The TechSmith newsletter is sent out to over 310,000 readers each month, and we continue to gain more than 1,500 new subscribers monthly. Over the course of 2016, we’ve sent out 3,567,545 newsletter messages. To put that in perspective, that’s about the same amount of messages as there are people living in Los Angeles, California.
It’s probably one of our greatest marketing pieces we send out. And we just changed it. Big time.
Recently, I surveyed our newsletter readers and asked them what the newsletter was doing well, what it was lacking, and how it could be improved. A lot of people had very specific requests, but I noticed that a lot of the requests had one thing in common…they wanted more video content.
At TechSmith, we’re always looking to experiment with video in new ways, and this time was no different.
Here are the three key lessons I learned by adding video into our monthly newsletter.
1. Don’t be afraid to start
I start each newsletter with a picture of myself because I’ve been told by readers that they like knowing there is a real person behind the newsletter. But, what if I took that a step further? Why don’t I make the newsletter even more conversational and human-like by recording a video of myself introducing what’s in the newsletter? How about a video letter from the editor?!
Okay, I liked the idea. But I’m going to be honest. I was a little nervous. I’m fairly reserved with being behind the camera and it isn’t something I’ve done much. I mean, what if I sounded weird? I decided to ignore my insecurities and listen to my rational-self. Recording a quick video for my readers could be an easy way for them to learn what’s in the newsletter and they may prefer this method to my standard text approach.
I set up a makeshift area in the soundbooth of our studio to make sure I recorded quality audio. I hit record (more than once, since saying “video letter from the editor” is some kind of tongue twister) in Camtasia, talked about what readers would find in the November edition of the newsletter, and ta-da the nerves were gone! I added a quick intro to my recording, and then uploaded it to YouTube.
2. Video increases engagement
How would readers like the new video intro? I had no idea! So, I mentioned in the letter from the editor video (and in the written text below the video) to please send me feedback about how they liked this new format. I wasn’t sure if people would welcome the new video approach with open arms or if they’d want their standard text letter back.
Interestingly enough, I heard mixed reviews. Some readers wrote me to tell me they weren’t a fan of the video and preferred to read what was in the newsletter. Yet, others told me that the video letter from the editor wasn’t enough. They wanted the whole newsletter in video format.
I got a record number of newsletter responses in my inbox, and although not everyone loved the new video approach, most of those that wrote me did. And the actual newsletter engagement stats confirm the feedback I received. The overall newsletter click through rate was up over 3 percent, and the letter from the editor video got more clicks than any other piece of newsletter content this year. We also gained 4 times more subscribers due to the newsletter to our YouTube Channel than we do on a normal day!
3. Layout matters
While it was awesome that 5,822 readers clicked to view the letter from the editor video (that’s over 11.5 percent of openers!), I did, unfortunately, cause some confusion with the placement of my video. Several readers were confused where the rest of the newsletter content could be found.
As you can see, I put the letter from the editor video where I would normally put the written newsletter letter from the editor. However, because I have my signature right below the video image with my contact information, it looks as though that’s the end of the newsletter.
However, if readers scrolled down, they were able to see that the rest of the newsletter was there like usual. Next month, I hope to remedy this confusion. I will make it clear both in the actual newsletter text and at the end of my letter from the editor video that the rest of the newsletter can be found within their email inbox.
I’m glad I decided to go outside my comfort zone and give video a try. I challenge you to try using video in your job, too. Don’t feel like you need to create a long, beautifully-edited video. Just start small, and then let me know how it goes!