It started with the mailbox. I’d hear the postman’s close of the front flap and go bolting down the driveway. I couldn’t wait to see what letters, catalogs and other goodies were inside.
Then, came email. There was a joy of opening my inbox each morning to see who contacted me from near and far overnight. Although I’ve always been partial to the handwritten letter, I still get excited to hear from friends and family. And sometimes even an online shop or two. Even in the electronic format.
When an email newsletter is designed well, there are some that I can’t wait to open. The ones that I know the exact date and time they’ll be delivered. I even flagged them for Gmail so they can be delivered to my Primary inbox.
How did these email newsletters get such a prime location in my attention span? Usually it’s because I’ve made a connection with the shop or the owner. Sometimes it’s the design of the email. And other times, it’s simply because I’m excited to see what new item or piece of content they’re going to share.
When creating your email newsletter, you want to be this online shop. The one that stands out in the center of the email inbox.
It’s like when the Best or Sears catalog used to arrive in the mailbox. You don’t want to be missed by all of the other noise. For your audience to read your content consistently, your email newsletter has to be noticed.
But, why email?
I get asked this question a lot when discussing marketing around the dinner table. To this day, email marketing is still one of the best ways of communicating with your customers.
There are over 3.9 billion email users worldwide. That’s over 50% of the world’s population. And next year, that number is expected to climb to 4 billion. That’s a lot of people that you can reach.
And, although social media is useful, email is more effective. Sometimes it feels that a customer can come into your shop, maybe purchase something and never be heard from again.
This means that you acquire the potential customer easily enough. But, you don’t retain them. And since Etsy doesn’t really want you to contact them easily again, there’s no way of knowing if they will be back.
But with email, it’s different. When you send emails consistently, you establish a personal relationship with your customers. You have an ongoing conversation with them.
One of the negative aspects of owning an online shop is that you rarely get to meet your customers in person. This makes it hard to connect with them personally.
When sending out email, you can create a tailored message that resonates with your reader. So, for example, if you have a segment of your audience that are first time moms, you can send them one email that is personalized to their stage in life. This customization allows you to make personal connections with your audience and grow their trust with your shop.
Sending emails to your customers is also one of the most economic ways of marketing your business. Although you do need an email management service and possible an app or two, collecting emails for your shop can be set up on autopilot.
But, sending an email a week is actually free. You don’t need to pay for stationery, stamps or the trip to the post office. You just hit send. Can’t get much more cost effective than that.
How to Create an Amazing Email Newsletter
Creating an amazing email newsletter will take a little skill and practice. You need to start by understanding what your audience cares about. Once you know what they are interested in reading, you need to create email content that focuses on these desires.
There are some other things to keep in mind when writing an amazing email newsletter. Check out these ideas to help you craft your own newsletter that your audience can’t wait to click open.
Include your Branding
Just like everything else that you create for your online shop, your newsletter is an important piece of content. You want to make it memorable so your audience can’t wait to read it.
It’s all in the name. Most online shops write their newsletter and call it just that. A newsletter.
Have you ever received those long newsletters around the holidays from family and friends who like to share? As much as I like to learn about every detail that they’ve been up to this past year, I usually don’t read more than the first few lines. I much prefer a card with photos. It sums up life so much better.
Your newsletter has to be much more interesting than just a newsletter. You need to give your readers what they want – news, tutorials, printables, coupons, info on new products, etc.
Start by jazzing up the name. Brand your newsletter like it’s a product in your shop. Call it something that your audience will remember. It’s much better to have them saying, I can’t wait to read the “insert amazing newsletter name” this week then this shop’s newsletter.
Some newsletter names that I’ve seen include “From the Desk of”, “Inside Look” and “Clips”. Check out some other creative newsletter name suggestions here.
Make it Shareable
One of the benefits of sending a newsletter to your audience is that they are more likely to see it. Many people miss social media updates and Pinterest pins that fly by. But, your newsletter can sit in someone’s inbox and be read when they want to read it.
But you want your audience to do more than just read it. You want them to share it. With others. Their friends. Family. The world.
Whatever content you decide to include in your newsletter, make it shareable. Your content needs to be engaging. Stuff that others want to read and tell others about. Choose content that your audience will want to click on. And after they click, share.
When writing your content, focus on including a lot of links back to your blog and shop. You are more likely to get readers to click when you make it easy for them.
Time of Day Matters
Or maybe it doesn’t. It depends really.
Experts spend a lot of hours debating about the perfect time to send an email. You’ll hear everything from Thursday at 10 a.m. to Tuesdays after lunch.
The truth of the matter is that the best time to send your email is the right time for your audience.
This is one of those moments when you need to experiment. For the next couple of weeks, try sending your email on different days at different times. See when your audience opens your email most often. This time will become your perfect time of day.
It will be different for everyone as the research has really shown. Choose the time of day that works best for your business. That is really the perfect one.
Aim to Educate
When you are creating content for your newsletter, focus on trying to teach your audience something. No one likes to be sold to all of the time. I rarely open emails from companies that always want me to buy the latest product.
I love newsletters, though, where I can discover something new. This is where your library of blog posts becomes important. In your newsletter, feature your newest blog post or include links to multiple related blog posts. You can even craft original content exclusive to your newsletter list.
Whatever you decide to write, try to teach your audience something. It can be about your niche, your business or even you. The more interesting you make your content, the more likely others will engage with it.
Have you ever received communication from a business that seemed a little stuffy? Almost too prim and perfect.
