When was the last time you opened an email newsletter from one of your own subscriptions? Let’s face it: Most email newsletters are marked read, deleted or ignored altogether.
However, when crafted optimally, they can engage an audience, increase site traffic, drive more sales, build your credibility as an authority in your niche and grow your community of subscribers.
In this blog post, we cover the most common pitfalls as well as email newsletter best practices to increase your open rates and allow you to achieve all the benefits we mentioned above.
But before anything else, let’s define email newsletters and their importance.
What Is an Email Newsletter?
An email marketing newsletter contains updates, news and essential information about your business. These emails are sent to people who opted to receive them – usually regular website visitors, customers, fans and followers. Since you’re only sending these emails to a predetermined group, email marketing can be more cost-effective than other methods when used correctly.
Having said that, it does require you to do your due diligence and perform extensive market research – something an email marketing agency can help you with if you don’t have the time or resources.
Why Email Marketing Is Important
Before learning how to write an email newsletter, you should understand why email marketing is important and worth the effort in the first place.
There’s a reason so many businesses today leverage email content. An email marketing newsletter generally has a high success rate, making it a viable strategy to grow your business and nurture loyal followers.
Consider this: Social media may be the more obvious marketing channel, but only 17 percent of people prefer to receive promotional content through Facebook and other social media.
In comparison, the average for email marketing is at 72 percent, which means most people expect – and welcome – promotional content through email.
Here are some more interesting stats that highlight the value of a well-crafted email.
• The average open rate for emails is 24 percent. This is for all types of emails and not just email newsletters.
• The average click-through rate (CTR) for unopened emails is four percent. On the other hand, the average CTR for opened emails is 11 percent.
• Compare that to 1.91 percent CTR on Google’s search network and 0.35 percent on its display network.
• The average CTR for Facebook ads is only 0.9 percent; the CTR for an email newsletter is four to 11 times higher.
These compelling reasons drive 82 percent of businesses to invest in email newsletters. In addition, many small business owners have found that working with email marketing companies boosts results.
6 Common Email Newsletter Mistakes To Avoid
The following are some common mistakes to avoid when writing an email marketing newsletter.
1. Newsletters Not Being Mobile Responsive
According to HubSpot’s State of Email Marketing 2020 survey, 46 percent of all emails are opened using mobile devices. Seventy percent of recipients tend to delete an email that is not mobile-friendly.
Meanwhile, 20 percent of people will delete emails that don’t look good on their mobile devices. It’s clear as day: not optimizing for mobile is a big and costly mistake.
2. Copy That’s Too Salesy and Pushy
Tone is everything – no one likes being sold to. So plan your content well and remember this one rule of thumb: write helpful, optimized content.
BIG TIP: Keep 90 percent of your content informational and only 10 percent promotional – consider that one of the most important email newsletter best practices.
3. Text-Heavy Newsletters
According to a study by Microsoft, the average human attention span is only eight seconds. While we mentioned providing informational content is ideal, you also need to keep it short and succinct. Readers tend to shun walls of text and move on to the next email in their inbox. Targeted email marketing services can help you trim down your copy to make it more appealing to readers.
4. No Visually Appealing Content
A lack of images and other interactive elements in your newsletter doesn’t help those short attention spans. Instead, you can use GIFs and memes to add value and personality to your newsletter.
5. Forgetting Your Call-to-Action
One of the most crucial email newsletter best practices is always to include a call-to-action (CTA). Forget that, and your readers won’t know what to do next, resulting in a decreased CTR.
6. Common Technical Mistakes
Some technical mistakes may be costing your email campaigns, such as sending your newsletters from a @norepply or @donotreply address.
Another problem is that 41 percent of email marketers fail to optimize their preheaders, either leaving it empty or using the exact text from the subject line. If you find these technical elements overwhelming, get advice from a professional email marketing services provider.
How To Create an Email Newsletter That People Want To Read
When designing newsletters, the goal is to increase visibility, encourage interaction with your readers and make people want more. Here are valuable tips that align with email newsletter best practices:
Use Creative Subject Lines
Your subject lines are your bait to make readers click your email. Don’t use the same old formats over and over. Try being creative and changing things up with each newsletter email blast.
Avoid spammy words like “free,” “limited time,” “reminder” and “act now.” Instead, use action words or verbs that instill excitement without coming across as pushy. For example, depending on your industry and intent, words like “enjoy,” “learn,” “save” and “improve” promise something positive without being demanding.
Next, personalize subject lines and use appropriate and targeted keywords. And finally, edit for brevity. Consulting with experienced email marketing services providers helps you with research and personalization.
