Even though eNewsletters are one of the most common types of emails to send, they are actually some of the hardest to do right. It’s hard because it includes a mix of different types of content about different parts of your business, often including event reminders, product and/or service education, or industry info, as well as promotions. For this reason, most often, email newsletters flop. They become an uninteresting mush of content that people automatically ignore, delete, or straight up unsubscribe from.
When done well, you could grow an engaged subscriber base and possibly nurture them into qualified leads that later become customers. At the very least, your eNewsletter will re-engage your existing evangelists, you know, remind them how much they love your company and they could help bring in business. Either way this is something you definitely don’t want to miss out on.
So, how do you engage with an eNewsletter? Here are 6 must-dos to nail your next email newsletter.
Do you even need a newsletter? Some industries lend themselves to periodic news updates others do not. If your business is constantly changing with frequent new and exciting products updates then, yes, a newsletter if right for you. But if you are just looking to engage those on your email lists, maybe just a more simplified and direct email nurturing campaign would better suit your business.
Decide on a focus topic and use it to tie together all the information. This will make your newsletter less of a mess, as well as, more enjoyable and interesting to read.
Balance the content of your newsletter to be 90 percent educational and 10 percent promotional. Having a giant banner in your newsletter that says ‘BIG SALE, BIG SALE, BIG SALE’ will only interest warm leads, those already looking to buy. Offering more education and less promotion warms leads from every level in the sale cycle not only those at the bottom.
Pick one primary call-to-action. Having multiple CTA’s pulls the reader in too many directions. If you have two groups of people you are trying to call to action in different ways, segment your e-mail lists and send specialized eNewsletters to each group.
Make sure images are not only compelling and relevant, but also have alt text. Many forget to include this in emails but alt text in a newsletter can be just as beneficial as it is on web sites or in blog posts.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, keep design and copy minimal. Make it simple and easy to read.
Jakob Neilsen did some pretty impervious research on email newsletters, finding “the average time allocated to a newsletter after opening it was only 51 seconds. ‘Reading’ is not even the right word, since participants fully read only 19 percent of newsletters. The predominant user behavior was scanning. Often, users didn’t even scan the entire newsletter: 35 percent of the time, participants only skimmed a small part of the newsletter or glanced at the content.”
Check out this eye-tracking heat map of users reading a newsletter.
Notice the emphasis is on reading the first two words of the headlines. The areas where users looked the most are colored red; the yellow areas indicate fewer views, followed by the least-viewed blue areas. People were highly inclined to skip the introductory blah-blah text in newsletters. Although this text was only three lines long on average, the study’s eye-tracking recordings revealed that 67 percent of users had zero fixations within newsletter introductions.
Adding each of these elements to your eNewsletter will significantly increase your open and click-thru rates. The key to eNewsletters is not only shout praise for your business from a soapbox but to engage your readers. Grab their interest and create a newsletter customers can love.