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Four Must-Haves for E-Newsletters

Looking for ideas on how to stand-out in your customers' inboxes? Want to know how to make the most of your email marketing, increase your open rate and clicks, and lower unsubcribes?

Review our checklist of four must-haves for all e-newsletters to amplify your messaging and get a greater ROI.

Must-have #1:
Make your purpose clear

The reason you're sending the e-newsletter should be clear, starting in the subject line. Plan your content to focus on the key message you want to communicate.

Don't bury the reason for sending the e-newsletter. Hierarchy is important when choosing what to put where in your e-newsletter. Keep in mind what the users will see when they first open the e-mail. Make sure you grab them and convince them to keep scrolling.

Must-have #2:
Provide relevant information

Make sure the information you're sending is valuable to your audience. To stay focused with your content, it may not be possible for you to send a single, one-size fits all e-newsletter to your entire readership. In this case, take advantage of list segmentation and adjust your sending plan accordingly.

 Brevity is your friend. Remember, the e-newsletter should serve only as a teaser to more information on your website. You don't need to tell them everything in the body of your message. Edit and thoughtfully curate what information you do provide.

When in doubt about including an item, ask yourself: Would I want to read this news or information? If the answer is no, re-evaluate the necessity for its inclusion. Less is more.

Must-have #3:
Design using an easy-to-scan—and read—format

Keep it simple. Use a thoughtful color palette that helps guide your readers through the publication. Your readers are busy. Make sure your design—no matter if the platform is a desktop browser or mobile—makes the content shine.

Develop a template and don't be afraid to incorporate white space as appropriate. Forget about including animated gifs and Flash. Don't embed video. Use only beautiful, relevant imagery so your message isn't mistaken for spam.

Must-have #4:
Be professional

There are no set standards for sending an e-newsletter, but these elements are key to every good e-newsletter:
  • View online link,
  • One-click opt-out/subscription change link, and
  • Clearly identified, recognizable sender e-mail.

Strategically Social: & Pinterest

Strategically Social: & Pinterest
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Most of the time when companies and organizations think about diving into social networking as part of their online marketing strategy, it's these three big names that often come up first.

"Strategically Social" is TBH Creative's new series of reoccurring social media case studies. We'll look at groups successfully implementing smart social technology strategies in unique ways. Though some ventures into social media fail—like Mashable being banned from using question-and-answer website Quora, we're going to highlight success stories.

Adding value to your website with video tutorials

People connect to people. It's why simple instructional videos for everything from how to put your hair up in a messy bun to how to change a bicycle tire are so popular.

What's your expertise? Identify the areas where you are a pro and create video tutorials to drive traffic to your website and engage your audience. Well-done video tutorials strengthen personal connections by providing useful information and training. Unlike sales pitch videos, helpful video tutorials connect you and your company—as an authoritative, friendly mentor—to your clients and customers informally.

When planning videos and developing scripts, identify what topics are of the most interest to your audience. A good starting point for this brainstorming is to review your FAQ and consult customer service staff. Thorough preparations and attention to details pay off. Good advance planning will help you appear calm on camera. Keep the medium in mind, though, and plan each video to focus on one key lesson. To keep your audience's attention, try to limit each tutorial's run-time to between three to seven minutes, any longer and your video becomes more of a lecture than a quick guide.

The same rules for making a good news report apply for developing your video tutorial. Journalist Donna Davis gives her seven hints for using powerful storytelling in videos. For more advice read xTrain teacher Jeremy Vest's tips for making video tutorials.

Google's +1 button: What you should know about the latest in social search

Google's +1 button
Last Wednesday Google launched its version of Facebook "like" button. Called the +1 button, this new guide to help you self-curate richer, more relevant content based on recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues. The idea is that users will "+1" something as an instant, online endorsement if a link is worth checking out.

You may have already noticed these public stamps of approval peppering your Google search results. Some websites, including industry leader Mashable, have incorporated Google's +1 button onto its stories.

Connected to your personal Google profile, if you +1 a story on Mashable, this information that you gave the story your approval will appear next to the story's link in search results when your contacts look for it online. Watch Google's simple explanatory video below for an illustrated example of how this works.

Any web publisher can add the Google +1 button to their website. Still very new, the +1 button's importance in terms of SEO and ranking in Google search results is yet to be seen, but preference indicators as a part of social search is here to stay.

In the first announcement of this new feature, Google's Google’s David Byttow said:
“We’ll also start to look at +1’s as one of the many signals we use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, including social signals from other services. For +1′s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality over time.”

Visit Google's customization page to get started adding the Google +1 virtual "thumbs up" tool to content on your website.

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