Sometimes, we can get carried away with thinking we already know it all and I've always been careful never to assume that I do. So I really do appreciate it when someone, anyone, points out to me that I could do something better. So thanks again Andy, you really, really helped me to focus on what's important AND what's not!
I send out quite few email newsletters and pretty much most of them are automated by the Autoresponder systems I use. However, despite this I did think long and hard about the sort of information that should be contained within such emails before writing them (automated or not). As well as writing them I also, naturally, receive quite a few too and I notice that there is usually a big difference in the content and their ability to encourage me to do something active as a result of them. As a result I thought that a brief post on what I believe a good email newsletter (automated or otherwise) should contain.
- The problem with most email newsletters is that they aren’t about the reader, they are about the company sending them. Therefore change the content, make it something meaningful to ME, not to you. What do I want to know about that your industry talks about. I don’t necessarily need (or want) to know about the latest training you have or products and services you are offering.
- Make them personal. I particularly hate the generic ones which start with ‘Dear Friend’ or ‘Hi’. I then know its a mass mailing and it’s an instant turn off. If your system doesn’t do this, then find one that does.
- Create two forms of email, an html one with all the pretty pictures AND a plain text version. I have graphics turned off in Outlook so any emails that come in which are html only look dreadful and I instantly close them. Once again, if your system doesn’t allow you to do this, change the system.
- Don’t put everything into your email. Use “….. read more” tags to encourage people to visit your website or your blog. However, you can only really do this if you are providing content that I’m going to want to read in the first place.
- Adding links in this way also means that the emails can be kept reasonably short – great for those of us who are time strapped and just want to scan through to see if there is something of interest to read.
- Give me a way to opt out – if you don’t you aren’t complying with The Data Protection Act anyway, and I’m the sort of person that just may complain if I get too many.
- Give me something for free to encourage me to actually sign up to receive your newsletter in the first place.
- If I send a reply to you asking a question, please do respond, it’s only courteous.
I will probably think some more about this topic as the weeks go on, but that’s about it for now.