One of the biggest problems with email newsletters is that they are often cluttered and unfocused because they are supporting every aspect of your business.
Product news goes right next to PR stories, blog posts go next to a random event week … it’s kind of a mess.
Email — whether it’s a newsletter or not — needs one common thread to hold it together.
A way to help reduce the randomness of an email newsletter is by keeping it to one very specific topic.
So instead of it being about your company in general, maybe it’s dedicated to one vertical.
For example, if PetSmart were to send out a newsletter, they could do one solely on dog food rather then the whole damn store, because really who cares about cats!
In it, they could gather together recent blog posts on dog food, dog advice and tips, events that all dog lovers should go to, and maybe even a doggy quiz.
By tying together those pieces of content all under the umbrella of doggy stuff, the email newsletter would be much more focused and engaging.
So. Don’t send dog stuff to cat people and car stuff to bird people. Etc. etc. target your audience.
Balance the content of your newsletter to be 90% educational and 10% promotional.
Chances are, your email newsletter subscribers aren’t down to hear about your products and services 100% of the time. While they may love you and want to hear from you, there’s only so much shilling you can do before they tune out.
Case in point: if you have a thing for shoes, and You especially love this one shoe site. You willingly opted in to the company’s email list, but it now sends you emails 2-3 times a day to buy, buy, buy … and when You see its sender name pop up in my inbox, You want to scream. Now, if they sent you educational content — maybe about the latest styles of shoes, or how to pair certain styles with certain outfits — You might be more inclined to buy from them, or at least start opening their emails again.
Don’t be that company. In your email newsletters, get rid of the self promotion (most of the time) and focus on sending your subscribers educational, relevant, timely information.
Unless you actually have an exciting, big piece of news about your product, service, or company, leave out the promotional parts.
Set expectations on your ‘Subscribe’ page.
Once you’ve figured out your newsletter’s focus and content balance, make sure you’re properly communicating about them on your subscribe landing page.
Get specific: Tell potential subscribers exactly what will be in the newsletter as well as how often they should expect to hear from you.
As a subscriber, wouldn’t that be awesome?
You’d go in with open eyes knowing exactly who you will be receiving email from, what they will be sending you, and how often they’ll be sending it to you.
As a marketer, having this information up front will help diminish your unsubscribe and spam rates as well.
Get creative with email subject lines.
Even if your subscribers sign up for your emails, there’s no guarantee that they will open your emails once they get them in their inbox.
Many marketers try increasing familiarity with their subscribers by keeping the subject line the same each day, week, or month that they send it.
But let’s face it, those subject lines get old — fast — for subscribers.
Because there’s no incentive from the subject line to click on that specific email right this instant.
A better approach would be to try to have a different, creative, engaging subject line for each newsletter you send.
One company who does this really well is Thrillist. Here’s a collection of email newsletters
I’ve received from them over the past few days:
“A fight you’ll want to get in…”
“Pizza, I’ve cream. No joke…”
“The biggest opening this year so far is…”
“WARNING this email is RED HOT….”
“What’s your states biggest food chain?”
“You’ll need to drink all of these…”
Pick one primary call-to-action
Okay, part of what makes a newsletter a newsletter is that you’re featuring multiple pieces of content with multiple calls-to-action (CTAs).
But, that doesn’t mean you should let those CTAs all have equal prominence.
Instead, let there be one head honcho CTA — just one main thing that you would like your subscribers to do, and the rest of the CTAs are a “in case you have time.”
Whether it’s simply to click through to see a blog post or just to forward the email to a friend, make it super simple for your subscribers to know what you want them to do — and then do it.