Boss Lady

The 10 rules of great email newsletters

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Email newsletters are often not done well and the sender often wonders why people are opting out by the droves.   In a very simple term, think about what you like to read.   If you don’t like being ‘sold to’ then it’s fair to say that your readers don’t want this either.   I haven’t even gone into the good principles of email newsletters, such as killer headings, word count or keywords – just some really simple basic concepts we can all implement in our email newsletters and email marketing.

Here are some dos and don’ts of email newsletters:

1. Don’t reprimand or badger clients or readers

A public email is not the place to badger clients or have a whinge.   In fact, this rule applies to anything public.   If you have the need to request better behaviour of clients, or ask for improved actions, then by all means  – but make this a private communication – ideally in person or over the phone, rather than email as often things can be taken the wrong way.  This is one sure way to ensure sending your readers searching for the ‘opt out’ button with haste.

2. Don’t deliver bad news

Public communications and newsletters are not the place for bad news.   This can be mildly bad news, such as a rate increase (sure to be perceived by your clients as bad news) to you choosing to close your business or something very negative which has happened in the business.

3. Don’t just sell, sell, sell

This is hugely tempting.   After all, most business owners see their newsletter as a ‘selling’ tool and see a great newsletter as one which sells really well.   Please don’t – this is not the right strategy around email marketing and newsletters.

4. Don’t send too often

I know some marketers say ‘hit them weekly’ but I’ll be honest to say I find this too often.   Personally I believe the best frequently is fortnightly.   Often enough you keep in touch, but not so often the recipient is feeling overwhelmed.   And whilst on the subject of overwhelm, please don’t waffle.  The expression “less is more” really ties in here.

5. Don’t send before you have someone else check it

Yes, I have often been (affectionately I hope) called the Grammar Nazi.   Even if you know your spelling and grammar skills are pretty top shape, it’s amazing how often we don’t see what we write.   Have another person check over and spell check a newsletter before it’s sent out.  Let me share one very embarrassing spelling error I let slip out … I was talking about the public speaking that I do and instead I was doing ‘pubic’ speaking.    Quite a few people noticed that simple little ‘l’ that went AWOL. : )

6. Do give great advice, valuable tips, education & hints

Be honest, this is probably why our readers keep on reading our material.  You’re giving them great advice, tips, news, updates … and if you can weave in a little humour or entertainment, even better.

7. Do share a little about yourself

Sharing personal stories, what’s happening in your life, at your business, with your staff, share a little of your person with your reader.  Remember, people do business with people not entities, so make it a little personal.   People love photos of babies, kids, animals.   I know when I post a picture of my dog Caesar on Facebook, I get massive likes. 

8. Do make the give ask ratio at least 80/20

That good old favourite ratio and really, you could even make it 90/10.  That is 80-90% give, 10-20% ask.   So give great advice, tips, news, updates and only ask for business no more than 20% of the time.   We expect something in there, but if you are only selling, I for one, will be opting out very quickly.

9. Do be consistent and deliver on a regular basis

I talked about earlier not overwhelming the reader and emailing every other day.   However, do set a regular pattern.   Honestly 6 weeks or quarterly is far too infrequent.   Remember newsletters are a form of email marketing and if you are marketing that infrequently, you’re just not doing your job well.   Two things happen when you set a pattern – people come to expect your newsletter at that time and willingly read it, and secondly you are keeping to a schedule.   If you don’t, before you know it, it’s been 4 months since you did a newsletter and your following are probably following your competitors.  

10. Do promote others

The givers gain concept comes in here.   Promote others, including other businesses, charities, share upcoming community events or fundraisers.   Tell us about a charity you support, or show us some pics of an event you attended.  As people we want to know what is happening in our community and many people are community minded, so let us know what’s going on.

Newsletters and email marketing isn’t hard (but if you do get stuck writing material, ask me about my writing services) and one great tactic is to write when you are not under pressure.   I have a ‘newsletter’ document on my desktop, where I add articles as they come to mind.   Usually by the time my newsletter is due to be done, it’s mostly written, just needs to be finalised and sent to be checked and uploaded.   Happy writing.

P.S.   Remember that often the contents of your newsletters can also be used on social media; broken up and shared across these platforms. I always advocate re-purposing great content.

About Donna Stone

Donna Stone is a business coach with three decades of experience. She grew her own business from a garage to be a multi-award winning operation that spanned five locations nationally. Donna works with business owners and other business coaches, consultants and trainers to help them build their own success. Her Coach the Coach ™ program has proved exceedingly popular. Donna is a prolific writer with hundreds of articles written and six books published. Visit www.donna-stone.com.au

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