7 Expert Tips to Get Customers to Open (and Click On) Your Newsletter

  •    Meredith Wood is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans.

Newsletters are among the best ways to get your customers’ undivided attention. You don’t have to fight your competitors for search rankings or throw money into digital advertising to get noticed. You can talk directly with your most loyal customers and gain valuable insights into their behaviors and interests at the same time.

This doesn’t mean that creating a successful email marketing strategy is easy, however. You have to send the right messages at the right time if you want your recipients to open your newsletter — even more so if you want them to click on links and calls to action within them. Plus, you have to make sure that your newsletter doesn’t end up in the trash. Or worse, in a spam filter.

There are tons of tactics out there to improve your newsletter open rate, but seven stand out as the easiest to implement while also delivering the most value. These simple steps can help you improve your next newsletter campaign, and get your customers to stay engaged with your brand.

1. Write Copy That Stands Out (And Stays Out of Spam Filters)

Few things scare email marketers more than having their messages get ignored. Having them get stuck in a spam filter is one of them. The most challenging task of any newsletter campaign is crafting copy that is both engaging and inbox-friendly. According to a recent study, only 79% of newsletter emails make it into their subscribers’ inboxes successfully.

Your newsletter should be creative, unique, and have a distinctive brand voice. Make sure your newsletter emails with come from a recognizable sender name (such as the name of your company, or that of an employee — i.e. “Samantha at Example Inc.”). Take this a step further by writing emails that come off as conversational or fun; don’t just send a laundry list of links with bland descriptions. Craft your newsletters like you would an email to a friend or a potential new client. Be yourself, be fun, and make it personal.

2. Play Around With Different Delivery Times

Your delivery day of the week can make a world of difference for your open rate. Toy around with the days of the week in which you send newsletter blasts, and see if any patterns emerge. For example, if you run a bar or restaurant and want to attract the weekend crowd, you might find that you have a better open rate on Friday than Monday.

Consider playing with the time that you send your emails, too. You may find that most subscribers are looking at their email early in the morning, or after dinner. They only way you’ll know for sure is by tinkering with when messages go out, and tracking your results.

3. Segment Your Mailing List

Audience segmentation provides marketers with a great way to drill deeper into the specific needs and interests of their audience. Your subscriber base is likely composed of people from a variety of backgrounds, and with a ton of different interactions with your brand. The best way to engage these people is by creating customized content that speaks to them, rather than sending everyone the same email with a one-size-fits-all approach.

If you’re new to audience segmentation, start with broad categories. Break down your list by categories such as gender or location. For example, a clothing store might want to send a different email to women that highlights more women’s clothing than men. Or if you run a pet store with several locations, you’d want to send out emails that had specific details about specials at each store.

4. Embrace Your Inner Data Scientist

Take your audience segmentation a step further with A/B testing (also known as split testing). A/B testing breaks your audience into two groups, shows them two different versions of the same email, and helps you determine which version is more successful. You can use A/B testing to try out a different call to action, email title, or format, just to name a few options.

A/B testing allows you to compare two strategies against one another and see which performs better. This helps you better understand your audience, and can lead to incremental improvements over time that make your newsletters even more user-friendly and engaging to your subscribers.

5. Make Your Newsletters Mobile-Friendly

People use their mobile devices to open 46% of their email, according to a recent survey. But only 12% of newsletter messages are optimized for mobile. And if you thought that was bad, consider that 52% of would-be customers are less likely to engage with a brand if their mobile site is hard to use. Add it all up, and the value of mobile optimization is clear.

Make sure you’re paying attention to mobile. Most newsletter clients let you test out the mobile design of your messages before you send them, and offer templates that are already designed to work well in mobile environments. Be sure to check that your messages look good, no matter where or how your customers interact with them.

6. Embrace Motion Graphics and Video

Long gone are the days where video seemed impossible for email marketers. This is great news for email marketers and newsletter subscribers too. Video is easier to consume, takes up less of a subscriber’s time, and captures attention in ways that text and photos can’t.

Not all email clients handle video the same way, however. Some clients, such as Gmail, are great at playing embedded video files, while others, like Outlook, may only include links to videos or include them as attachments. If you want to play it safe, consider using gifs and animated files instead. These are usually faster to load, and can take up less bandwidth for your readers as well. You don’t need to create your own gif files, either—a well-executed gif from around the web can work wonders for engagement.

7. Make the Most of Your Preview Text

Newsletter subscribers make snap decisions on what emails they choose to open. This means that your preview text is your best chance at convincing them to open your newsletter. Thankfully it’s never been easier to create preview-specific text that helps you capture your audience and compels them to click.

Good preview text should serve as a one-sentence hook—a compelling statement that gives the reader just enough information and incentive to read more. Make sure your writing is succinct, on point, and engaging. This is not a time for big wind-up sentences: get to your point, and make it well.

No matter what business you’re in, or what you use your newsletter for, there are always steps to take that will make your efforts more impactful. The key here is to tweak and tinker constantly. Don’t make a few changes and then stick to what works. Continue to toy around with different strategies, images, tactics, and formats. The best newsletters never go stale, and that’s because their creators don’t let them. Get started with email marketing today.