We’re not going to sugarcoat it–if you’re a small business and aren’t yet sending an email newsletter, you’re missing out on one of the most inexpensive ways to increase traffic, build relationships with your customers, garner new prospects, and generate revenue.
There is just a tiny problem–competition. And we don’t just mean your direct competitors. Consider for a moment that 300 billion emails are sent per day. That means that each person receives at least 40 emails daily. How are you going to stand out? What’s going to make your audience look forward to seeing your name in their inboxes? Here are 5 email newsletter best practices to increase your open rates.
1. Don’t underestimate the subject line.
The success of your email newsletter hinges on your subject line. Yes, it’s that serious. No one will even get the chance to appreciate the content/hard work you put into the design if you have some run-of-the-mill subject line like:
- Wait until you see what we have for you
- See what’s new this month
- Act now and save
- Check out our new article about how you should be growing your business
Generic, clickbait-y subject lines will make it into your audience’s junk folder faster than you can hit send. This is why it should not be carelessly chosen. Use these helpful tips:
- Be brief– Ideally, make your subject line 8 words or less. Keep in mind that 41 characters are the most an iPhone will display in portrait mode.
- Be clear– Don’t hide under vague language. Tell the reader why they should read. “Learn how to increase your email open rates by 10%”
- Be simple– Avoid using added (and unneeded) characters like emojis and exclamation points.
Pro Tip: The curiosity gap is a tactic that gives the reader just enough information to entice them without providing full disclosure. For example, “This Sales Tactic Boosted Our Revenue by 5%.” You’re providing them the context of the information without revealing the whole story, in turn, piquing their interest.
2. Avoid making it ALL about you.
To be fair, the email newsletter is meant to grow and establish your brand. But you also don’t want to push readers away by only sending promotional content. Newsletters should just be that. About industry news. Have a landscaping business? Don’t just fill your newsletter with projects you’ve completed. Provide your readers with valuable content like tips or advice on lawn care. Or consider a “What’s Trending” section so they always stay up-to-date.
The goal is to promote your brand, sure, but a spammy newsletter won’t retain readers. Instead, work to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. When readers see you in their inbox, it should be more about making the time to read your insight rather than an annoyance.
3. Make it easy and fun.
Your newsletter shouldn’t be extra work for the reader. And while a big part of that is about the content, it also heavily relies on the design. It’s all about creating design elements that are made to draw your audience’s eye to the right spot. Consider the following:
- Be engaging– Your newsletter copy should be precise and valuable to the reader. They don’t need a novel. Try to get your message across while enticing them to act in a few sentences.
- Be visual– Always provide images or graphics that align with your brand and are eye-catching. Pro tip: Include ALT text in your images. It can help the visually impaired and save the look of your email if the HTML doesn’t render.
- Be Actionable– Don’t be afraid to tell your reader what to do. Do you want them to click for more information? Read your recent blog? Make sure your email guides them to whatever action you’d like them to take.
Never designed an email before? Starting to sweat just thinking about it? Don’t worry, there are great resources to help guide you. Start by looking into free templates and resources:
- Canva– Free Email Newsletter Templates
- HubSpot– 23 of the Best Email Newsletter Templates and Resources to Download Right Now
- The 18 Best Email Newsletter Tools in 2021
4. Be consistent.
Want your readers to keep you top-of-mind? Consistency is key. That’s why it’s important to find an email cadence that works for your audience and stick with that frequency. It’s equally as important to take your other campaigns into account so you don’t abuse their inbox. According to a recent report, the optimum amount of emails to send and ensure they are opened is 2-5 per month.
They should come to anticipate your newsletter. You may even want to send a survey asking your readers when they’d like to receive it. This can also provide insights into the content they desire and help you retain an audience.
5. Keep testing!
Let’s be honest, it’s highly unlikely you’ll create your very first email newsletter, send it at the perfect moment, and achieve a 30% open rate (industry goals). You’ll likely need to test the effectiveness of your emails. Sound intimidating? It’s not. View it more like experimenting.
Start by diving more into your timing and frequency. What days per week yield the most engagement from your audience? What type of subject lines lead to more open rates? Which CTAs get the most clicks? Don’t be afraid to try different days, times, and content as it will help you learn more about what resonates with your audience.
Stop reinventing the wheel.
Say you have a great friend who has been doing an email newsletter for a few years. They’ve tested it, tried new strategies, and continued to grow their business. Would you lean on them for help? Of course, you would!
Good news, Tom Healy and Joe Buzzello are those friends. Together, they have 60 years of business experience that includes building and operating successful companies, delivering thousands of keynote speeches, and providing deep value to hundreds of organizations ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies.
They recently co-authored a book called Entrepreneurial Landmines. Think of it as a guide to help you side-step major challenges and leverage great tools (like an email newsletter) that can help you reach your goals. Learning from those who have been there, done that, can save valuable time and put you on the right path. You just have to ask yourself, why start from scratch if you don’t have to?