Introducing Levitate HTML Newsletters: What To Keep In Mind To Keep-In-Touch Effectively

Virginia Townsend
March 23, 2021

Ready to complement your personal email strategy with our new HTML Newsletter feature? Read this first!

Since day one, the team at Levitate has been committed to making data-driven decisions--especially when enhancing our application. We’ve looked at the numbers, studied the trends, and continuously found plain-text emails compelling for relationship-based marketing. 

When surveyed, many people say they prefer HTML emails with more images than text. However, most A/B testing shows that plain-text emails have higher open and click-through rates. Why is that?  For one, HTML can hinder deliverability in certain scenarios, so a plain-text strategy mitigates your risk of landing in either the spam folder or Promotions tab.  Once opened, plain-text emails also have a unique ability to look and feel like a truly personal message, whereas no one ever thinks a newsletter was written just for them.  Their simple, straightforward format works on any device--a concern you’ll have to contend with when working with HTML.

Still, HTML emails have advantages when done correctly. If you want to invest in the branding and appearance of your email and do not expect the person receiving it to feel as though it was sent to them personally, HTML becomes a nice option.  Click tracking is another benefit. If in lieu of direct replies, you’d like to see how many people are clicking on specific pieces of contact or calls-to-action, an HTML email may be your best bet.  Studies have shown that they perform best when sent to a broad audience for contests, event promotion, new company or service updates, etc. 

With Levitate, you now have the best of both worlds--we’re excited to announce the launch of our HTML Newsletter feature!  

Don’t worry; you will not see us abandoning our less is more, quality over quantity approach to personal email marketing.  To help you identify the best opportunities for HTML and what to keep in mind, we put together a few tips to help you navigate your options!

  1. Evaluate whether HTML is the right format for your content.

Sadly, many people have come to equate “email marketing” with HTML-based emails--and “the newsletter” as the one reason to reach out to your clients every month or quarter.  

At Levitate, we believe in letting your thoughtfully-selected content guide your strategy.  If you want to send a simple, personal check-in with your network, a plain-text, personal email is still your best bet.  Clients are not only more likely to see it in their Primary inbox and therefore open it, but they’re more likely to feel like you personally thought of them.

However, if your content is not intended to look or sound like a true one-to-one email, HTML is a way to incorporate graphics and implement more of your branding.  Consider it, for example, for these types of scenarios:

  • A real estate agency wants to promote 10 of its most recent listings to its buyer and seller contacts 
  • A financial advisor wants to share a market update with clients, and include some graphs and visuals
  • An insurance agency has published several new blog articles and wants to drive web traffic to them

  1.  Follow “The Golden Rule” of Keep-in-Touch marketing.

We see it again and again--clients who have turned the newsletter into a dreaded staff chore that must be tended to every month or quarter.  Don’t let this happen to you!

If you have sent HTML-based newsletters in the past, first look at the data.  What were your open, reply, and click-through rates?  With 2020 average email open rates around 18%, the mass-blast email marketing benchmarks are still considerably lower than the kind of results you will see with personal, plain-text approaches.

If your open rates fell in that range and your audience was not engaged with your content, it’s time to rethink what you’re sending them.  Do not force yourself to send content on an arbitrary schedule--your audience can see that.  Instead, wait for the right opportunities to reach out -- an important tax season update, a new service your company is offering, legislation that may impact them, a national holiday you’d like to commemorate, a birthday.  Then choose your format.  This article has some great tips for finding valuable reasons to connect.

If in doubt, keep it out.  Or, as our CEO likes to call “The Golden Rule”: Don’t send anything you wouldn’t want to receive in your own inbox.

  1. Reconsider using HTML for holiday emails.

We know, we know--it’s hard to believe that plain-text-based emails perform better when you see just how pretty the pros can make an HTML email look.  After sending millions of holiday emails through our platform, however, we can attest that they simply feel more personal that way.  

Take, for example, these 4th of July emails.  When your client receives an email like the first example from you--your name, your signature--with a personal message and fun drink recipe, there is somehow no comparing it to any HTML-based alternative.  Yes, using HTML would make it look more like what a national corporation would send out.  But for many of the small businesses we work with, that’s not a good thing (!).  With plain-text, you get to play to your advantage of keeping your communication personal, authentic, and relationship-based--you’ll find your proof in the form of replies.

  1.  Go easy on sales content.

With the introduction of graphics, it’s tempting to turn an HTML-based email into an advertisement.  Steer clear of this temptation and be sure to balance any overt sales-oriented content with educational components--try to follow the 90% educational, 10% sales-oriented rule if you can. 

When what you have to say appears relevant and timely to your audience, they’re more likely to stick around and read through what you’ve created.  As this Zapier article puts it, “emails should serve the customer, not the product.”

  1. Keep your design and copy clean.

The Levitate “less is more” philosophy applies to HTML as well--keep your design clean and copy short, wherever possible.  The average office worker receives 121 emails a day and spends an average of 13 seconds reading each one.  Include a link to any longer content (a blog post, for instance), so they can click to read more. 

The good news for Levitate clients? We’ve got you covered!  Our best-in-class content library now features customizable, professional HTML-based templates that you can make all your own.  

  1. Always be testing!

With the launch of our HTML newsletter feature comes the addition of click tracking in your Group Email Reports.  Every time you send an HTML-based newsletter, you can now see not only who opened and replied to your emails, but what content they clicked on within the body of your email.  Take note of what content your audience found the most engaging to improve your next send.

We also always recommend testing out subject lines to see what resonates most with your audience.  Mix it up between sends, if you can--sometimes the simplest changes can lead to significant results.

Ready to send out your first newsletter? Check out this article in our Knowledge Base for a guided tutorial--and let your Marketing Coach know if you need a hand!

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