Seven Ways to Refresh Your Newsletter It's time to revitalize your e-mail marketing campaigns--consider it spring cleaning.

By Gail Goodman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Spring is a time of renewal for yourself, your home, your lawn and garden--and your business marketing, too. Could your newsletters use a little spring cleaning? You bet.

Here are seven ways to re-evaluate, refresh and revitalize your e-mail marketing communications.

  1. Buff up your brand. Make sure your brand image and message are presented consistently in your e-mail communications and across all media--online and offline--and that your products, services and employees live up to that brand promise. Check to see if you're including your logo in all your communications. If not, add it.
  2. Polish your design. Put a fresh, critical eye on your e-mail newsletter design. Is it professional and inviting? Does it pop and make you want to read it? Ask yourself (and a few trusted family members, friends and colleagues) these questions, and make adjustments where needed:
    • Do your newsletter colors and fonts match your website, signage and print materials?
    • Would more photos, graphics or white space make your newsletter more visually appealing?
    • Are you using simple, universal fonts that are easy to read (and that will display in any e-mail client)?
    • Is it easy for readers to scan the newsletter to find what they want?
    • Are your articles short and digestible? Do you link readers back to your website to continue reading longer stories?
    • Does your newsletter contain calls to action via links that redirect to your website?
    • Do you create a text-only version of the newsletter for users who block graphics, or who read their messages predominantly on mobile devices?
    • Does your template provide spaces for the different types of content you want to publish (e.g., table of contents, feature articles, short hints and tips, promotional ads, coupons)?
  3. Refresh your content. Think beyond the message you want to convey to customers, instead focus on what they want to read more about from you. Here are a few ways to keep your finger on the pulse of your market and your industry, as you energize your newsletter content:
    • In a survey, ask subscribers what they want to learn more about in future issues. Give them a list of potential topics from which to pick.
    • Ask readers to submit questions about your business, products, or services. Answer the questions in a future newsletter.
    • Invite readers to contribute content (e.g., testimonials, success stories, challenges, creative problem-solving).
    • Reward readers whose questions or stories are selected for publication with a small branded gift. Everyone loves recognition (and a freebie).
    • Ask other industry experts for permission to feature their content in your newsletters. Or do a Q&A interview with a book author, colleague, or another thought leader.
    • Become an aggregator of "news you can use!" Include links to thought-provoking news articles, white papers, blog posts, etc., related to your field. (Social media sites are another place to do this; you can involve your fans and followers in a dialogue.)
  4. Shake out your reports and statistics. Look at the open rates and click-through statistics from your campaign reports to see what's working and what's not so you can identify patterns, test new ideas, and make adjustments in your campaigns. Evaluate the effectiveness of elements such as subject lines, call-to-action links, and the day/time campaigns are sent. There's a story in your reports and statistics. It's worth reading--and using to improve your tactics.
  5. Clean up your mailing lists. Look at your reporting data for spam reports, bounces, blocking, unsubscribes, address changes, etc. Identify problems or items that need attention, and get them fixed. Remove the addresses of people who haven't opened your messages in a year. Once your primary mailing list is in order, you can segment your list into groups based on customer interests.
  6. Invite new sign-ups for your mailing lists. Ask customers to join your mailing list wherever you meet them--online, offline, in stores, over the phone, and on printed materials. And if you haven't waded into the social networking waters yet, now is a fine time to start promoting your e-mail newsletter on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  7. Host a Spring open house. Now is the time to show off your business. Host a customer appreciation event, a fundraiser, a "meet your neighbors" mixer co-hosted with other businesses, or some other gathering where you can connect with customers face-to-face. Use e-mail marketing to promote your event.

Smart e-mail marketers regularly analyze their campaigns and look for ways to improve. They're not afraid to try new things. The idea is to use all the tools at your disposal to enhance your e-mail marketing efforts and build stronger customer relationships. Start by giving your e-mail campaigns a good pruning this spring--and your business or organization may reap the rewards of a more fruitful year.

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Gail Goodman is the author of Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Wins In a Socially Connected World (Wiley, 2012) and CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based Constant Contact Inc., a provider of email marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, local deal and online survey tools and services for small businesses, associations and nonprofits.

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