We cover everything from finding the right mass email tool to writing fresh and engaging content for your subscribers!
Writing and curating a newsletter is not the easiest marketing strategy, so you might be wondering why businesses decide to invest their time and effort in newsletter marketing at all. Newsletters are not the type of marketing tool that will instantly garner positive metrics and sales, yet more and more businesses are rolling out their own newsletters every day.
Even though they are not the flashiest email marketing tool out there, in the long term, newsletter marketing is extremely effective for businesses of all sizes. The reason newsletters are so effective is because they gradually build a relationship with the recipient and provide them with updates beyond just discounts and new product launches.
When you write compelling content, your target audience will look forward to receiving the latest updates about your company. Additionally, you allow your audience to really get to know your brand without feeling like they are reading a sales pitch. The numbers don’t lie either—more businesses are launching newsletters because they create results, grow brand recognition, and increase brand loyalty.
Today we’re going to be showing you how to launch a successful first newsletter from your business! We’re exploring how you can find the right mass email software to send your messages and going over how you can create beautiful and compelling updates for your target audience. Are you ready to grow your business through newsletter marketing?
Step 1: Finding the Right Mass Email Tool to Launch Your Campaign
It is important to know how you are going to distribute your newsletter before you begin writing and design
Before you write a single word or start choosing a template for your first newsletter, you will need to find a mass email tool that you can use to send your messages. Mass email tools, also known as bulk email services, are powerful tools that allow users to send hundreds or even thousands of emails to their target audience. We strongly advise against sending out your first round of mass emails without a mass email tool. Should you try to send out your first newsletter without a bulk email service on your side, the results could be disastrous.
Why Use a Mass Email Service to Send Newsletters?
If you try to send out your newsletter without using a mass email tool, then it is highly likely your messages will be immediately sent to the spam folder. This will happen for two reasons—the first reason is that you are likely to exceed your daily message limit. For a service like Gmail—which is the most popular option for sending email newsletters—users are limited to 500 emails per day. If you accidentally exceed this limit, your messages will be flagged as spam and you will hurt your sender reputation. Once your address is flagged by Gmail, it becomes difficult to send any messages without being flagged as spam.
The second reason that your messages will get flagged as spam is due to the lack of personalization. Personalization is important for any type of mass email, but it is especially important for newsletter marketing. Email personalization is a practice of automatically inputting information from your address list into your messages. This practice is sometimes called a mail merge since you are merging your address list with your written message.
Using personalization, you can directly address the recipient in the subject line of your email, which leads to greater deliverability and open rates. Think about it—you are far more likely to open a message addressed with your name than you are to open an email that looks like it could be sent to anyone. If your newsletters feel too anonymous and lack personalization, users are more likely to report your address as spam which will also damage your sender reputation.
Finding the Right Mass Email Tool For Your Business
Now that we know why it is so important to use a mass email service to help you send out your first newsletter. When you are searching for a mass email tool to help you send out your messages, you should pay special attention to the following features:
Though these terms may sound foreign to the first-time email marketer, they are important features that you will need to use as you craft, send, and analyze your first campaign. So, while you are browsing for a mass email service, keep these terms in mind.
One of the great things about these services is that many of them have a limited free options. We recommend trying out a few of these mass email services and choosing the one that you feel is the easiest and most intuitive to use. Once you’ve found one that you feel comfortable using to send out your first newsletter, you can opt to purchase a premium plan with expanded features.
Step 2: Start Working on Your Newsletter Campaign Strategy
Once you’ve found your mass email tool, you are ready to start planning out your first newsletter
Now that you know how you are going to send out your first newsletter, it’s time to narrow down exactly what you want to say in your newsletter. Depending on your business, there are a lot of different subjects you can talk about. For example, if you run an eCommerce business, you might want to start a lifestyle newsletter that compliments and highlights your product. This creates a strong brand identity and positions your business as a thought leader in the industry. Your newsletter doesn’t always have to directly reference your marquee product or your business. It is often beneficial to avoid directly referencing your business so that your newsletter does not read like sales copy.
