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7 hints and tips to ensure more people read your newsletter

Last week we wrote about seven ways to check if your newsletters are performing. If you missed that article you can still read it by clicking here.

This week, we are bringing you our top hints and tips to improve in each of the seven areas.

After all, if you’re going to the time, effort and expense of producing content and newsletters, you should be doing everything possible to ensure the end product is as engaging as possible.

So, strap yourself in. Here goes…

1. Bounced emails

The scourge of all email campaigns, bounced emails equal wasted effort and messages which never hit home.

It’s vital to ensure your database is as up to date as possible. Therefore, check each and every newsletter that you send for hard bounces. Then contact the clients whose email addresses have bounced to request an up-to-date email address.

Sounds simple. And it is. But most firms don’t do it.

2. Open rate

Several things affect open rates:

The subject line: The more interesting the subject line, the more someone is likely to open the email. Be careful though; some subject lines are almost guaranteed to increase open rates, but ultimately are so misleading they alienate the reader.

If your bulk email system has the functionality (if it doesn’t, it’s probably a sign that you should consider an alternative) then split test subject lines. For those not ‘in the know’, split testing allows you to send the email, with different subject lines, to a small proportion of your database. For example, line A goes to 5% of your database, line B to the next 5%. The ‘winner’ is then used to send to the remaining 90%.

Split testing is part science, part art. But it certainly helps to increase open rates.

Finally, certain words are more likely to be caught by spam filters and consequently should not be included in the subject line. Words such as ‘deal’, ‘free’, ‘open’, ‘now’ and ‘limited’ should be avoided.

Personalisation: We are more likely to open an email if we recognise the sender. Consequently, if possible, you should send your emails from a named person.

For added personalisation bonus points, consider personalising the subject line with the recipient’s name.

The ‘from’ address: Again, we are more likely to open the email if we recognise the sender’s address.

This often gets overlooked, with the result that the address the email is sent from bears no relation to the firm’s usual domain or email address. Most bulk email systems allow you to show a relevant email address.

3. Click-through rates

There’s value in people simply receiving your newsletter because they get a touch from your brand. However, for maximum effect, where you add value and demonstrate knowledge, they need to read the articles.

Make the articles interesting and, above all, relevant. That means knowing and understanding your target audience and then writing for them. The closer the articles and your target audience are matched, the higher your click-through rate will be.

The quality of the writing is just as important as its relevance. Well written, easy to read, and well displayed articles will encourage recipients to open your articles month after month.

Other things are important too:

  • The article headline should be enticing, although beware of being too ‘clickbait-y’
  • Each article should be accompanied by an image
  • Ideally, preview text will be displayed to explain what the article is about and the benefits of reading it
  • The call to action (“read more”, “learn more”, “discover more” and so on) needs to be clear.

4. Unsubscribes

There will always be some people who unsubscribe from your newsletters – and it’s not always because they don’t want to hear from you. Some people might change email addresses (see point 1), while others might prefer to get your content via social media.

However, a high unsubscribe rate is an indication that something isn’t right.

Following the other hints and tips will reduce the unsubscribe rate. If your content is interesting, relevant and useful, why would someone unsubscribe? They should look forward to receiving your email!

Other things will help too, including:

  • Getting the frequency that you send the newsletter correct; we recommend monthly.
  • Segmenting your database. For example, your professional connections shouldn’t (ideally at least) receive your client newsletter, but one which includes articles specifically targeted to them.
  • Not antagonising your recipient with annoying, clickbait subject lines. Last week I mentioned the marketing agency who emailed me with the subject line: “Your website is down.” They certainly grabbed my attention and I opened their email, but they pissed me off. The result? I unsubscribed.
  • The same applies to fake reply indications (Fw: and so on) – they are misleading and best avoided.

Recipients who are extremely dissatisfied with your newsletter’s content, or that they received it in the first place, might register their unhappiness by unsubscribing.

5. ISP complainants

An ISP complaint means someone believes the email you have sent them is ‘spam’. They may report it as such.

You can’t please all the people all the time (and nor should you) so the odd ISP complainer is to be expected. But, if they build up and a pattern emerges, it’s an indication that something is going wrong.

The tips we’ve given to help reduce unsubscribe rates are all equally valid here. In fact, an ISP complaint is just an extension of an unsubscribe request.

6. The type of articles clicked

Understanding which subjects and topics your readers are interested in will help ensure your newsletter content is always relevant.

Monitor your click-through rates and measure which articles are being read. If your audience is predominantly reading one particular type of content, write more of that!

7. Time on the page

When someone clicks through to read one of your articles, you want them to get value from it. You can measure that by monitoring the time spent reading it. Head to Google Analytics and look at Behaviour > Overview. If an article which takes you five minutes to read has a similar average time spent on the page, that’s a good sign.

The longer someone spends on the page, the more engaged they are.

If you want visitors to spend more time on your website, then your articles should be:

  • Interesting
  • Relevant
  • Easy to read – break up the text with sub-headings, bullet points etc.

What to do next

If you’re not producing newsletters or you’re unsure how well your newsletters are performing, we can help.

We offer a variety of packages to help firms communicate more regularly with their clients, prospects and professional connections. Find out more by clicking here.

If you’d like to know more, please email or call me on 0115 8965 300.

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