle.
Advertising in these newsletters is a distraction and a complication. It distracts the subscribers from the core purpose of driving audience to the parent websites. It is a complication because displaying ads in an email newsletter is often a problem if the subscriber’s email program blocks images for security reasons.
As a result, advertising rarely appears in them except for emails that specialize in displaying ads for subscribers who want to receive advertising via email. The “articles” are actually summaries that are as brief as possible in part to push as many headlines with links to the top of the page.
In all examples, the email marketing metric of “open rate” is important. But the metric of “click rate” matters only in the promotion example.
The examples above are meant to show the primary goal or purpose of the email marketing strategy. It defines the product, the audience and the metrics used to determine their success or failure.
A good strategy starts with a goal in mind. Then the tactics follow from there.