Once you’ve settled on what you want to say, the next step in establishing a strategy is to determine how often you want to send your newsletter. We advise against sending out a newsletter too often to avoid annoying your subscribers.
Most newsletters are sent out somewhere between once a week and once a month. Again, the frequency of your emails will depend on your industry and the subject matter that you choose to write about. If your industry has frequent updates, then it may warrant a weekly newsletter. However, for most industries, a monthly newsletter works just fine.
Step 3: Building and Managing Your Address List
Your address list is your most important asset for sending out your first newsletter
To start your newsletter, you need to have a list of email addresses ready to go. Without a well-organized list of addresses, sending out a newsletter is nearly impossible. But, how can you collect addresses and other information for your newsletter address list? Let’s take a look at a few key strategies you can use to start cultivating your audience:
Contests – Holding a contest is a great way to gather addresses from your target audience. Encourage your audience to sign up for a chance to win one of your products or services and use the information they provide to start building your address list in a Google sheet.
Pop-Up Forms – Another easy way to start building your address list is by setting up a pop-up form on your website. When users visit your site, they will be prompted to enter their email address and any other relevant information to receive updates from your business.
Social Media – Many people have their email addresses and other basic information like first and last names publicly available on social media. If you have a social media account for your business with a decent following, you can use information that is publicly available on individual profiles to build your address list.
One aspect of list building that we want to address is purchasing address lists. We highly advise against purchasing address lists as these are often illegitimate, out-of-date, and can get your address flagged as spam.
Step 4: Start Planning Out Your Newsletter Content and Design Elements
Start brainstorming content that your target audience will look forward to reading each time they receive your newsletter
Now that we’ve established how you are going to send your newsletter and gathered some addresses, it’s time to start writing and designing the newsletter. Your first newsletter is important as it will set the tone for future newsletters to come and should engage your readers so that they are interested in more content from your business in the future.
Choosing a Newsletter Template
The first thing you need to get started is a newsletter template. Unless you are a capable graphic designer, you will likely need to start with a newsletter template and customize your first draft from there. Depending on the mass email service that you choose to send your newsletter, it may have some templates and design features built-in that you can use to get started.
When choosing a template, make sure that you choose something that you can easily integrate with your brand including color choice, logos, links, video embeds, and any other design elements you envision for your newsletter.
Establishing a Content Strategy
The next step in creating your newsletter is to decide on a content strategy. The key to writing compelling content is to consider your audience first. Who is your audience? Why are they subscribing to your newsletter? What kind of content do they want/expect from your business? After asking yourself these questions, you can get started brainstorming your content based on your answers.
When you are getting started, you should gather as many ideas as possible so that you can plan out your content a few months in advance. You don’t want to fall behind on your newsletters just because you are stumped for content ideas!
We also highly recommend keeping all of your content as timely and as relevant as possible. If there are news stories or trending topics that apply to your industry, you can plan your content around these updates.
If you run an eCommerce business, you should take advantage of major holidays as a way to showcase your product and give your audience ideas for how your product can be used all year round. For example, if you are running a newsletter for a local flower shop, you should send out a newsletter about the best types of flowers to get your mom for Mother’s Day or a similar topic. By timing your newsletters with current events and holidays, you can ensure that your newsletters are always relevant to your recipients.
If you are truly stumped when it comes to content ideas, there are resources online you can consult for newsletter topic ideas. Just be sure that you are injecting your brand identity into every subject and you will be well on your way to writing compelling content for your target audience.
Elements of a Successful Newsletter
When you begin writing your newsletter, there are a lot of different aspects you need to consider. Sure, you need to draft your copy for the body of your email based on your established content strategy, but there are other aspects of your message that are just as important as your body copy. The elements you need to pay special attention to are as follows:
A compelling CTA that instructs your recipient on how you want them to interact with your message
A footer that includes an unsubscribe option for your readers
These are all critical elements that every email newsletter should have, so don’t send out your first message without including the aforementioned elements. It may sound counterintuitive to include an unsubscribe option for your newsletter, but it is in your best interest. If you don’t give your audience the option to unsubscribe, they will report your message as spam which hurts your sender reputation.
