No doubt you’ve heard respected sources like Entrepreneur magazine claim that the e-newsletter is a “dinosaur” that’s too fossilized to drive results.
Or maybe you’ve come across articles on LinkedIn like “Why the E-Newsletter is Dead and Why That’s a Good Thing.”
BUT: dig deeper and you’ll find that reports of the e-newsletter’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Both Entrepreneur and LinkedIn suggest that it’s newsletters with too much verbal/visual content and/or too many links that don’t work.
So it’s the format that is (or can be) the problem. Not the newsletter form or how it’s delivered.
Still not convinced? Consider this.
An October 2017 Biz Report.com article reports that 74% of consumers prefer to receive branded email communications (read: company newsletters) over all other types of communication.
This includes those that come from social media and messaging apps.
The takeaway here is that with a little strategy and savvy, e-mail newsletters can benefit your business.
But how can you make the most of the newsletter form?
Tip #1: Work that subject line
Don’t just write: “Monthly Newsletter.” Or “Hello, It’s Me.” That’s a surefire way to get your efforts deleted.
State exactly what your letter is about. But also make your readers wonder: you’ve only got a few seconds to make an impression, so make the most of that time.
Here are some examples from successful online entrepreneur Lauren Hooker of Elle & Company:
- “Why I deleted 7,000 subscribers from my list”
- “Are you buying into the success myth?”
- “My worst fear came true”
All three titles are short and compelling. They make you want to learn more.
Tip #2: Ask: “What’s the point?”
Before you even compose a newsletter, know why you are writing it. Do you want to inform? Make a good impression? Get click-throughs to your website?
Once you know the objective, go back to the beginning and write with that aim in mind. Or work backwards to the start.
This kind of focus will also help unify content and help you determine appropriate calls to action (CTAs) to use throughout the newsletter: “Sign up for X to learn more.” “Click on this link to visit the company website.”
And so on.
Tip #3: Be informative
A good newsletter offers subscribers “news they can use.” This can include:
- company/industry updates
- fun facts/anecdotes
- tips, tricks and tools
- (sections from) a recent blog post
- links to podcasts and webinars
- product/service reviews
- client testimonials
- resource lists
Show your subscribers that you bring value into their lives. And that you want to help.
Tip #4: Keep to one topic
Following from tips #2 and #3 above, use your newsletter to talk about ONE topic. Resist the temptation to follow New York Times publisher Adolph Simon Ochs’ dictum and present “all the news that’s fit to print.”
Your newsletter isn’t the NYT. And your readers have attention spans of about 8 seconds…which is less than a goldfish.
One strategy you may want to use is to segment your email list. Platforms like MailChimp allow you to target and filter contacts.
This means you can send newsletters to those individuals with whom your one message/purpose is most likely to resonate.
Whatever you do, be brief and get to the point. Your readers’ attention spans — or lack thereof — demand it.
#5: Drop the sales pitch
The access you have to (potential) client inboxes is a privilege, on par with having access to subscriber living rooms. If you seem like you’re “barging in” with too much hype, subscribers may revoke that privilege by unsubscribing from your list.
The best approach is to keep any sales news down to a minimum and in the style of a report: “We’re having a 25% off sale on product/service X all this month.”
Save the sales pitch for promotional emails ONLY.
Tip #6: Go for scannability
Because your readers have such short attention spans, you need to make your newsletters easy on the eye. And easy to digest.
Ways you can accomplish this include:
- creating 1 to 2-line paragraphs
- highlighting keywords with boldface type
- keeping word choice
- using short, direct sentences
If you decide to use images — and you should use a few since humans process visual information 60,000 times faster than text —be conservative.
A good rule of thumb is to follow the 70/30 rule: 70% text, 30% image. Including too many visuals may cause email systems to mark your newsletter as spam.
Tip #7: Show consistency
Be very clear in your opt-in regarding how often your subscribers can expect to hear from you. Every other week? Once a month? Once every six weeks?
Whatever you decide, say what you mean and mean what you say.
If you send more than you promised, your readers may see it as spamming and opt out of your newsletter. Send less and they may ignore you.
Making the most of newsletter potential means adapting the form to the needs of internet-surfing subscribers. Do it and you build business-sustaining relationships.
Don’t…and your newsletter may well go the way of the Tyrannosaurus rex.