While we talk an awful lot about email-type communications being overwhelming and bombarding, we are huge fans of newsletters. They are a great way to aggregate a lot of information and cut down on multiple emails.
They also enable you to relay important information to Channel Partners regarding your solutions, program, resources and other offerings. Unfortunately, they are losing effectiveness as Partners are now working with anywhere from 5 – 25 Vendors which means as many newsletters. In those cases, the volume of incoming information from co-workers, Vendors, customers, prospects, solicitors, and others can be overwhelming. I don’t know about you but I don’t read a newsletter if the rest of my inbox is out of control unless there is something incredibly useful in it.
We know this is one of your great challenges, how do you engage Partners using a newsletter when they’re already bombarded? When we help Vendors like you develop newsletters and we suggest using targeted and customized best practices for developing them in ways that engage Channel Partners.
Let’s take a look at a few of our suggested strategies…
1. Be aesthetically pleasing, white space isn’t bad!
At the core, design is visual communication and there is little doubt about its power to impact user experience. In the case of newsletters, user experience drives Partners to open, read and digest your information and believe it or not, color plays a big role in newsletter UX. Using colors to your advantage is a complicated topic but this article from Canva does a great job of explaining the pros and cons of different colors and typefaces including this color wheel that defines cultural interpretations of colors by geography:
2. Be unique
When we redesigned and developed the Channel Maven Consulting newsletter template, we wanted it to stand out. We chose to mimic an old-fashioned, 3-column snail-mail newsletter. Retro right?!?
Newsletters are typically sent to multiple roles within a Partner organization. This makes sense considering the resources required to create individual newsletters per role. However, technical engineers are likely not interested in marketing announcements and vice versa so what can you do?
Remedy: Build a newsletter template with call-out areas by role and keep the design consistent. Doing so helps the reader more quickly find information pertaining to them and skim content that’s nonessential to their role.
Tip: Some roles have more time for newsletters than others. For example, salespeople tend to be short on time so put their section at the top. The technical audience is very detail oriented so they’re more likely to read to the bottom. Then color-code the sections to pull the eye and establish consistency.
4. Make it easy… for users
In order to engage Channel Partners, newsletter layouts need to be intuitive. Call out sections by roles and strategic use of color helps but it’s not all you can do.
A few more logistics to try:
Put a table of contents at the top or in a sidebar with anchor links to newsletter sections
Use white space liberally so the page isn’t chaotic
Create headlines, short snippets and “read more” links
Include pictures. They’re worth a thousand words and help break up text
Highlight active promos and launches (more than the upcoming ones)
Include topics that generate revenue for Partners and accompanying links to supporting portal assets
Focus on Partners and what they need more than what you want from them
5. Finally… (drum roll please) metrics
At the end of the day, every Partner organization is unique and every Vendor has different but similar challenges with To-Partner communications. Opens, clicks-through and other metrics can be obtained fairly easily and when used to inform the future, they are powerful for driving engagement.
Understanding metrics like these are critical:
By role, who opens your newsletters most?
Which links perform the best?
Have you A/B tested subject lines?
Do certain days or times net better results?
Creating engaging newsletters follows the same principals as any other piece of content. They have to be well written, interesting and most importantly, focused on relevant topics that address the needs of the audience.