This time, we’re going a step further with our guide to creating a horrific newsletter; A newsletter that will be a guaranteed disaster. So, for those who enjoy an awful marketing strategy – this one’s for you!
To be fair, it’s not the first time we mention this. Yet, it’s still worth a quick reminder…
Newsletters consisting solely of images are something we still see a lot of. And frankly, we cannot understand why because it’s marketer’s worst enemy.
Let’s be clear: Mailboxes often don’t display pictures by default.
It’s not just SMEs, sole traders, or businesses without a marketing team who fall into this trap. Everybody is capable of creating an image-only-email! Even the big players in the world of business are guilty of it.
Don’t forget that if your email only has images, it will probably end up in the spam folder because of its size. But even if your email manages to reach the inbox, the chances are that it won’t render correctly.
Moreover, a newsletter made with only one image will look terrible on a mobile devices.
So if you create your newsletters with Photoshop or InDesign because you feel it allows you more creative freedom, the think again.
Use a editor specifically for creating newsletters and marketing emails which adapts your content according to the device. This way your content will be converted into real HTML encoded text and you’ll have the option of adding nice call-to-action-buttons, for example.
Email marketing solutions offer you a range design features: wallpapers, layout structure, share buttons, GIFs, text overlay… Plenty of creative freedom to turn your ideas into reality!
It to sum it up: If you want your campaigns to reach the inbox, then it’s time to stop with full-image newsletters.
The boring subject line
We started off with an essential one, but there’s more where that came from. So let’s continue…
This next tip is about the email subject line nobody cares about.
Needless to say, the success of a subject line is not an exact science. Sometimes the thing that makes a subject line ‘good’ is in the tiniest of details or comes down to inexplicable reasons. That’s where A/B split tests come in. So if you’re not sure, test it and find out which version works best!.
But back to the main point: The boring subject line. This is a subject line that doesn’t generate any interest with the reader. And you all know that generating interest is essential when sending newsletters.
So here is an overview of the subject lines nobody cares about:
- “Newsletter n°543”: Hmmm… But what is the newsletter about? Imagine going to a restaurant with a menu that just stated the word “1st course” without any more details about the different dishes to choose from. Would that motivate you to order?
- “Hello”: Just like the first point, this one is also too general and doesn’t tell the reader anything about what the newsletter is about.
- “Discover our new features/products”: People’s first thought when reading subject lines like this is often, “No time for that… I have other things to do right now… I’m in hurry”.
- “Hurry up, open this email”: Be careful, a reader might hurry up and delete your email without even opening it due to the commanding tone of the subject line.
Generally speaking, a vague subject line that doesn’t create a clear expectation won’t generate many openings. So try to create some interest…
If you want a full list of the worst email subject lines, you can visit our other article: 15 subject lines which you shouldn’t use for your email campaigns.
You might be familiar with this scenario: You start to receive emails from companies completely out of the blue.
Fist of all, to be clear: In B2B, it is common to receive prospection emails from a company. Most of the time, after one or two reminders without any reply, they stop.
But here, we are talking about newsletters that are sent on a regular basis to people who didn’t ask for them.
In this scenario a word of warning is in needed: It is strictly forbidden to subscribe contacts to your newsletter list without their prior consent. Especially when your contacts are individuals!
In B2C, the rule is simple: If the contact doesn’t know you, don’t send them anything. Nothing a single thing.
Otherwise, you could receive complaints and, and thus swiftly ending up on the blacklist.
The messy, all over the place design
Well sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But when something is badly designed then it must be said.
When a newsletter looks like it could have been created by a small child, then you need to change something.
Of course everybody has different taste and one should design their newsletter in the style they prefer. But with that said, a good design is about more than just taste – it’s also about common sense.
- Comic Sans MS: No
- Yellow writing on a red background: Nope
- Green writing on a blue background: No thanks
- Distorted or stretched pictures: Unthinkable
- Have 3 different font types: Absolutely not!
- Poor quality pictures: Stop…
- Clashing colors everywhere: really… STOP
- Forgetting to add CTA-buttons: Don’t even get me started
A good design isn’t necessarily “pretty”. Instead, a well designed newsletter is first and foremost suited for quick and easy reading. The user experience must be the primary concern.
To help you with your design (because we’re nice like that), we’d recommend you use Adobe Color tool to find all the on-trend colors that compliment each other.
The legendary “no-reply” address
As with the one image email, we have mentioned the no-reply point time and again. In fact, we mentioned it so often we thought everyone understood it by now.
