5 Reasons Your Newsletter Stinks

Barbara DiggsContent Marketing, Improve Your Writing, Newsletters0 Comments

You’ve got your email newsletter up and running. You’ve got subscribers. And you believe you’ve got great content. Yet your open rate and click-through rates have been disappointing.

Why? Where are all those glorious benefits promised?

Don’t despair – keep a couple of things in perspective.

First, realize that the average click-through rate (CTR) is not huge. According to Lyris, a communication strategy firm, an average CTR for B2B newsletters is around 5-15%; for B2C newsletters, 2-12%. So what may seem like a low CTR may be on course.

Also keep in mind that newsletters – like any marketing tool – must be tested and modified accordingly. Try to pinpoint exactly why your newsletters aren’t effective and make a change. Let’s take a look at five common mistakes businesses make with their newsletters.

1. Bad Subject Line

The biggest reason your CTR may be suffering is because your newsletters aren’t getting opened in the first place! Subscribers will only open emails that promise to have enticing content within. If your email subject line doesn’t suggest that you’ve got some really juicy content going on inside, why would anyone bother opening it?

A few examples of bad email subject line:

  • September Newsletter (too generic, not informative)
  • Make More Money Now (reeks of spam)
  • Urgent Message for our Subscribers (urgency is unconvincing, particularly if used often)
  • Win Free Round-the-World Cruise (sounds too good-to-be true, plus “win” is a spam trigger)

Instead, try subject lines that give a sneak preview at what’s inside. Be creative, but not misleading. Look at these samples of good newsletter subject lines that made their way to my inbox recently:

  • “Why You Should Turn Down Big Business”
  • “5 Biggest Lies of Supposedly Successful Bloggers”
  • “4 Types of Gold Diggers”
  • “Do Special Reports Still Work?”
  • “Cost-Effective Ways to boost Online Traffic and SEO”
  • “This Bargain is Just too Good to Miss” (This was from an airline that *rarely* has subject lines like this – otherwise, I’d say it was a bad subject line.)

2. Bad Content

My last post discussed what constitutes good content for newsletters, but it’s such a fundamental point that it’s worth emphasizing again. Good content focuses primarily on the readers; bad content primarily focuses on your business. Are you certain that your newsletters are offering information that enlightens or benefits your readers? Better double check.

3. Sent Too Frequently

I am currently subscribed to about 12-15 email newsletters. Most come a few times a month, some once a week, a rare few come daily. Note: if you’re sending a daily newsletter, you need to be damn sure your content is always helpful, always sparkling. Otherwise, you’re going to get ignored and, eventually, dropped. My eyes slide over all but one of the everyday-ers and I usually delete them without ever opening them. Few businesses have something truly enlightening to say every day. Give your subscribers time to look forward to reading your newsletters. Don’t let them become the equivalent of junk mail.

5. Poorly Written

Even if you have stellar content, poor or sloppy writing will get your newsletter sent straight to the trash bin. Write in a clear, easy-to-read fashion, remembering to use short, declarative sentences. Avoid cramming your letters with industry jargon or confusing abbreviations. And please, please, please triple-check spelling and grammar before sending your newsletter out. Typos can be death to credibility.

6. No Call to Action

Does your newsletter have a clear, well-placed call-to-action? If not, that could be the source of your low CTR. Each newsletter should ask your subscribers to do something. Ask them to click on link to your website for some immediate benefit. Invite them to forward to the newsletter to friends and colleagues. Try to get a discussion going by asking reader opinions about the newsletter’s topic. You could even sponsor a contest or offer subscribers a prize for referring additional subscribers, or offering a solution to a problem. Get creative about how you can get people to interact.

What makes you unsubscribe from a newsletter? What mistakes do you frequently see?


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