Communities are very important to businesses today because they act as a concentrated audience and drive up the engagement ratio. But how do you keep them engaged?
Engagement is the most important part of a business. You need your online community to engage with your content to have a brand presence amongst the users. To have a community or to create a newsletter is not a difficult job. What is difficult here is to have the members come up and interact with the other members and the different elements of your newsletter.
You can’t just create a community of all your followers and expect them to get online and interact with each other without an impulse from your end. The best thing you can do here is to give them something to talk about, preferably about your brand. According to one study, more than 88% of professionals admit that regularly engaging with the community helps them to achieve their company’s success and in critical decision-making. That is most desirable for a business.
Email newsletters are an effective way of keeping your community engaged and informed about your business, promotions and even drive up sales. They are precise and consistent. Creating one for your online community has some focus points which should be remembered while on the task. Here are a few tips that will help you make an ‘better’ email newsletter that gets your community talking. We will see how these tips help us achieve major community metric goals in the following:
1. Keep your newsletter frequent and consistent
Generally speaking, newsletters that are sent more frequently have more engagement in the community. These newsletters remind your audience of your presence and contribute to the content of their conversations. A great deal received every week is more engaging than a great deal received once a month.
Even out of all the businesses which use email marketing to build up their brand image prefer to be more frequent with their newsletters than to send their newsletters monthly or yearly.
The frequency of newsletters create a sense of familiarity in the readers and they unconsciously find themselves to be more trusting towards your business. The frequency keeps the engagement ratio up and keeps providing your community with things to talk about.
This also keeps the community active and a happening place to be in. There is a reason why websites spend so much time and money in creating apps which can be placed on the user’s home screen, so that they can be more accessible and a more frequently used service.
It can be as simple as sending your newsletter the same day every week, without fail. According to ReferralRock, the businesses that sent newsletters weekly had around twice the number of subscribers than the ones who sent less than weekly. Below is a pie chart that shows the email newsletter frequency followed by the senders of newsletters.
Community metrics: Brand loyalty
Consistency of the newsletters builds trust in the brand and increases brand loyalty among community members.
2. Keep the content relevant to the audience
Nobody likes to read about what does not concern or interest them. A newsletter may have an attractive layout, be frequent and consistent and still not be able to increase engagement. Knowing your audience plays a great part in creating a successful email newsletter. It helps you to focus on a specific kind of content that drives your engagement. After all, you are writing for your audience, not for yourself. This will in turn help build the relationship between you and your audience.
Your email newsletter’s main focus is to provide valuable information to your community. You can always promote your own brand unless it does not dominate the newsletter altogether. You can do this by formatting your newsletters in such a way that it has different sections. You can have a section for promoting any new campaigns or products as a ‘What’s new’ or maybe a section called ‘What’s viral’ for talking about your community’s most talked about topic. If you are a business, having a section for weekly coupons increases the eagerness of the readers to read your content. The frequency, consistency and attractive layouts then act as add ons and help in building brand image.
Community metrics: Stickiness factor
When you have a good relationship with your audience, it increases the stickiness factor.
Your community members will tend to be more inclined towards your content and would choose to believe it more than that of the other brands.
This faith needs to be retained in the hearts of the members of your community and this can only be done by keeping your content as relevant to them as possible.
3. Ask for feedback
No newsletter is a perfect newsletter. There is a gradual building of a relationship between the brand and its audience. Now, there are many tools available that help you see the engagement ratio of the different editions of your newsletter and that helps a great deal. But, opening yourself for feedback from your audience will allow you to understand your strengths, your weaknesses and what exactly you need to work on or pay more attention to.
Not all the readers are going to be very eager to give in their suggestions. The point is to encourage them to give you feedback and make it easier for them to do so. You can also have a special section on the newsletter for publishing the ‘feedback of the week’. You need to make sure that the suggestion is reflected in the future editions.
This will make your email newsletters a two way tool where the audience can interact and make their own contributions. Having a ‘what do you want to read next?’ can also provide you with ideas and runs on the same principle. This will help in the perfecting of the newsletters in line with the interest of your audience.
