Writing Effective Email Newsletters

Email newsletters are clogging your Inbox. And it’s not just you. It’s everybody. Email newsletters are a great way for people to stay in touch with their audiences and everybody knows it. And that means everybody has a newsletter and they all want you to sign-up, giving them your email address along with an invitation to email you with whatever they might be offering.
This is not entirely a bad thing. Fact is; we’re receiving more free information than we ever have before. All these merchants are trying to capture our attention and gain our trust with valuable content. And of course, we have to option to sign up for whichever newsletters we might be interested in so the information we’re getting is essentially by request. But the sad reality is that most email newsletters never get read. In fact, a recent study found that only 19% of email newsletters ever get looked at. That’s bad news for those writing them.
If you’ve had any experience with email newsletters, you’ll know that they tend to fall into two buckets. In the first bucket, you’ll find the cookie-cutter newsletters with standardized formats, nicely crafted colorful layouts, interesting sidebars and perfectly positioned articles. In the second bucket, you’ll find the emails that come to you regularly from a provider you signed up for but that look more like a personal text email than a formal newsletter. And as it turns out, these two approaches deliver very different results.
The probability of having a conversational text-based email read are far greater than having a standardized and html-formatted newsletter read and it’s because recipients perceive the former as a personal message and the latter as spam. Of course, it doesn’t take long before they realize that the supposedly personal message is spam as well but if the opening sentence or two are captivating enough, the recipient may already be caught in the web and destined to read the whole thing.
For those of us who send out periodic email newsletters, there are a couple lessons we can learn from all this. For starters, if you’re using a standardized newsletter template, consider changing to a less structured and more conversational format. And by the way, this includes the title. Don’t reference “monthly newsletter” in the subject line. Instead, use something more timely and unique. Use a title you would write to a friend, something that looks more personal.
Anyone who uses Outlook knows that the preview pane allows you to glance inside the email before actually opening it. This is where the standardized format can really hurt you. If the contents are just straight text and appear more conversational, the chances of having the email opened goes up dramatically. And a strong timely subject line adds to that probability as well.
Once the email is open or at least being viewed through the preview pane, make absolutely sure your opening sentence or two are dynamic and captivating. Make sure those opening words are well-written and that they clearly define the value available to the recipient if they read further. This is the biggest mistake of standardized newsletters. They always have some boring standardized text at the very top. Don’t do it. Make sure your opening sentence is unique for each newsletter and encourages the recipient to continue reading.
Taking this approach may reduce the perceived formality of your newsletter but it will definitely increase the number of people who read it. Don’t get caught up with the formality issue. If you’re presenting valuable information, your clients will respect you plenty. The sad reality happens when you send out valuable information and nobody knows because nobody read it. You’re better off catering to people’s natural curiosities and write your period newsletters in a casual and personal way.

Tactical Execution with Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a strategic company focused on growth marketing and program implementation across business markets. Visit the website for actionable guidance for revenue generation.

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