Best Newsletter Practices

We’ve all seen those classic link-filled newsletters that we know came from 2001 and haven’t been updated. So how do you avoid being that automotive business and make sure you are being helpful to your readers?

Ugly automotive newsletter

You’re in luck! Today, we’ll be digging into newsletter best practices to help you succeed.

Starting A New Newsletter.

With today’s new data privacy rules, it’s important to start out right. When you create a way for customers to subscribe to your newsletter, you must have an opt-in email that explains why your users are receiving a notification. It should provide them an opportunity to confirm their subscription.

If you have a previously made contact list that maybe you received from going to a home show or drawing, the opt-in email needs to be sent out to everyone in your contact list that you are going to use.

Provide a Way for People To Choose

When you upload your list for the first time, you should be sending out an email to all uploaded subscribers that says, “You are receiving this email because you connected with X. If you would like to continue receiving newsletters, confirm here (add a button).

There will be a link to opt-out / unsubscribe in your emails. You must provide an unsubscribe link (somewhere at the bottom, NOT at the top) because it’s way better to have readers unsubscribe from your list than have them mark your account as spam.

What if I Get Reported As Spam?

If you get reported as spam, you get a warning. If you get a second flag, you lose all abilities to import lists into most email marketing softwares. It’s pretty standard for all email platforms to provide a spam warning to ensure they follow the right rules, and that you do too. You could get reported for spam if you buy a list and it is from people you do not have permission to contact or you have not connected with a customer in over a year and choose to contact them. Basically, your readers are flagging your account as spam.

In MailChimp, for every 1,000 contacts, only 5 can mark you as spam before you start getting into a questionable stage of review. Regardless of the platform, this is still a best practice.

What If I Use My Email Account to Send Everything to My Contacts?

Please don’t. This is a good way to get your email account shut down. Google, Microsoft, and other large email providers are always looking at how spam comes to and from an inbox. This can trigger a lot of alerts on your email account if you do this. Also, if enough customers flag you, the provider can lock down your email and choose not to give it back to you. Overall, it’s going to hurt your automotive business’ credibility as well. Customers want to make sure you’re not “Replying All,” so that a few dozen other people now have their email address.

Defining Your Subject Line

This is your main piece of content your readers see. It’s the one thing you are looking to promote over everything else. This can take 15-20 minutes if it’s an easy subject. This could even take up to a half hour. Including your company name here can help with ongoing branding efforts, but half the sell of a newsletter open is what you say at the very top, so make it count!

Avoid clickbait! Find a list of high open-rate words to make sure you’re not writing something that sounds sales oriented. Don’t go with “GET YOUR FREE Fill in the blank,” or “Find Financing Today!” These are low-performing titles. Many emails that use phishing tactics have words like “urgent”, use all caps, or say something leading with some sort of consequences, “5 Things You’ll Regret Tomorrow If You Miss This!.

Your subject line needs to tell the subscriber what it is they are getting. If you have a sweepstakes, this should be in the title of the email with a call to action to move them forward in the journey. If you lie to your reader in the heading, they won’t consider you further. You need to cultivate trust and offer them value.

Crafting The Subject Preview

This is the section of what you can read before entering into the total email that usually gives you the gist of what the person is saying. If you can’t get everything into the subject line, you can streamline the subject and add to the preview snippet a bit more in depth about what the user might be reading about.

Crafting the subject preview
If a reader doesn’t recognize the email or the subject line doesn’t fit what the email is about, the reader is less likely to open it.

You can optimize for open rates by including an email preview section that connects with your audience. Including your company name in the preview text can also help identify who you are if you haven’t used it in your subject line. We recommend picking a format and sticking with it to keep it consistent for your readers. In the example above, Moz always has the same email title for its newsletters and a different subject preview for each new release.

Designing & Formatting a Newsletter

Review the branding of your website. Whatever you build for your newsletter should reflect a simpler or cleaner brand of your company website, because you’re not going to want to have inconsistency when you are trying to get people to trust you. If you are thinking, “but my branding looks old!” you probably need to freshen up your website.

In a general newsletter format, your logo goes on the top to easily identify you. As a rule, our newsletter designers always say, “text needs to be cleaner and larger than you think it should be.” This is because most people are accessing your newsletter on a mobile device. If 68% of all emails are opened on a mobile phone, having larger text makes it quicker to read and gives you a higher chance of click-throughs.

You will also need a solid, CLEAN image that has been optimized for the multiple screens it will be viewed on. Images are recommended to be 650 pixels wide. The length shouldn’t be more than 500 pixels. Be sure to choose your images wisely, because having too many slows down the load speed of the email. You should have a mix of text and imagery to keep your audience engaged.

There are some newsletters where the background is the image and above it is the button text. This can effective for a single message call-to-action, but if this is your style, keep it consistent with each email you send.

Only have up to five subjects within the email. We suggest three as the most balanced number. If you need to add important reads, you can have them as smaller links on the bottom. Don’t overwhelm them with information. If you have a lot that you would like to share, split it into later emails and plan your content for months!

Crafting Your CTA

Your Call to Action (CTA) should be clear. As a rule, we choose to include the same link 2-3 ways. If you have an image, text, and a button, link all three to the same article (without looking spammy). Check out how this tea company links their images, the title of the tea, and the Call to action.
Different user demographics click on different elements, so have a variety of options. Text linking is okay, but many times the buttons themselves create a lot of click through. Free shipping is a great call-to-action.

Linked Hot Chocolate Image

Note: Having text inside the button will generate a lot more clicks. If you’re not sure what to say, you can use words such as, View Now, See The Auto Repair Deal of the Day, Read More, etc.

User trends have been changing for newsletter behavior. This can be good for your automotive business. With more mobile users, people are trained to scroll. In formatting your newsletter, try to keep it simple and helpful. Have your best content segmented by style. A good tip is to put your best quick read at the top and best long form read at the bottom.

If you are usually sending your newsletter to regular customers, it’s also good to notify people within the middle or top of any events, awards, things you sponsor, or internal company fun things that show you’re human. People like to know they are working with someone they can trust. This is especially important within the automotive industry!

Choosing Your Button

Action colors make good buttons. Orange or red emulate urgency. Your button colors should depend on the design of your automotive website or at least be complementary. If your website has a very specific call-to-action color, keep it the same color in your newsletters. If you have a lot of the same color being introduced in the images of your newsletter, us simpler calls to action on the button you create to avoid overwhelming your reader.

Don’t Add Everything!

This is not your one shot to get in front of the customer. This is something you do to be helpful and keep them interested in what’s going on with your business. A newsletter is mean to build trust, not quick leads.

Note: If you are specifically within the e-commerce segment, then you should do a bit of both trust and product conversion with quick leads. Within the automotive industry, people still want you to build their trust. Whatever your product does, it should be something they can depend on.

When you aren’t sure, always ask. Most people are good at telling you when you have too much going on. We’re all consumers. BUT you have to know your audience. If you can craft information that speaks to them, it will have higher return. Older generations would like more to the point information about what they will get if they click on your newsletter. A younger generation will want to see that you put effort into the design and the content and actually captured their attention.

Don’t Be Afraid to Change It Up

If it’s not working, change it. If it’s been a year since you have adjusted your format, review it. You won’t know if something could work better until you try it. It could be as simple as changing a color. Only change one thing at a time in order to know what actually helps.

Need help? We are here for you! We’re more than happy to help you strategize your newsletter or any other marketing projects you’ve been working on. Contact us today to get started!

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