The Dos and Don’ts of Email Newsletters

The email newsletter historically suffers from the least amount of thought of any promotional material a business sends out to its target audience. Marketers are guilty of not putting in the required effort to make their email newsletters more effective in order to boost conversion rates. As a result, they miss out on the chance to turn readers into customers. This is what leads to newsletters reading more like a flyer than an informative piece of writing about a product or service. Readers want value for their time. They are not interested in how great your product is. If it doesn’t solve their problems, they won’t care.

So, when writing an email newsletter, you have to tread the fine line between self-indulgence and information. If you opt for too much of either, you risk alienating the readers you want to funnel into your sales channel. This is why there are some dos and don’ts of email newsletters you should keep in mind before you get to work on them. Here are some important ones:

DON’T Send Out a Newsletter Just for the Sake of It

It is better to send one newsletter a year that is interesting to read and will capture the attention of the readers than 12 boring ones. Most businesses have a schedule they follow for sending newsletters via email. Generally, they send a newsletter once a month on a given date. There would be occasions when you don’t have enough content to make the newsletter worth the readers’ while. In that case, it is best to skip sending one instead of compiling one with substandard material. Otherwise, you will drive your readers away.

DO Segment Your Audience

This is one thing few marketers pay attention to. It is better to segment and categorize your audience based on certain factors rather than sending them all the same email. By segmenting your audience, you can create targeted emails that really appeal to the recipients. For instance, if you serve multiple industries, it is best to tailor your emails by industry. The way you communicate to a potential client in the clothing business should be different to how you talk to one in the restaurant business. This is especially important if your client base is diversified. Not only will this make your email newsletters more effective, there is a better chance of the recipients actually opening and reading them.

DO Create Clear Subject Lines

Believe it or not, it is the subject line that determines whether the email you sent will be opened or not by the recipients. If the subject line doesn’t indicate what the email is about, you lose more than half your audience. Don’t be surprised if a majority of them delete the email without even glancing at the newsletter. The subject line should clearly state what the reader will gain by opening the email. Readers don’t have time to sift through every email they receive. You have to make it worth their while and that is only possible if you provide an incentive to open it. Also, avoid making the subject line too long.

DON’T Add Subscribers without Permission

Just because a person wrote you a note once doesn’t mean he/she wants to subscribe to your email newsletter. This is something you have to realize. Unless you have the permission of the people on your email list to send them your newsletter, there is no way it would serve its purpose. Therefore, only add subscribers to your email list. Give people the chance to opt in or sign up for subscription to your email newsletter. Only then can you expect that your emails will be opened and read by the people who receive them.

DO Add a Call to Action

Don’t ever forget adding a call to action to every email you send. Make sure you have clear instructions on what you want the readers to do or else they won’t. For instance, if you want them to download a free report or a case study related to your business, provide a link to it. The readers should be able to get to the landing page by simply clicking an image or button. It is only then that you can expect them to perform the desired action. Not having a call to action in your email newsletters more or less defeats the purpose of sending one.

DO Test Your Newsletters

Sometimes an email newsletter doesn’t work. You may have spent a lot of time, energy and resources putting together a newsletter you feel is up to the mark in every way. Yet, your readers don’t appreciate the effort you have put in and it ends up achieving nothing for you. This is why it is important that you test your email newsletters before you click ‘Send’. You can send the newsletter to select group of people and ask for their feedback. You can analyze their feedback to point out any shortcomings in the newsletter. Also, it gives you the chance to rectify any errors or mistakes in the content or layout.

DON’T Forget to Track

You can only judge the efficacy of your email newsletters when you track the results. There are numerous online tools you can use for this purpose. They provide you a number of statistics regarding your email newsletters including the clickthrough rate (CTR), open rate and also bounce rate. Based on these statistics, you can judge whether or not your newsletters are delivering the results you want. If the open rate is low, you can try something different the next time. Tracking the performance of your email newsletters will help you find out what you are doing wrong (or right).

DO Optimize for Smaller Screens

Trends have changed and how. Today, more than half of all emails sent are opened on a mobile device. It is quite likely that a majority of the people on your subscriber list open the email on the smartphone. This is why it is crucial that your email newsletters are optimized for the smaller screen. They should be responsive so that they work on phones as well as tablets. If not, you risk driving away a large chunk of your subscribers. The best practices in this regard are to keep the width to 600 pixels, make all buttons clickable on mobile devices and also provide a link so that the reader can see the email in its entirety in a browser.

DO Maintain Consistency

It is important that the design of your newsletters is consistent. People come to expect the same layout if they are receiving newsletters from a business on a regular basis. This is why it is crucial for you to determine the design of your newsletter from the outset. Consistency is also required when structuring the information to be imparted. For instance, you can start off with an introductory paragraph that highlights the content of the newsletter. Then, you can add the features, such as new stories, featured articles, suggestions and events.

DON’T Be Formal

Newsletters are an informal medium of communication for businesses to get their message across. This is why you have to keep the tone informal. You have to write in a conversational style. Not only will this make it easier for the readers to go through the content, you can get information across in a much more effective way. So, this is why you shouldn’t be formal. If you want to be formal, you can send a brochure instead. Keep the needs of the medium in mind and keep the tone informal.

These are some dos and don’ts that will help you make your email newsletters more effective. Apply them and you will see a higher open rate and CTR and a lower bounce rate. Despite the effectiveness of the medium and how it can influence the bottom-line of a business, most marketers don’t pay much attention to email newsletters. It is time you give it its due and make the most of the medium while you are at it. It can deliver a high return on investment!

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