Getting people to open your newsletter is hard. Getting them to read it is even more difficult. But it’s worth nailing.
Email newsletters are an incredibly cost-effective way of driving traffic to your site, especially compared to paid advertisements. You can reach readers anywhere and you’re not reliant on any third parties to do so.
If you follow a strategy when creating your newsletters and put in a bit of extra effort, you can ensure your email is not only opened and read but actually increases conversions and sales too.
Write About Stuff That Matters
Whatever you say in your newsletter, should be valuable. Only send a newsletter if you have something useful or interesting to say.
Most company newsletters are used to promote company news, such as new projects, products, or upcoming events, or share company content, such as new blog posts. They can also be used to advertise sales and discounts—although be wary of sending too many ‘special offers’, which can quickly cease to feel particularly ‘special.’
Other content to put in a company newsletter—and that will actually deliver value to people’s inboxes—includes:
- An infographic – use Canva to create an infographic for your newsletter, turning any complex or data-heavy information into an easy-to-read and engaging format. Infographics are very shareable so your readers may pass your newsletter on to friends.
- A roundup – your newsletter might include a roundup of your best blog posts on a particular topic or the most popular social posts of the last month. Repackage existing content to get more out of it.
- A poll or survey – if you’re looking to get customer feedback on any aspect of your business, from products to content, a newsletter is a great place to link to a survey.
- Customer reviews – choose a particularly popular product and include a few of your best reviews to pique your readers’ interest.
- A letter from your CEO or owner – the chance to hear something directly from the person in charge can often get people interested, whether it’s a message of thanks or a news announcement.
- FAQs – a newsletter is the perfect place to answer many commonly asked questions and is certain to feel relevant to the majority of your readers.
- Interviews – an interview with someone at your company or a thought-leader in your industry can offer fresh content for a newsletter.
Whatever you choose to write about, keep it short, concise, and on-subject. Don’t overload the reader with information. A newsletter isn’t the same as a blog article. These days, attention spans are short, so your email needs to be quick to read and easy to digest.
Similarly, it’s best to stick to just one single call-to-action. Too much choice can be overwhelming.
Make it Personal
Imagine the reader while you’re writing your newsletter. Think about who they are, what they want, and what they might expect from your email. Imagine that you are talking to a real person, not some vague buyer persona. How can you solve your reader’s unique problem?
Use the words “your” and “yours” and address the reader directly. This will shift your newsletter from the generic to the specific.
You can also consider segmenting your email list, sending different emails to people who might be interested in different things. This will make your email feel more personal. You can determine different interests based on what emails they engage with most or their purchase history.
Give Your Emails a Trial Run
Test out your emails on a small percentage of your subscriber list first. See how good the open rates are and if you think you can improve on them. Then send it out to the rest of your list.
Or you can send different emails to different readers to see which ones work the best. Most email marketing platforms allow you to perform split tests. You can trial a range of subject lines, design formats, calls-to-actions, and sender names to discover the best style for your newsletters.
Subject Lines Are Important So Make Them Count
Subject lines are often neglected when it comes to writing email newsletters, but they are as important as the email itself, if not more so. 47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line while 69% will judge whether an email is a spam or not by the subject alone.
So how do you write a subject line that gets people to open your email? Here are our top tips:
- Keep subject lines short. One writer recommends an average of 6 words. WordStream recommends under 50 characters. Newsletters with a single word subject line could also catch people’s attention.
- Minimalism is often more effective than controversy. Opt for subject lines that describe what your email is about rather than trying to lure customers with click-bait. That said, humour and creativity can help your emails stand out.
- Take advantage of FOMO. Subject lines that suggest the customer is in danger of missing out if they don’t take action can be very effective, especially if they instil a sense of urgency. For example, ‘Only one day left to save $$$’
- If you segment your email lists, try and make the subject lines feel personal, referring to things that are of particular interest to that select group of readers.
- Experiment with a question format. For example, ‘Are you fed up of January?’ This starts a dialogue with readers, instils curiosity, and encourages them to open the email.
- Try literary techniques such as alliteration to craft catchy subject lines.
- Use exclamation marks and capital letters—but do so sparingly.
Play around with different styles and formats and split-test your subject lines to see which ones get more opens. Most importantly, however, your email should deliver on the promise set up by the subject line. Otherwise, you’ll quickly lose the trust of readers.
And consider using a real person’s name instead of your business name for the sender in order to make your newsletter feel less corporate and more human. But ensure you still make it clear who the email is from. For example, John from Greenpeace.
Send Newsletters Regularly but Not Too Regularly
You don’t want to pester your audience by emailing them every minute of every day. According to a survey by Emailvision, 75% of respondents said they would resent a brand after being bombarded by emails.
But if you send your newsletters too infrequently, you won’t be able to build up a relationship with them. Problogger recommends sending a newsletter to subscribers between once a month and once a week. Twice a month is a happy medium. But however often you choose to send newsletters, stick to that. Keep it consistent.
As for the best time to send an email newsletter? That depends. One study suggests that, for weekdays, Monday had the highest revenue per mail, but Friday had the highest click rate. Meanwhile, emails sent in the morning resulted in the highest open rates, but mid-afternoon reported the highest click rates.
Experiment with sending your newsletter at different times and keep an eye on open rates to see when the majority of your emails are getting read.
Don’t Forget About Design
The visual appearance of your newsletter is just as important as what you say. If it’s not visually appealing, people aren’t going to want to spend time on the page reading it.
Here are our best practices for an attractive newsletter design:
- Keep colours light, subtle, and gentle on the eye.
- Avoid stock images but definitely break up blocks of text with photos and graphics.
- Use sub-headings and/or bullet points to make the newsletter more scannable.
- Opt for a simple layout. If it’s too complicated, it can be distracting for the reader. Put the most important information at the top.
- Balance white space and text. Too much writing on the page and readers will feel overwhelmed.
- Choose a readable font such as George or Helvetica and consider bolding the most important bits of text.
Revise Your Newsletter Content Strategy
Play around with your strategy. Send more regular emails and then less regular emails. What works better? What happens if you change your subject line? What happens if you make your emails shorter?
Keep track of metrics, from open and click rates to unsubscribe, spam, and bounce rates, and see which links get clicked on most frequently. These Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will help you determine what emails are most successful and calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) of your newsletters.
The Long and Short of it
Crafting a good newsletter that people actually read isn’t a science. You simply need to embrace a customer-centric mindset, thinking about your reader and what they need and want from a newsletter. You want to speak directly to them and deliver valuable content straight to their inbox.
Adopt a trial-and-error approach, experimenting with different strategies, and consistently monitoring the performance of your newsletter so you are always working to boost engagement.