How to Get People to Read Your Email Newsletter

Lee Polevoi by Lee Polevoi on October 11, 2013
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Is an email newsletter part of your small-business marketing arsenal?

If not, Monika Jansen of Groupon Merchant Blog offers several compelling reasons to reconsider:

  • Newsletters arrive in your customers’ email inboxes, where they at least have to look at the sender and subject line before reading the email or hitting Delete.
  • If you include graphics and short headlines, newsletters are easy to skim quickly.
  • As long as you send them regularly, newsletters will keep your business at the top of your customers’ minds. When the time comes for them to make a purchase, they’ll think of you first.

Still, there’s some confusion about what an email newsletter actually is. At its most effective, the newsletter offers a blend of content, from how-to articles and product announcements to surveys, promotions, and general company information. For all that a newsletter can offer, however, the biggest challenge is getting recipients to actually open and read your message.

Here are seven tips for creating an email newsletter that prospective customers will feel compelled to look at.

1. Put your creative energy into the subject line. The 30 to 35 characters that recipients see in an email subject line will likely determine whether or not they continue reading. Never go the understated route (“Here’s Our January Newsletter”). Be more enticing by using words such as tips or steps (“4 Tips for Saving Time When Filing Your Taxes”). Avoid any tactics that may cause the recipient or their email filters to think your message is spam. Refrain from using ALL CAPS and exclamation points!!!!

2. Short is sweet. Long emails packed with loads of information are pretty much dead on arrival. Any message that seems uninteresting or too overwhelming to scan will be immediately consigned to the trash bin. It’s all about getting to the point quickly. Your goal is to deliver as much value as possible in short summaries (one to two paragraphs, tops). If what you want to say can’t be squeezed into this format, write a brief description of the content and link to an article or blog post on your business website.

3. Offer value. Your job, in the small space allotted, is to provide useful information and not blatantly self-promoting fluff. As you write, ask yourself why should a reader care about this particular item? Will it make a difference in their lives or enable them to perform better in the workplace? Readers need to understand what’s in it for them before they read further or click on any links.

4. Include a compelling call to action. It’s one thing to get people to read your newsletter. What do you want them to do next? Offer a clear call to action to guide everyone toward the next step (such as “Act Now” or “Click Here to Learn More”).

5. Use images to catch the reader’s eye. An email filled with text alone is rarely appealing. Readers are drawn to images, particularly of people, as long as they’re high-quality and related to the newsletter article.

6. Know when to send the newsletter. When recipients get your newsletter has a lot to do with their decision to read it or not. According to the email delivery service Constant Contact, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays were previously thought to be the “best performing days.” More recent surveys suggest Monday “might be the new favorite.” Constant Contact also notes that your email newsletter has a better chance of being seen between the hours of 8 and 10 a.m. or 4 and 6 p.m. (vs. other times of the day).

7. Make your email smartphone-friendly. Increasingly, prospective customers are viewing email messages on their smartphones. Be sure to optimize your newsletter for use on mobile devices by avoiding attachments and an abundance of links. Anything that slows down your reader may lead to a loss of interest from your target audience.

Lee Polevoi

Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.

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