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Jun
11

7 Common E-newsletter Pitfalls to Avoid

By Char

A lot of my time recently has been spent reviewing and advising clients on e-newsletters. While many businesses are not quite ready to embrace blogging as a marketing and communication tool, e-newsletters are becoming a common part of a company’s complete marketing and communication package.

Here are seven common mistakes businesses make when starting an e-newsletter:

1. Failure to get permission. I am really hoping that this one should go without saying these days, but you cannot add people to your mailing list without getting their permission first. Building a list may be a challenge at first, but using ethical methods will always produce better results. You can add people who you have established as contacts (via some previous communication) as long as you provide them with a clear means to opt-out of future mailings.

email2. Using your regular email client. Raise your hand if you have ever sent or received an email where a large number of recipient email addresses were in the To or CC fields? I see a lot of hands!! Apart from the fact that it is bad manners to broadcast your contact list to the world, you have absolutely no reliable way of tracking your newsletter campaign’s effectiveness if you send it out via Outlook.

Email marketing services such as Constant Contact, 1ShoppingCart and Aweber, give you tools to track your campaign’s effectiveness. You can see how many people received it, opened it, when and what they clicked on, and you have the ability to manage opt-in, opt-out, and bounces. One client we converted to Constant Contact (from Outlook broadcast) in August of last year is still singing its praises four campaigns later. (Shoestring Smarts has a good article on the major email marketing service providers)

3. Lack of focus. Before you send out your first e-newsletter, you need to have a plan. What is the primary purpose behind the e-newsletter? Are you aiming to inform, sell, drive traffic to your site, or a combination of the three? Set up a rough editorial calendar so that each issue has a primary message and each article or excerpt works to reinforce your focus and/or brand.

4. Lengthy copy. With a printed newsletter it is much easier to define copy length – columns, text boxes, and pages help draw the boundaries for us, but electronic media boundaries are not as defined. A web page could keep going as long as we can keep scrolling.

  • Craft your headlines carefully and break your copy up into quick reading blocks.
  • Include just the “teaser” paragraph in the e-newsletter – bring the reader back to your web site for the complete article. (Bonus – you get more information about what your readers are interested in using this method)
  • Use subheads and bullets to increase readability
  • Don’t forget to add an image or two

images5. Image blunders. When you send out an e-newsletter, the images need to reside somewhere on the web in order for your readers to actually be able to see them. E-newsletter newbies often make the mistake of linking to images off their desktops or copying and pasting them into the body of the newsletter. You must either load the images onto your web server or if you use an email marketing service you can upload the images to that server. The URL of the image must be the full URL, not just the image name.

Another common image blunder is using image files that are too large. An image on the web looks no better at 300 dpi than it does at 72 dpi. The only difference is in the file size. Optimize your images for size and your readers will thank you.

One more tip – be sure you give your readers a link to view the newsletter on the web or better yet, a text only version which can be helpful for those getting their email on a mobile device.

6. One hit wonders. In addition to having a focus, you need to have an idea as to how often you will be sending your e-newsletter out. You need to allow sufficient time between issues for you to gather/write quality information, but you need to be sure you don’t wait so long between issues that your readers forget about you. Don’t forget to let your readers know how often they should expect to hear from you.

call to action7. No call to action. This has got to be the absolute, number one pitfall I have seen businesses stumble on. Don’t just leave your readers with a pretty email message – offer a coupon, deal or other compelling reason to visit your website, purchase your product, hire your company, or simply pick up the phone.

By avoiding these pitfalls, an e-newsletter can become an ideal customer relations and sales tool.

I’d love to get your feedback on this topic! What makes or breaks an e-newsletter in your opinion?

Categories : Marketing, Web Marketing

10 Comments

1

Hi Char

Funny, synchronisity again! am sending out our monthly newsletter this very moment!
Your tips are great, and proud to say I think we tick all the boxes.
Can I add another tip? I’m using Groupmail5 (free version) that allows you to add 100 address in one group, but unlimited number of groups. At the moment I have 6 groups (5 of 100, 1 of 65) and although it takes a little more effort (re-sending the newsletter once a group has finished) the software allows you to embed pictures (because it uses HTML codes etc). I track the stats by having a statcoutner code embedded in the code too.
Works a treat for us ;-)

Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

2

Great tips Char. I’ve been guilty of all of them at one time or another in the four years that I’ve been publishing the Evolving Times Ezine! Where were you four years ago?

3

Ed – Four years ago I was here, but working in a partial vacuum as I hadn’t really discovered the power of blogging yet. Thanks for stopping in today.

4

Some great points there. It can be easy to miss some small details that are so important when sending out your newsletters.

Not so much a pitfall, but a handy point is to some how track the stats of your newsletter, how many are reading, and what exactly are they clicking through on. Can be very handy to know what is the best material to include for maximum results.

Thanks for joining the new carnival Char :-)

5

And I was just starting to discover blogs four years ago. I was still in the dark ages… I mean alternative market segment of ezines! (Just kidding of course. I truly LOVE my ezine audience).

6

Leigh – one of the reasons I really like Constant Contact is for the stats tracking. I like being able to see exactly who opened the email, who clicked through and what the response rate was.

Ed – you are one the people I know who has really learned to use ezines to their max potential! Keep up the great work.

7

Perfect Char … a list, from somewhere else than my mouth, for my clients to learn why to quit the mass send and utilize a tool built for email campaigns, lead generation, customer touchpoints and relationship management.

8

Char,

My greatest pitfall – not sending any newsletters in the first place! Seriously, as you may know I have an e-course on my blog, but I’ve not been following up with newsletters. Well I should, but I’m not.

Perhaps the “pitfall”, would be not having a plan to start with. Like every blog, I think every newsletter series should start with plans. What are you going to email to these people, and how often? :)

9

Aaron – I love how sometimes you just have to get back ups for your advice before clients get it. Thanks for the reinforcement!

Kian Ann – I hope this was an inspiration to you to put your e-newsletter campaign back on track! Thanks for stopping in.

10

Hi! Yours tips are great, especially for someone like me :) who is actually planning to send my 1st e-newsletter. After I read your article, I had to go through a “re-thinking” process of what I was about to do.

Thanks ;)

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