I know I have. And something about it made me click away. Quickly.
When it comes to email, casual style rules the day. (Sorry, Mom.)
Just relax. Don’t worry about being too perfect.
Choose a writing style that is more personal and laid back. I like to think about my email newsletter as casual conversation with a customer after business hours. You know those discussions you might have with someone after you’ve closed for the evening.
Your audience is more likely to read something casual than too formal. So don’t worry about being perfect and proper. Just be yourself. (Quick note… if perfect and proper is you, then just stick with that!)
Mix it Up
No one likes too much of a good thing. The same goes for your email newsletter.
When you are designing your email, make sure to mix it up. It’s a good idea to use a balance of images and text. That way your readers don’t get too much of a good thing. (And you don’t clog inboxes with too many photos.)
My favorite example is the newsletter format from REI. It is a subtle mix of photos and words. The content is also wonderfully curated.
The newsletter starts off with photos of their products in action and promotes a specific item from their shop. Then, they include related blog posts from their content library.
Although not everyone will have this much content to share – REI is a huge company with lots of content creators – you can use their newsletter layout as an example.
Think about the product that you want to focus on first. For example, one of my most popular newsletters ever was about National Strawberry Day. I shared photos from our strawberry designs in action. Then, I also included links to our strawberry DIY projects and recipes.
Basically, it was a how to newsletter on hosting a strawberry themed celebration. And my audience loved it.
When you craft your newsletter, think about a theme that you can curate your content around. This can be harder if you don’t have a blog. But, if your shop is blogless, then just write original content for your newsletter.
And make sure you include photos and words. The photos make your newsletter visually appealing and everyone loves something that’s pretty to look at.
Call to Action
When you write your newsletter, think about what you want your readers to do. This next step is called a call to action (or CTA).
For some newsletters, the CTA a button that says “Shop Now” under a photo of their product. Other newsletters direct readers to click to read more of their blog post or article. Some might even ask for readers to share something with their audience or like a post on social media.
Whatever you want your audience to do after they open your newsletter email, make it clear. Your call to action is your opportunity to interact with your reader. The way your audience interacts with your email separates the good newsletters from the great ones.
There are lots of different kinds of CTAs. Include a button, colored link or hypertexted photo that leads them to clicking on your link.
Need some ideas? Check out this wonderful list of CTAs that you can include in your email newsletter.
But, note. Decide on your CTA before writing your newsletter. Having tried slipping in a CTA at the end of my newsletter kind of randomly, it’s a lot easier to write an email when you know what you want your audience to do in advance.
Add a Personal Touch
Believe it or not, but your audience didn’t just subscribe to your newsletter to learn more about your business.
They also want to get to know you a little bit better. Your audience longs to make a personal connection with you. And your email newsletter is the perfect place to add a personal touch.
One of my favorite email newsletters that I receive every month is from an embroidery shop in Stowe, Vermont called The Wooden Needle. Kathy, the shop’s owner, writes a very casual email that I can’t wait to open.
Although in the email she mentions new products, finishing deadlines and current shop hours, Kathy also gives an update about life in Vermont. She talks about fall foliage, snow totals, the start of ski season and when the first buds of spring will arrive. I LOVE reading about life in the mountains and always open her emails. Over the years, I have developed a relationship with her and my annual trip to Stowe is never complete without stopping by her shop.
Even though the world has other cross stitch shops, hers remains my favorite. Our relationship wouldn’t be so if I hadn’t received this monthly email over the last 10 years.
You can check out her latest newsletter on her website. It’s worth the read if you want to learn first hand how to add a personal touch to your emails.
When writing your own email newsletter, think about mentioning a recent trip, something your family did or an experience from real life that relates to your shop.
You are an important face to your business. By keeping your newsletter personal, you become a more important part of your online shop.
Plus, your audience yearns to learn more about you.
So, when writing, write as you. Use a personal tone. Also, include tidbits that tell your audience a little more about you. You don’t have to let them know every single detail – that would be getting too personal – but if you have an opportunity to slip in a little story here and there. Do it.
Your audience will feel like they connect with you more and your shop. And this personal connection will lead to more sales and more success with your shop.
Make it Mobile Friendly
It seems that world has gone mobile and so should you. Over 70% of email users read their email on their mobile devices these days. So, you should probably assume that your audience will read your email on their mobile devices at some point.
When designing your email, make it mobile friendly. Most of the email marketing managers offer mobile friendly email options to subscribers. Just double check before signing up.
Also when writing your email, keep your subject lines shorter. This way the entire line shows in a person’s email inbox.
And choose a single column template design for your email. If you use two columns or more, your reader will have to zoom in and out to read everything.
Pick fonts that are easy to read (avoid handwritten scripts). Don’t make your fonts too tiny. The ideal size is 14 point for the body text and 22 point for the headlines. When choosing colors for your text, aim for dark text on a light background to create a good contrast. This will make your email text easier to read in many mobile situations such as bright light.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to build a relationship with your audience today. In a single newsletter, you can help your readers connect with your brand.
By creating emails that mix up content, have a personal touch and are shareable, you not only have the opportunity to become a part of your audiences’ lives, but also reach more people.
When planning marketing activities to focus on for your creative business, make email marketing a top priority. It’s one of the best ways to grow an audience quickly and stay in touch with them.
The more often your audience interacts with your shop, the more likely they will remember you when they want to make a purchase. So, get started crafting those emails and make them fabulous!