No doubt you know exactly what we are talking about; The famous email sent by “firstname.lastname@example.org” with the phrase “this is an automatic email, please do not reply”.
Honestly, what happened to having good manners?
At the end of the day, email marketing is an exchange between people. Don’t forget that. Therefore, there is no reason to think that just because it’s an automatic email, a reply-to email isn’t needed – it is.
So let’s stop the “no-reply” emails. Regardless of the content, make sure you use a functioning reply-to email address and respond to your recipients, they are worth it.
Here we go again with that crazy advise.
If we almost need to resort to archeological research to find how to unsubscribe from a newsletter, then there is a problem.
There are two key points to keep in mind. The unsubscribe link must be included, and the link cannot be hidden.
Leaving out the unsubscribe link isn’t just a simple mistake. It is breaking the law – as simple as that.
- Don’t hide your unsubscribe link deep down in your footer, written in light grey, size 6, on a white background. Be honest and upfront. If someone wants to unsubscribe to your database, let them do so.
- Always add an unsubscribe link. This is a legal obligation that cannot be ignored.
The immortal forgotten pre-header
This is a common mistake.
Often, people think the web-copy should be placed at the very top of the newsletter. Why? Because everybody does it!
However, it is the pre-header that should be at the top of the email.
Some of you might be wondering: “What is a pre-header?”
It is actually very simple: The pre-header is the very first sentence of your email, it will be on top before any other elements.
It is particularly useful on mobile devices or Gmail because this is the text directly under the subject line when the email shows up in the recipient’s mailbox, even before they’ve opened it.
In a way, the pre-header is like a second subject line.
So, yes the web-copy should be placed at the beginning the email, but before that, don’t forget the pre-header to boost your opening rate.
The first grade typo
Nowadays, everybody knows typos are a no-no.
Of course, when communicating with your friends and family a little error here or there can be forgiven, and using SMS-style abbreviations is totally fine too. Everyone understands that.
But when it comes to marketing emails, different rules apply. Typos and SMS-style language should be avoided at all cost. In fact, if you don’t plan on properly reviewing your texts, then don’t start a campaign at all.
And we’re not just saying this to knit pick. We see typos and mistakes on a daily basis. Of course, everybody makes mistakes – we’re only human. That’s why you always need to make an effort to review your text and ask your colleagues to double check it as well. This way you’ll me more likely to avoid those unnecessary mistakes. So, no excuses; Always review your text!
Unfortunately, it is a common misconception among SMEs that newsletters don’t play an important role in the marketing strategy.
So the question is…Why bother with it?
Newsletters should be subject to strategic decision making process just like any other part of your marketing strategy, because a good newsletter requires time and effort too.
However, some seem to think that newsletters are nothing more than a few pictures and some text. But they couldn’t be further from the truth.
Also, there are real consequences to not putting time into your newsletters. First of all, you will waste money on campaigns that have disappointing results. And secondly, your recipients might get the impression that you’re an amateur if your newsletter is lacks quality.
So remember, if you want your email marketing strategy to pay off, then by all means: Put in the time.
Isn’t that the way it works? The more you write, the more you say, the better your newsletter… Right?
Actually, no, that’s not the case. Follow the rule of “quality over quantity”.
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes; If they have to scroll, for what seems like an eternity, to find your call-to-action button, then something’s not right.
Less is more.
Stop drowning your recipients in miles of text and pictures. There’s no need for that.
A newsletter should focused on a particular subject or theme. Adding content is fine, up until a certain point. Know when to should stop!
Make your emails simple. Go straight to the point and avoid cluttering your message with additional information.
The one-size-fits-all timing
For the last chapter of this guide, let’s speak about targeting and personalization.
We have saved the best for last.
Even though we are all living in 2018, no matter where in the world, we are not on all in the same time zone.
You might be surrounded by email marketing traditionalist who claim that one sending time for everyone is the best. But we beg to differ.
In this day and age, we have smart features at our fingertips that allow us to target and personalize marketing emails.
Sending emails without considering each segment of your database can result in inefficiency and damage your deliverability.
The key takeaway here is: Send your campaign to the right people, at the right time.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Create a qualified database.
To achieve that you’ll need to think about your the structure of the forms, so you collect the data that you’ll need to refine and segment your database.
- Target your campaigns.
Content which is tailored to the audience is more effective than general content for everyone.
Don’t send your newsletter to promote new summer dresses to your entire database. Send it only to females.
- Personalize your message.
Add dynamic fields to your subject lines and content to personalize your message according to the customer. This way you can add, for example, the contact’s name, title, latest purchase, etc. This makes your email more personal.