What makes a newsletter worth reading

Plan a newsletter and implement it professionally

Many companies send out newsletters to strengthen their “customer loyalty”. However, this goal is seldom achieved - unfortunately the opposite is often the case. This article gets to the heart of what is important when planning and creating newsletters and what you can do to ensure that your newsletters are read. You will also learn which mistakes you should absolutely avoid.

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The six most common mistakes in newsletters

1. First person perspective

Very often we see newsletters that string together events that are irrelevant to the recipient. Then it says: “We have inaugurated our second logistics center in Hinterdupfing” or “Hans-Peter Müller is now our new chief financial officer”. All of this may be interesting from a company point of view and move people's hearts, but what does it have to do with the reader? Only what is relevant for the reader may appear in the newsletter. So if the new logistics center brings about an improvement in delivery speed from the customer's point of view, then give them this message. If not: out with it!

2. No use to the reader

“We have this offer. And then that new product for you at a special price. ”Yawn. A newsletter must be useful to us, otherwise we will unsubscribe. Or even worse: The newsletter is deleted unread. This is worse because in some cases this behavior leads to the e-mail provider (e.g. Google) classifying the sender as a spam sender. Then you can no longer get through to the recipients who might be interested.

Readers want their expectations for the newsletter to be met. Therefore, write texts that will be read with pleasure because they are useful. Three factors make up the usefulness of an article: news, entertainment, and knowledge. If your newsletter offers neither real news nor entertaining and educational, you can save yourself the trouble in the future.

3. Irrelevant time reference

Hardly anyone is happy about Easter offers from their house bank or about Christmas greetings from a hotel in which they stayed two years ago. And nobody forces you to send out such newsletters. On the contrary: precisely because there are so many pointless newsletters in printed or electronic form for Christmas, you should only send one if you can offer a direct, valuable reference to the content of this event. Really nobody needs a "Halloween offer" from their tire dealer. Then it is better to send it a week before or after without the seasonal reference and not get lost in the flood of many irrelevant messages.

4. Bad headline

“Newsletter 04-2016” is not a good title. Not only because nobody files your newsletters in ascending order, but also because this text does not encourage you to open the email. In school we learned that a heading should explain the content. However, this is certainly wrong for the headings in newsletters. The headline is the bait, which is known to taste the reader and not the copywriter. You can easily understand how to write a good headline with our free “Headings” worksheet.

5. Missing invitation to act

Even if the content is interesting and has benefited the reader, that is by no means enough. In order for the newsletter to have a countable success, the reader has to be active. He is supposed to perform an action. In the best case scenario, this is buying a product, or at least clicking on a link, answering a (re) question, making a recommendation on social media or downloading additional content. Every newsletter should one central CTA (call to action). Several of them confuse and cause less instead of more interaction, which leads us to the sixth mistake.

6. Too much content

Many companies design their newsletters like the classifieds page in the daily newspaper. This is confusing and means that there is hardly any reaction to the content. It is much better to have exactly one topic and to derive a clear request from it. At most, you can refer to other offers in the end credits of the newsletter in order to address readers who are specifically looking for them. However, the newsletter itself should focus on a specific topic, offer a clear benefit (news, entertainment, knowledge) for the reader and invite a clearly defined action.

Eight ideas for better newsletters that will actually be read

If you imagine that you are not an entrepreneur but the editor of a magazine, a daily newspaper or a trade journal, then it quickly becomes clear what is important. The newsletter has to be of value in itself and not just the extension of a marketing department. In addition, the reader must want to read the newsletter and, at best, even wait for it. To make this happen, we offer you a number of ideas that will make your newsletter worth reading and effective.

1. First clarify the "why"

Before you write the first word of your newsletter, answer this one question: “What for?” Or asked in more detail: “What should the newsletter do for the reader? What exactly should the newsletter change? What is the precise business goal of the newsletter? "

This answer to this question then becomes the central element of your newsletter. Everything else is subordinate. The newsletter has this one purpose - and it should really serve it. If you want to make your work a little easier, feel free to use our service and download the free worksheet for the newsletter. This will guide you through the creation of a good newsletter.

2. Write in a reader-friendly way

You can achieve reading friendliness with the right style and scope. You should speak the language of the target group and take into account that hardly anyone wants to spend a lot of time reading individual messages. Therefore, limit yourself to a maximum of 150 to 300 words in the text of the newsletter, which corresponds to a reading time of one to two minutes, depending on the reading speed. It is better to place longer texts in your blog, which you then link to. In spite of all its brevity, the newsletter text must of course function in itself and not just refer to the blog, because otherwise it is too easy to be exposed as "pawn trapping". The text in the blog, i.e. the blog post itself, can also be perfected according to all the rules of the art.

