The 5 golden rules of eNewsletters

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An eNewsletter is one of the best ways you can stay top-of-mind with customers. If you do it well, it can become an ongoing piece of communication your customers look forward to and even pass on to friends and colleagues.

To see what appeals to your target market so you can optimise the efficacy of your eNewsletters, ongoing testing is key. However there are some proven tricks that will minimise your bounce rate and make sure your e-newsletter is the one that gets opened.

  1. Standout subjects
    If you don’t nail your subject line, your eNewsletter simply won’t get opened. Remember, most people scan their inboxes. As more and more businesses are using emails to communicate with customers, it’s even more crucial yours stands out. Make it arresting and eye-catching. For impact and readability, it’s best to keep it short and to the point. Be descriptive, tempt or intrigue your audience and avoid spammy or overly salesy jargon. To see what works on your target market, try split testing different kinds of subject lines to see which approach has better rates of being opened.
    When people scan their inboxes, it’s the subject lines they read first. So always include the name of your business or the name of your newsletter in the subject line to give it credibility. For example, if someone was to receive an email with the subject line “Win a trip to Hawaii” it’s likely to get ignored or deleted without being opened. The same email with the subject line “<Business name> newsletter: Win a trip to Hawaii”, has a far better chance of being opened. It lets your customer knows they’re not being spammed.
  2. Know your limits
    To create an effective eNewletter, you need to enlist the help of a specialist. An eNewsletter needs to be built in basic html for easy viewing. If you send it as one large image it will be blocked by the email client and the recipient will receive a warning they have to accept before opening it. And for obvious reasons that dramatically increases the bounce rate.
    Upon opening your eNewsletter, the majority of your audience will read the first few lines of the before clicking to download the images, so make sure it’s compelling enough to whet their appetite for more.
    If you want to utilise movement, JavaScript or animated gifs, direct your readers to your website. The eNewsletter is not the place. In the words of Einstein – keep it simple.
  3. Swerve the spam filter
    Many newsletters go straight to spam due to minor mistakes which can be easily prevented. Spam filters automatically scan key words to assess whether emails class as spam. For example, the subject line “Register to win money” includes 3 potential spam words. It’s not always possible to avoid spam words altogether, but ensure you use them thoughtfully and minimally.
    Spam filters count the ratio of html/images to body copy. If you only have images in your  eNewsletter, or you have a stunning design but just one sentence, the spam filter won’t approve. You need to have at least the same amount of body copy as html in each email.
    Break these rules at your own risk! Spam filters share information between each other. Once you’ve been marked as spam, your domain may be blacklisted. If your email address is on a spam blacklist, you will have to change your whole address including your domain. There is no way of removing your email from a blacklist, there are just too many of them.
  4. Compelling content
    When thinking of content to include, consider what interests your target market. The people on your eNewsletter list are unlikely to be excited by your minor successes. As advertising guru Seth Godin once said “No one care about you, they care about themselves”. Your eNewsletter is not the only thing in their inbox. To be read, you need to offer them something. It doesn’t have to be a free gift or offer, it can be knowledge – or even a laugh.
    Make your content entertaining and readable, with relevant news and information, topical issues, helpful hints and special offers. Special offers can be used as a tool to increase sales and measure the success of your communications. By regularly including special offers just for the readers of your newsletter, you’ll also be more likely to gain a loyal readership.
  5. Strategic sending
    You’d think sending an eNewsletter would be easy. However you can’t just send it from your Outlook as it doesn’t allow you to send personalised emails en masse or include html. Also, to avoid spam filters it’s best to send your eNewsletter from an authorised server. Don’t send it from a personal email address, create a universal newsletter address to send it from.
    And of course be sure to include statistics with your email, so you can know who opened your newsletter, and when.
    To maximise your success, timing is crucial. Send your eNewsletter at 5pm on Friday, and no one will open it. Generally the most effective times to send eNewsletters are either on Tuesday or Thursday at 10.30am or 2pm. However, your target market may differ. Split up the sending of your eNewsletters and try some tests to determine what works best for you.