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7 Tips for Creating an Effective Email Newsletter

Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | Posted by to Email Marketing, Underwire Newsletter

imageBefore you start ... get permission.

Email newsletters should be permission based, meaning that ONLY people who subscribe to your newsletter receive it. They have given you permission to engage in this form of communication with them.

Without permission, your newsletter is spam.

And nobody likes spam.

Once you’ve got permission, here are 7 tips for creating an effective email newsletter.

  1. Avoid the Bcc field. Regular email clients—like Outlook, Lotus Notes, Gmail—are not set up to handle bulk newsletter distribution. If you are sending your email newsletter through your regular email client, you run the risk of being flagged as a spammer. Use a dedicated email service like Campaign Monitor or Constant Contact.
  2. Pay attention to the “From”. Use your full name in the “from” email or sender address and a personal email address rather than a generic info@ address. You want to habituate people to recognizing your name. People are less likely to delete a message from a recognized sender.
  3. Avoid spammy subject lines. Subject lines that include words commonly used by spammers, such as “Catch up”, “Let’s chat”, “Free” or “50% Discount”, get deleted right away.
  4. Write subject lines that are specific and descriptive. A blank subject line means nothing. A descriptive subject line, such as “7 Tips for Winter-proofing Your Home”, tells people exactly what to expect in the newsletter and acts as an enticement to open the email right away.
  5. Include a call to action. If you are selling something, ask for the sale. Include a “Buy Now” link. If you want to drive traffic to your site, include links and explain the benefit of visiting the site. Answer this question: What do you want people to do after reading your newsletter? Once you know the answer, make sure you include a call to action that attracts that result.
  6. Be brief, be brilliant, be gone. Concise, memorable messages are preferred over long blocks of text. Make every word count. You want people to open your email right away, not save it for later, or delete it because the “saved” messages have piled up.
  7. Test, test, test. If you are sending out HTML newsletters, make sure that your template works across common email clients. What looks good in your version of Outlook, might not look good in my email client. Mail Chimp has a good resource center and a great article on Stupid HTML Email Design Mistakes.

Have a tip to add? Share it in the comments.


Monique Sherrett

Monique used to be allergic to all fish and was cured by Chinese medicine doctor Debra Gibson (not the pop singer). This is inconsequential to marketing or technology but does mean that she can attend client lunches without being picky about the menu options. See more posts by Monique Sherrett. You can also find her marketing tips on Twitter and YouTube.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Alexandre Brabant says:

Does it make sense that instead of working with a third party email service, I would post the content of the newsletter in a blog post, the same way you did here, and use Feedbltiz or Feedburner to handle the email distribution to the people who have subscribed to my blog by email? Would that be a good practice? Is there more benefits for using a third party email service that I would not know of? I would love to know the difference between the 2 methods. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 1:53 pm

Monique Sherrett says:

Hi Alex, this is a great point and a great question. Thank you.

Yes, you can put your newsletter content into a blog post and use Feedblitz or Feedburner to handle the email distribution to subscribers. This is an excellent option, especially for people who want to subscribe to all your posts via email.

If you want to have a newsletter that is different from your blog content—the newsletter aggregates a number of posts or uses different text content than the blog—then you would consider an email distribution service.

In both cases you want to choose a service with the following:

1. The newsletter is not sent from your regular email client.

2. The delivery of the newsletters is from servers that have been whitelisted by the large ISP’s.

3. The service handles automatic soft and hard bounces, double opt-in subscription and real-time unsubscribe.

4. And it has good reporting. You want to see minimum: open rates, click throughs, and bounces.

Again, you might choose a third party email service if you have any type of complex set up, such as one site with multiple newsletters; or if you handle client newsletters and need to give them access to their specific campaign.

Thanks again for your point about Feedblitz and Feedburner, two good services.

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