How to Create an Email Newsletter People Actually Read
We are firm believers in the power of email newsletters. The benefits are innumerable – it keeps you top of mind among your network, positions you as a thought leader, drives people to your website and more. However, most people make the mistake of assuming everyone on your list opens your newsletter and cares about what you have to say. This isn’t always the case. There are a variety of reasons your contacts may not be reading your newsletter, which we’ll go into detail on, but let’s first look at delivery statistics, using the legal industry as an example.
According to 2022 email marketing campaign stats reported by Mailchimp, these are average engagement numbers:
- Open Rate (how many people opened your email): 22%
- Click Rate (how many delivered emails received at least one click on your content): 2.81%
- Hard Bounce (email address failed due to spam filter, email doesn’t exist, etc.): 0.52%
- Soft Bounce (email is temporarily unavailable due to full mailbox, out of office, etc.): 0.66%
- Unsubscribe Rate (people who unsubscribed from your email): 0.22%
While the open and click rates may appear low, keep in mind these are only averages and there are many ways to increase the likelihood someone opens and reads your newsletter.
Strategies to Increase Newsletter Engagement
You know your audience best, but these are some of the tried-and-true methods for increasing opens and engagement.
- Use a compelling subject line. This is the first thing recipients see and is often an after-thought. It’s critical to think outside of the box, make it attention-getting and relevant. All the while you need to keep it short (under ten words). Some tips to making your subject line compelling: pose a question, use numbers, create a sense of urgency, make an announcement, etc.
- Personalize your emails. If people see their name in the subject line or body of the email, this will typically encourage them to click or continue reading. Most platforms have an option to merge names from your contact list using Excel or a similar format.
- Segment your email list. The content you’re sending may not be relevant to every person in your database. Rather than blasting it out to everyone and potentially losing subscribers, divide your contact list into smaller groups based on industry or another defining category. This will increase the chances that your emails will be opened and read.
- Create a design-friendly, digestible format. Your newsletter “look” should be consistent with your firm’s branding, but you may need to sacrifice some design elements to make it more digestible. If you have a nice-looking masthead but it takes up too much space, this could turn your audience away before they get to the actual content. Also keep in mind people want to read quickly and move on. Avoid lengthy text; instead, include two or three sentences that will pique readers’ interest and they can click through to read more.
- Include a mix of educational and promotional content. It’s tempting to only tout your firm’s recent successes, but educational content should always take the lead in your newsletter. Provide recipients with informative articles and commentary that is of value to their business. And while it’s fine to include firm news, think about how you can package it differently to be useful to your audience – does your recent case success tie into a larger trend that your clients should know about? Go beyond promoting the win and explain how it could impact their business.
- Make sure your newsletter looks good on mobile. People are increasingly looking at emails on their phones, so your newsletter needs to be easily viewed and read on a mobile device. Your distribution platform should offer a responsive design template that will automatically adjust the layout depending on how the person is viewing the email. There is also a preview mode where you can test the email in desktop and mobile formats before sending.
- Send emails at the best time for your audience. Rule of thumb is that mid-morning or late afternoon are ideal times, but you may need to experiment to see when you get the most engagement, particularly if you are just starting to send out a newsletter. It’s also recommended to avoid Mondays or Fridays and target midweek days. You may need to segment your database and send to different contacts at different times depending on what industry they’re in or where they are located.
- Determine the right frequency. This is not an exact science. In general, the amount of valuable content should dictate how often you send; however, we don’t recommend exceeding monthly. You don’t want to bombard contacts with too many emails and they unsubscribe. You can always start with every other month and then ramp up to a more frequent distribution if you’re getting great engagement.
- Keep your email list up to date. It’s a critical piece of the pie. Your database is the foundation of an email newsletter campaign. Remove contacts who are consistently not opening your emails. This ensures you’re only sending emails to engaged subscribers, and it will improve your overall open rate. Equally important is to add contacts who you think would be interested in your content.
Gain Useful Insight Via Newsletter Distribution Reporting
One of the most important aspects of distributing a newsletter is the feedback reporting will give you about engagement. If you are sending out a newsletter, but not tracking how many emails opened, clicked or bounced, you’re missing out on valuable insight. This data will allow you to see what content is most interesting to your readers (what they are clicking on) and what may need to be revised going forward to improve performance. Any of the top email platforms – e.g. Constant Contact, Mailchimp, HubSpot, SharpSpring – will offer a reporting feature.
You can take tracking one step further by using A/B testing. This is a method of comparing two versions of your newsletter to see which performs better. You can try different subject lines or email design formats, or the time you send the newsletter. There are several variables to evaluate which email version works best, but you don’t want to create too many different factors, or you won’t know which element is impacting engagement.
Learn more about A/B testing in our blog: How to Give Your Email Marketing a Performance Upgrade with A/B Testing.
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