The email newsletter can be a great way to share important updates, valuable offers and useful information with members. But while the opportunity is there, making our newsletters effective and getting our members to read them can be tricky to accomplish.
A major obstacle to readership is the sheer number of emails we are competing with in the typical inbox. The Radicati Group estimates that the average person receives 126 business emails per day and another 77 personal ones. Email is, afterall, an incredibly common way for staying in-touch with friends, family, and other businesses that we either work with or are considering. Members only have so much time and attention-span to offer before they move on; we need to give them a good reason to open and read.
It is worth doing this well. Each message is not only a chance to convey important information, but another opportunity to leave an impression that supports our credit union’s brand. 59% of survey respondents say that marketing emails influence their purchasing decisions. (SaleCycle, 2018) And 59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI. (Emma, 2018)
So whether you want to get started with a new email newsletter program or breathe some new life into an existing one, here are some tips for making the most of your moment in your member’s inbox.
1. Find Your Purpose
What are you trying to accomplish by sending a newsletter? There are plenty of reasons to choose from, including: providing timely information and updates, driving sales for your products and services, driving traffic to spots on your website, or increasing your online and social media presence.
Whatever your purpose may be, keep it in mind each and every time you sit down to work on your newsletter. It’s easy to start throwing in a little bit of this and a little bit of that in the mix, leading to a disjointed email that doesn’t get the job done. Use metrics to help you set some goals that will keep you accountable. For example, keep track of event RSVPs or the number of calls you get requesting information if you’re using your newsletter to spread your latest news. Track visits to landing pages, form submissions, follow ups and new accounts if you’re looking for increased traffic and sales. Or keep an eye on followers, shares and engagement if you’re working on building a stronger online and social presence.
Additionally, when you ask members to sign up for your newsletter, be transparent about what they can expect to get and how often it will be delivered. Then members can decide if it’s something they are truly interested in receiving and you are more likely to have your newsletter hit its mark.
2. Focus and Organize
Before getting into the nitty gritty of your content, it’s worth taking a second to do a little planning and organizing on your theme. You have your overarching goal for your newsletter, but what will be your focus for this particular issue? Just like any email you send, have a common thread holding the whole thing together. This will make it easier for your member to understand what is important and take the action that you are nudging them towards.
To help organize, get to know what your members are interested in reading so you can pick types of content that will get them engaged. Test out some different versions and types of content – polls, blurbs of blog posts, testimonials – to see what gets the most interaction. Or, survey your members to see what they want to read.
Depending on the complexity of your membership and the niches within it, you may find that it’s worth creating newsletters for multiple groups. A great example of this is parents of kids under 18. It’s a segment that has a lot of specific needs and can be very active. That means your credit union could justify a dedicated newsletter filled with news about family-focused events, tips on teaching money habits, and how to choose the right account for college savings. Showing your dedication to the niche can foster larger engagement with that group and help declutter your main newsletter at the same time.
3. Creating Your Content
Now that you’re ready to dive into writing, remember to keep it relevant, valuable and interesting. Provide information and stories that relate to the interests of your readers and stick to topics they care about. Ask yourself if what you’ve created entertains, informs or delights. If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track.
A couple of big metrics to watch are your opens, click throughs and unsubscribes. For financial services, you want an average open rate of at least 20.47%, a click through rate of 2.59%, and an unsubscribe rate lower than .21%. (Mailchimp) These numbers help you identify if you’re reaching your members, enticing them to open, keeping them with you and getting them to take action based on your content.
For a breakdown of content, keep about 90% educational while 10% can be promotional. Think about the newsletters you enjoy reading the most. They are probably not packed full of blatant promotions. If you want to highlight a product or service, think about how you can work it into an educational or entertaining segment. Maybe you want to grow interest in your mortgage program. You could talk about what’s going on in your current marketplace or provide tips on selling a property, working in how a solution you offer can provide value to your member interested in that topic.
Other ways to work in content that isn’t pure promotion includes getting others involved. Collect information from partners, testimonials and interviews from members, and tutorials and stories from your employees. This can all be leveraged to create compelling content. Finally, don’t forget to let your personality shine. Newsletters should not be boring, so put your own unique twist on how you write and provide information.
4. Making it Look Good
The final thing to consider is the design. You want your newsletter to be easy to read with a look that isn’t distracting to the content that you’ve carefully put together. You can do that by keeping things simple and tidy. If you have a recurring segment, separate it and use colors, headings and graphics to make it easier for members to read or reference later.
Keep your newsletter to one column and use a design that is responsive. More than half of your audience is going to be viewing your email at least once from a phone, so it’s important to test how everything looks for both desktop and mobile.
When adding images, be selective and only use what you need to enhance your words and draw attention. To make sure pictures load properly, keep the size small by optimizing images for screens. Add alt text so screen readers or members who only receive text understand the point of the image.
Last, make your calls-to-action stand out by using visually distinctive buttons or links. It’s even better if you add a sense of urgency and use friendly words to get members to follow through.
The email newsletter is alive and well and can be a valuable part of your marketing toolbox. The next time you sit down to draft your credit union’s news, make sure it is time well-spent by using these tips to help you focus and deliver even more value to your members.