Step 5: Execute a Mail Merge and Test Your First Email Newsletter
You’re almost there! Only a few more steps and you’re ready to launch your campaign!
Now that you have designed and written your message, you are almost ready to hit send. But, before you hit send, you need to initiate a mail merge with your address list and make sure all elements of your newsletter function correctly. A mail merge is what allows you to personalize your message. When you start a mail merge using your mass email service, the information from your address list, including each individual address and any other personalization elements, is automatically placed in your messages.
Once the mail merge is complete, you need to test your messages to make sure there were no errors in personalization, formatting, links, or any other elements of your newsletter. This might just be the most important step of the whole process since you can unsend messages and you certainly don’t want to have to follow up with a correction. Test your message by sending a message to a colleague or to yourself to verify everything is working as it should. Be sure to check both desktop and mobile formatting, too! These days, most people check their email on their smartphone as opposed to a desktop, so it is super important you make sure that everything in your messages shows up correctly on mobile.
Once you’ve tested your first newsletter without issue, you’re ready to send out your first newsletter as a part of your campaign! However, when you hit send your work is far from over. After your messages are sent and your audience begins to interact, you can use your mass email service to pull reports on how your campaign is performing. From there you can improve your newsletter and continue to grow your address list as you gain more subscribers. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro at writing and sending newsletters!
But equity rounds aren’t the only way for a company to raise money — alternative and other non-dilutive financing options are often overlooked. Taking on debt might be the right solution when you’re focused on growth and can see clear ROI from the capital you deploy.
Not all capital providers are equal, so seeking financing isn’t just about securing capital. It’s a matter of finding the right source of funding that matches both your business and your roadmap.
Here are four things you should consider:
Does this match my needs?
It’s easy to take for granted, but securing financing begins with a business plan. Don’t seek funding until you have a clear plan for how you’ll use it. For example, do you need capital to fund growth or for your day-to-day operations? The answer should influence not only the amount of capital you seek, but the type of funding partner you look for as well.
Start with a concrete plan and make sure it aligns with the structure of your financing:
Match repayment terms to your expected use of the debt.
Balance working capital needs with growth capital needs.
It’s understandable to hope for a one-and-done financing process that sets the next round far down the line, but that may be costlier than you realize in the long run.
Your term of repayment must be long enough so you can deploy the capital and see the returns. If it’s not, you may end up making loan payments with the principal.
Say, for example, you secure funding to enter a new market. You plan to expand your sales team to support the move and develop the cash flow necessary to pay back the loan. The problem here is, the new hire will take months to ramp up.
If there’s not enough delta between when you start ramping up and when you begin repayments, you’ll be paying back the loan before your new salesperson can bring in revenue to allow you to see ROI on the amount you borrowed.
Another issue to keep in mind: If you’re financing operations instead of growth, working capital requirements may reduce the amount you can deploy.
Let’s say you finance your ad spending and plan to deploy $200,000 over the next four months. But payments on the MCA loan you secured to fund that spending will eat into your revenue, and the loan will be further limited by a minimum cash covenant of $100,000. The result? You secured $200,000 in financing but can only deploy half of it.
With $100,000 of your financing kept in a cash account, only half the loan will be used to drive operations, which means you’re not likely to meet your growth target. What’s worse, as you’re only able to deploy half of the loan, your cost of capital is effectively double what you’d planned for.
Is this the right amount for me at this time?
The second consideration is balancing how much capital you need to act on your near-term goals against what you can reasonably expect to secure. If the funding amount you can get is not enough to move the needle, it might not be worth the effort required.
Elon Musk said Sunday he “somewhat agonized” over the font designs for his companies Tesla and SpaceX.
The billionaire businessman added he “loves fonts” and has tweaked the logos over the years.
