Six Malaysian startups weigh in on what's the most effective way to use email newsletters and give tell us some tips and tricks they use.

Published 2016-09-06 10:50:50

Gmail has a handy feature that’s been around for a while that sorts out your Inbox into three categories—primary, social and promotions. To be honest, I barely ever open any of the email newsletters sent to my ‘promotions’ tab, though I do glance at it once in a while.

However, the emails continue to pile up, and some even come in daily. The companies who sent them are still seeing value in these, so I contacted a few of them to find out how exactly do they use the online newsletters and what purpose do they see them serving.


Image Credit: WOBB
Image Credit: WOBB

WOBB is a job hunting platform that targets millennials who wish to look up aspects like company culture before joining an organisation. Shakira Kavanagh, Partnership Manager, shared that online newsletters help to keep users engaged as this keeps brand awareness at top of mind. They also find newsletters useful to help inform users of updates and events.

Shakira said, “There needs to be a purpose to sending out a newsletters. For example, we choose to send weekly career content newsletters to give our users (jobseekers) advice on job search or anything career/work-related.

Our data-driven goal of sending this sort of newsletter is to increase the number of CVs on our database. Our non-data-driven goal is to increase the quality of our jobseekers, remind them to apply for jobs on WOBB, and let them know that we have helpful relevant content that could help them in their search for a new job.”

As Shakira said, “The real key here is to think about what you user wants, and to deliver the message that you can give them what they want, in the quickest possible way. Shorter titles work better than long titles.”


Image Credit: Offpeak.my
Image Credit: Offpeak.my

As a food dining and discovery app that allows you to make restaurant bookings and secure discounts, Offpeak uses the email newsletters for all sorts of purposes, from marketing, suggestions, product updates, reminder and promotions.

Ban Eu, co-founder of Offpeak said, “For us, titles that resonate well with users are always the high discounts like 50% Off, or brand names that most people are familiar with. Trends also picks up really well, especially if you’re the first to market, like with the Pokémon campaign we ran recently.”

Of the companies I spoke to, Offpeak is one of the few who does send newsletters out daily. Ban Eu clarified, “I believe that at least one newsletter per day is acceptable, because users don’t mind to be guided by food choices & we do need to eat 3 times a day. However, if you are in other industries (say providing a software service online) then it’s really non-relevant for them to receive your newsletter every day.”

NEXT Academy

Image Credit: NEXT Academy
Image Credit: NEXT Academy

NEXT Academy is a coding school that was started with the purpose of equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge to build and grow tech startups. According to Audrey Ling of NEXT Academy, they use online newsletters because their users want to be informed or to be followed up on, but it doesn’t mean that they are open to everything sent.

She emphasised that they found users are reading their newsletters, as long as the content is targeted. “That’s why it is crucial to know what the readers are looking for, else there will be a disconnect and they will leave,” she said.

One of her top tips to get readers to open the newsletters was, “For example, if the FROM column is sent by Josh Teng, open rates are higher. The fact that the CEO is willing to write the emails make people curious about who Josh is and what he is thinking or doing.”

NEXT Academy has also found that if your previous content tells a compelling story, it is likely people will open the next email too. Audrey added, “So long the essence of your title is linked to their aspiration and motivation, they will be more willing to check it out.”

When it comes to email marketing services, they find all the basic features such as tagging, sorting, creating automation rules and scheduling important. One feature they would really like to have would be a split testing headline feature for email blasts. Also they think it’s very important to easily see open and click through rates of emails at a glance.


Image Credit: Enparty
Image Credit: Enparty

Enparty is an online web portal that delivers local fruits, durians and gelato ice cream to customers. According to Stephen Chow, one of the co-founders, they use online newsletters to constantly update their users and generate new leads to sales.

He finds that any information about their latest products or promotions will get more interaction from users, whereas any company updates tend to get less clicks. According to him, sending newsletters daily is a big no-no, and that the most effective frequency for sending is weekly or bi-weekly.

Stephen said that one of the most useful features of the email marketing service they use is open rate tracking as this helps them see what customers are more interested in, particularly for their products. “We will know what to send after sending a few rounds,” he said.

Thus, Enparty might be able to make use of GetResponse’s Perfect Timing feature, where the optimal time for each individual user is calculated based on previous behaviour and other emails sent. Other email marketing services such as Mailchimp has this feature only on a list level, whereas GetResponse is able to predict when an individual user is most likely to open an email. The senders can just send out the newsletter as usual, but the email will only be delivered when the subscriber is most likely to open it.


Image Credit: Supahands
Image Credit: Supahands

Supahands functions as a virtual personal assistant service to help complete tasks from research, data entry, restaurant bookings and so on and so forth. According to Amine Chraibi, Head of Digital Marketing, they use newsletters to serve many purposes, from promoting the company culture, its vision, its products and to give industry specific insights and tips. Newsletters can also be used for lead generation and for branding.

Amine said, “It’s all about content quality. If the info provided is relevant to your users, the open rate can be quite high.

Sending the newsletter with an optimal timing can also help improve the open rate. We suggest to A/B test different times of the day to find the right timing. Some email marketing services provide the option of sending by time-zone.”

Supahands has found that the most important features in an email marketing service would be efficient tracking tools, responsive designs, good server reputation with email providers, local customer service, spam testing, webmail providers preview and time-based autoresponders.

As words of advice for others who wish to use email marketing services to reach their users, Amine added, “A low click rate can result from any of these factors: If the newsletter’s sole purpose is to hard sell your products, if the user did not opt-in to the newsletter, if the audience is not well targeted or segmented for the content to be relevant to them. “

GetResponse’s time-based autoresponders allow for the creation of automatic and effective drip campaigns as part of a company’s content marketing strategy. This feature allows for the plotting of customer journeys from the day they join mailing list onwards so that they can be engaged with different content on different days. For example, a new customer would get their welcome email on the day they join, get content on top purchases on day 3, a promo code on day 5—and all this is automated.


Image Credit: Boozeat
Image Credit: Boozeat

As an alcohol delivery service, Boozeat uses email newsletters an additional marketing channel to drive more traffic to the e-commerce site. Jessie Chong, founder of Boozeat shared that the best newsletter should have no lengthy text, be short and precise and should get straight to the point.

Ideally, for Jessie, an email marketing service should have recommendations on how to improve open rate, click through rate, and that it definitely gets directly to the customer’s inbox.

Based on the replies given by the companies above, it’s clear that all of them prioritise that email newsletters reach the target audience and that they can check and track click-through rates.

Image Credit: GetResponse
Image Credit: GetResponse

One feature that GetResponse does have which some of the companies interviewed mentioned an interest in is the ability to hold webinars to allow for higher engagement with customers and for a more interactive experience. This allows users to conduct online courses which involve sharing presentations, doodling on whiteboards collaboratively, and even polling participants to see if they’re paying attention, and can fit meetings with up to 500 participants with ease.

At the moment, GetResponse is available for a 60-day free trial for all its plans here and the GetResponse Pro plan starts at USD$49 per month and gives unlimited landing pages, email marketing and marketing automation, and all the features mentioned in this article.

So make full use of those email marketing tips and make every newsletter count, ‘cos you want your users to be looking out for your email in their ‘promotion’ tab, all the time.

Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock

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