Features of an effective newsletter

Design Festival email newsletterMeasuring the success of a newsletter can be quantified by an open rate, bounce or failure numbers, clicks… and of course the impact on your bottom-line.  Newsletters don’t always ‘sell’ directly, they can inform and promote who you are… and of course they have to compete with all the other newsletters your audience receives.

So, what will help your newsletter stand apart?  What will make your newsletter more effective?

I recently received an email newsletter from Design Festival, and it ticked a number of boxes for an ‘effective’ newsletter.  Here is a cropped image of the newsletter with comments below.

Have a clear objective…
…without that you cannot measure anything!  In my view the primary objective is simply to drive traffic to your website.  To do this you need to ‘engage’ the viewer, to prick their interest and take them away from a distracting email Inbox and into your website, your world, your ‘call to actions’!  Yes, you may want to ‘shout’ about new service but you will do that with a clearer voice on your website.

Have a reason for the newsletter
If you are going through the motions of a newsletter, it’ll scream delete me to the recipient.  Have a reason, step back from the content and ask yourself, would I read this.

Personalise it… properly
Use a name if available and appropriate, but it won’t add anything.  (I mean spammers are your “best friends” already”!) I’d not both with it, it does not add value.
USe a short personalised intro and consider putting a thumbnail face beside the ‘welcome’.  On the example below the placement of Editor’s picture is intentional and it works to personalise the email “intrusion”.  Its a sense of identity and an inferred sense trust on the content that just isnt there on other newsletters.  It says to me, I put my name to this, read me.

Use an ‘engaging’ email subject and content sub-headings
Know your audience and don’t oversell.  Avoid spam keywords is a given – if you are using these words I’d suggest deleting the whole thing.  Think very carefully about the email subject, make it relevant, short, clear and concise to grab attention and say ‘you should read me’… no more.

The all important content
This is where newsletters always, always fall down.  They assume people are interested and have time to read paragraphs of newsletter information.  Your objective is to drive traffic to your site, not to generate new content to be read in a busy Inbox. The newsletter is a ‘reminder’ of content on your site, not for ‘new’ information.
Use short concise content excerpts (with related thumbnail images) linking to posts/pages on your website.  It’s the website that should always your effort in writing new content – Google can hardly rate newsletters can it?

Regular posting on the site writes the newsletter
2-3 posts a month basically writes the newsletter for you.  One or two relevant posts can be summarised in a minute and dropped into a newsletter linking to the full post.  Job done.
In the example below, the newsletter is from a site with frequent posts and intentionally includes a variety of topics to ensure at least one topic is of interest.  Each item doesnt tell a story, its there to capture intention and drive traffic to the site.

Don’t forget the look and feel
Ensure the newsletter look&feel compliments your brand and website.  One assumes the recipient has visited your website more than once so don’t be keen to experiment in the newsletter with the gaudiest template or the cheesiest stock image.

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