Ahh, the e-mail newsletter – so simple, yet so complex. The hardest part about it? Getting customers to sign up and stay subscribed. We’ve all fallen victim to the newsletter that seems to set out for world domination in our inboxes. You sign up for coupons from your favorite retailer, and shortly thereafter become swamped in a barrage of e-mails that you have no interest in reading – leading to a swift click of the “unsubscribe” button.
Looking for ways to increase subscriptions and readership? Have you been losing subscribers? I have compiled a list of 7 things you should know before you hit “send” on your next e-newsletter.
Give an incentive: Why should people sign up for your e-newsletter as opposed to the millions of others out there in cyberspace? Your newsletter needs to offer something that your audience can’t get elsewhere. You can create an incentive by offering a coupon for signing up and exclusive discounts for subscribers, or by offering access to special, relevant information. Your customers should know exactly which exclusive deals and information they are signing up for – clearly outline the contents and offers available in your newsletter on the sign-up page.
Be consistent: The exact time of day that you send out your e-newsletter is less important than sending it out at the same time each day. When customers sign up for your newsletter, make it clear which days of the week and what time of day they can expect to see it pop up in their inbox. This helps you in two ways: 1. Customers will know that you don’t plan on spamming their inbox throughout the week, and 2. Customers will know when to check their inbox for updates.
Cross promote: This one is pretty straightforward. Promote your Facebook and Twitter accounts in your e-newsletter, and promote your e-newsletter on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Chances are if people enjoy receiving updates from you on social networking sites they will sign up for regular updates via e-mail, and vice versa.
Be creative: Cold, hard facts are good. In fact, they are essential. But customers will skip over boring text. Make your newsletter fun and entertaining so that your consumers read it all the way through the end, and are left anxiously awaiting your next update. Your headlines must be short and sweet, but specific and gripping. There’s no point in writing creative content if no one will even bother opening the e-mail to read on! Content should be unique and interesting – don’t bore your readers with facts and statistics that’ll completely go over the heads of your target audience. Look at your newsletter. Would you read it all the way through? If not, it’s time to get those creative juices flowing!
Go mobile: According to Simms Jenkins at clickz.com, “Almost half of every hour on the mobile Internet is spent on e-mail.” With numbers like that, there’s no doubt that readers will be accessing your newsletter via mobile device. You want your newsletter to be a pleasant reading experience on both a large computer monitor screen and a tiny mobile one. You can do this by keeping your newsletter organized and simple to navigate. Avoid clutter and don’t jam-pack too much information into each e-mail. If there isn’t enough white space in your newsletter, then those valuable mobile users will give up trying to read your content or click on crowded links.
Don’t rely on images: Most people will view your newsletter in the preview window, and a lot of e-mail providers automatically disable images. According to Jeanne Jennings at clickz.com, only 33 percent of people surveyed have images enabled by default. This means that the design and function of your newsletter should depend on creative, informative content – not on graphic elements. If your newsletter shows up in your subscribers’ preview pane as one big error message, no one will bother opening it, let alone reading it. Make sure your newsletter contains engaging content besides images, and that your images have alternative text descriptions.
When in doubt, test it out: Not sure if your e-mail will look suitable with images disabled? Afraid of your subject line landing your message in a spam folder? Test it! And don’t just test it with one e-mail service. Each e-mail service has different settings, so double check that your e-newsletter will work on more than one platform with and without images enabled.
What do you think? Did I miss anything in this list? What things hook you in to signing up for e-mail updates? What things turn you away?