3. Time of dispatch

Depending on the target group, it can make sense to send the newsletter in the morning, at noon, in the evening or even on the weekend. If you have already gathered experience with your previous newsletters, you can use your mailing software to determine the optimal time for mailing. Otherwise it is worth experimenting and analyzing the behavior of your newsletter recipients.

If you are addressing a private target group, it should make sense to move the dispatch date to the evening or the weekend. Then most people have time to deal with it. For a professional target group, however, it makes more sense to send the newsletter on a weekday - at best not on Monday - and to choose a time when the inbox does not overflow. So in the late morning or a few hours after the lunch break.

4. Address mobile readers

In the meantime, e-mails are often read and edited - or deleted, on the move. This results in a few important tips that you should definitely implement if you do not want to lose that percentage of readers.

Check the readability of your newsletter on the most popular smartphones. Modern dispatch systems for email newsletters offer the possibility of optimizing the font size for mobile devices.
Most smartphones not only display the title but also the first few words of the message before it is opened (this can also be set in Outlook or Apple Mail). Make sure that this first text that the reader is shown along with the subject is actually an invitation to open it. You should therefore avoid the frequent introductory sentence "If this message is not displayed correctly ..." and instead use a sentence that works as a subtitle and makes you want to open the newsletter.
Avoid large images that unnecessarily cost loading time and bandwidth. Optimize the images to a reasonable resolution and quality.

5. Avoid the word "newsletter"

There are now some SPAM filters that use the word newsletter itself as an indication of unwanted messages. That is why it is worth completely eliminating this word. This applies to the body text as well as to the footer. The unsubscribe link should also do without this term. Here are three ideas how you can find a replacement for "Newsletter":

Find a title that fits your company thematically: a manufacturer of lathes could choose “Revolution”, or a fitness manufacturer for “Pulse”.
Name the target group: “Practical information for sales and management” or “Weekly review for the printing industry” could be examples here.
Let yourself be inspired by well-known titles in newspapers and magazines: Why not the “Allgemeine Maschinenzeitung”, the “Beratung-Umschau” or the “CRM Tagblatt”?

6. Invest in a good headline

The headline decides whether your newsletter is opened or deleted unread. If you have several ideas for a good headline and are unsure which one is better, give this a try. This works very easily by first sending the newsletter to 5% of your readers with one headline and to another 5% with the other. After a few hours, evaluate what worked better and then send the newsletter with the best headline to the remaining 90%. Modern newsletter systems can do this automatically. We would be happy to advise you on your choice.

7. Increase the frequency

It makes little sense to only send a newsletter four times a year. Hardly any recipient will remember you after three months. If you prefer a very low frequency, we recommend that you send the newsletter once a month, because that is the frequency in which noteworthy specialist journals appear. If you want to get closer to your readers, then the dispatch should be planned at least every 14 days or better weekly. In this case it is especially important that the content is valuable, entertaining and at the same time easy to read.

8. Take new readers by the hand

When a new reader subscribes to your mailing list, it can take up to four weeks for the monthly publication to receive the first new newsletter. There is a high probability that this person will have forgotten that they have signed up by then. In the worst case, she will immediately unsubscribe or mark the message as unsolicited advertising.

For this reason, it is better if you introduce every new reader to you and your company immediately after they have signed up with a series of three to seven short messages and offer them valuable content immediately. For example, if you, as a supplier of machine tools, publish a newsletter for your customers, the first email could be an occupational safety primer with clever ideas for accident prevention. Two days later there is an overview of the most important (trade fair) dates in the tool industry. And another three days later, you send out the “five best tips for saving energy in the manufacturing industry”. As already mentioned, these are only examples. A reader who experiences this kind of introduction to your competency is more likely to get your first newsletter right and remember you.

Create a newsletter that will be read with pleasure and long-term

Don't waste your customers and prospects' time. Instead, use our tips and improve your newsletters to ensure that your target group clicks “Open” rather than “Delete” much more often in the future. With your newsletter you can turn your readers into more informed, happier, more educated or simply more satisfied people. That can work. Try it! Get your worksheet for better newsletters.

P.S .: Because we have already been asked several times whether we are revising existing newsletters and optimizing them according to various aspects, we have decided to offer this service. To do this, use our link and enter “Newsletter” as the voucher code. We will then request a copy of your newsletter by e-mail and contact you.


Photo source cover picture: © Sergey Nivens / Fotolia 2016