Email advertising: 8 best practices for your forest product marketing

Forest Business Network wears several different hats. One of those is online publishing. As you’re likely aware, we publish a weekly email newsletter that reaches 10,000 forest product professionals each week across the globe. And since we offer advertising in the newsletter and in our free classifieds website, and talk with many forest product companies about marketing their products and services, I thought it would be a good idea to pass along some thoughts on why email newsletter advertising is a solid bet for your marketing efforts. In addition, I’ll discuss some best practices you can follow to get the most out of your advertising dollars and time.

Why email newsletter advertising?

Targeted email newsletter advertising is a highly effective marketing tool — one of the best on the internet. In the case of email advertising, quality trounces quantity. Other forms of online advertising (banner ads for example) may receive a higher number of clicks, but email advertising can get you the quality that makes a difference in your marketing efforts. Why? Email newsletters, such as the one sent weekly from Forest Business Network, are highly targeted towards potential customers who fit your target market. And the icing: Email newsletters tend to have loyal readerships that actively open each issue, which dramatically increases your brand exposure and potential for quality clicks.

Best practices

Once you decide to move forward with email advertising, make sure your efforts are actually effective or you’ll throw dollars out the door. And remember, what works in email advertising can apply in other types of advertising as well.

Have a strong call to action. Be conscientious of what you want a reader to do when they click on your ad. Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter, register for a workshop, purchase a product, download a whitepaper, give you a call, etc? Then make sure everything from the ad copy to the landing page to the direct conversion tools themselves – signup forms, contact forms, shopping carts, etc. – consistently funnel readers to that end.

Readers won’t read your ad or click your link unless the copy compels them. Since reading is a passive activity, you’ll need copy that gets people into an active state. Using one or more of these tactics can help you spur reader interest and clicks exponentially.

  • Use “power” words — words that incite an emotional response — in your headline and body copy. Lists of power words can be easily found online.
  • Add a hook that grabs people’s attention.
  • List the benefits of your products and services, not their features.
  • Use keywords that interest readers in our industry. Some examples of keywords that tend to be more effective in our email newsletter include: biomass, forest, timber, and fuels reduction.

Send readers to a landing page that funnels them toward a conversion, not your website homepage. Linking readers to your home page won’t likely result in a meaningful return on investment. Conversions there will be difficult, if not impossible, to encourage or track since you aren’t specific on what you want readers to do and they’ll be easily distracted or confused by everything else on that page. What good is an ad buy if you have no way of measuring its effectiveness (i.e. getting those conversions you want)?

Once readers reach your landing page, have a way to continue leading them down your conversion funnel. Make sure the page makes it obvious what you want readers to do. For instance, let’s say you offer high-end consulting services. You certainly would not want to send readers to a landing page that talks about your services, and then make them search for your contact info elsewhere on the site to discuss more in-depth over the phone (i.e. the conversion you want). In this case, your landing page should have 1-2 ways readers can contact you – a contact form and/or a picture of a consultant with his or her phone number, and a strong call to action. For example, prominently on the page would be the consultant photo and contact info with bold copy that reads something like, “Jane Doe can help your sawmill save up to 30% in energy costs. Call today!”

Running an ad only once or twice is not usually a good way to determine the desirability of your company’s products/services, or the quality of an email list. You must typically commit to a longer term solution in order to get the most bang for your buck. That being said, micro-testing with a smaller ad run is certainly fine, but concentrate on having a strong call to action and a means to measure conversions.

Test a variety of ad types to see which works best. For instance, in the Forest Business Network email we offer two different ad types. If one doesn’t work as well for you, maybe another will.

Test various headlines and body copy to see what resonates best with readers. Try different keywords, power words, and hooks. List different benefits. Don’t be afraid to shake up your copy and test the results. You’ll be amazed at how small changes can sometimes create an explosion in clicks. 

Don’t let ad copy go stale. If you’re running multiple insertions (especially long-term runs), change your copy regularly in order to grab reader attention. If you’re testing often, as you should, then you’ll do this anyway.

So there you have it. Email newsletter advertising is a powerful marketing tool, but only if you use effective tactics to ensure you don’t waste money or time. Here’s to better marketing and a more profitable forest products industry!

Harness powerful advertising at exceptional rates. The FBN weekly newsletter reaches one of the largest audiences in the forest products industry. Click here for the advertising rate card.

Tom Waddell is Forest Business Network’s VP of Marketing & Sales. He can be reached by phone at 406.546.5977 or via our contact form.