Posted: Mon 6th Feb 2012
Whatever content you decide to carry in your email newsletter, the way you present it will have a big influence on whether or not your recipients actually read it and click through to your website, writes Enterprise Nation editor Simon Wicks.
When piecing it together, it's important to keep in mind two things at all times:
The reader's journey from your email subject line to your website
Setting clear expectations - and fulfilling them.
It can help to think of your enewsletter as a signpost to content that's stored elsewhere - on your website or blog, for instance. Here are five areas of your enewsletter to pay particular attention to:
1. The subject line
The first thing someone sees when your email drops into their inbox is the email subject line, alongside your name. It has to give them an incentive to open the email and it should reflect the main piece of content in your enewsletter. This in turn ought to be the first thing they see when they open the enewsletter. Bear in mind that most email clients will only show the first 40 characters or so of the subject line, so keep it short and emphasise the main topic quickly. Drawing attention to offers can be a good tactic if you have a sale or promotion:
10% off sewing materials until February 10!
If you're a hobby-based business and you offer tips and advice in addition to your product or service, then it could be worth accentuating this 'added value' aspect of your business:
Cool kids: 5 new patterns for stylish teens
Likewise, if you keep people up to date with your business or offer comment via a blog; if you have an interesting story to tell, bring it to the fore. Whatever you decide to use for your main item/email subject, though, make sure:
you're clear about what you're offering your reader
it gives them a reason to open the newsletter and take a look.
Whatever you do, don't just write 'Newsletter' - this tells the reader nothing.
2. The overall layout
Once someone's opened your enewsletter, they need to be able to scan the content easily to pick out the things they're interested in. It's tempting to write an article within the body of your enewsletter itself, but my personal recommendation is to split your content into several short items, each with its own clear heading and a link to the item itself on your website or blog. This stresses to the reader that you're offering them choice and variety - if they're not interested in one thing, they can quickly spot something else they may be more inclined to look at. Critically, you can also measure these 'clickthroughs', and they provide a valuable source of information about what your customers are actually interested in. It's also important to have your business name prominently displayed at the top of the enewsletter and, ideally, a good-sized, attractive image - images catch the eye and help to draw the reader into the content. Bear in mind, though, that most email clients have a viewing pane that will only show the top part of your enewsletter. Get the important stuff to the top where people can see it immediately!
3. Engaging headlines
As with the subject line, it's usually best to keep headlines short, relevant and direct. Punny headlines can work - but they can also feel quite strained. Sometimes it's best just to tell it like it is. Keep the headline relevant to the content, and make sure that when someone clicks on your headline to view the item, they'll see what they're expecting straight away. People can click away in an instant; you've got to give them what they're looking for.
4. 'Teaser' text to go with headlines
If you've broken your enewsletter into several items, each with its own headline, it makes sense to have a little bit of 'teaser' text to expand on the headline itself and give the reader a further reason to click on the item. Keep this brief (a couple of short sentences at most), a bit intriguing and finish it with a link to the item itself (see point 5...).
5. Links that make people want to click on them
It goes without saying that headlines and images should be linked to relevant items. But another link at the end of your teaser text can work very well - in fact, you may find this is where most of your clicks come from. It's important to stress again here the reason why your readers should click on this item -Â so try to avoid simply saying 'Click here' or 'Read more' and put the link on explanatory text. Here's an example:
Five ways to improve your home office IT
There's nothing more frustrating than losing an hour's work to an avoidable glitch with your PC. Don't worry! Here are five quick and easy IT tips to make homeworking easier.
Five ways to improve your home office IT
There's nothing more frustrating than losing an hour's work to an avoidable glitch with your PC. Don't worry! We've got five quick and easy ways to help you. Click here to find out more.
Which is more likely to make you click through?
The other bits"¦
There are some other bits of information you'll need to carry in your enewsletter:
Your social media links (Twitter, Facebook, etc), so people have a choice of ways to engage with you
Your business name and address (legal requirement, this, just as it is on your website). Stick it at the bottom in small text in the 'footer'
An 'unsubscribe' option
A 'send to a friend' option.
Photo credit: Joseph Nicoli