1. Your newsletter is just a letter without news
It’s quite simple: a newsletter without news isn’t a newsletter. Instead of following a set schedule, only send out newsletters when you really have something to say – and make sure it’s something exciting. Be strict with yourself: the new coffee machine, the miserly 5% discount and the newly stenciled company car are less groundbreaking for your readers than they are for you and your boss.
2. Your subject line is off the subject
Readers use the sender and subject line to decide whether they’ll read an email now, later or never. Give your audience a reason to read your email with an interesting subject line. Ask a question or use a keyword. Whatever you do, make it intriguing and short. Email programs only show the first few words of a subject line in their main view. Avoid irrelevant subjects like ‘Newsletter 3/17’ or ‘Newsletter March 2017’. Copywriters differentiate between titles and headlines. Don’t give your newsletter a title; give it a punchy headline.
3. You start with the weather
Many newsletters begin with earthshattering observations such as ‘Spring is just around the corner’, ‘The leaves are starting to fall’ or ‘It’s nearly Christmas…’ Your reader is already well aware, so leave out the introductory sentences and get straight to the point. And put your best news first: the first two or three sentences need to be exciting enough to keep your audience.
4. Your newsletter is unreadable
Be aware when designing your newsletter that it won’t just be read in Outlook on a computer, but on phones and tablets as well. Choose a trim design and big fonts. A good newsletter tool such as Mailchimp offers responsive design templates to ensure that your reader doesn’t have to zoom in on your newsletter on their iPhone and end up with a single sentence stretched across their screen.
5. Your newsletter looks like junk mail
You know how it is: anything that resembles sex, advertising or spam gets deleted immediately – unless you’re actually looking for Viagra or a get-rich-quick scheme. Don’t write a newsletter that sounds like a collection of meaningless advertising slogans; your readers won’t make it past the first ‘hot prices for cool computers’. Smart newsletter writers surprise their readers with useful, exciting content, linking it to their own products and offers, like the wily hairdresser who includes a how-to tutorial on cutting children’s hair to promote their family campaign. It may sound contradictory – but that’s content marketing for you!
6. You’re talking to mailing lists, not people
Who are you sending your newsletter to? If you’re considering email marketing, don’t think in terms of mailing lists; think in terms of people. People who receive 10, 20, 50 emails a day. These people have subscribed to your newsletter, so reward their interest with worthwhile content. Recipients can very quickly tell how much effort the sender has put into their email.
7. Your newsletter has no point
Why on earth are you even sending a newsletter? Do you think your current customers are so passionately interested in your company that they want to stay up to date with every last detail of your plans? Or are you just following an email marketing or content marketing strategy? People subscribe to your newsletter because they expect something of you. So think about what your readers are really interested in and the topics they’re passionate about. Write about those, rather than what your company’s up to. The only ones interested in that are you and the company – and possibly your mother.