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5 E-Mail Newsletter Mistakes Most Marketers Make

Nelson Tan

"It'll have everything our customers need, all in one place."

"Our list will be different—people will look forward to getting our newsletter."

"Since we're only sending it once a month, it'll be a breeze to put together."

Any of these statements sound familiar? While all of these things may become true for some, most often, e-mail newsletters flop. They become an uninteresting piece of junk that people automatically ignore, archive, delete, or straight up unsubscribe from.

That being said, here are the most common mistakes nearly every marketer makes when creating a newsletter, and how you can avoid them:

Mistake #1: Having a Poorly Segmented List

As with any e-mail marketing, the content in your newsletter should be relevant to your audience. And that doesn't happen without list segmentation. The problem is, often newsletters are sent as the catch-all content—it's so generic, it can apply to everybody on your e-mail list!

Or no one at all, because generic content doesn't get you far. Your newsletter should only go out to those recipients who are interested in the subject matter. It is a matter of relevancy. If my newsletter focuses on the latest social media developments, is it wise to send that newsletter to subscribers who wanted to hear about marketing automation software? I think not.

Mistake #2: Information Overload

Newsletters often suffer from a few types of information overload: either the breadth of information covered is too wide, the quantity of information is too overwhelming for any reader to actually consume, and/or the information is just not interesting.

General rule: Write a brief description of the content in your newsletter, then include a link for your readers to click out and read more on your website so they are not overwhelmed with text in the e-mail.

Not only is this easier to consume, but it also drives visitors to your website, provides opportunities for reconversion, and gets you more indexable pages filled with great content to improve your SEO!

Mistake #3: Competing Calls-to-Action

In most e-mail marketing, with every new call-to-action (CTA) you include, the effectiveness of each is diluted further. So in a newsletter with so many different pieces of content contained therein—surveys, deadlines, offers, product launches, etc.—it's easy to break one of the cardinal rules of e-mail marketing: including only one call-to-action!

So how do you get past this? There isn't much of a choice here. Having only one CTA is the best option you can have, at most two, because it helps to keep a tight focus on the main theme of the newsletter, and thus maintain a concentrated interest in the readers.

It would be helpful to take a step back before you begin writing your next issue, and ask yourself what you want your recipients to do when they read your newsletter. What's the point?

Mistake #4: Inconsistent Design and Layout

Another consequence of having varied content in a newsletter is it may force the editor to change the appearance of the layout to accommodate each article. Yes, it makes sense that images could be of different sizes, there might be an uneven balance of content, or you can't decide which content should be prioritized. But instead of making difficult choices, marketers often just adapt their newsletter design to accommodate a particular issue's specific topics.

Don't do it! Not only does it take lots of time to edit your template, it confuses your regular readers. Use a standard format for every single newsletter so it is recognizable to your subscribers. That means the same layout, the same image alignment, and the same placement of links and calls-to-action so your reader can scan and find the information they want.

Mistake #5: Vague Subject Lines

This is an easy fix, but such a common e-mail faux pas. Often, the subject of an e-mail newsletter is something along the lines of Weekly [Company X] Newsletter or Monthly [Product Y] Update.

What does this mean? What will the reader learn?

The interesting part of the e-mail isn't the frequency at which the recipient receives it—it's the juicy information you're divulging! Newsletters have the opportunity to be chock full of interesting content, and as such are a very useful inbound marketing tool. So it's a shame when marketers put significant time and effort into compiling and sharing their best announcements, offers, and content in a newsletter, only to have it fall on deaf ears because the subject line lacks a hook.

Use these tips to ensure your next newsletter is a smashing success and it leads to an ever-increasing, dedicated list of subscribers that look forward to reading your e-mail content.


Nelson Tan is an Inbound Marketing consultant at iSmart Communications, an integrated marketing agency for the Asia-Pacific region.

Article by:Nelson Tan
Article posted: 2014-09-04 02:44:42