Five Common Newsletter Mistakes

Standout Newsletter
How many email newsletters do you receive every day?  Most of us get quite a few.  So how do you make sure yours stands out?

Many people have said to me, “Evan, yours is the only newsletter I actually read.”  I take this as quite a compliment!  Today I will share with you five mistakes I see all the time, which reduce a newsletter’s effectiveness.

When you implement the fixes I give here, more people will be excited to open and read your email.  You will build stronger relationships with your audience, and you will receive more referrals and leads!

Mistake #1:  Not Sending It Consistently

When’s the last time you sent a newsletter?  Recent answers I’ve heard include: “last Christmas,” “when we launched our new website in 2012,” and “when we were featured in that article 6 months ago…oh my, it’s been a year already.”

While sporadic emails let you communicate information, consistent emails enable you to build relationships.  When your audience hears from you on a regular basis, they feel like they are spending time with you, hearing your voice, and getting to know you better.  

I recently saw an old contact at a networking event.  When I said, “I haven’t seen you in almost a year!” she was confused.  “No, it couldn’t possibly have been so long,” she replied.  And then she realized it’s just because my face pops up in her inbox on a regular basis.

When you stay top of mind, you get many more leads and referrals.

Mistake #2:  Boring Subject Lines

The easiest way to get reflexively deleted is a boring subject line.  I can’t tell you how many newsletters I see that appear in my inbox like this:


Acme Corp Q1 Update
Smith Training Smith Training April Newsletter
Jones & Company Exciting News from Jones & Company


These emails will have terrible open rates.  The sad thing is, they might have amazing content!

To get a big jump in open rate, just give the newsletter a subject that piques the reader’s interest.  The subject should make your email content intriguing, in the same way that a newspaper headline makes you want to read the article.  You can phrase the subject as a question that readers might have on their minds.  Or offer a solution to a problem they feel.  Basically, you have 4-8 words to describe why they should bother to click on this email.  Don’t waste them on “newsletter” or “news” or “update”!  zzzzzzz

Mistake #3:  It’s All About You

If you got nervous on point #1 and worried that “consistent” emails would become spam, then yes, I totally agree with you.  You just need to fix mistake #3 as well.

Are your emails mostly news about your company and/or sales promotions?  Then your emails are all about you.  This gets old quickly (read: “spam”).

On the other hand, people love receiving information that is interesting and useful TO THEM.  Use your newsletter to share tips, how-tos, and commentary on relevant news.  People will appreciate your sharing your expertise, and will start to look forward to receiving your emails!  For detailed instructions on how to do this, read How Not to Be a Spammer.

Mistake #4:  Hard to Skim

How much time do you spend on each email as you flip through your inbox?  Five seconds?  Ten?

Sometimes I get newsletters that read like an essay.  Maybe there is a ton of great information in there, but I will never know.  Email is not a good vehicle for essays.  There are just too many distractions dancing around the inbox.

Instead, break up information with clear, bold section headings.  These allow people to skim quickly and find parts that are the most interesting for them.  If you want to go into more detail, great!  Link to an article on your blog, where people can read without “new message!” indicators flashing.

Mistake #5:  Not Linking to Your Website

The best emails get even more than an email’s worth of attention from your readers; they draw readers to your website.  Once there, they will likely click around a bit.  Now, instead of spending seconds reading your email, they’re spending minutes learning about you and your business.

To draw readers to your site, place headlines and intro blurbs in your email body, and then link to the rest of the article on your blog.  Experiment with different types of content (different topics, different media) and see what gets the best click-through rates.


Action Plan

Brainstorm possible newsletter topics, using the tips in #3 and in How Not to Be a Spammer.  Then, make a newsletter calendar for the next 3-6 months.  For each newsletter, list the send date and write a possible subject line for the email.  Put these dates in your calendar with reminders 1 week before, to start drafting the content.

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