Email Marketing

How to Create an Email Newsletter People Want to Read [Updated]

Here’s a hard reality: you could have the best and most engaging email newsletter in the world, but if no one reads it, it doesn’t matter how good it is.

You know email newsletters are an important part of connecting and engaging with your audience. They can also drive sales.

To achieve your marketing goals, you spend hours trying to craft the right syntax and limiting the links you embed. You work and work until you’ve created what you believe is the best email newsletter.

Then you send it out into the world, sitting back and waiting. After a few days, you review the open and click-through rates and they’re poorer than expected. You don’t get it. Don’t people care? Why would they opt-in if they don’t want to read your newsletter?

Don’t take it personally. It already sounds like you’re on the right track with your newsletter, but it could use some tweaks. If you want to send email newsletters that your customers can’t wait to read, this is the article for you. In it, we’ll tell you how to make your newsletters absolutely irresistible.

What Is a Newsletter?

You’re ready to make a newsletter, we know, but before you get to that point, we want to start with a definition of an email newsletter. This way, you can get into the right frame of mind when you begin your newsletter series.

When writing a newsletter, you’re not sending out a physical version like people once did. Instead, it’s all digitized through the power of email. You can send this to every member of your audience or a segmented group, and which much more often recommend the latter.

The point of writing these newsletters is two-pronged. For one, it contains updates to stories you may have issued before. For instance, you may have introduced the makings of a new product in your last newsletter, and in this one, you share more information, such as specs, photos, or even a video. This whets the appetites of your readers, who may also become repeat buyers when this product comes out.

Your email newsletter also contains news about what’s going on in your company. From new company hires to highlights on employees who do an exemplary job and so much more, you fill in your interested readers on all the latest.

Most companies who send email content like this will do so about monthly. You could even do quarterly newsletters, so four per year. These would surely be lengthier than a monthly letter because you’d have a lot more to cover.

One major benefit of sending your newsletters digitally instead of physically is how you can embed elements. At the very least, you can add links. For instance, if there’s a blog post or a prior newsletter you want to link to, you can insert some HTML to redirect readers.

You could even use your newsletters as a means of driving traffic. For instance, you write a few paragraphs of each story and then link to the rest. To read more, your audience would have to click the link. There, they’d get redirected to your website where they can see the content in full.

Besides just links, you can also embed videos, images, and even interactive content. There’s a whole wealth of possibilities to explore when starting a newsletter.

The Importance of Newsletters for Businesses

  • Builds and Strengthens Relationships
  • Improves Your Credibility
  • Adds a Sense of Personalization
  • There’s an Opportunity for Earning Revenue
  • Builds Awareness of Your Company

You’ve tossed around in your head whether it’s worth it to do your own business newsletter. Aren’t these types of emails boring and stuffy? Won’t they drag down your open and click-through rates? After all, who really cares?

Probably more people than you think, at least if you write in a captivating enough fashion (keep reading for more tips on that). Here are several very convincing reasons to create a newsletter for your business today.

Builds and Strengthens Relationships

Relationships are incredibly important to any business. After all, you need professional bonds with others to drive your company’s success. Not only are these the people who will buy from you, but they’ll also vouch for you and even refer you to others in their circle. They’re the kinds of people you want on your side, but the relationship will die unless you nurture and engage it.

Although you might not think of your newsletter as a form of communication, that’s truly what it is. You’re showing a vulnerable side of your business that people generally cannot glimpse any other way. Your customers learn about you and, in turn, you more about them. This develops a sense of transparency that strengthens that professional bond between you in a major way.

Improves Your Credibility

Every company wants to be viewed as an authority in their industry or niche. You can write blog posts until you’re blue in the face, but starting a newsletter will also lend you some credibility. Perhaps you reveal a process or a trends list through your newsletter. Not only do you inform your audience, but you also position yourself as a credible authority in your field. That can help you drive more business.

Adds a Sense of Personalization

As we mentioned before, very rarely do you just send a single newsletter to your whole audience. Instead, you’ll tweak and tailor the content to appeal to your various audience segments. This personalization makes your customers feel more like individuals. The sense that you’re talking just to them boosts their appreciation of your business as well as their customer satisfaction. It also helps strengthen the bond between your company and your customers.

There’s an Opportunity for Earning Revenue

When a new product comes down the pipeline, you might opt to introduce it first to your newsletter audience. In doing so, you could offer them an exclusive discount code if they buy early. Even once the product comes out, you can again write about special deals to incentivize purchases. You may run a sale just for newsletter subscribers to get those on the fence to finally buy.

