I am in charge of creating and launching the eNewsletters at Vermont.com, and I was wondering if you had any insight as to how I could improve our mailing list and perhaps the overall value to our customers. I've attached our most recent eNewsletter.
Renée Toutant, Vermont.com
Holy Animated Gifs, Renée, this newsletter needs some help!
Since the most prominent feature of your newsletter is the animations, let's start there. How would you like people to describe Vermont.com--comprehensive or cutesy? Unfortunately, it's the latter that comes through with all the cartoons.
The job of your e-mail graphics is to support your brand image and guide the reader's eye through the copy. Have a brand strategy session with your team, agree on the image you want to present to the world, then use it to guide your creative.
Every element in this newsletter is fighting for the reader's attention. There is no information hierarchy, and the result is overwhelming and unfocused. Your readers have just one concern when they open your e-mail: WIIFM (What's In It For Me)? Is your typical reader interested in:
No, no and furthermore, no. What are your readers interested in? Ask! Send a survey to your readers and have them a) put themselves in an audience category (resident, tourist, future resident, business, etc.) and b) rate e-mail content topics. Then take a look at what your customers want by category. Use this intelligence to update the reader categories and preference options on your e-mail sign-up form. Ask open-ended questions as well, to see what readers want that you haven't thought of. Also look at past link-click activity to see what content in your newsletter is most popular with your readers.
Of course you must serve the needs of your advertisers as well. This is why you want to blend reader-desired content with marketing messages in an 80/20, Them/Us ratio. The Inn at Weston has two offers of interest to your readers: a giveaway with excellent odds of winning and a discount package. Rather than spread out mentions in five different places, with hundreds of competing elements, showcase this advertiser with an arresting visual, benefit-oriented headline, bulleted body copy and a tantalizing finish.
Don't pre-enter readers for your contest--get them to sign-up! You want readers to feel that they'll miss out if they don't read your newsletter. Offer an opt-in to the sponsor's e-mail program and help them build their list as well.
Consider the timing of your newsletter. If it is aimed at tourists, a monthly newsletter is too infrequent to be useful for an upcoming trip. Shorter, more focused newsletters may be a better option.
Image, focus and the e-mail user experience. When you have addressed these critical areas, you will be able to build your list. Attracting new subscribers at this point is just filling a leaky bucket.
Send your questions to the E-mail Diva, Melinda Krueger, at email@example.com.