What All Marketers Can Learn From InVision’s Email Newsletter
After working in the world of inbound marketing for two years, the amount of newsletters and blog notifications I receive every day has become understandably overwhelming. And I’m not one to mindlessly sign up for every newsletter I see.
I enjoy great content and learning new things, but let’s be honest: I don’t make enough time for myself to read all the emails and articles that come through my inbox. So what do I do? I hover over the subject lines and delete the ones I have no interest in opening.
But the InVision newsletter is unique to me. I get a new one every week, and every time I do, I honestly moan a little. Why? ‘Cause for sure I’m gonna get sucked in by at least five of the nine pieces of content they promote. I know I’m going to waste some of my work time, but I also know I’m going to love what I’m reading, so I struggle a bit inwardly, trying to plan when I know I’ll have a long enough break to dive in and really absorb the great knowledge they present.
As a designer, their content is addictive. And compared to the three to five other newsletters that I may have deleted without much thought, I kept this particular newsletter because I know its content is worth keeping.
What is the distribution of this newsletter that makes it so captivating and effective? Even if you’re not a designer, you can still learn from what they do.
Anatomy 101 Newsletter
Each InVision newsletter has approximately 11-14 sections or blocks, broken down as follows:
- Six to nine pieces of content, usually blogs or videos
- A webinar or a tool, something more promotional
- A Marketplace promotion
- A highlight of the city “On the Grid”
- A weekly Dribbble shot
- A favorite design links section
It’s a lot, but it’s also consistent and each type of content block has a purpose. These blocks can be broken down into the following three divisions, each with its own functions:
1. Varied Content Offerings
Not everyone understands or digests information in the same way. We all have our own unique content appetites. This means that if we – as marketers – want to give our audience what they are looking for, we need to be able to showcase a wider range of content types.
Remember, you diligent students of inbound marketing, don’t offer content that is outside what your audience is looking for. Just because you could writing a great blog about why corgis are the superstars of the internet doesn’t mean it’s beneficial to your audience or your organization to do so.
Present what your audience is looking for, then give them options to digest it.
Most of the content of the InVision newsletter consists of information that educates and informs their audience. It directly correlates to readers’ pain points and provides answers to questions readers ask InVision – or Google.
I spend most of my time reading these blogs because of their helpfulness and insight. Plus – wow factor here – they’re all completely corresponding to my interests. These aren’t just pretty lists and abstract thoughts on best practices and top ten tips. It’s solid, digestible information that I can count on to help me improve the work I do – and thus improve my lifestyle.
But best of all, I, the reader, can choose how I learn best – whether it’s a blog, video, demo, or webinar – and I learn how I want. Give your newsletter readers the power to choose.
Okay, we all know the secret to inbound is do not constantly throwing your company or product in the face of your audience. But at some point, you have to discuss what you’re selling and what you have to offer.
At the very least, you need to offer them some sort of gated content that they can convert to. And webinars are great for that. They’re not so low of the funnel that you’re going to scare away potential customers, but people do still have to fill out a form and give you some personal information in order to participate in the party.
InVision is also using the Dribbble Shot block to show how they’ve worked to deliver even better experiences for their users. For me the key here is that they are celebrate victories. Too often we get caught doing the work for our clients and clients without really celebrating it. It’s good to celebrate wins, and it’s great to share those wins with the people you’d like to do business with one day. (SalvationNT: this is often the audience for your newsletter.)
Of course, InVision has its own Marketplace which it likes to promote, because who doesn’t love a well-designed t-shirt? Sometimes they promote a cool new design. Other times it’s a contest to win new swag! They turn it on, but always keeping the focus on their ever-changing and always impressive store inventory.
3. Fun and social
Finally, the newsletter has two blocks just for the cool social stuff.
A block has a on the grid town. On the Grid is a fun social site where designers can become “ambassadors” for their hometowns and neighborhoods and curate content about some of the coolest and most interesting hotspots and hideouts in their beloved cities. It’s collaborative and engaging.
The second block is simply the weekly favorite design links. It’s a simple way for InVision to provide that extra value to people who read their newsletters. Links like these are not promotional. They’re just fun, educational, interesting, and always something the InVision writers believe will connect with their readers.
These things don’t need to be in your newsletters, but they are great ways to connect with your audience and share things that interest them. Twitter, Pinterest, and other social networks are great ways to put this kind of simple, fun content in front of your followers. Sometimes it’s not just about promoting yourself or your hard-working content. Sometimes you have to take a step back and send your followers the fun stuff they’d like to look up in their spare time.
Okay, I can’t say all of these great things without criticizing some of the things I think InVision could improve on. It wouldn’t be fair. To be honest, the newsletter can be many look. As I mentioned in my intro, I groan when I get an InVision email. I know it’s going to take some time to work on it and really digest the content they sent me. This is great content, but the downside is that some of the content and calls to action towards the bottom of the newsletter gets lost a bit.
For example, in a recent newsletter, the penultimate block of content was a CTA for a survey they’re running, asking their audience to provide information about their team size. It’s so small, and the CTA is a total of seven words. If collecting this information is an important goal for InVision, I hope they put this CTA in more relevant places – perhaps in a blog post about how team size affects productivity, for example – so that there is more correlation between the content and the CTA.
It’s the little things
There are many things that can go into a good newsletter, especially when no two newsletters are exactly the same.
Be sure to offer a wide variety of content specifically aimed at helping your target audience and give them options when it comes to how they digest that content. Don’t be afraid to promote your own business, always keeping in mind how you ultimately help your customers. And don’t forget to have fun! We’re all human beings and promoting fun and social content will help you connect better with your audience.
Sometimes it’s just in the details that only a few will notice. When reading the InVision blog from a desktop browser, the small blog browser tab will change to say “Don’t forget to read this…” as soon as you switch to another tab or window. All of this helps make InVision content engaging. It’s a very small detail, but it’s smart and it makes me benefit from my experience on the InVision site.
Likewise, all of their buttons and calls to action are much more engaging and – often – hilarious than your usual “Download Now” or “Read More” buttons.
So with all of that in mind, how can you start making small changes to your own newsletters so they have a bit more personality and captivate your audience a bit more?