Builds Awareness of Your Company

Every business wishes they could become a household name like your Nike, Apple, or Amazon. It’s not easy to get to that point, especially if you lack any brand awareness. As the name tells you, brand awareness is the level of popularity your company has achieved in the eyes of consumers.

In promoting your brand, having a regular newsletter can certainly help. You’re spreading news of your brand again and again, which will hopefully get your readers talking. Besides that, the links in your letter can redirect readers to your homepage, landing page, social page, or blog. There, they can learn more about you.

How to Measure Newsletter Metrics

To track the metrics of your newsletter, we recommend using A/B or split testing. Here, you can compare two versions of your newsletter to see which appeals to your audience most. Make sure you test almost any and every element you can think of. That includes whether your name displays as an email address or your full name, your subject line, and your body content.

Play around with how you arrange the elements, such as videos or photos. Use media-rich content like a giant image as a background versus plain text. We’ve talked about it on this blog before, but plain text emails can work incredibly well, especially if you want an intimate feel. You know, like what you’re going for in a newsletter.

We just wrote a great updated guide on A/B testing, so make sure you read that. We even shared some tips on split testing using email marketing alternatives such as Campaign Monitor, AWeber, and MailChimp, which you may use already.

You also to have comprehensive analytics software for tracking and measuring your newsletter success. Each week or each month, you can view metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and even website traffic as it relates to your newsletter. Watch as these metrics change over the days and weeks before making a judgment call on whether it’s worth it to continue with a newsletter. Sometimes it takes weeks to see results and other times months, so have some patience!

8 Tips for Making an Email Newsletter People Can’t-Wait to Read

  • 1. Use Templates
  • 2. Focus on Your Subject Line
  • 3. Cut the Sales Talk
  • 4. Use Storytelling Elements
  • 5. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
  • 6. Provide Value
  • 7. Give Them Something Exclusive
  • 8. Keep It Short and Sweet

As promised, here are eight of our top tips for making the most enticing newsletter around.

1. Use Templates

Email newsletter templates are your best friend. After all, you’re trying to run a business here. Who has time to learn HTML and coding? Certainly not you. You’d also prefer not to outsource yet another responsibility to a third party because of outsourcing = more money spent.

We get it. Money is tight. That’s why services like EngageBay exist. You only have to pay between $1 and $5 a day to use a wealth of email templates. Whether you’re going for a more serious newsletter or one that’s more playful and lighthearted, you can assuredly find the right template for you.

Templates with drag and drop functionality, like those from EngageBay, are super-easy to use. You just drag your elements—be those images, text, or even video—to the right spot and boom, you’re done. You can even format the text so it’s attention-grabbing.

2. Focus on Your Subject Line

You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and your subject line is most definitely it. According to 2018 data from Convince&Convert, subject lines will influence a decent amount of email recipients (35% of them) to click open an email…or not.

No pressure, right?

So what goes into a stellar subject line? The truth is, it’s ever-changing. In today’s marketing landscape, you can try dropping in an emoji or two. MediaPost found that, between 2015 and 2016, there was a 775% boost in emojis in email subject lines.

If you check your email inbox right now, then surely you’ll find at least one company that has used an emoji in a subject line to try to reach you. There may even be several emojis peppered in.

This is one tactic worth trying. Experian reported that open rates jumped by 56% when emails had an emoji in the subject line.

Personalization is also extremely important. 2018 data from HubSpot reports that click-through rates spiked in emails that had a subject line with the recipient’s first name in them.

3. Cut the Sales Talk

Courtesy of Unsplash

Today’s generation is a savvy one. They want to be sold something without you being too in-your-face about it. In other words, they don’t want to feel like they’re being sold. If your newsletters read like a transcript from a used car salesman, something is wrong.

We get it. You are trying to sell something, be that a product or a service. If you harp on nothing but your goods, though, your audience is going to get bored. That doesn’t mean you have to refrain from ever discussing what you sell, because that’s just as bad.

Instead of focusing exclusively on your products and services, why not get a little personal? These days, customers value transparency in a company. They want to know what goes on behind the scenes. They’re interested in the names and faces of employees.

By divulging that information across a series of newsletters and keeping the sales language to a minimum, you could see your open and click-through rates increase. Maybe even sales, too.

4. Use Storytelling Elements

Here’s another good tactic to try if you’re facing a nasty case of writer’s block: add storytelling elements to your newsletter.

Think about the last book you read that was a real page-turner. What kept you compelled to blow through chapter after chapter?