He revealed the SpaceX logo also holds a hidden meaning, representing a rocket’s arc to orbit.
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In a series of Sunday tweets, Elon Musk said he “somewhat agonized” over his choice of fonts for his businesses and revealed a hidden meaning behind the SpaceX logo.
Responding to a tweet about serif and sans-serif fonts, the billionaire businessman took a break from posting cryptic memes and discussing politics to say he loves fonts and put significant consideration into how his companies are presented to consumers.
“I somewhat agonized over the Tesla & SpaceX font design (love fonts tbh),” Musk tweeted. “There are some similarities, particularly use of negative space. We’ve made many little tweaks over the years.”
The Tesla logo — a T-shaped design with a custom, sans-serif font spelling out the brand name — is meant to resemble a cross-section of an electric motor. The SpaceX logo, written in a similar font with an extended X, references the reusable rockets made by the company.
“The swoop of the X is meant to represent the rocket’s arc to orbit,” Musk tweeted.
Other business logos have also held hidden messages: Baskin Robbins, a chain that sells 31 flavors of ice cream, has a secret ’31’ hidden in the letters of its logo. Likewise, Amazon’s arrow logo is meant to represent a smile, while the circular ‘B’ logo for Beats by Dre represents a person wearing the popular headphones.
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The internet has revolutionized the business world and changed how we conduct business. Any business that aims to increase its visibility and boost profit needs to pay much attention to top ranking factors, including local SEO — which introduces the topic of the local search algorithm.
Local SEO is one of the top practices that help boost a business’s visibility and generates more sales.
However, achieving better local SEO rankings is not a walk in the park, especially due to increased competition. To appear higher on local results, businesses and marketers need to understand how the local search algorithm works.
Knowing this helps guide the steps for improving rankings in the local pack.
The competition gets stiffer as more businesses open and optimize for local searching. Besides, Google is updating its algorithm consistently, meaning only businesses that can keep up with these updates can appear at the top of local search results.
Luckily, you have come to this post as this article looks at everything you need to know about Google’s local search algorithm and what you can do to get that top spot in the local pack.
Understanding the local search algorithm
Google aims to provide the best results that match a specific local search query. It constantly updates the local search algorithm to determine which business to rank on top of local search results.
Ideally, Google wants to provide local content that is relevant and valuable to users. As with search engine optimization, keyword stuffing cannot give you that top spot in local search results.
SEO specialists and marketers should consider Google’s local search algorithm updates and make the necessary changes to rank higher. Failure to consider these updates means losing your local search presence, resulting in fewer leads and conversions.
Local algorithms check the Google My Business (GMB) listings to determine where to rank a business in local search rankings.
Ideally, Google’s local algorithm ranks businesses with information that matches a searcher’s query. And the higher a business ranks in local search results, the more chances a potential customer will click on it.
This post looks at the three major pillars that determine local search results to better understand the local search algorithm: proximity, prominence and relevance.
Of course, other factors make up Google’s local search algorithm, but since we cannot identify all of them, we’ll focus on the most crucial ones in this post.
By understanding these pillars, marketers can better position themselves for local search success.
Proximity is one of the major ranking factors when it comes to local search. That means the distance between a business and a searcher is a ranking factor in local search.
When a searcher searches for something, Google considers how far the searcher is from the location of the term they use in the search. When a searcher doesn’t specify the location, Google calculates the distance based on the information they have regarding their location.
Ideally, Google aims to provide the most relevant results to a search query. For instance, why would Google provide a list of coffee shops in Los Angeles if the searcher is searching from Colombia?
That would be irrelevant local search results that won’t benefit the searcher.
Unfortunately, while proximity is a major local search pillar, it’s one of the factors that businesses have little control over. After all, you cannot change where your business is located, right?