Format Newsletters for Mobile Users
As we said earlier, the best email newsletters are optimized for mobile. Oberlo reports that the online traffic share of mobile devices increased from 6 percent in 2011 to a whopping 56 percent in 2021. Best practices dictate making the most of a single-column layout. Keep the design clean and streamlined, so people know where to focus their eyes.
• Use more prominent visuals
Experiment with using bigger fonts and other visual elements so that your readers can still view your content even if they’re using phones with smaller screens.
• Leverage responsive design
Go for a responsive design that is scalable so content can fit different screen sizes. Use concise copy and avoid vast blocks of text. Stop using image-only emails – 33 percent of users have images turned off on their phones by default. Instead, figure out how to create an email newsletter for mobile screens with the help of targeted email marketing services.
• Test before you email blast
Always test user experience (UX) before sending out an email blast. Recipients should be able to work with interactive elements, such as contact forms, expanding certain sections and tapping essential links. Preview your content on different devices before sending.
Compose Text Like Art
Remember the eight-second attention span of your readers? Keep the sentences in your email copy at 20 words or fewer so readers stay hooked. Every email campaign content should be straightforward and focused on one topic only as much as possible.
• Watch text length
Remember that people usually have to sort through more than 80 emails daily. They don’t have time to read 500 words of copy. Data from HubSpot’s research shows that keeping email lengths at 200 words or fewer provides the most desirable results. This is the ideal length for the best email newsletters.
• Create a visual hierarchy
Use large fonts, so your text looks great no matter what screen size your readers use. Don’t overcrowd the page with text (or images, for that matter). Instead, construct your text so readers can scan for the information they want quickly.
Use visual hierarchy in your text. For example, the most crucial text should have larger font sizes and a different color if needed. The goal is to make the necessary text stand out.
• Maximize whitespace
Use whitespace strategically. Create whitespace around essential parts of your email newsletter you want people to remember. Think along the lines of the minimalist principle “less is more.”
• Be smart about fonts
Research suggests Arial and Helvetica are the best fonts for email newsletters. They’re easy to read on any device, and they’re the most commonly used fonts on the web. However, several fonts may help draw attention to certain parts of your message.
Consider the following:
• Use Helvetica for headings and promotional items
• Arial for body text since everyone is more familiar with it
• Times New Roman for your selling propositions
Perform A/B testing with each email campaign. Work with a professional email newsletter service to help you figure out which works best for your business.
Use Color To Influence Emotions
Add colorful elements to your newsletters. Colors elicit emotions and feelings from readers. For instance, research shows that blue elicits feelings of trust and loyalty. Orange is associated with fun. And green makes you think of money, growth and freshness. Get help from a professional email newsletter service to identify which colors work best for your brand.
Manage Pictures and Visual Elements
Pictures and visual elements keep your readers hooked. However, they shouldn’t cover 30 percent (or more) of your newsletter’s available space. Otherwise, they can come across as spam.
Remember these tips:
• Embed GIFs and video as needed
• Use GIFs strategically for product announcements
• Add an infographic to make information more digestible
Take this case study, for example:
Thrive Internet Marketing Agency formulated a streamlined, mobile-friendly and image-optimized email marketing campaign for our client, Image 3D. In addition, a new content template was used that maximized a single-column layout for a Father’s Day campaign.
In this example, the image and text form part of a content hierarchy that guides readers’ eyes to the crucial parts of the newsletter. The colors, photos and other visual elements also weave a compelling story that converts recipients.
This targeted email campaign delivered the following results:
• 116,894 emails delivered
• Total emails opened 55,468
• Email conversion was up by 127 percent
• Total orders went up by 142 percent
That’s all the proof you need: Working with an experienced email marketing agency is a great way to reel immediate results.
Experts from email marketing companies will tell you you need to have one CTA with every newsletter. The best CTA is not a hyperlink but a CTA button that is hard to miss.
Improve Your Open Rate and More
One of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you should pay attention to is your open rate. If your readers don’t click on the emails, your CTR goes down, and so do the rest of your numbers.
The tips that we have provided here will improve your email open rates. But that’s only half of the work. You also need to work on spam filters, list segmentation and keeping your email list fresh.
Partnering with an email marketing agency with a proven track record keeps you on top of all of these tasks. It enables you to ramp up your email open rates, time your emails and grow your email list.
Thrive is a results-driven agency providing email marketing services to businesses of all sizes since 2005. We have helped hundreds of companies improve their email marketing campaigns and other areas of their growth-generation efforts.
Do you need help with your existing email campaigns, or do you need one built from scratch? Work with one of the best email marketing companies around and speak to our team today.