Boss Lady

Clicketty-click – the key tips for newsletters


When did we all become too busy to click our mouse twice?

Who knows! But today, we live in a one-click-world. We just don’t want to take up too much time pressing our index finger down too often, it seems (I’m as guilty as the next woman). And this ‘click aversion’ has implications for how we manage our content marketing programs, especially our e-newsletters.

Click Through Rates (CTR) are a modern measurement of how our subscribers feel about our content. Having signed up to our newsletter, CTRs measure how many people actually click on the email to open it up and see what we have to offer. Your email service will give you these stats.

Personally, I believe you are still delivering value to your subscribers even if they don’t click – they might get some ideas just from your subject line, or put your email aside to click on later (I do that). And your regular email reminds them about you and how helpful and generous you are.

However, the email CTR is one very important click. Here are some tips for newsletters.

A very important click

There is a school of thought that says if you really want to engage subscribers, they should be rewarded for that click with one whole story – not just a headline, a photo and an introduction.

An advocate of this approach is the behavioural scientist, Bri Williams, who is an expert in behaviour change. Williams has spent decades looking at why we take action, and why we don’t. Her research says that we need to be rewarded every step of the way, and I get that.

If you sign up to her newsletter (and I suggest you do), you’ll get one whole story every time you open it up.  So why doesn’t everyone do this?

The other click?

Well, of course, one of the measures of our success as content marketers is increasing traffic to our websites. Our subscribers are taken through to our website when they click on our stories.

There we can show them all our products and services and hopefully entice them to read more our great stories.

In other words, as marketers, we are tempted to put our own interests ahead of our subscribers. I mean, surely they can’t complain; this is a free newsletter, right?

But remember we live in a one-click-world.  The reality is that your subscribers will not complain. They just won’t read your content.  To get them to both open your newsletter and go to your website, you must provide even more value.

Williams has a nice solution: the PS. After signing off on her story, she adds more value with a PS and even a PPS that require readers to click through to the website.

Curated content clicks

When it comes to curated content, however, I think there is no debate on etiquette. We cannot run the whole story (because that is a rip-off), so we provide a headline, a pic and an introduction to the content.

Then we link straight to the website where the full content resides. It’s not cool to take your readers to your website, repeat the headline and introduction, and expect them to click again. Really!  It’s just plain rude! (to your readers and to the original source).

By the way, I do put the headline and intro to curated content on my own site, so that my subscribers can find their way from my site to others that way as well.


Astonishingly, given my endorsement of this approach, I actually do not follow it. That’s because I tend to have as many as five stories on my newsletter, and that might just be too many PSs. Some argue that the more stories on offer, the more likely we are to engage our subscribers. I think this is a case in which the headline and intro is justified. Here we have to apply our own judgement, and perhaps experiment to see what works best for us and our subscribers.

About Kath Walters

Trainer. Mentor. Speaker. Kath Walters is a former Fairfax business journalist turned expert in media relations and content marketing. Kath trains and mentors businesses that want to use media and content to build their profile and profits -- and change the world for the better -- sharing everything she has learned over 16 years of writing and editing for top quality print and digital media mastheads. Kath has written an estimated 1.3 million compelling, informative and carefully researched words. The mastheads that have published them include: LeadingCompany, BRW, Australian Financial Review, SmartCompany, Business Spectator, Crikey, Women’s Agenda, Property Observer.

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