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5 Steps to Master Your Email Newsletter

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EMAIL MARKETING and I have a love-hate relationship. After 11-plus years leading digital marketing for pet businesses, I rarely speak about it publicly, instead deferring to others (and members of my team) who still enjoy their bright-and-shiny challenges of mastering spam blockers, crafting the perfect headline and cracking the code on opt-ins.

Here’s why: While I love the great value a strong email newsletter can bring to a business, I am constantly frustrated by the clutter and promotional emails clogging my own inbox. And I’m not alone. Statistica estimates that more than 281 billion emails will be sent each day in 2018. With fewer than 4 billion email accounts internationally, that leaves a staggering amount of inbox chaos for each person to wade through. So, whenever I think about marketing emails and newsletters, my personal frustration with them always makes me think, “We need to be part of the solution, not the problem.”

You might think it’s ironic, then, that we just launched a new weekly newsletter for ’cause Digital Marketing that shares what pet owners are talking about with pet businesses who need to know. But the truth is, we used five simple steps to be that solution. And, because of it, we’ve been rewarded with open and click rates that double or quadruple industry standards. Instead of cringing when yet another email comes in, our readers open, click and share what we send.

1. Understand the value to your business.

While most pet businesses would be wise to build your email lists, it’s never a good idea to send a newsletter “just because” you think you should be doing it. Ask yourself what your newsletter needs to achieve. Does it provide value and expertise to build trust? Does it keep you top-of-mind with customers? Does it drive sales? Without knowing how and why your newsletter drives your overall business success, it’s hard to prioritize it and create something of value that will solve a problem for your customers rather than adding to their inbox overload.

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2. Understand who you’re speaking to.

Who is your newsletter for? Think about your ideal customers and how familiar they are with your brand. What you send will differ, depending on whether these are loyal customers or those just getting to know you.

3. Understand what value you’re providing them.

Answer this question on behalf of your readers: “Why should I care?” While a deep discount or sales gimmick may have obvious appeal, other things you can share may not. Go back to numbers one and two and consider: Is there a problem I can help solve for them? Providing a sense of community and connection to new dog owners who feel isolated could build a lifetime of loyalty between you and a customer.

4. Forget about rigid features, keep it simple.

Gone are the days when newsletters needed 10 different sections and a letter from your founder in every email. Give yourself permission to keep your format simple and easy to update. This helps you focus on impact and providing value instead of finding filler for a section that just doesn’t apply this month.

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5. Give them a clear next step or action to take.

Make sure to include a way your customers can go to learn, take action or engage in every email, every time. (Even if you’re sending them somewhere other than your website.) Don’t worry about sending them away. If you’ve done a good job at providing value and solving a problem for them, they’ll remember you and come back — more thankful and loyal than before.

Jane Harrell is president of ’cause Digital Marketing, co-owner of Working With Dog and has spent the last 16 years working with pet businesses to find simple, scalable marketing solutions that work so they can focus on what matters most — helping pets and the people who care about them.

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