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Write a killer e-mail newsletter: 8 tips

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E-mail newsletters remain one of the most effective ways to build relationships with customers. For proof, look no further than the recent popularity of Groupon.

If you’re asked to develop an e-mail newsletter, keep in mind these tips:

1. Make an offer they can’t refuse. Why should people subscribe? Make it clear what benefits sub­scribers can expect, whether it’s exclusive discounts or insider tips.

2. Send often but not too often. Once or twice a month is optimal. A common mistake is not to be in front of customers all year long, “but then in November and December, they’ll start e-mailing every day,” says Janine Popick, CEO of VerticalResponse.  

3. Balance text and images. Many people read e-mail with graphics turned off. If your e-mail consists of large graphics, those subscribers will only see large blank spaces.

4. Learn more about subscribers’ interests. That way, you can segment your mailing list and send targeted variations to each group. For example, consulting firm Creative Good sends new subscribers an e-mail asking about their interests. Other firms survey their subscriber lists once a year to get feedback.

5. Prompt a dialogue. For example, at the start of the year, a newsletter by DailyLit asked subscribers to submit “New Year’s literary resolutions”—the books they wanted to read this year.

6. Make the subject line count. Choose a specific, succinct phrase that highlights content in your newsletter. More people will open an e-mail titled “20 Percent Off All Orders in May” than one titled “May Newsletter.”

7. Turn to customer service and sales to gather content. For example, try doing a question-and-answer column featuring some of the most common queries.  

8. Tweak your strategy, based on open rates. There’s no industry standard, when it comes to open rates. “I’ve seen small wineries with open rates north of 40% or 50%, and larger retailers at 12% to 15%. It’s really all over the board,” says Popick.

— Adapted from “How to Create a Killer E-mail Newsletter,” April Joyner, Inc.

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