Q: At my MSP, we’ve found that email marketing is an efficient way to reach our customers and prospects. Now that we’re comfortable with it, we want to send an email newsletter. We haven’t done this before and want to make sure we do it right. How should we get started putting together a newsletter for our customers and prospects?
Email marketing can be really effective when it’s done right. It sounds like things are going well so far, which means you’re running email campaigns the right way. Sending a newsletter sounds like a logical next step for your business’ email marketing efforts, and we think your customers and prospects will agree. You’re right to stop and think about what to include in your newsletters, though. It’s important that each email you send provides value to the recipient, or you risk having subscribers quickly opt out of your emails.
Thankfully, if you pay attention to a handful of email newsletter best practices, you’ll delight your customers and prospects and avoid losing subscribers. To provide you with these best practices, we talked with Lindsay Faria, senior partner marketing manager at Intronis MSP Solutions. Lindsay develops and executes email newsletters for MSP Partners each month.
Here are Lindsay’s three best practices for MSPs to follow when crafting email newsletters:
Email newsletter best practices
1. Make it easily digestible
One of the first things you’ll want to consider when putting together an email newsletter for your customers and prospects is the format you use. The key here is to make it easily readable. The fact is that most people skim their emails, especially when they’re longer than a few paragraphs, like newsletters. To cater to these readers, you should format your newsletter in a way that makes it easy to skim:
Use subheads – Break the information into sections so readers can easily digest the content. Keep your paragraphs short, and use hyperlinks to link out to supporting relevant material.
Include photos and videos – Interactive media ensures that the newsletter isn’t just an overwhelming amount of text and keeps it interesting for the reader.
Use the same subject line – Keep the message consistent with each newsletter so your readers will recognize it.
Include Calls-To-Action – These buttons should point to other resources that provide valuable information to the reader. Measuring how your readers interact with your CTAs will give you valuable insight into how the newsletter is being engaged with by your readers.
If you follow these tips, the structure of your newsletter should be in good shape. Whatever subhead format, color scheme, and template structure you choose to use, it should stay consistent with each newsletter. In the beginning, feel free to try out a few different options, but once you figure out the best format, keep it consistent. Be sure to follow the same style guide rules throughout all of your newsletters so your readers know what to expect.
2. Consider your timing
Another important part of sending an email newsletter is deciding when to actually hit “send.” There are a number of factors to consider when determining when to distribute the newsletter. First, you’ll want to send it at a point in the month where your customers and prospects are more likely to have time to read it. For example, it’s probably not the best idea to send the newsletter on the last day of the month since many businesses are working hard to close deals or take care of bookkeeping. You should also consider avoiding the end of fiscal quarters, as businesses can be especially tied up with closing out the quarter. Do you often receive emails from your customers over the weekend? If so, try sending out your newsletter then – maybe that’s when they have the time to catch up on their industry news and e-newsletters like yours.
It’s good to send your newsletter at a regular interval so your subscribers can come to expect it (and look forward to it!). For example, send a newsletter at a minimum once a quarter or more frequently once a month. If you’re not sure where to start, I’d recommend sending it in the middle of the month and seeing how it performs. Keep an eye on the open rates with other emails and compare those to your newsletter. You can also run an A/B test on two different subject lines to see which performs better. All of these efforts will help you optimize your newsletters. Once you find a subject line that works, stick with it. Consider using a consistent opening, and tailoring part of it to reflect the topics covered. For example: “Your Company Name Newsflash: CryptoWall Attack Thwarted, New Data Protection Solutions, and Security Tips for your SMB” could work as a format with the information before the colon staying the same each month, and updating the second section to entice your prospects and customers into opening to read more.
3. Include valuable content
Now that you’ve formatted your newsletter, you’ll want to think about what content you’re going to include. This is the most important part. A best practice is to focus first and foremost on pointing to news and information of pure value to your audience, and let self-promotion take the backseat. It’s all about creating a healthy balance, though. First, I recommend sharing news related to your customers and prospects’ respective industries, thought pieces from small business leaders, and articles related to current events. These articles should be from reputable news sources and help keep your customers informed. Your readers will appreciate having you aggregate the most important news for them.
In addition, the newsletter provides an opportunity to include a few updates about your company. For example, you can share news of a recent award win, an update about a new IT service you’re offering, or information regarding an upcoming event you’re hosting. To make it more personal, you could even include a note from an executive at your MSP or share a recent success story from one of your customers.
If you do choose to feature a customer success story, make sure that it highlights a specific challenge the customer faced and how they overcame it with your IT services. If you don’t have a formal success story, you could always interview a customer and provide a “customer spotlight” section. Finally, if your MSP business actively blogs, I’d also suggest including a short summary recapping a recent blog post you published.
In the end, whatever you choose to include, make sure that it provides value to your readers. The idea behind each newsletter is that it’s crafted for the readers and is something they should value, rather than ignore and send to straight to their junk folder. With that said, it does give you an opportunity to include something about your MSP business without being overly self-serving. Remember – your ultimate goal is to engage, inform, and add value – so write about things your customers and prospects want and need to hear about.
If you follow Lindsay’s best practices, you’ll be on your way to sending a newsletter that will grab the attention of your subscribers. After you’ve executed a few email newsletters, you can look at the results of how each performed and tweak your strategy to make it even more effective. Good luck!
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.