You can only ensure your business location is as clear as possible, so that it appears for related nearby queries. Here are steps you can take to achieve this:
Claim and verify the Google My Business listing
Ensure local listings are accurate and optimized for local products or services
Get the Google Maps API Key and optimize for your location and routes
Set up your profile correctly (for Service Area Businesses) to avoid violating Google’s guidelines
Users can perform several types of local searches, including:
Users will perform geo-modified searches when they are planning to visit somewhere. For instance, a searcher in Los Angeles planning to visit Toronto, Canada, may search for a “coffee shop in Oakville.” The results will differ from if they searched for “coffee” while physically in Oakville.
To be specific, geo-modified searches are mainly based on relevance and prominence as opposed to proximity when a user searches for something when outside the city included in the search.
Searchers perform this type of search when looking for something around them. For instance, a user in Los Angeles performing a local search for “coffee.”
Ideally, the user only needs to search for something and is shown results based on proximity. They will get the results that are closest to them.
“Near me” searches
“Near me” searches have been so popular in recent years. Although their popularity has significantly declined, users still perform this type of search when looking for something locally.
For instance, some users could add “near me” when searching for a coffee shop, hoping to get the most relevant results near them. As we’ve stated, this trend has lost popularity because when you perform a local search, you are searching for something near you.
It is not necessary to add “near me” to what you’re searching.
Prominence refers to how important Google thinks your business is, which gets factored into the local search algorithm.
In other words, it refers to how well a business stands from the rest in various aspects, including directories, links, reviews, mentions, among other things.
If search engines view your business as trustworthy and credible, they will likely show it on top of related search query results.
The local search algorithm views businesses/brands with a stronger online prominence as credible and trustworthy. Some of the factors that determine prominence include:
A local citation is the mention of a business’s information online. The mention can include the partial or complete name, address, and phone number (NAP) of a local business.
Citations are an excellent way for people to learn about local businesses and impact local search results.
A business with high-quality citations can rank better in local search results, although businesses must continually manage citations to ensure data accuracy.
Backlinks play a crucial role in local business prominence. Gaining relevant backlinks from high-quality sites is an excellent way to build a business’ online reputation.
If you’re trying to outrank your competitors without much success, your backlink profile could be the reason.
In that case, you should check your competitor’s backlinks and compare them with yours. When doing this, pay attention to the number and quality of their backlinks.
As a rule of thumb, aim to have high-quality local backlinks pointing to your site to improve your page’s authority.
Next, you need to pay much attention to reviews to improve local prominence. Many customers look at a business’s online reviews before deciding whether to engage more with the business or not. Besides, many positive online reviews can increase a business’ ranking factors.
Consider this scenario. A potential customer is looking for a pub around Oakville. When they perform a search, they are presented with two results: one with over 100 reviews and another with less than 10 reviews.
Which business do you think the searcher would trust? The one with 100 reviews, obviously.
As with search engines, customers need to trust a business before they decide to do business with it. Similarly, search engines can view online reviews and analyze them to determine a business’s online prominence.
That said, here are strategies you can use to boost your online review signals:
Have a strategy
You won’t have a strong online prominence if your products or services are not of a high standard. So, the first step to having many great reviews is to develop great products and services.
After that, develop a strategy to encourage your happy customers to leave honest but valuable reviews of their experience doing business with you to help boost your online reputation.
Monitor and manage the reviews
Having many reviews is one thing; you need to develop a plan to engage with your customers for better results. Responding to reviews shows people that you care and are genuine about your products and services.
People will avoid businesses that don’t respond to customer reviews (whether positive or negative).
Search engines, too, can tell whether you engage with customer reviews or not and will use the information to determine where to rank on local search results.
When responding to online reviews, pay special attention to negative reviews and how you respond to them. While no business likes getting negative reviews, how you respond to them can positively impact your business — respond positively to turn the negative reviews around.
As earlier stated, Google wants to provide the most relevant results to a local search query. This key ranking factor will determine a business’s position in local search results — how well does a local business match a search query?
Even if your business ticks the above pillars (prominence and proximity), if the content on your page isn’t well structured and doesn’t cover the topics that a searcher is looking for, you won’t appear on top of local search results.
