Recently I was chatting with a group of small business owners at a workshop I was co-hosting with other marketing experts here on Cape Cod when the subject of enewsletters came up. Immediately I remembered an observation I had made in the past week about two enewsletters I had received and their obvious problems. The issues were very different, but represented common pitfalls of newsletters that you must avoid in order to maintain good open, readership and click-through rates.
Consistent look and feel. One of our good clients (who shall remain nameless) sends a regular enewsletter which is great. However each time we and other subscribers receive an issue the design, layout and look has changed completely. The issue of our un-used custom designed template aside, keeping your enewseltter design consistent and familiar is essential towards maintaining an ongoing relationship with your readers. Just like keeping a regular publishing schedule is important, sticking with a layout for more then a few issues is just as essential to keeping familiarity with your brand and newsletter. If you enewsletter looks different each time it arrives, your subscribers will be confused and may not recognize it which means it could be deleted before it’s opened.
Regularly changing content. Another local small business owner we know publishes a networking enewsletter which helps to connect entrepreneurs across Cape Cod and inform them of upcoming networking events. This is a great tactic for building a business, but one that comes down to proper execution in order to maintain it’s effectiveness. The issue with this enewsletter is that 90% of the content, including the top 75% or so remains almost exactly the same each time the enewsletter is sent. Each week a subscriber has to scroll down past the static content to get to the good stuff, that is the content that has changed. Even though that static content is important for every issue, it should not be the first thing subscribers see each time they open an issue. If you must have static content in your enewsltter, make sure it’s on the bottom half of the issue so that your subscribers see the newest and fresh content first. If subscribers see the same content week in and week out, some may think nothing has changed and will drop off your list.
The difference between the two issues above is one concerns design while the other concerns content. Each should be approached differently, with design (think: branding) remaining consistent and content being updated each time.
Each channel where you distribute your content whether it be your website, blog, social network or enewsletter needs to be created and tailored to the audience and optimized for how it will be consumed.