Tips for creating a better Email newsletter

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A few weeks ago I was talking to one of our clients about his new Email newsletter. He’s in the process of transitioning from a print newsletter and was planning to apply the same approach to the electronic version.

Big mistake.

If you try to remake your print newsletter in electronic form, not only will you ensure that no one will read it, you’ll also be losing out on many of the benefits email newsletters have to offer.

Here are some tips for creating an email newsletter that your users will actually subscribe to and read.

  • Make it easy to scan and read. Subscribers are busy people. They’ve got a lot of Email to wade through on a daily basis. You’ll increase chances that recipients will read your newsletter if you make it easy for them to scan by bolding key statements or offering bullet points, and if you keep it short.
  • Make it worth reading. We’re used to thinking about newsletters as vehicles to share information about our companies – basically, another PR tool. This thinking ignores the basic fact that subscribers are self-interested. Subscribers who offer up their Email address and who take the time to read your content, expect that the content they receive is going to benefit them in some way. Fail to meet that expectation and you’ll notice subscribers removing themselves from your mailing list faster than rats jumping off the Titanic (not that subscribers are rats, mind you).
  • Try using a single article format. Most of the newsletters I subscribe to don’t do this. They opt instead for the multiple-article-summary-paragraph-click-to-read-more approach. While this approach seems to work for a lot of people (because they keep using it), as a subscriber, I find that I rarely click through to read the entire article which means that I’m probably missing out on some good information. Plus, having multiple article summaries to review makes it very difficult to know what’s important and what’s not. A better way to capture subscribers’ attention and deliver your message in its entirety is to concentrate what you want to say in a single article format. Not only is this more effective, it also allows you to title your articles something other than “September 2007.”
  • Send it out on a regular basis. Let’s remember that one of the advantages of having an Email newsletter is that it gives you the opportunity to reach your clients and prospects on a regular basis, and drive qualified traffic back to your site. In addition, unlike its print cousin, sending out an Email newsletter is relatively inexpensive and the costs are pretty much fixed. Thus, the more newsletters you send out (within reason, of course) the more you stand to gain, and the less you will pay to produce each newsletter.
  • Archive old newsletters on your site. Email newsletters can help your company long after they’ve been published. By adding newsletter content to your site, you’ll be creating new pages containing valuable keywords (not to mention internal links to those pages from other pages on your site). This will help you optimize your site for search engines. Also, users who aren’t subscribers will appreciate having access to this free resource material. They may even decide to subscribe to your mailing list after reading it. This is where it helps to have a descriptive title. To receive the search engine optimization benefit and to compel your users to click though and read the article, you’ll want to make sure that your title is descriptive, compelling and keyword-rich. So opt for a title like “Use Your Brand To Make Money” over “Vol. 2, Issue 1.”

Developing and writing effective Email newsletters isn’t easy, but the benefits that your company stands to receive from this low-cost marketing tool is worth the time and effort required to do the job correctly.

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