How to Create an Effective E-Mail Newsletter

You’re set up with a MailChimp account. You have a template designed. You have a mailing list in place. You’re ready to begin your newsletter campaign. Now what? E-newsletters are still the Internet’s best tool for supplementing a website. But to convert your contact list into customers you can engage with, you need an effective newsletter. Follow these 5 tips to create a newsletter campaign that works.

Tip #1: It Doesn’t Have to Be Long—Just Focused!

Don’t try and write a novel when you create your newsletter. You might have a lot of information that you want to communicate to your customers, but try and keep your newsletter limited to one big idea. Include links and additional content that build on the main story.

Tip #2: Your Subject Line Shouldn’t be a Sales Pitch

MailChimp published a study that compared the subject lines of newsletters with the best and worst open rates. The result: subject lines that communicated the subject of the email rather than sounding like a sales pitch had a higher open rate. Turn down the marketing lingo when writing your subject line—keep it simple and to the point. And make sure that you include your company name so that your customers know that the email is from you, not an anonymous spammer. Some examples from MailChimp:

Best Open Rates (60%–87%) Worst Open Rates (1%–14%)
1. [COMPANY NAME] Sales & Marketing Newsletter 1. Last Minute Gift - We Have the Answer
2. Eye on the [COMPANY NAME] Update (Oct. 31–Nov 4) 2. Valentines - Shop Early & Save 10%
3. [COMPANY NAME] Staff Shirts & Photos 3. Give a Gift Certificate this Holiday

Tip #3: Put High-Value Content at the Top

Placing high-value content at the top of your newsletter makes sense in two ways: first, you readers won’t have to wade through unnecessary “fluff” just to get to the good stuff. Second, some email programs, like Microsoft Outlook, preview an email when it arrives in your inbox. These “new mail” notifications usually show the top part of the message body. It’s likely that most users won’t go beyond the email preview, so make sure the content at the start of your newsletter is concise and to the point. If the heart of your message is not in the email preview, customers are likely to skip your well-crafted newsletter. Also, note that “high-value” content means content that is valuable from your customer’s perspective—not necessarily your own.

Tip #4: Make It "Mobile Friendly"

If you take a look around, you’ll see a lot of people on iPhones, iPads, Androids, and other mobile devices. People are taking advantage of “downtime”, like waiting for the bus or sitting in an airport by catching up on email. There’s a good chance that your newsletter will be read on a portable device, so make sure that it appears the way you want it. MailChimp has several features that help your newsletter to look good on mobile devices. You can read more about these features here. If you are specifically trying to target mobile customers with your newsletter, keep the newsletter even more concise than normal, since people are found to be more “in a hurry” when reading their email on a mobile device.

Tip #5: "Gift" Your Readers

The content of your newsletter should benefit your readers in some way. But you can reward faithful readers even more by including a special gift in your newsletter. It doesn’t have to be elaborate—something simple like a 10% coupon or an entry into a prize draw. It’s a fact: bribery works. Use it to your advantage!

Conclusion

Like you, your customers are busy people with busy lives. Most of us spend little time on small tasks like reading email. A successful newsletter needs to be concise and to the point. Make sure your subject line accurately communicates the subject of your newsletter without resorting to a sales pitch. Take advantage of email previews and load your high-value content at the top of your newsletter. Test your newsletter on mobile devices before you send it. And if you really want to “hook them”, offer a gift, and they might just come back for more.