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Is it all over for e-newsletter content?

Julie Blake - Friday, September 26, 2014

It’s not unusual for marketing departments to produce regular e-newsletters. The aim is to inform their prospects and customers of new content such as blog articles and news stories, all wrapped up in a pretty html template.

E-newsletter image

But there are a few voices crying out for us to pull the plug on newsletters. Some believe there are better communications out there, that newsletters have poor click-through rates and are considered a nuisance by many. However other marketers are not abandoning hope, saying there’s life in the old dog yet!

It’s a dilemma. Who should you believe?

At OCC we really think there is value in e-newsletters, yet many are in desperate need of a copywriting make-over to truly realise their potential. Here are some quick suggestions for reviving your e-newsletters.

  1. Analyse and respond

    Evaluate the performance of your e-newsletter content through the reporting function in your email content management system or by using tracking tools such as Google Analytics. If your open rates are low (and your click rates even lower) focus on what content has been clicked on and think about why it received more attention.

    Look at previous versions that were sent out too, and ask yourself questions like:

    • Was anything changed design-wise?
    • Was the news current?
    • Were the links easier to find?
    • Was the copywriting shorter, more interesting maybe?

    Also think about creating some A/B split testing for your e-newsletters. Change small elements that you feel might not be registering with your audience, and have a look at some great e-newsletter examples. See this HubSpot post to find out what the pros are up to.

  2. Segment and multiply

    Your newsletter might not be pushing the right buttons because it’s too broad in scope. Have a good think about the recipient list. It may be that your audience doesn’t want to scroll down to find the one small article relevant to their business.

    Think instead of breaking up your data list into mini segments based on their interests/sector/purchase history etc. If you don’t know what their interests are, find out by surveying or contacting them directly. Once your customers are in neat little groups, send them regular, smaller, targeted e-newsletters (five points max). This might mean more work for marketing in terms of template set up, content writing and mailing time – but by choosing to divide, target and conquer you’ll see improved open rates and click-throughs.

  3. Short and sweet?

    OK, most people won’t see the whole newsletter without scrolling a little (partly due to their systems settings or email provider), but excessive scrolling can really put people off. If there’s too much choice and reams of content, your reader will glaze over, mark to read later (and never get around to it), or even just bin it.

    Think about how many stories you might read in one sitting and what would attract you to read them. Then adjust your newsletter accordingly. Consider your content – is it all a bit too promotion heavy? If so change it – your audience wants to be informed, moved, educated and entertained by your content. Obvious selling tactics very rarely get clicked.

  4. Permissions and filtering

    Have a look into your recipient list. Is it from an e-newsletter sign-up or an older address base? If your contacts never asked to receive it, they’re probably just binning it.

    Also, clean your list. If a contact has been on there for several years and in that time hasn’t opened or clicked anything it’s probably time to delete them.

    Many e-newsletters can be their own enemy when it comes to headers. An uninspiring title such as “X’s Spring Newsletter” will not get as high a click through as “Newsletter 12: Spring clean your content” or something similar. Give your readers a great reason to open and click. Also, make sure you don’t have anything in the title that falls foul of subject line best practice for email spam filters. No longer than 50 characters, no £ or !, FREE and no salesy words please! Adestra’s subject line report has some handy hints. Do some testing to determine which headings work best for your audience, then keep to that template for your future communications.

Hopefully these tips will help you to craft better e-newsletters that your readers will want to open and engage with. Do you have anything to add, and what do you think of our suggestions?

Comments below…
Here at OCC we have a great track record with turning around the fortunes of e-newsletters. Drop us a line if you want us to help you with yours.