I don’t know about you, but I sign up for LOTS of newsletters. I also find myself unsubscribing from LOTS of newsletters based on failed value, or a rag-tag look, or sloppy spelling and grammar.
In my own quest to improve the B2 Social Swag [sign up here, if interested], I thought it might help to to showcase what NOT to do …
9 Newsletter No-Nos
#1: Newsletters are NOT meant to sell
Using your newsletter solely to sell is the ultimate no-no. When you’re only peddling your company, your products and services, your upcoming events, etc. you are leaving out EVERY prospect on your list who isn’t yet ready to buy.
Which also means that you’re not providing VALUE to those prospects. And if there’s no value for me to glean, there’s no reason for me to stay subscribed to your sales-y slop.
Of course you should highlight new products or market your latest event – but do it sparingly and make sure you have plenty of info that includes ALL readers.
Even if your newsletter has a direct goal of driving revenue, you have to carefully decide how to meet that goal successfully without excluding certain subscribers.
#2: Newsletters are NOT a place to data dump
Your #1 goal for your newsletter should be to ask yourself, “How does this nurture my possible leads, prospects and customers?”
Including everything under the sun is not ideal for nurturing your readers. Our attention spans are limited – and that’s IF we even decide your newsletter provides enough value for us to open, click through, and hopefully interact with by sharing, forwarding, etc.
#3: Newsletters should NOT be a “mixed bag” of design
Your readers will appreciate it if there’s a cohesive design to your newsletter. Formatting helps each reader know how and where to find their favorite content; it “trains” them to open your delivery and search out specific areas.
Other rules with design:
- Be careful with too stylized and “fancy” fonts – they may be hard to read or not show up on your readers’ system
- Don’t skimp on photos and visuals
- Be careful with colors
- Minimum readable font size for the average person is 12-point font
#4: DON’T “set it and forget it”
Many marketers create one, giant list and continuously send their newsletter to EVERYONE on it. [Buzzer sounds] This is NOT smart!
Segmenting your lists into targeted groups — people interested in events, people interested in product A, people interested in product B, current clients, etc. — will help you get MUCH better open and click through rates.
It’s also important to measure this activity as you would any other marketing or sales activity!
Make sure you’re measuring:
- Open rates
- CTRs (click-through rates)
- Sign ups each day/week/month/year
- Inactive subscribers
- Unsubscribers each day/week/month/year
- Bounces and hard bounces
#5: Lengthy and loquacious are ludicrous
Follow the KISS Rule = Keep It Simple Stupid OR Keep It Short & Sweet.
A general rule of thumb is to make sure that your newsletter — from header to footer and EVERYTHING in between — ONLY comes to two 8 and a half by 11 pieces of paper (that’s a regular sized sheet of printer paper) if the reader were to print it out.
The more a reader has to scroll, and the further down information is, the less likely your subscriber is to read it and/or absorb it.
#6 NOT carefully crafting CTAs will kill your CTR
It goes without saying that you should have a call to action for every piece of content that needs further action. This doesn’t mean you’re selling, it means you need the reader to engage.
For instance, you surely have your social widgets in your newsletter so that readers can connect with you there, too. But having the widgets ins’t enough. You need to have a CTA asking people to “connect with us on ____”, or “like us now, and we’ll promise you’ll LOVE us later”, etc.
It also should be noted that if you use pretty little buttons for taking subscribers to a article, your webinar sign up, or your website, that you should ALSO include a secondary CTA in the wording.
This is because if users don’t turn their pictures on, or are reading your newsletter on mobile, they may not see your button, and by including text that’s linked you should be able to capture them anyway.
#7: Forgetting frequency is frustrating for readers
There’s no hard and fast rule about how often you should send your newsletter. However, you can hurt yourself if you send your copy sporadically.
If you can only commit to sending something once a quarter – fine! Just be sure that EVERY. SINGLE. QUARTER. readers are getting the value-packed deliverable that you promised.
#8: NOT testing makes you a dummy
Got links? Test ’em!
Got words? Check spelling and grammar!
Send your newsletter in draft form to yourself and at least one other person to make sure it’s in perfect working order, that all links lead to the proper place, and that you don’t sound illiterate.
#9: DON’T recreate the wheel
Review successful newsletters for formatting ideas, tips for how to best convey value, and other tidbits that will help you make your own send out a win.
It also NEVER hurts to ASK your community what they think/want (like we did regarding this blog post):
What would you add? Let me know in the comments section below!
See you in the social sphere!
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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media management & advertising agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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