How To Get People To Actually Read Your E-Newsletters

Note: This article was originally published on OPEN Forum.

Email newsletters have been around forever, it seems.  While the technologies behind them have changed, the proven principles for making them effective really haven’t. 

Whether you’re just now launching an email campaign designed to make customers aware of your brand, or you simply want to make your current list more profitable, we’ve got the keys to making it happen—regardless of your business niche!

Click here to see 8 tips for making your e-mail campaign more profitable >

Pick your email service early on

There are many email services a small business could choose from to get started with a mailing list, and they each have their perks. Some charge you based on the number of subscribers you have. Others charge you for photo hosting, access to more polished-looking templates, or for the ability to produce detailed reports and analytics data. Take some time to research what you'll need--not just now--but also in the future.

Keep in mind that whoever you decide to go with, you'll most likely stay with them for a very long time. Switching subscription clients is not only a hassle, but it can be potentially damaging to your subscriber count since it will require your existing subscribers to re opt-in--something not everyone will do.

Capture, capture, capture

Offer an incentive

Establish yourself as the expert

Build the relationship

So now that you've got your audience hooked, how do you continue to keep the momentum flowing? By becoming increasingly involved in the lives of your subscribers (in a non-creepy way, of course). Schedule a series of emails designed to enrich the worlds of those receiving it, and make each one useful enough to stand alone or be forwarded on to a friend without causing confusion.

Another way to be certain that subscribers equate each email with a personal communication from you (and not some impersonal email robot somewhere far away) is to be sure that your messages are branded to match your business. If you use a certain colour scheme, logo, or font on your website, try to incorporate that into the design of your emails, too. (This is just one reason why you'll want to carefully vet email subscription services before you commit. Not all email templates are customisable.) Not only are you keeping a continual conversation through the emails, but you are helping to develop brand recognition--which will likely come in handy when customers are faced with the decision of who to buy from.

Make it interactive

Do it right the first time

I get hundreds of newsletters a day, and while I most likely can't remember them all (nor do I open them all), I do remember those that are really bad--and I unsubscribe accordingly. Among those are emails that have obviously not been proofed for link accuracy or image compatibility, or those that contain obviously erroneous information. While it is certainly painful to realise that you've sent out an email with mistakes, it can be just a bad to send a second email calling your subscribers' attention to the matter.

Check. Double-check. Check again. These are the only ways to be certain that your next email isn't the death of your campaign, and if you want to be absolutely sure that you didn't miss anything, send a test email to yourself before every mass release. Sometimes an email can look perfectly good in your email software, but will actually contain blaring mistakes. If you feel that you cannot let an erroneous email slide, see about correcting information on your website or other methods before you go to the last resort of sending out another email.

Make yourself available

Once a subscriber lets you into their email box, you've officially been granted access to their world. Don't abuse this by becoming unavailable when they want something. We all know that it's standard practice for auto-responders to overtake the customer service office. By making sure that a real person is on hand to answer questions stemming from newsletters, however, you're reminding customers that technology hasn't replaced humanity. Make sure that direct replies to your emails actually go someplace, and try to respond to requests within the same timeframe as you would for any other business matter. If your website policy is to reply to customer questions within 24 hours, this standard should apply to email newsletters, too.

Ultimately, the best email newsletters will follow the typical sales cycles that have proven successful for years, and that's still the main objective. By keeping on your toes with industry standard practices, current spam laws, and your customers' true needs, however, you can bring your email campaign to the next level without a lot of grief or expense.

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