“Do people read your email newsletter”
I asked an executive I met recently this question. “Certainly do”, he replied. “I had 3 complaint emails from clients last month; each telling me there was a spelling mistake ‘centre stage’ in my newsletter.”
After a long discussion on the newsletter being a frontline strategy in business communications, I agreed to proofread his newsletter ‘with compliments’.
The executive was not happy when I presented him with my assessment. Issues went from his opening address of “Dear “ (no-one obviously), to complete lack of logic and flow, incomplete advertising information, inconsistent font, cramped text and so on. I did eventually find his key messages buried deep within the text of his three pages and I felt lucky.
This set me wondering about the email newsletter and what research existed on such a basic communication strategy in our current social marketing environment.
The Nielsen Norman Group (http://www.nngroup.com/reports/newsletters/) has completed extensive international research on newsletters. Some interesting points worth further investigation for business are as follows:
- A reader will spend 51 seconds reading it and 33 seconds following up on links to websites.
- Readers scan for current and timely information.
- Readers of email newsletter experience emotional reactions because they feel it has a personal nature—it arrives in their inbox, is regular and they agreed to subscribe. This is not the case with social media marketing.
- The newsletter creates a long-term relationship and bond between the reader and the business and 69% of readers look forward to it as long as it is brief.
- There is a 300% increase in new messages in Inboxes so the use of previews is vital. Previews should focus on information that has high client-value content.
- Users of mobile devices often read newsletters when they have spare moments. Writers of newsletters should decide if their target audience is mobile device or desktop users, as each requires a unique style of newsletter.
Any new ideas on newsletters?
It could be timely to dust off the old newsletter templates and introduce some new ideas.
- Personalise your newsletter. Give it a name and identify of its own.
- Consider if your newsletter has a one-style-suits-all approach or is it worth considering having multiple newsletters to cater to differing needs. The needs of mobile users are worth investigating. Is it feasible to use specific click throughs for in-depth information?
- Be personable, engaging and even a little social with perhaps a photo.
- Engage your readers with clear action headlines and relevant ‘quotes’ can add human context. Short and snappy is the key with a call to action.
- Consider sustainability with the newsletter production. Stay ‘fresh’ and enthusiastic. Less may be better.
- Keep it simple, focussed and maintain adequate white space, business typography and always use correct grammar and spelling. Bulleting points may help and a word count of around 400 words is adequate. Remember readers SCAN for relevant information.
- Share your newsletter on your social marketing site.
- Promote your newsletter through your blog, Facebook and Twitter—and do it often to keep reminding the broader audience of your product
- Check your subscribe/unsubscribe processes and newsletter delivery and display on all major email platforms.