Here are factors that businesses should consider to create a relevant listing:
Local page signals
Local listing categories and attributes
Social posts and responses to online reviews
Local listing signals and categories
A business GMB listing and category can impact its relevance score for local searches. As such, complete your business profile carefully and continually add quality content to the web page to ensure it is relevant for proximity searches.
More specifically, ensure that all information on all listing pages, including Yelp, Bing, and Google, is complete and accurate. Aside from these factors, here are two crucial features you should pay attention to:
Selecting the right categories for your local business listing is among the crucial factors for ranking locally. With over 4000 GMB categories, you want to choose categories that best describe your business — ensure they are relevant and specific.
Here are guidelines to follow when selecting a category:
Describe your business as opposed to your services
Be specific to minimize competition
Reduce the number of GMB categories to describe your business better
Without a proper description, users won’t know what your business is about. This section is about adding an introduction to your business so that customers and search engines can know more about your business.
However, don’t use this section for marketing your business. Just give users and search engines descriptive info that can help determine whether your business matches their needs.
Local page signals
Another way a business can improve its standing in the local search algorithm is by optimizing web pages for specific keywords. For multi-location businesses, it’s essential to have separate, localized pages for each location, with relevant information and contact details for customers to reach you.
Performing competitor research is advisable to determine what terms or keywords to use for a specific query. Here are top on-page signals to consider when trying to gain relevance for a given topic:
Keyword research — Before creating local content, you need to find keywords that matter to your business. Perform keyword research to determine highly relevant keywords with high intent. When finding relevant terms to use in your content, base your research on the customer perspective; think about what they search for and the type of content they are looking for.
Create local content — After finding the right keywords, it’s time to create your content. Google values the quality of content more than the length of the content, so keep this in mind when creating content. Another crucial thing to pay attention to is localizing the content. For example, you can create content on local news and events or use your city’s name within your content.
The goal is to create a connection between what’s happening in your local area and your business. Also, use pictures with your specific geolocation to increase your content relevance.
Creating quality and relevant content is only the start. You need to optimize your content for on-page signals so local search algorithms can discover and rank them better. Here’s how you can optimize your local content for on-page signals:
Meta descriptions — Include keywords in your meta descriptions to encourage searchers to click through and increase visibility
Title tags — Title tags are some of the factors that search engines use to determine where to rank content. Incorporating keywords naturally in your title tags can help boost local rankings
Image tags — Another way to improve local rankings is by including relevant keywords in your image tags. Including geotags also comes with an added advantage
Headings — Users and Google value pages with clear structures. Consider creating headings within your content to capture readers’ attention and encourage them to read on. However, ensure your heading tags describe the content that comes after them well. Also, include keywords in your heading tags to help search engines understand them and their importance.
Off-page local signals
Gaining high-quality backlinks is a great way to boost credibility and trust. Backlinks refer to external links from another website to your site. Aim to have more high-quality backlinks to boost your website authority.
Ideally, having many quality backlinks shows search engines that your website or page is credible and trustworthy, which boosts the chances of ranking it higher in search engine results.
Guest posting is one of the best examples of link-building strategies you can use. Finding great guest posting opportunities provides an excellent opportunity to share your content to a new but relevant audience, which helps boost your website authority.
Another strategy you can use is to create longer and better content than what is already available on the web. When your content is high quality and relevant, it will be easier to get high-quality backlinks.
Review and social signals
Online reviews can also help boost relevance for your local business. Aim to get as many positive reviews from your happy customers as possible.
Remember, when customers perform a local search, they get not only the relevant businesses but also reviews related to the search. The more positive reviews a business has, the higher chances a potential customer will do business with them.
Closing thoughts on the local search algorithm
Ranking on top of local search results can seem daunting, but it shouldn’t when you know the vital things to focus on. As you have seen above, the local algorithm is based on three pillars: relevance, proximity, and prominence.
Of course, other factors determine local search rankings depending on your industry and competition.