If you don’t read novels, then let’s put it in TV terms. Say you’re bringing a series on Netflix or even (gasp) watching TV the good old-fashioned way. The episode ends with a cliffhanger. Why do you tune in again?

It’s because the writer got you invested in the characters. They’re in a precarious situation now, and you’re eager to find out what happens to them.

Cliffhangers are one such example of a good storytelling element to incorporate into your newsletters. Here are a few more to try:

  • Focus on showing, not telling: Spelling out every last detail and exposition doesn’t make a story very fun to read or watch, does it? The same is true for your newsletter. You want reading it to be an enriching experience for your audience, not a boring one.
  • Add descriptive language: You don’t have to be a Hemingway to inject some beauty into your writing. Don’t wax too poetic, but descriptions and details are part of storytelling.
  • Include emotion: You might think this is a no-no because you’re a professional company. Where’s that leave room for emotion? You’d be surprised. Remember what we said before: customers today value transparency. Emotion is one element of transparency. Obviously, you want to refrain from very extreme emotions, but otherwise, express yourself.

5. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Courtesy of Unsplash

In case you missed that statistic from earlier in the article, data from this year proved how the simple act of including someone’s name in the subject line can boost open rates.

Why wouldn’t it? Most email subject lines aren’t super personalized. Once you add someone’s name to the subject line, it conveys a few things. First, it says that yes, this message is just for you. Second, it shows that the company sending the email cares.

Don’t stop there. Personalize the email itself. Address the newsletter to each individual who’s receiving it. There’s something about seeing our own name that gets us curious and makes us want to read.

Now, you might think such high levels of personalization would be quite time-consuming, but it’s faster than you think. If you’re using EngageBay’s software, such as our email newsletter templates, you can easily target each member of your customer base.

Once you load up your contact attributes, you just click a few times and voila, your emails are as personalized as they get. You can include a customer’s first name, last name, and email address. How handy is that?

6. Provide Value

Courtesy of Unsplash

This almost goes without saying, but you need to give people a reason to want to open the email. Yes, great writing is a treat in and of itself, and some people will appreciate your newsletters for the writing alone.

Most people though will have the “what’s in it for me?” mentality. If they open and read through your newsletter, what do they get out of it? A discount? A freebie? A coupon code? You have to make it worth the reader’s while to read your newsletter and stay subscribed.

You don’t always have to give your customers money off. Sure, everyone loves saving money, but eBook samples, resources lists, and other downloads are just as useful.

7. Give Them Something Exclusive

Why should a curious lead sign up for your email newsletter? What are they going to get by subscribing that they wouldn’t or couldn’t anywhere else? By providing exclusives in your newsletter, your company benefits in two ways.

First, you keep your current subscribers happy. They continue to get benefits exclusive just to them, so they keep reading your newsletters. You also give on-the-fence leads a reason to subscribe. If you tout that your newsletter subscribers regularly get access to early-bird deals, product previews, and other exclusives, who wouldn’t want to subscribe?

8. Keep It Short and Sweet

We know that we’ve likened your email newsletter to a novel in many ways throughout this article. Don’t be fooled, though; your email newsletter is just that, a newsletter. It’s not a novel of several hundred pages and thousands of words.

According to several marketing experts, you should try to keep your newsletter around 200 to 500 words. Shorter is always sweeter, and here’s why.

Imagine for a moment you’re a consumer instead of a business owner. You sign up for a newsletter. You probably open it as you’re going through emails for the morning. How much time do you realistically have to devote to that newsletter? Two minutes? Five? Certainly no more than that.

You’d be surprised how much of a story you can weave in just a few hundred words. Here’s a tip on cutting down on extra wordage: don’t go into writing your email newsletter with the goal of it being 200 words. You’ll end up restricting yourself.

Instead, write about how you normally would. Then cut it down. Ask someone else to read it and cut it down further. If you end up with a newsletter that’s still too long, you can always make it two parts.

Conclusion

If you’re feeling deterred by too-low open and click rates, fret not. Instead of investing more money into your marketing that you might not have, you can make simple, free changes to your email newsletter.

By writing like a storyteller, nailing the perfect headline, personalizing your message, and keeping your newsletter under 500 words, you should see the levels of engagement you’ve always wanted.

Check out this helpful guide on email marketing in our Resource Center:

Nicole Malczan

Nicole Malczan is a freelance writer who specializes in writing about marketing and small business. She's passionate about sharing affordable solutions that leverage small businesses with the big fish.

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Nicole Malczan