Newsletter or snooze-letter? Tips to compel clients to open, read & relate

Tessa Parry-Wingfield

The Power of Words

How many newsletters have you deleted from your inbox this week? Our bet is that it’s quite a few. Now, that might be because you have some subscriber list culling to do, or because there’s some yawn-inducing content out there, including from companies whose products you actually like.

Our mission at TPW is to help our clients create content that makes people sit up and take notice. So we’ve put together our tips on how to transform your newsletter from snooze to readable and relatable NEWS!

Why have a newsletter?

Newsletters are a chance to talk directly to your ideal and committed customers. These are people who have already signed up and shown an interest in what you offer.

It brings your company’s voice, ethos, values and unique perspective straight into people’s inboxes. It should communicate who you are, how you solve your people’s problems and build trust among your audience.

Newsletters fall under the umbrella of e-marketing, which gives one of the biggest – if not the biggest – return on investment of any marketing channel available.

Whatever your company does, remember that you have valuable information to share with your right-fit audience. Your job in a newsletter is to find what that is and communicate it in a way that your customers love.

What a newsletter should NOT be

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but the top mistakes in writing newsletters are:

  • Using them as opportunities for a corporate humble-brag
  • Long rambles about everything that’s happening at Blah Blah Blah Ltd
  • Lots of unconnected thoughts thrown together at the last minute
  • Promotion, promotion, promotion
  • Reams and reams of educational content

Your perfect audience is full of busy people. It’s your job to show you value their time and energy. Make sure each and every e-marketing campaign you send provides real value to those who receive it and solves a problem they are likely to be experiencing.

How to write a newsletter people actually want to read

Have a clear goal

This is how you measure the success of your newsletter. It will also define what action you ask readers to take.

Your goal might be increasing visits to your website, driving sign ups for an event, increasing engagement on your social media channels, making sales or securing downloads of a new resource. Be clear about what action you want readers to take and build your content around that goal. Your subscribers will thank you for taking care of their time and being direct about the purpose of your email.

Make sure you’re bringing value to your audience

How well do you know your audience and what they’re interested in? Do you know what they look to you for? The problem you solve for them? Understanding the people who love what you do makes it easier to start conversations with them that add value to their lives.

Where you add value will depend on the industry you’re in – it might be discounts, educational information, industry insights, access to e-books, timely news, or time-bound exclusive offers. Understand your customers and clients, and tailor your emails to their needs.

Remember that your newsletter (and messaging more generally) cannot be everything to everyone. Speak to your ideal person, with a specific focus and goal in mind, to make your message clear and build trust.

Getting the email opened is the first step

Before someone can read what you’ve written, they have to open it. The average open rate across all industries is just under 22% (Mailchimp research 2022). And research shows that there are lots of factors driving people to open an email.

As wordsmiths, our takeaway from that research is clear: you need an irresistible subject line that stands out from the crowd (and a punchy first sentence helps too!). For help on crafting catchy headlines, check out our blog on the topic.

Put your primary call to action up top

According to research from Statistica in 2021, readers spend just 10 seconds on average reading a brand email. Which means your most important message needs to be digestible within that time for people to take action.

Include a Call To Action (CTA) – a link to follow, button to click or resource to download – at the very top of your newsletter to increase the likelihood of engagement. Align the CTA with the goal of your campaign to make sure that all your content and messaging is consistent.

Let your brand personality shine through

We believe that all your content should reflect who you are as a company – whether that’s friendly, serious, informative or jokey.

Check out our articles on tone of voice and messaging for more help in building consistency for your brand content.

Break up the text with images

It’s exhausting to read huge blocks of text. So break it up with images or infographics. And sometimes, complex information is actually better delivered visually.

Think back to the statistic that people typically spend just 10 seconds reading a brand email – pictures, videos and infographics make it easier for readers to scan a newsletter and glean the main messages you’re trying to convey in a short space of time.

Research has even found that including a video in your email can improve Click Through Rates by 65%.

Find out what works to build trust for your audience

Each company and audience is different. We encourage you to experiment to see what works best for your customers or clients.

  • Build up a ‘lookbook’ of newsletters you already enjoy receiving. Use this for ideas and inspiration.
  • Test, test, test! Split your list in half and test one variation each time you send an email (but only one, otherwise you won’t know what worked!). Change the wording of the headline, the colour or position of a CTA button, or the opening line of the email. Whatever it is, make sure you track performance against your original goal for the newsletter.
  • Finally, look back at your best-performing newsletter. Then use that as a template for a future one to see if it’s a format that works consistently. Build a clear picture of what’s worked in the past and keep tweaking and experimenting for continued success.

If you consistently offer value, delivered in clear, concise language, your audience will trust that your emails are worth opening time after time.

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