Cartoon by Rolli: https://rollistuff.com
I last wrote about newsletters two years ago and was already apologising for them feeling like old hat.
But still they keep on coming. Businesses use email newsletters to reach out to customers and prospects because it’s an easy way to put information in front of them and hopefully forge stronger connections by motivating them to seek further engagement through other channels.
Things have moved on though. For one thing, there are more newsletters flying around than ever, so it’s easy for yours to get lost in the melee. For another, recipients have an ever reducing tolerance for irrelevant or boring content and know that unsubscribing is just a click away. People regard newsletters as spam unless they have directly sought them out and they have no qualms about rejecting them unless they provide something that’s wanted or needed.
I’ve been reading up about the characteristics of effective email newsletters, and here’s what I’ve learned.
1) Target and segment
A general newsletter covering all sorts of subjects will only be of partial interest to some people, unless you’re a huge brand or celebrated individual. Give your newsletter a clear purpose and cover specialist content which will appeal to the selected group of people you’re talking to. That might mean having two or more newsletters or versions.
2) Keep it snappy
Scrolling down through pages of text is not cool, specially when so much email checking happens on phone screens these days. I recommend 3-4 feature articles, each appearing as a title and a sentence or two of teaser copy, with a click through to the full article.
3) Image counts
Words are good. I’m a big fan of the words. But layout and design are really important in making people want to read them. Clear, uncluttered layouts, pleasing colours and relevant images and photos add appeal to your newsletter and help signpost and break up the content, so it’s easy to scan. And mobile optimisation is non-negotiable.
4) Lead them on
Be clear what you’d like readers to do as a result of seeing your newsletter. If you want them to engage further with you, make it easy by flagging social media feeds or events that they might want to join. Make sure the content they find if they take that next step is up to date and relevant.
5) Be generous
If you can, offer something free, discounted or as a prize, exclusively for newsletter subscribers. This is easier for B2C newsletters but still possible for B2B firms – what about a free initial consultation or early access to a research report?