Writing better newsletters

Enjoyed someone elses seminar on writing better email newsletters today, and here's my thoughts:

Increasing Opens and Reads

The following elements are most important for increasing opens and reads

  • Personal name in the from field
  • Catchy subject lines
  • Personalise Greeting
  • Bullet pointed key elements at the top of your newsletter, not waffle.
  • Appropriate Frequency
  • AppropriateTiming
  • Reduced graphics or not?
  • Personal From Address

We are more likely to read emails that come from a person, than those that come from a company. It is a mistake to use your company name as the "from name" when sending an email, particularly if you are a small or start up business. This will only indicate to the recepient that it is likely spam, or a newsletter of lesser importance. if the email originates from you personally, the person they met at that B2B networking function, or at the tradeshow, it will more likely be read. Of even if they don't remember you personally, a personal named senders email, is just more likely to be read. However, if your company is large, and your brand reputation is strong, then it would be better to use the company name on a newsletter, especially as the majority of recipients may have little knowledge of the sender personally.

Subject Lines

How boring is a subject line like "monthly newsletter"? Sounds like a great reason to delete an email.

Perhaps a question like "why do dogs bark?" to capture your customers attention, or reference to an upcoming/recent event.

Or actually list the key features of your newsletter. Take the 1-3 most important/unique elements of your website, condense their titles down to 3 words, and within 10 words total, you should be able to construct an appealing newsletter. Remember to consider this from your customers perspective, why do they want to read your newsletter, not why you want them to.

Personal Greetings

A personal greeting such as "Hi XXXXXX", where XXXX is their name, indicates to the receipient that you know them, and this encourages them to read a little more, even if they don't remember you.

Ensuring this name is at the top of the email, not below any banners, will ensure the reader sees it in a reading pane.

Try to avoid using their name too often within a templated email, as this just looks very odd to recipients who don't know you very well. It would look overdone.

Brief Emails or Not?

Many read brief as a short email, but what we are aiming for is an "easy to read, easy to scan" email. The key points should be at the top of the email, preferably bullet pointed, and every few paragraphs should be headlined.

If you do have alot of content on 1 topic, then put that content on your website, provide a teaser introduction in the email, and utilise a "read more" link which has the added benefit of capturing stats of those people who followed the link out of the email, this gives a great indiciation for which stories are more interesting to your audience.

Frequency

Don't send more often than you need to, this will only anoy your customers. Generally send it when you have something of interest to them. Your motivation over content/education/information should be clear, it should not be just to put your logo in front of their eyes again. Readers are not stupid, and will quickly unsubscribe if your newsletter is not worth a read.

Timing

Consider most imporantly when is the best time for the email to arrive in their inbox? In the morning our inboxes are full of important emails, and junk from the night before. With 5 or more important emails for someone to read, the newsletters will likely get deleted along with the spam. However, if that same newsletter arrives during the day, it will be the only unread email in the list, and may get a little more attention. Depending on your target audience, will decide which day of the week, or which hour is going to get the best reception. Either which way, you need to consider that.

If your business is seasonal, or your customers are in seasonal businesses, then perhaps focus on less emails to arrive on specific dates at your customers inbox. e.g those in the gift industry would send "reminders" prior to common gifting events, or on the aniversary of a previous purchase might indicate a birthday reminder.

Reduced Graphics or Not?

Generally I would suggest not styling your email like a web page, it looks far to uninviting... Move any banner/logo/branding images to the right column, so that they personal introduction to your email is at the very top left, where the recipient is used to reading.

If you have images that are important to show, include them in the content of your email in appropriate places. Use small images that download fast, and perhaps link the image back to a page on your website where you have a larger version of the image.

Many fashion websites however are very focused on the visual, and often including just images in an email will suffice, as that's whats expected. However, consider that a few brief paragraphs of text will help your email get past the spam filters. 

Check your email for spam levels

Have a look on google, there are a number of websites/providers where you can check your email text to see if it might be detected as spam. Certain words or keyphrases get scored more highly by spam filters, and using those words might reduce the number of emails that make it to their destination.

Managing your Customer Database

We monitor a number of statistics of your members, including recent activity by customers, and detecting failed email addresses. We have a system that allows you to downgrade old email addresses that have gone stale. eg that is to say that the member has not clicked any link in any of your emails and has not contacted you via your website, nor purchased anything, nor participated in a forum. Why send more emails that you need to, stay on a lower hosting plan and avoid being detected as spam by cleaning up your mailing list.

Failed senders are automatically detected, but often these can be false positives. Keep a close eye on that report, and fix up any members who are on the incorrect status.

It's also a good idea to check on the names and details of the most recent members on your members database, to check if they correspond to the preferred "firstname lastname" format, which will have better effect with our FIRSTNAME feature on our newsletters

Some other sites of interest.

I've been chatting to the guys from www.setandforgetmarketing.com about a great product they have. Sometimes new customers need to be bought upto speed before the monthly newsletters make sense. A unique email campaign that follows the same sequence for all new customers, irrespective of the day they get added to your database, will be much easier for those customers to understand.

 

Posted: Wednesday 13 October 2010

Comments



>Home >About Us >Our Blog >Writing better newsletters