Community metrics: Validation & gratification
Having feedback from your audience will give you a better knowledge of their interests and what they expect or want to hear from you about. This leads to validation and instant gratification of your community members.
This is better than using a tool to predict what topics interest your audience more by checking which posts are performing better than the others. It gives a voice to their audience and they feel connected to you.
4. Write meaningful subject lines
You have to keep in mind that your very attractive newsletter is basically just a sentence that shows in the inbox of your audience; and that line is very easily lost among the hundred others that a reader has received on the very same day. The subject line of your newsletter gives you a chance to stand out amongst the hundred others. You see how important this one line is to your newsletter. It decides if your newsletter is going to be opened at all or not. So you get one line to kindle the interest of your reader. It is very important that you make the most out of it. How do you do it though?
You do not have to try to cram everything in your newsletter into that one line. Subject lines are only to tell your readers what to expect more of in the mail. So when you are writing your subject lines, you have to be clear, precise and snappy. It should mean something to the reader. Focus on something funny, witty, clever or inspiring.
Your reader will only open your newsletter if the subject line is attractive and relevant to him. Also try to avoid words like “free” or “limited-time” or too many special characters or it will make your newsletter miss the inbox of your reader altogether.
“You can also consider adding the time needed to read that newsletter or article to show respect for your audience’s time.”
-Jyoti Khan, co-founder of Bricks and Clicks
Community metrics: New contribution
By sending a witty newsletter with catchy one liners will encourage new members to contribute and engage in your community.
5. Have user-generated content
Another way to make your newsletters engaging is to have a space on your newsletter for quotes, comments or ideas from within the community. Think how you would feel if a quote you said was published in a newsletter sent to all the members of the community you are a part of. It gives a sense of pride to the members of the community and encourages them to proactively take part in discussions and networking in the community.
Intercom’s newsletter often includes comments and quotes from their staff and the members of the community about trending topics as shown in the picture below. It makes the audience feel like they are an important part of the brand.
Community metrics: Increased engagement
The members of the community feel eager to interact more with each and talk about trending topics. It also encourages the members to take part in the contests, campaigns, and other activities that you might organize for your community.
On the other hand, it also reduces the amount of work that you put into your weekly newsletter. Imagine having to come up with the content for one less section in every weekly edition of your newsletter and instead of it affecting the engagement of your newsletter in a negative way, it affects the same positively and builds a better relationship between you and your audience.
6. Choose the correct newsletter template
You know that your content has to be of great relevance to get the results that you hope for from your audience. The impressiveness of the customer by your newsletter should remain constant if not increase when a reader opens it after being attracted by the subject line of the newsletter.
One of the best things about email marketing is the templates that are available for use on the platform. It makes the process of making an email newsletter a breeze.
You can even check out a programmed-in newsletter template for your future newsletters to your readers. They are easy to work with and help you to exchange or add photos or videos that are displayed within the body of this newsletter. You can even adjust the different items according to a certain theme of the newsletter.
Community metrics: Content uniqueness
By sticking to a personalized theme and producing unique content to your community members accordingly -- will make them eagerly look forward to upcoming posts and newsletters.
7. Test your newsletter
Before finally sending out a newsletter, test it. In this, you basically send your newsletter to a closed group to be viewed on different devices like laptop, mobile phone, tablet, etc. Not only on different devices, you should also check on different browsers like Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer as well as on different mail clients like Gmail, Outlook, etc. The goal is to have your newsletter look the way you wished it to on the different devices without having any content cropped, including pictures or words. The image that you try to build for your brand gets highly affected if a reader opens your newsletter and finds that he cannot even read it properly because the first and last few words of every sentence is out of the margin or if an image covers an important part of the content or even if the CTAs that you have created do not work properly. So it is very important that every single aspect of your newsletter is thoroughly tested on every possible client, browser and types of devices.
It is not that difficult a task either. You can easily test it by sending your newsletter to a group of friends and colleagues and asking them for their feedback on the content and the presentation of your newsletter. Ask them to check if the links in the newsletter work. The feedback from them will help in removing typos, unnecessary spaces and minor formatting issues too. This in turn will make you appear as a more professional brand that pays a lot of attention to details and quality and we all know that quality material is highly appreciated.
