18th July 2014
Email Newsletters: Sending, Perfecting and Analysing
Following on from my blog about writing effective email newsletters and Marc's blog about building your own HTML newsletter, let's take a look at how you can manage your campaigns and subscribers, and use statistics to your advantage.
Who are you going to send your newsletter to?
So you've written up your latest news and offers and bundled it all into an attractive HTML newsletter ready to send out into the great unknown. But who are you sending it to? Your subscribers can come from a range of different places - they might have subscribed to your newsletter through a form on your website or social media page, during the registration or checkout process while making an online purchase, or maybe you asked them personally if you could sign them up when speaking to them over the phone or face to face.
The one golden rule is that the people on your list need to have agreed to receive information from you - if they haven't, you could be letting yourself in for a lot of unsubscribes, and that can look bad to your email marketing service provider. More on that in a moment.
Keeping your subscribers lists tidy
Once you have a list to send to, you should keep an eye on it to make sure you're sending your email to valid addresses. Sometimes with newsletter signup forms you can get bots entering spam information so when you go to send your email it comes back with a lot of bounces from non-existent, gibberish email addresses. Implementing a CAPTCHA code can help with this so that people must verify they are human before submitting their details.
If this is your first email campaign, you should also use a fairly recently compiled list of subscribers, as if you have a list that is maybe a year old or more, people may have forgotten they signed up, changed their email address since then, or may no longer be interested. Once again, this can lead to bounces and unsubscribes, which is bad news.
It's important to keep your lists up to date and correct because if your account receives an excessive amount of bounced emails, spam reports or users who unsubscribe, you could get account warnings or even account suspension. To prevent your email provider from thinking you're engaging in spam activity, clear out any spam email addresses and misspelled or otherwise incorrect email addresses. This will also help you keep costs down as depending on your provider, you may be charged for the amount of email addresses you have in your list rather than the amount of emails you send each month.
When should you send a newsletter?
Your newsletter will work best on certain days and at certain times depending on your audience. There have been plenty of studies on when you should send emails, so do your research and then test out a few different days and times yourself to see what works best for your business.
Different audiences will be receptive to emails at different times, so if you have customers with different demographics, locations or other factors, consider grouping them into separate lists so that you can tailor your send time to each of them and get the best results all around. Having multiple lists can also be helpful if you want to send a promotion to just one group of people.
You should also consider how often you are going to send your newsletter. Depending on your business once per month might be enough, but if you have enough to say and your customers are willing to listen, a weekly bulletin could be the way to go.
Is this thing on?
Once you've triple checked everything and pressed the send button, it's time to sit back for a moment and see what happens. After a suitable length of time - maybe a week or so - run a report to take a look at the final statistics for your campaign.
Think back to your reasons for sending the newsletter in the first place. Have recipients been doing what you wanted them to do? Have they opened your email, clicked through to your website, forwarded your email, or replied to it?
One way to get more statistics from your campaign is to set up UTM tracking. You can add parameters to the URLs in your email so that when you look in Google Analytics you can see how many users navigate to your page through clicking on the link in your email. Learn more about UTM tracking and using Analytics to track the success of your email campaign.
The statistics from your campaign can help you to improve future mailings so that you can get higher open rates and click through rates, and more purchases and enquiries. With testing, experimentation and perseverance you can continue to learn and progress. Happy analysing!