Listen here or read below:
The e-mail list is still king.
No matter how much talk there is about Facebook likes, Twitter followers and blog subscribers, e-mail lists still convert the most sales.
At the same time, e-mail subscribers are more discerning than ever. To attract subscribers (and keep them), it requires upping your game.
Open rates are on a decline for anyone still stuck in the past with their e-mail practices.
Let’s take a look at five ways to level up your e-mail newsletter and keep your readers coming back for more.
1. Use Images
If you don’t use images in your e-mail newsletter, start now. I know what you’re thinking.
“Why should I use images when most e-mail services turn images off by default?”
Well, guess what. Your reader can click a link to turn images on in all your e-mails!
You just have to ask and give them a good reason to do it. If you never use images, they never have a reason to turn images on.
Without images, you’re missing out on the following three important things.
A) Better Engagement
Images set a tone, provide proof, emotionally engage, entertain, solidify your brand and on and on.
B) More Accurate Tracking
Here’s how your e-mail provider tracks your open rate — the percentage of subscribers that open an e-mail. A tiny, invisible image is included in every e-mail. Every time that image is displayed, it’s counted as an open.
The problem is that most people have images turned off by default. Even if they open the e-mail, the tracking image isn’t pulled up. The open isn’t tracked.
If you never give them a reason to click Display Images, then they won’t click it.
By not using images, you’re training your subscribers not to expect images. Your open rate tracking will continue to suffer.
C) Standing Out
Using images helps you stand out from your competition. They’re probably not using images. They’re still afraid of it.
How to Get Images Turned On
Here are two ways to get your images seen.
First, start your e-mail by asking the reader to turn images on.
Second, set the ALT text of each image to say, “If you can’t see this image, please click the Display Images link in your inbox.”
The ALT text gets displayed in the place of the image if it doesn’t display. The following image shows an example of how we do this.
Once the reader clicks Display Images the e-mail looks like this.
2. Include Exclusive Content
The contents of our newsletter used to consist of links to the latest podcast episode and blog content.
While this is a useful reason for some readers to subscribe, more people will subscribe (and stay subscribed) by including exclusive goodies in the newsletter – content they won’t get anywhere else.
A month ago we introduced a new format for our newsletter. Now the format looks like this.
- Excerpt from and link to the latest podcast
- Excerpt from and link to the latest blog
- Step-by-Step: A step-by-step tutorial on a biz strategy
- Quick Clicks: Recommended links, tools and reads
- Fan Fav: A link to popular content from the archives
Our goal is to pack so much value into the newsletter, you can’t help but look forward to reading each week. Some of the juicy tidbits from just the last month of newsletters include:
- How to Record Audio Interviews
- The #1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands
- Installing WordPress with Hacker Protection
- How to Track Opt-In Conversions
- How to Use Your Story to Sell More
- Custom Logos at a Fraction of the Price
To get exclusive weekly content like this, sign up for the newsletter in the sidebar of this blog.
3. Be Consistent
I watch Blue’s Clues with my daughter. She absolutely loves it. I have to admit I kind of enjoy it as well :).
During its run on TV, Blue’s Clues won all kinds of awards. It was a big part of Nickelodeon’s growth. One of the key elements to the show’s success was its consistent structure.
If you watch more than one episode, you soon realize certain things happen at specific times in every episode without fail. Research has shown that this repetition and predictable structure strengthen what is being taught to kids.
Adults are the same. Just think about every episode of Law and Order you’ve seen. They all have the same exact four act structure. There’s good reason for that.
Humans like predictability. We like to know what to expect.
Be consistent with your e-mail newsletter. This applies in two ways.
- Always send your newsletter on the same day of the week.
- Always use the same structure for each e-mail.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try new things here and there. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be different or do something unexpected.
But overall, consistency is powerful. Become a part of your audience’s routine and you’ll get more of their attention.
We send out our newsletter every Thursday morning.
4. Make it Mobile-Friendly
Mobile technology and communication are changing at a very rapid pace.
This is one of the most significant trends in business and marketing. Its affects every aspect of your business and brand. This includes your e-mails.
You can either get in front of the parade with your baton whirling high, or you can let it pass you by leaving you standing in empty street in middle of used streamers and empty soda cans.
This post is not about mobile marketing, but your e-mail newsletter is certainly affected by mobile trends. So let’s take a look at just few things you can do right now.
I admit this is something we have just started integrating into our e-mails. We’re still figuring out what works best. Here are a few things you can try with your own e-mail newsletter to make it more mobile-friendly.
A) Increase Font Size
This makes the e-mail easier to read on small screens and the links more “tappable” with fingers.
B) Let the Text Flow
Don’t manually insert carriage returns. The recommendation used to be to hit enter after 60 characters. This made the lines shorter and easier to read.
Now you should just let the text flow. Only hit enter at the end of a paragraph. Otherwise you end up with something that looks like this.
Yes, that is one of our e-mails. Yes we screwed it up. Clearly we’re still working on perfecting some of these things. Please learn from our mistakes. We make as many as we can do you don’t have to!
C) Read Your Own E-mail on Mobile
Bottom line, take out your smartphone or borrow one from someone to see how your e-mail shows up in a mobile browser. You might be surprised at the glaring problems you notice.
For more on mobile e-mail, see this article here.
5. Be 110% You
This is another one we are focusing on doing a better job with. Just because your newsletter is an e-mail for your business, it doesn’t mean it has to read like a mechanical, promotion piece.
Infuse your personality into it. Write it like it’s going out to a personal friend. Some simple ways to be more interesting are:
- Tell stories
- Admit a failing
- Crack a joke (but don’t force it)
- Include small personal details where appropriate
- Share your vision for yourself, your reader and the world
It’s one of the best assets your business has…YOU! No one else can copy that. Don’t be afraid to be you. Turn it up to 11!
Stay Ahead of the Curve
The game is changing fast. It’s important to level up now to stay ahead of your competition. The five tips above will help you do that. Choose just one and use it this week.
Now it’s your turn. What tips do you have to level up an e-mail newsletter? Share in the comments below.