I get dozens of email newsletters from companies with which I’ve interacted in the past. You probably do too. Despite the rise of social media, and search engines bringing the world to our screens, email remains effective, particularly in business. However, one of the reasons people pay attention to social media and the web is that they’re not forced to be there. They want to be there. With email, they have to check in regularly, like it or not, in case there are important messages. Your email is not one of those important messages, so it had better have something useful to say, or you’ll just be an irritation.
But very few company email newsletters have something useful to say. Most of them look as if they’re demonstrations by marketing managers that they can create cool looking layouts, or just as bad, they’re box-ticking exercises. Email newsletter? Yeah, we do one of those.
Here are some questions you might ask yourself before sending out your next corporate communication.
Is the layout helping it to be read? Supposing you had a really important message for your customers, like a product recall or something. How would you format the email? I suspect you’d put a decent sized bold heading at the top, but then make the rest of the email as plain as possible. Why? Because it gets to the point. You wouldn’t arbitrarily use two or three columns, and put the whole thing on a green backgound. So what’s the justification for doing that with a company newsletter, beyond trying to make it awkwardly look like it’s a page from a magazine?
Is there too much in it? Seriously – do you have three or four things which all need to be communicated, right now, in the same newsletter? Would you be better off giving them four reasons to follow up on one item, rather than one reason for each of four items?
Is it, hand on heart, going to be useful to the recipient? I know you want to keep your company’s name and branding in front of your prospects, and email is a good way to do it. But you don’t want to associate your business with the words “boring” or “irrelevant”, surely.
Are you “selling” the story? There’s nothing wrong with emails which are automatically generated by something being added to your company blog. But these can really highlight that a blog post wasn’t working hard enough to sell itself in the first place. When you’re writing the blog post, think about how it will look just sent out as an email. Look at how sites like Upworthy make headlines you almost have to click on.
Is the email addressing the reader? When you write an email, you aim it directly at your recipient. Even if you’re writing some sort of “round robin” email to a group of people, you instinctively explain what you’re doing. Does your company newsletter feel like it’s been written for the prospect, personally?