Email newsletters have long been a key part of any comprehensive marketing strategy. In fact, in recent years, newsletters have experienced something of a renaissance, with high-quality newsletters like Dave Pell’s NextDraft gaining huge audiences.
On the other hand, most of us receive no shortage of spam, and any marketing newsletter has to walk a fine line between valuable content and worthless spam. Unfortunately, I see many companies that don’t quite understand — or care — that an effective email newsletter demands high-quality content.
Most companies engaged in content marketing have grasped the idea that social media streams and blogs shouldn’t be focused entirely on the hard-sell. But many who wouldn’t for a second publish spammy garbage on their blog seem quite happy to send out tens of thousands of emails with practically no value from a content marketing or audience-building perspective.
I’m going to assume that you’re well aware that high-quality content is the way to go and take look at some mistakes that might scupper an email newsletter even if it contains great content.
Make It Easy To Unsubscribe
First and foremost, subscription must be voluntary, which means letting people unsubscribe as easily as possible. This is in the interest of leads, but also in the interest of marketers and the companies they work for.
The whole point of an email newsletter is to engage the attention of potential customers. If they simply aren’t interested, there’s no way to engage their attention. Don’t kid yourself that if you keep sending emails, they may see something in email number 50 that grabs their attention.
A valuable mailing list contains genuine leads, and letting people unsubscribe helps weed out leads that are going nowhere.
This should be obvious, but it often isn’t, so I’ll make it clear. Don’t buy email lists and spam everyone on them with content they aren’t interested in. Don’t send too many emails, because even if the recipient is interested in hearing from your company once a week, they won’t want to see your name pop up in their inbox several times a day. Be polite.
Include A Prominent Call To Action
Although I’ve stressed valuable, non-sales content, we send email newsletters because we want to sell something. If you don’t include prominent calls-to-action that lead to relevant landing pages on your site, users are unlikely to act on what they read even if they do find it interesting.
Keep It Short And Sweet
Attention is at a premium, so keep email newsletters to a reasonable size. By all means include links to your blog, but don’t try to squeeze the text of every blog article you’ve published in the last month into one email.
One mistake I often see is when businesses allow every department or team to make a contribution. The result is often a long messy email made of incoherent sections with no overall design or goal.
I prefer to create a theme or overarching goal for each newsletter and design content and graphics that contribute to achieving that goal.
Make It Mobile Friendly
Another one that should be a no-brainer on today’s web: make sure email newsletters perform well on mobile devices. If the recipient has to pinch-and-zoom around tiny text, they’ll just hit delete and move on to a less troublesome email.
The takeaway message is this: send people with a genuine interest in your products short high-quality content — and don’t forget the call-to-action.