What you need to know to boost your open rates, avoid unsubscribes and get the biggest return with newsletter marketing. |
When sending out an eNewsletter or eZine, sometimes it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t work.
I see many entrepreneurs and business owners happy to just get something out, or they make it all about them and add in what they think is best.
But in actuality, a newsletter needs to be given a lot of thought. Your goal is to send a newsletter that will appeal to your target market, not you. So if you’ve been sending out stuff that you would like to receive, it’s time to re-think your strategy.
In conjunction with an article written a few months ago about what your unsubscribes are telling you, here are 12 mistakes to avoid when sending out newsletters:
Not Defining Your Ideal Target Market
If you don’t know who it is you want to attract to become a customer, then you aren’t going to know what they will find useful information. And if you don’t know this, then you won’t know what to include in your newsletter to keep them wanting to hear from you.
Not Being Consistent
I work with many entrepreneurs and business owners who have the best of intentions to send out regular newsletters but simply don’t make it a priority.
They get going with at least one a month, and then it’s every couple of months… every 6 months… and then nothing. Nadda. What happened? They didn’t commit to a schedule and life’s busy-ness got in the way.
Inconsistency is a killer when it comes to newsletters. Pick a schedule and stick to it. Your subscribers will come to expect to hear from you and the more they do, the less chance they will forget about you.
Too “All Over The Map”
A confused mind says “no” so if you’re going to offer everything but the kitchen sink in your newsletter, then the odds are good that you are going to lose your readers’ attention.
Instead, focus on a theme, idea or single message and write for it. If you get off on a different tangent, hold that thought for another newsletter another day.
Be concise, and keep the flow simple and easy for the reader to follow and you will win more fans that way. Oh, and it shouldn’t go without saying, but do ensure you proofread your prose so it doesn’t have any spelling or grammar mistakes.
Not Matching Your Brand
Just because your newsletter provider offers free templates for you to use, doesn’t mean you should! Your newsletter is an extension of your brand and should look the part.
If you are going to use those templates, be sure to replace the header banner with one that matches your website, and also match your brand colours and fonts.
Having a consistent brand image goes a long way for recognisability with your readers.
No Call To Action
What do you want your reader to do once they’ve opened your newsletter? Be sure to include a call to action telling them what to do next.
For the majority of my newsletters, I want to send the readers back to our website to read the rest of the blog article I provided a preview for. Once they read the article, they are met with another call to action that could suggest they do a number of different things; like leave a comment or click a link to explore a particular service we offer that is in relation to the article.
Doesn’t Display As Intended
Many people look at their emails now on smart phones so be sure your newsletter appears properly on those smaller devices.
Moreover, if you don’t hand-code your newsletters and rely on the provided WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors from the newsletter provider, the chances are your newsletter will not display nicely across all the different email platforms.
So be sure to test how yours looks on Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, AOL etc.
Another tip about display, is to avoid using background images. Not all email programs will see a background image, most notably, Outlook.
Images Are Not Optimized
Some email programs don’t see certain CSS code that WYSIWYG editors use so the original size of the image is displayed instead of the what was defined in the CSS.
This causes the image to be HUGE and out of proportion to the rest of the newsletter. Needless to say, the newsletter then looks really bad on the receiving end.
Your Subscribers Don’t Know Who You Are
If you only send out occasional newsletters or even once a month, the odds are good that many of your subscribers are going to forget who you are.
So to avoid unsubscribes, include a short bio and photo of you at the bottom of the newsletter. This may remind them of who you are and why they signed up to receive your newsletter to begin with.
Not Providing Contact Information
Many times I’ll receive a newsletter and see a huge opportunity lost when they don’t take advantage of the opportunity to promote their contact information or, at very least, their website address.
Give your subscribers the chance to click a link and find out more about you.
Too Much Selling and Not Enough Value
Ugh, Do you get onto some mailing lists where there’s nothing but sales pitches and nothing offered of any value? What’s the first thing you do? Unsubscribe.
Don’t make your followers do the same. Always include lots of value in your newsletter to keep your subscribers happy. The best way to do this is by re-purposing your blog post and adding it to your newsletter. Assuming your blog post is of value, then you can now send that valuable content straight to your subscribers.
Not Using a Captivating Subject Line
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how brilliant your newsletter is, how much value it contains or how entertaining it will be; if you don’t put a lot of thought into your subject line, your followers will not be bothered to open it to read that great prose.
Spend a considerable amount of time coming up with a compelling and captivating subject line. If you don’t, it will be passed up and never opened.
It’s also important to note that you need to avoid using spam-activating words in your subject line or it will get marked as such and your newsletter will never be seen.
Not Getting Permission To Add People To Your List
I’ve saved a biggy for the end. No matter how tempting it is or how many other people you hear of doing this, avoid adding people to your newsletter list if you didn’t get their direct and explicit approval first.
It’s against the Canadian anti-spam legislation (CASL) and even if you are in the United States – if you have a Canadian on your list that complains about you adding them to your bulk mailing list, you can still be held liable.
Along the same lines, you also want to avoid sending out bulk newsletters using your personal email program like Gmail or Outlook. The anti-spam laws are clear and not only do you risk getting shut down by your ISP (If using your personal email address) you are also not in compliance with the law when you do this.
Sending out regular newsletters to your list is an excellent way to build the know, like and trust factor with your subscribers and get you new leads flowing in.
But you also need to know these kinds of mistakes, to ensure you get the best results from your efforts.
If you would rather focus on your business than worry about such details, my team and I manage newsletters for many of our clients and would be happy to manage yours as well. We can do everything from writing them to sending them out. Contact me to discuss.
To your success,
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