Why SOME newsletters fail

Let’s get straight to the point and define what the success of a newsletter looks like and how this success can be measured. Before we do so, it’s important to note that today 99.9% of newsletters are emailed and no longer sent in the post. And horse drawn carriages are no longer the primary form of transportation…

Poor results in any of the following are indicators that a newsletter is at risk of failing.

  • Bounce rates
    Percentage of emailed newsletters that aren’t successfully delivered to addresses on the subscriber (i.e. distribution) list.
  • Open rates and click rates
    Number of email recipients who open the email and the number of registered clicks to links contained in your email, respectively.
  • Subscription rates
    Number of new subscribers to your newsletter. This should typically increase by 25% annually to account for opt-outs and decommissioned email addresses.
  • Spam complaints
    How many emails were declared spam by recipients.

Failure is not an option

So how can you ensure that your newsletter is a success? Firstly, you need to ask yourself the most imperative question of all: do you really need a newsletter to start with?

Just because newsletters are somewhat the communication du jour, it doesn’t necessarily mean producing one should be part of your marketing approach. Your target market may prefer one-on-one direct communication, or communicated with very indirectly (think Coca-Cola).

The proliferation of social media is also making newsletters increasingly less necessary, with blogs and posts on various platforms being more accepted and digestible forms of communication. Considering the above, a newsletter may not be well received and find itself stranded in your audience’s spam folder.

However, if your marketing goals and audience research point towards a newsletter being the way forward (or your boss has ordered you to just get it done), here are five mistakes commonly made when producing newsletter that will put you on a slippery slope to doomed failure.

  1. Featuring irrelevant information
    It takes more than just whacking out the latest company happenings across a bunch of paragraphs to produce newsletter content that wants to be read. We all too often see internally focused newsletter content espousing new team members, product additions and policy changes. Guess what? No one cares.Your audience wants to know what’s in it for them? How are you solving a customer problem? What are the real, tangible benefits of the latest gadget to them? What information will help them do things better?We generally follow the 90/10 rule when producing newsletter content; 90% useful information, 10% promotion. We also have a professional copywriter author all content. They’re experts at writing from an audience’s point of view, creating enticing email subject lines, as well as crafting benefit-heavy headings and response-inducing calls to action.
  2. Sending too often or not often enough
    It’s incredibly annoying when you subscribe to a newsletter in good faith, only to receive four each and every week. Nothing makes you reach for the unsubscribe button quicker.On the other side of the coin, looking forward to a monthly newsletter that arrives anything but monthly is equally dismal. It’s like checking your letterbox for that book you ordered three months ago that seems will never come; by the time it arrives, you’re probably over it.Consistency and meeting expectations as far as newsletter distribution timing is vital. Establishing a publishing schedule, and sticking to it, creates reliable frequency and habitual readers. We even time the release of our clients’ newsletter down to the hour. Common sense tells us that a newsletter received 4.45pm on a Friday, or 9am on a Monday, just isn’t going to be widely read – for all the obvious reasons.
  3. Not asking permission
    We all hate our inboxes being bombarded with spam. It’s for this reason that the technology gods have bestowed us with auto-filtering software that relegates unwanted emails to the appropriate folder to be trashed. Don’t allow your newsletter to become one of those emails.Australia has strict laws governing unsolicited commercial electronic messages. Apart from the legalities, sending newsletters to recipients who haven’t opted-in positions your message, and brand, in the same manner as those helpless Nigerian princes wanting your help getting cash out of their country.Oh, and make it easy for people to unsubscribe; one of the best ways to retain a fresh and absorbed subscriber list.
  4. Giving little consideration to format design
    Your subscribers deciding to open your newsletter starts with its timing and email subject line. The next challenge is getting them to actually read it. This is where due consideration to an uncluttered newsletter format design is vital.As is often the case in all things marketing-communications-related, always refer to the KISS principle and just keep it simple. Ensure an appealing overall layout with on-brand imagery, clear headings and minimal copy. You certainly don’t want your subscribers to be hit in the face with confusing/challenging images not related to your brand, vague headings and huge blocks of copy – they’re simply going to trash it and move on with their busy day.We also consider the way people read on screens when creating newsletters for client. The scanability of your content, and how it can be improved through subheadings and clever use of whitespace, is a vital consideration.
  5. Paying little attention to list quality
    Quality trumps quantity any day of the week when it comes to your subscriber list.You want the type of subscribers who want to receive emails from you, engage with your brand and buy your products, i.e. your target market. This is ‘Marketing 101’ stuff. There’s no point having list subscribers just to bulk up your list. After the dust settles, they’re just going to bring your metrics down towards newsletter failure.Among many tactics to ensure list quality, we recommend setting the expectations of your newsletter on the ‘subscribe page’. Include what your newsletter is about, what information to expect, how often to expect it and even provide a taster snippet to draw them in. Get the subscribers you want.

Our team of digital experts and copywriters are masters of creating the kind of newsletter your target market needs. Get in touch today to start really engaging with your customers.