Writing Successful Newsletters

Email newsletters are a great way to build trust and customer relationships over time. If they include promotional content, they will also grow revenues. Either way, the key is to make sure your subscribers actually read them. Here are GOT's top 5 tips for making sure your email newsletters get opened, read, and acted upon:

1. Create Relevant Subject Lines.

Most people go through their inbox at least once a day to irrelevant email. There's just too much email and too little time. That's why it's critical for your email newsletter to have a subject line that makes people want to read more. They are looking for an excuse to delete your newsletter - don't give it to them! Don't use a subject line like "Our October Newsletter." Instead, use a subject line that engages your reader's attention with an interesting topic or headline from the newsletter, such as "Venture Capitalists Explain How to Get Funded" or "Inside: Exclusive Interview with the Dalai Lama!" If your audience has diverse interests, you can run a string of subjects, such as "Dalai Lama Exclusive; VC Cash Tips; More Inside!" If you'd like to encourage pass-along readership, why not use your subject line to do it? The Association for Interactive Marketing (AIM) always adds "Pls. Forward" to the end of their newsletter subject lines, supposedly it has more than doubled their circulation!

With EmailBrain, you can run two separate campaigns to send one newsletter, changing only the subject line. Email's reporting feature will allow you to compare open rates and optimize your subject lines.

2. Use HTML with Text Backup.

While text-only newsletters were common practice a few years ago, times have changed, and most people do prefer to receive their newsletters in HTML format. For the handful of recipients that cannot read email in HTML format, a text backup version is recommended.

EmailBrain allows you to build your email in HTML format, and then automatically create the text backup version in one click.

3. Length and Frequency of your newsletter

The more frequent your newsletter, the shorter it should be. People will happily open a short "Joke of the Day" or their daily horoscope; but almost no one wants to get something longer than that every single day! So, keep dailies to a page or less and weeklies to 5-7 pages or less. Biweeklies (every two weeks) and monthlies can be longer - only if you have truly fascinating information to share. Never go longer just for the sake of length.

EmailBrain allows you to schedule your campaigns to go out at any time in the future, making it easy for you to plan the timing and frequency of all your email communications.

4. Make it Easy on the Eyes

Here are two easy tricks to use to make your email newsletters more visually appealing and more likely to be read:

See how it will look as you create the content: When you are writing a newsletter, set your word processing program so you are writing in the same format that it will appear in on recipient's screens. For text-based newsletters, that means 10 point Courier type going 60 characters (five inches) across. Unless your newsletter is unusually long, or your audience over 45ish, they will probably try to read it on their screens. Your job is to make this as easy as possible for them.

Always add a table of contents at the top: On-screen readers don't want to work hard to find pieces of information that are valuable to them inside your newsletter. Tell them up-front what will be in it so they can scroll quickly and easily to the section of their choice. In fact usability studies show that most people won't look beyond the first screen of information if there's not something immediately interesting to them. Give them a reason to scroll down!

EmailBrain's editing tools allow you to preview your email in HTML format while you create content. Use this feature often to make sure you are developing an appealing email template and layout.

5. Tone and Attitude

Every brand has its' own tone and manner, which is adapted to various contexts - formal for official documents with legal implications, more casual and direct for promotional materials. While print newsletters tend to be somewhat formal, email newsletters are a different beast. The best email marketers in the world, no matter what industry they are in - from fun consumer sites to serious business-to-business portals - say the same thing: make your newsletter's tone personal and casual. People crave a little humanity behind the corporate mask. They respond much better to newsletters that are written by one particular individual at a company who they can get to know over time. They like little personal comments that could only come from a single human being.

It is sometimes hard to get used to writing in a casual tone for an official communication. It can feel risky, even scary at first. But chances are it will work far better for you than old fashioned "corporate-speak."

EmailBrain allows you to preview and send test versions of all your email newsletters. Why not try out a more casual tone and manner, copy a few people on it, and get their impressions. You may be surprised!

Your best resource is your own email inbox. Take an hour in the next day or so to go on the Web and sign up for more email newsletters. Naturally you'll want to get your top competitors' newsletters, but you also might get a few on your favorite hobby or personal interest. Look for good ideas that you can use; see what makes you open an email (or delete without reading); form an opinion on what formats are easiest on your eyes; consider the tone. You'll be surprised at all the ideas you'll end up generating, often from the most unlikely sources.


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