Are your e-newsletters not converting? Is your unsubscribe rate going through the roof? Read on…
Know thy reader
Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to email newsletters. There is, however, one golden rule: know your target audience. “But I have all kinds of people on my reading list!” I hear you cry. That may be true, but don’t fall into the trap of believing that you need to write for all of them. Depending on your newsletter’s key objective (we’ll come onto that in a minute), some of your readers are likely to be more important to you than others.
Why has your target audience joined your mailing list? Was it a case of them forgetting to tick an opt-out box, or do they genuinely want to hear from you? If it’s the latter, what are they expecting to find out? Do they crave insider information about new product launches, exclusive offers, case studies about your charity, or the latest news about a global issue? Are they looking for advice that you can deliver? If you don’t know, ask them. Once you have a clear idea of what they’re expecting, make sure you deliver and, ideally, exceed their expectations.
Today’s consumers are bombarded with information; your newsletter has to compete with an awful lot of other demands on their attention. To stand apart from the noise, it needs to provide something of real value, whether that’s entertainment, money off, important information or just the feel good factor. One of the biggest mistakes organisations make with their e-newsletters is losing sight of the WHY. Why should someone read this? What’s in it for them? If you only ever email your mailing list to ask them to buy something, you’re going to find that your open rate continues to fall. You need to be rewarding your readers for their time and business. A few ideas:
- Charities: Give your readers a pat on the back with case studies of people/animals/causes they’ve helped. Tell them about news stories in the field you’re working in.
- Service providers: Offer top tips and insider information. If you’re a website hosting company aimed at small businesses, why not offer them a free guide to e-marketing? If you’re an accountant focusing on sole-traders, put together a guide to tax deductible expenses for home-workers. Link to a longer post on your website if you need to.
- Retailers: Treat your readers to exclusive offers and information. Give them a ‘sneak peek’ at products before they’re launched, ideally with an early bird discount. If you’re a beauty retailer, write a spring/summer trends article, with 10% off the products mentioned. Give your readers exclusive voucher codes that aren’t available to anyone not signed up.
Remember why you’re doing this
While it’s great to keep readers happy, you also need to ensure return on your investment. What’s the key objective of each newsletter? Is it to cement brand loyalty, drive sales, drive traffic to your website, promote a particular product, get people to sign a petition? Do you have metrics in place for measuring success?
Make it easy
Don’t bombard them with information. You can always link to longer articles on your website. Even better, include an image of a video and link to it on your website (it can double your click-through rate). Don’t confuse people with lots of different calls to action, but make sure that the ones you do have are easy to find and link to the right places on your website. Make your e-newsletter look appealing, by breaking text up with images and using sub-headers, bullets and box-outs. And remember that more than half of your readers will likely be viewing your newsletter using a smartphone or tablet, so it needs to be mobile optimised.
Give your reader a reason to open the email in the first place, by using a killer subject header that entices them in. However, bear in mind that phrases such as ‘free’, ‘win’, ‘great deal’ and so on can scream ‘spam’, so only use them if your audience is used to receiving emails from you. And do make sure your subject line is relevant to the contents of the email, otherwise you risk annoying your reader. Remember to keep the subject line short, so people don’t have to scroll across to get the gist.
Test, test and test some more
While I don’t like repeating myself, there really is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. You need to know what works for your readers, so discuss A/B testing splits with your email marketing service provider.
Want to hand over the responsibility for writing your e-newsletters? Talk to me about how I can help.