Community metrics: Member growth & retention
When you provide high quality content to your members on a regular basis, this will make them stay back for your brand because of the originality and the effort you put into it. This will lead to increased member growth tremendously by positive WOM.
8. Create an attractive header image
The different editions of your email newsletter should have a constant in them. Having an attractive header helps in two ways. First, it helps in making your newsletter look attractive and it is very important to have a good header image because it appears on the top of your newsletter. It will help you represent your brand the way you want it to be portrayed to your readers.
You may choose different colors or symbols and they might stand for something. Like you may have green color in your header image to represent that your company stands for saving the ecosystem. You may even go with a symbol of an endangered animal which would suggest that you stand for preserving them.
There are a lot of options out there and a lot of causes to go with. What is important is what you believe in and how you portray it to your community. You can have designers designing your header image and make it artistic or go with something as simple as a letter from the English alphabet or a triangle for that matter out of all the shapes. All it has to do is create a sense of connection of what your brand stands for to the readers.
Second, it helps the readers connect the different editions of your newsletter and give them a sense of continuity. Different editions of your newsletters will have different content but the header image of the editions will help the readers connect all the valuable content that they have received from all the different editions of your newsletter and assign that value to the face of your newsletter.
Community metrics: Turning members to evangelists
When you strongly establish your brand by creating a uniqueness to your brand community. Your community members who love your brand will turn into evangelists and this is the ultimate community goal and an organic way to turn your members into evangelists.
9. Create a call-to-action
Creating a call-to-action (CTA) means giving the readers an actionable element in the very newsletter that they receive in their inbox. Before creating a CTA, it is very important to know what action you want your audience to perform. Once that is decided, you can create a CTA and position it in your newsletter. You should make sure that your CTA is easily visible and not hidden in the middle of the content of your newsletter. You can have more than one CTAs in a newsletter, each for a different action.
The scope of this is huge. You can have more than one CTA out of which one may ask the readers to donate a certain amount of money for a good cause, another may ask them to subscribe to another newsletter that you own and a third may ask you to ‘register now’ for an event like Really Good Emails.
Community metrics: Multiple engagement strategies
Having more than one CTA in your newsletters is a great thing because user can click on the link that interests them the most and can comment or reply to a post in your community, if they really like the content – the probability of them checking out other posts and engaging in your community is high.
10. Interactive emails
On the topic of CTAs, it is important to understand that interactive email newsletters basically reduce the number of steps for a reader to interact with your email or give feedback and when that happens, the number of readers who will interact with your emails dramatically increases. So, if you provide a link to a survey in the newsletter which takes them to a different page altogether, fewer users are going to engage with it as compared to answering the questions of the survey within the email itself.
Community metrics: Increasing member activities
Similarly, if you intend on setting up a poll to weigh in decisions, the members of the community would be more inclined to click on their choice and submit it as compared to clicking on a link to another page that contains the poll.
You can also have :
- A ‘wheel of fortune’ where the members can spin the wheel right in their inbox and win prizes or coupons which they can use to purchase items from your business.
- A CTA for the members to sign up for an event and place a form at the end of the section where they can sign up for a new community event.
- A section where the readers can submit their suggestions or quotes within the email itself, right below the section for ‘quote of the week’.
The best part is, that we’re at a time where no coding or tech intervention is required to create such high-converting, interactive emails. You can simply use a tool like Mailmodo that lets you add different interactive elements using a drag-and-drop editor, and create interactive email newsletters in a matter of minutes.
Creating an email newsletter for your community from the ground up can be challenging. But, it is a fundamental part of your email marketing. Once you have made your email newsletter you will see how effective it is and how these suggestions make the process smoother.
You need to remember that everything starts with the first step but being as sure as possible from your end will help you in the long run. The above given 10 tips can help you create a successful email newsletter for your community and bring you closer to your readers, achieve your community metrics, and reach your business goals as well.