11 ways to get more people to read your newsletter

05/05/1711 ways to get more people to read your newsletter

We’ve talked a lot over the past few weeks about the importance of producing good quality content, whether that be:

I’m often heard quoting: “Content is king”, but producing it is only half the job. You’ve got to get people to read, watch or listen to it.

Email newsletters are one of the most effective ways of distributing content. But, that only works if the recipient opens the email and interacts with it.

I sent a tweet a couple of days ago (it was a bit self-congratulatory, I admit) which showed that a newsletter we produced for our newest Yardstick member, achieved an open rate of 71%. In other words, seven out of 10 people who received it, opened it.

That’s an astonishingly high rate and something I’m proud of; the client was also delighted. So, I thought for today’s piece, I would share some of the knowledge that lead to such a high open rate.

1. Know your numbers

The starting point of course is to know your current open and click through rates.

If you use a bulk email system such a Mail Chimp, it will tell you the percentage of recipients who open your newsletter. That’s the starting point future progress should be measured against and that will tell you whether or not your campaign is working.

2. Use a bulk email system

Outlook doesn’t cut it. You need a bulk email system designed for the job, which can give you valuable and actionable management information.

We use the Dotmailer system. It was our largest investment when we started Yardstick a few months ago; that’s how much we believe in email marketing.

3. Personalise as much as you can

It’s a simple fact of life that you are more likely to open an email personalised to you; we all like to see our name.

Be careful though, getting this wrong is embarrassing. We’ve all received emails: Dear {first name}!

4. Send from a name they recognise

This one may sound obvious, but open rates will be increased if the recipient recognises your name, or that of your company.

5. Test subject lines

The purpose of the subject line is to entice the recipient to open the email; it’s therefore linked closely to open rates.

We recommend testing these over a period of time to understand what works. Bulk email systems make this easier with split testing. This allows you to test multiple subject lines on a percentage of your database and use the winning line to email the remainder of your database.

6. Content is king

I promise not to say that again in this blog! (Even if it is true.)

The content you include in your newsletter must be relevant to the audience receiving it. The relevance will impact on both open rates, as you will use the article headline in your subject line, and on click through rates, as people will only click on an article if they find it interesting.

7. Drive traffic to your website

We recommend using the newsletter to drive traffic to your website. In practice that means including several articles in your newsletter, showing the headline, an image to represent the content and a brief description (20 – 30 words maximum) with a prominent call to action; click here to read more / discover more / learn more; you get the idea.

This sends the recipient to your website to read the full article, while there, they will hopefully take the opportunity to browse the rest of your site.

Of course, holding the unique content on your website will also keep the Google gods happy and won’t do your search rankings any harm.

8. Do everything you can to avoid spam filters

Your email has no chance of being read, or acted upon, if it ends up in a spam folder.

Every spam filter is configured differently, so avoiding their clutches isn’t always easy. There are some basic steps you can take though:

  • Carefully written subject lines; avoid anything which could be interpreted as ‘salesy’ or ‘spammy’ such as writing in CAPITALS or including exclamation marks!
  • Including an unsubscribe link (make it prominent too, if someone wants to leave your email list, make it easy for them to do so)
  • Getting your recipients to add you to their trusted sending list
  • Be consistent with your design and formatting
  • Make it clear that the newsletter is coming from a sender the recipient will recognise, this will help avoid them labelling as spam, which will adversely affect all future emails you send
  • Avoid using Flash or Javascript
  • Don’t send attachments (including PDFs, that’s a big no-no, yet I still see advisers doing it)
  • Spell check your email. Not only will this improve the professionalism of your publication, it will also help to avoid getting marked as spam as some filters use spelling as part of their algorithm

We recommend regularly testing your newsletter with a spam checker. Doing so will alert you to anything likely to interest the spam filters. You can then make changes as necessary.

9. Test different times

There is an optimum time to send your emails. You’ve just got to find it.

We recommend testing different send times to see which works best for your audience. Once you’ve found the golden hour, stick to it and be consistent.

10. Be mobile friendly

60% of the recipients of the newsletter we referred to at the start of this article, opened it on either their mobile or tablet.

That means the design must look as good on these devices as it does on a larger screen. If it doesn’t, is hard to use, or difficult to read, when you send future editions open rates and engagement will naturally start to fall away.

11. A second bite at the cherry

There will always be a percentage of people who don’t open your newsletter. We recommend using a bulk email system which has the facility to automatically resend the email to anyone who has not already opened it.

In our experience that can add another 30 – 50% on your initial open rates.

Here to help

If you don’t produce newsletters or have the best of intentions, but find you struggle to commit the time, we are here to help.

Our guide: The definitive guide to client newsletters is free to download by clicking here.

If you need a more hands-on approach our Yardstick membership is available on a monthly or quarterly basis; you can find more about it by clicking here.

If you would like to know more give us a call on 0115 815 7770 or email [email protected]

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