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It’s Not You, It’s Your Newsletter Stupid (here’s 3 simple tweaks to fix it)

by Lori Taylor · 1 comment

Are your newsletters being ignored?

Have you ever read a newsletter that made you wish you’d not turned the computer on? Something so long and drawn out that watching paint dry would seem a better way to spend a morning? Something that makes you want to stop what you are doing to grab a magnifying glass to actually find the unsubscribe button?

We’ve all read at least one like that. But the real question is, are yours any better?

There’s a lot of people giving away a lot of really fabulous information in their newsletters. But sometimes the information is so badly organized or buried in a mountain of useless clutter, that you don’t feel like excavating to get to it. It’s just not worth it.

Are you writing that kind of newsletter?

If so, stop.  Immediately.

The key to a great newsletter isn’t adding a bunch of stuff nobody wants to read anyway just to fluff it up and make it seem more important. No, the key is to keep it simple, to the point and interesting to YOUR reader.

Trust me, YOU aren’t interesting. In fact you are guaranteed to bore them to hatred unless you are keeping it real with how you can help them today.  (Not tomorrow, not next month, but today – instant gratification is what moves the meter right now and you must be concise while maintaining context if you want them the consume your content, much less share it!)

Your newsletter should contain one story and one idea – that’s it! You are selling the click, not your company.

The one story you tell has to be great, starting with a compelling headline.  Note to self – if your headline can’t stand along as a subject line, it’s not a worthy headline.  The idea is to hook them from the subject line alone, but you better deliver a story with a punch!

The worst thing you can do is suck them in only to make them feel as if you tricked them and waster their time. The goal is they walk away GLAD you grabbed their attention.

You know how commercials for the nightly news tease you? They’ll say something like, “This popular snack has been shown to cause cancer. Find out at 11 which snack, which is likely in your cupboard right now, might be your last snack!”

That’s a tease which will get you to stay tuned, right?

But to that same point have you ever waited it out and they come back with the lamest wrap up ever?

It’s infuriating and you vow to never trust those rat bastards again. With this gotta have it right now, love em and leave em in seconds society you can turn them off faster than you ever turned them on.  You simply can’t afford to be the little boy who cried wolf.

The good news, if you focus on one story, with one point that you know without a doubt will improve their day, then go for it.  There are more people doing it wrong than doing it right, so it could be your chance to shine.

Just follow these 3 tips and you might be the National Enquirer of your vertical (in a good way) in no time.

#1 Study Supermarket Headlines

Some of the most effective copy these days can be found in your checkout lane at the grocery store. Check out the headlines of the tabloids. These writers are masters at getting people to pick up and read.

Once you get them to read the story, you’ve passed the biggest hurdle. If you tell a good enough story, there’s a good chance your reader will click through to your website to make a purchase. Not everyone will – like anything in sales, it’s a numbers game. But if you make your subject line awesome and tell a good story, you’ll get all the clicks you need.

Study how the headlines are constructed and find a way to implement the techniques in your own copy.

But remember – you have one goal – you want people to say, “I MUST click to read this!”

#2 Keep it simple – and short.

If you make your newsletter too long, you’re going to lose people. When most people read email, they’re simply looking to get through them to clear their inbox. So the last place you want to be trying to make a sale is in your prospect’s inbox. Get them over for coffee first!

Tell one story and make it an excerpt stype format.  Give them all you have in the first 5-6 sentences – make it seamless for them to click and get exactly what you promised them…the end of the story.

Don’t razzle, dazzle and frazzle them along the way – jut give them what you said you were going to give them.  If you understand your audience, you’ll know exactly what gets them in the mood for you and your solutions.

# 3 Don’t stalk them in the pretense of a newsletter but be methodical in your approach.

You’re working hard at building your list. Don’t blow it by sending newsletters that are never read through before being deleted and that serve no purpose except to say “hey remember me”?.

Frequency is key so it is important to pay attention to what time of the day and what day of the week gets the best open and click through rates.

Be the one thing they look forward to receiving by being relevant and helpful to their agenda because every time you email your list, you will lose subscribers.  You must be prepared for this and make sure it is worth your while to make contact. You should never stop building your list because attrition is just part of the process.

However, if you pay very close attention to your click through rates by testing both headlines and frequency of mailing you will keep the collateral damage to a minimum and end up building a very loyal following along the way.

Remember, there is nothing wrong with trying to sell something to your audience, just make sure your audience responds to your approach.  By testing the various elements in a focused manner you should notice a lot more click-throughs!

Try hard to never sell them in the story or in the  email – keep it soft by a call to action at the end of the post, or by having an ad strategically positioned on your site where they come to get “the rest of the story”.

Got some tips for making an awesome newsletter? Or have a horror story to share about the worst ones you’ve gotten? I’d love to hear your stories – leave a comment below.

Lori Taylor

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Nicole January 5, 2011 at 7:35 am

It’s incredibly irritating when I open a newsletter from a blog I follow, and the only thing in the email is the blog posts from the past week. Nothing about what is upcoming, nothing about anything else.
why have a blog if you have the newsletter?
why have a newsletter if you have the blog?

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