Start with a review of your current e-newsletter
I recently asked an executive whether people read his e-newsletter. “They certainly do”, he replied. “Last month I had three complaint emails from clients telling me there was a spelling mistake in it.”
This triggered a long discussion on newsletters being a frontline strategy in business communications, culminating in me offering to proofread an example of his newsletter for him.
He wasn’t happy when I presented him with my assessment. Issues included his opening address of “Dear“ (followed by nothing!), a lack of logic and flow, incomplete advertising information, inconsistent use of fonts and so on. I did eventually find his key messages buried deep within the text of his three pages. And I felt lucky.
The lesson here is that sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes to alert you to how your newsletter comes across. Ask someone you trust to review yours, or otherwise hire a professional or ask for a community review in the Flying Solo forum.
Since email newsletters have become such an important feature of modern marketing, it’s no surprise that there’s been lots of investigation into what works and what doesn’t.
If you’re committed to excellence in email marketing, you might be interested in reading the extensive international research compiled by The Nielsen Norman Group.
Their work reveals some interesting points about the way people respond to email newsletters:
- A reader will spend an average of 51 seconds reading a newsletter and 33 seconds on links to websites.
- Newsletter readers scan for current and timely information.
- Readers experience emotional reactions to email newsletters because they feel the newsletter has a personal nature – it arrives in their inbox, is regular and they agreed to subscribe. This is not the case with social media marketing.
- A newsletter creates a long-term relationship and bond between the reader and the business. More than two-thirds of readers look forward to newsletters, but they prefer them brief.
- The number of new messages in inboxes has tripled, so the use of previews in newsletters is vital. Previews should focus on information that has high client-value content.
- Users of mobile devices often read newsletters when they have spare moments. If you write a newsletter, you should try to determine whether your target audience is predominantly made up of mobile device users or desktop users, as each requires a unique style of newsletter.
Could any of these insights help you craft your e-newsletter into something that works more effectively for your business?
Want more articles like this? Check out the email newsletters section.
Breathe new life into your newsletter
It could be timely to dust off the old newsletter template and introduce some new ideas. Here are a few to get you started:
- Personalise your newsletter. Give it a name and identity of its own.
- Consider whether your newsletter deserves a one-style-suits-all approach or whether it’s worth having multiple newsletters to cater to differing needs or customer groups.
- The needs of mobile users are worth investigating. Is it feasible to use specific click throughs for in-depth information?
- Be personable, engaging and even a little social in your newsletter. That may be as simple as incorporating a photo of yourself. Including relevant quotes can add human context too.
- Engage your readers with headlines and calls to action that are clear, short and snappy.
- Consider sustainability. How will you and your content stay fresh and enthusiastic?
- How often do you send your email newsletter out? Less often may be better for some businesses, while others might be able to increase their sales by increasing newsletter frequency.
- Keep design and content simple and focussed. Maintain adequate white space and business typography, and always use correct grammar and spelling.
- Remember readers don’t read e-newsletters in the traditional fashion. They scan for relevant information. Using bullet points may help and a word count of around 400 words is adequate.
- Promote your newsletter through your blog, Facebook and Twitter – and do it often to keep reminding the broader audience of your product.
- Check your subscribe and unsubscribe processes and whether your website is set up to optimise subscriptions. What could you do to boost your newsletter sign-up rates?
- Also check your newsletter delivery and display on all major email platforms.
Whether you’re a reader or a writer, please share your email newsletter tips below.