MarketingSherpa’s recent Exclusive Data: How to Design Your Newsletters – 5 New Action Charts provides an overview of some research NextStage recently published on (you guessed it) how to design newsletters for maximum ROI. You can learn more about and purchase the research paper on NextStage’s Consumer Research page.
This paper and the research behind it was one of those happy coincidences that happen so often in my life; I was curious about something, started researching it, discovered others were interested, voila! I want to share here some elements of that research that didn’t appear in the MarketingSherpa material.
PDAs, Smartphones, Treos, Blackberries, iPhones and the like
We isolated and analyzed over 100 factors in our research and the one thing that truly stood out was this; what subscribers first view an email newsletter on overshadows just about every other factor in email newsletter performance.
I don’t know if this is surprising to readers. It was one of those things that surprised me until I thought about it a minute or two. One thing that has become obvious in our studies is that any technology that economically places more power in the most people’s hands will thrive. PDAs, smartphones, etc., do just that. There are a lot of factors aligned with this and I don’t want to over simplify the research findings.
But let’s assume an email newsletter’s author(s) has correctly designed their newsletter for the small screen and knows some basic demographics about their audience. Assuming this to be true, the author(s) has placed power directly into the subscriber’s hands. Bang! You got them. In fact, subscribers who first opened a correctly designed email newsletter on a handheld device had a much higher confidence that the information provided in the newsletter had value than subscribers who first opened the newsletter on other devices.
Distribution Frequency and Dissatisfaction
Distribution frequency — how often is an email newsletter is published — plays directly into how quickly the author(s) will know if their newsletter is a success or not. It takes much longer for an email newsletter distributed once a month or once a quarter to fail than one distributed daily or weekly.
This may seem obvious and isn’t so. I’m using “time” as a function of publication cycles, not as a function of the clock here. An email newsletter that is distributed monthly, quarterly or even less often takes several more issues to fail than an email newsletter distributed weekly, daily or more often.
The reason has to do with what’s known as attention tunneling, something I’ve written about else where (see links below). Basically subscribers are investing time in the newsletter and the amount of that investment is perceived as much greater with daily, etc., newsletters than with monthly, etc., newsletters.
We’re currently considering developing a tool to evaluate email newsletters and email marketing campaigns for different audiences based on our research. Let me know if you’re interested.
Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.
Links for this post:
- Nothing New Under the Sun: Designing for the Small Screen, part 1
- Nothing New Under the Sun: Designing for the Small Screen, part 2
- Attention BizMediaScience blog posts
- Starting the discussion: Attention, Engagement, Authority, Influence, …
- Headlines That Attract Attention
- Defining Attention on Websites & Blogs
- Know Your Audience, and Reach It
- Focusing Your Customer’s Attention
- Get the attention you’re already paying for