Despite the emergence of new communication channels such as social media, email newsletters remain an important tool for connecting with customers. One in five email recipients reads every email newsletter they receive. Email newsletters are popular because they build and deepen audience engagement, ensure customer retention and increase brand advocacy. In addition, they’re straight to the point and provide links to content that are relevant for subscribers. Sent on a regular basis, newsletters help companies stay top-of-mind and allow them to display their industry expertise.
It’s unsurprising then that more than 80% of marketers used email newsletters for content marketing in 2016. While email newsletters have a positive impact on increasing customer engagement, the problem is that not all businesses that use newsletters reap the benefits. If you want to ensure readers open, read and share your email newsletters, here are some tips to get you started.
K. I. S. S (Keep It Short and Simple)
The key to effective communication is using language that’s simple and easy to understand. Keep your newsletters short and succinct. Save the technical jargon for other uses, and include words that are easy to digest. For instance, instead of facilitate use help. It’s also important to give your readers room to read. Rather than cramming your newsletter with text, use short fragmented sentences, one-sentence paragraphs, lists and bullets to make your copy concise and readable.
The average reader skims a newsletter for 51 seconds. So, keep your newsletter short and insert links to additional content. The Finimize financial newsletter is a good example of what a short and simple newsletter should look like. It takes about 3 minutes to read and there’s little room for confusion. The easier your content is to read, the easier it is will be to understand and share.
Don’t be boring
Your email newsletter should sound like a conversation with your best friend, not a corporate speech. Inject some personality into it. The CB Insights newsletter is a brilliant personality driven email newsletter that has over 300K subscribers. Although the company sells business intelligence to corporate venture capitalists and other senior business leaders, its email newsletter is packed with cutting commentary, call-outs and random observations.
If you don’t want subscribers to fall asleep reading your content, add interest by:
- Using active words: As much as possible. Active words have energy and directness that keep readers engaged. Here’s what this looks like:
Passive: The cookies were eaten by the kids.
Active: The kids ate the cookies.
- Injecting Personality: Don’t be scared to have an opinion. Just make sure your thoughts match your company’s values.
- Incorporating a little humor: We could all do with a little humor. Adding humor in your writing makes your content enjoyable. The purpose of humor should be to grab your reader’s attention, not showcase your comedy routine.
- Breaking it down: If your content is complex, use analogies your audience will understand to explain the concepts
You can also use your subject lines to generate some interest. The short teasers are a key decider for recipients as they decide to open, delete or mark your content as spam. 47% of email recipients open emails based on the subject lines. It’s worth taking a little extra time to craft an eye-catching one liner. Below are a few things to note:
Be Brief: Subject lines should be straight to the point. Don’t sacrifice clarity just to be witty. Most people open their emails on their phones so keep your headlines to around 50 characters or less.
Be Descriptive: Subscribers should be able to discern the content of your newsletter from the subject line. Avoid crappy click bait headlines and never use subject lines like this: Newsletter 01 for XYZ Company.
Get creative: Subject lines get old fast for subscribers. Keep things new by having a different creative and engaging subject lines for each newsletter you send.
Use a legitimate address: People want to interact with people, not mailboxes. Add some humanity to your brand by sending emails from a personal email address over a generic email from “admin” or “noreply.”
Constantly test your subject lines to find out what works for your audience.
Great content Ahead
The truth is, readers will unsubscribe from receiving your email newsletter if your content is superfluous. But timely and relevant content increases the chance your audience will open, read or share your material. To ensure your content aligns with your audience’s interests, head on over to forums where they hang out like Quora or Reddit to discover what they’re sharing, talking or complaining about. Additionally, you can use surveys or polls to ask your audience what they’d like to read in your newsletter.
For instance, Nick Forst of Mattermark asks his Twitter followers what they look for in a newsletter. Directly seeking the opinion of your audience is an easy way to produce or curate the right content. If, however, you’re curating content for your email newsletter, read through curated content before sharing to ensure it’s in line with your brand values. Another content strategy that will keep readers looking forward to your emails is to provide expert insights about happenings in your industry or information they can’t find elsewhere. This will position your newsletter as a valuable resource and you as an expert in your industry.
Lose the sales hype
Blitzing subscribers with sales content is a quick way to get them to unsubscribe. Customers sign up for a newsletter because they’re seeking education, not a sales pitch. Instead of being the annoying sales person, focus on sending content your audience will find useful. Your email newsletters should feature articles such as customer interviews, or the occasional news about your product, service, or company.
In fact, you can choose not to mention your product or services in your newsletter like E-commerce mattress company Casper Inc. Casper Inc’s email newsletter Van Winkles, is dedicated to exploring the culture of sleep. They don’t advertise any of its products or link to e-commerce offers of any kind in its newsletter. If you have to promote your business, strike a balance. 90% goes towards educational content and 10% for promoting your business.
A clean, organized layout makes it easy for subscribers to digest your content and helps increase reader engagement. Use these design tips to make your email newsletter visually appealing and user friendly:
- Use responsive email designs: You can’t afford to have emails designed for desktop viewing only. Statistics state that 55% of emails are opened on a mobile device and 42% of subscribers delete emails that don’t display correctly on their mobile phones. Consequently, you have to optimize your content for viewing across multiple screens and devices. Add alt text to make sure your reader understands what your email is about, even if the images don’t load.
- Organization: Organize your newsletter logically and include options for recipients to click through additional content on your site. Include white space to reduce clutter and make it easy for subscribers to click the right link.
- Colors: Readers may have trouble reading your newsletter if the colors you use too many colors in your design or they’re too distracting. In designing your newsletter, pick colors that are consistent with your brand and use a white content background against a colored or patterned email background.
- Call To Action: You send out newsletters because you want subscribers to take a specific action. Whether the purpose of your CTA button is to send incoming traffic to your landing pages or build your email list, make sure your CTA button is big enough to tap with a finger and that it’s easy to find.
The gist of it
Subscribers respond to email newsletters that are simple to read, interesting, contain memorable subject lines, provide useful information and are well designed. Use these tips to whip your newsletter into shape.