Common Newsletter Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

A regular newsletter can be a powerful tool in your business’s marketing toolbox. One of the most cost-effective marketing strategies, a regular newsletter keeps your company’s name at the front of the customer’s or potential client’s mind, and is a great way to keep customers and stakeholders abreast of changes, updates, and new developments in your company, such as promotional offers, new products and services, financial results, testimonials, and more. If you’re not using them for your business, you’re probably missing out—83% of B2B marketers use email newsletters[1]. The New York Times reports that their newsletter readers are twice as likely to become paid subscribers, and Greentech Media’s newsletter readers spend 80% more time on their site.

So, if you’ve been considering implementing a newsletter for your business, or if you’re not getting the results you want from a newsletter you’ve already published, take a look at the following common mistakes companies make when implementing a newsletter to make sure you get the most out of your marketing.

Unclear or Irrelevant Content

The last thing you want is for your customers to be bored or confused. Organization and planning are key. Your newsletter content should be clear, concise, and useful. Most experts recommend following the 80/20 rule when it comes to content – that is, 80% of the newsletter should be useful content for the reader, leaving 20% for promotion. A newsletter your subscribers find useful helps build trust in your company and adds a sense of value to their subscription and future purchases, because they’re getting something free – information – in exchange. While 20% doesn’t seem like a lot of room for promotion, newsletters are better for a “soft pitch” rather than a “hard sell.” You don’t want to leave it out entirely, but make sure your call to action is clear, concise, easy to find, and preferably links directly to the product or service you’re promoting.

Too Many Words

You’ve probably seen the colloquial acronym TLDR – “too long, didn’t read.” Busy people don’t have time to read a novel, and most people are only going to skim. So, while your content should be useful, it should also be concise. A general rule of thumb is that your newsletter should take three minutes or less to read. Make use of bullet points and short, easily digestible sections or “chunks” of information rather than lengthy paragraphs. Finally, put the most important information at the beginning. Many people never make it to the end, so if there’s something you really want your customers to see, lead with that.

Poor Use of Images

On the flip side, you don’t want to compensate for length by bombarding them with images. Images should complement your content, not overpower it. They should be simple and eye-catching, without distracting from your message. Image quality is important, too – images that have poor resolution, pixelated images, and images that don’t show up can make your newsletter seem unprofessional.

Design Issues

Speaking of images, the overall design of your newsletter can also be problematic. It should look clean, clear, and simple, with headings used throughout to make it easy for readers to pick out the information most interesting to them. And of course, your newsletter should be free from typos and grammar issues. As you design your newsletter, it may be helpful to come up with a template that you can update each time you send it out, ensuring that the design is consistent and recognizable. Make sure to prioritize calm colors and simple, clear fonts. Finally, don’t forget to test your design before sending to subscribers! There are multiple tools which allow you to send a test email to yourself to get a look at the end result and check for issues with images, formatting, broken or missing links, layout, etc. which may not be immediately clear.

Inconsistent or Too Frequent Mailings

No matter how useful your content is, if they’re getting something new every couple days, it’s going to become annoying. On the flip side, you do want to remain consistent. Reliable newsletters build trust and credibility in your brand, and it’s helpful to establish expectations up front – wherever they subscribe, let them know how often they can expect to hear from you. Generally, a monthly newsletter is a good goal. It might be useful to develop an editorial calendar and plan in advance, too – you don’t want to throw something together last-minute. An editorial calendar can also help you tailor content to holidays and other topical events to increase the sense of content relevance.

Subject Line and “From” Field Mistakes

Including your name and company name in the “from” field of your email newsletters increases open rates by more than 100%[2]. For example, if your name is Sarah, you could fill out the “from” field to read “Sarah at (Your Company Name).” The subject line is almost equally important. Keep it short and sweet – not only because people are skimming, but because depending on their email service provider, only so many words will actually show up. But don’t let brevity stifle the imagination. You should also be creative; the subject line should spark interest, in as few words as possible.

Other Issues

Don’t forget that technology is your friend – and it’s your customer’s friend too. These days, the likelihood that subscribers are viewing your newsletter on a mobile device are pretty high, so you’ll want to make sure that your design is mobile-friendly. Your newsletter should also include links to your company’s social media accounts, and vice versa. Subscribers won’t come from nowhere, and if you don’t promote your newsletter via social media or other channels, it won’t matter how much effort you put into relevant content or a sleek design; if no one knows it exists, they can’t sign up. Finally, you should consider using an Email Service Provider (ESP). Not only will utilizing an ESP help give your newsletter a more professional feel – it will also allow you to see which newsletters people are reading. This way, you can evaluate your content and tailor it to better meet your subscriber’s needs and interests to maximize your newsletter’s effectiveness. Many ESPs also help keep your content out of the spam folder!

What’s Next?

A well-written, properly targeted newsletter can also help build credibility, establish new leads, and build consumer loyalty. But there are many more factors that go into producing a useful, effective newsletter than many people realize! If all of this seems overwhelming, you’re certainly not alone. After all, technology may be your friend, but for some of us, it’s that friend we avoid at parties because we can never figure out what they’re talking about. If that’s you, you might consider hiring a digital marketing agency to handle your content generation and marketing needs. The White Label Creative offers newsletter management, email marketing, social media marketing, and content creation, so you can focus on actually running your business. Plus, they provide regular reporting and analytics so you can see exactly what your marketing budget is paying for. With custom packaging, they can help you decide on a marketing strategy that fits your business, your brand, and your company’s goals, on a budget that’s right for you. If you’ve been considering adding newsletters to your marketing plan, a free consultation with the White Label Creative would be a great place to start.

[1] https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2016_B2B_Report_Final.pdf

[2] https://sherpablog.marketingsherpa.com/email-marketing/email-personalization/

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