Dear John, Your Newsletter Sucks!

Dear John, Your Newsletter Sucks!

Do you ever wish you could say that to the numerous email newsletters that flood your in box?
Usually they are the ones that are completely irrelevant to your business or your interests, they are so boring they could be used as sleep medication. And I can guarantee you probably take the polite, quiet option of clicking on that wonderful DELETE button. And the author has no idea that you have been completely underwhelmed by........their communication.

The last thing you want, when preparing your company e-newsletter, is to fall into this category. I understand your situation, you are under pressure to write some form of on-going communication so you fall back on the tried and true formula of providing information about your products and services and the riveting list of general company updates. You feel this should be sufficient to meet the needs of your subscribers, or, at the very least, it means that you have the task ticked off your “TO DO list” for another month.

Sadly the result ends up being bland, generic and often irrelevant material sent out to a database that has been compiled without any planned segmentation or thought. And the result? Exactly as you would expect, below par, disappointing click through rates, little or no engagement and a high rate of unsubscribes.
What impact is this having on your company's reputation in the marketplace? How are your subscribers feeling about your relationship with them? Quite possibly you are inadvertently creating a negative result that can be avoided with some careful forethought.
There are, however, some fabulous success stories, newsletters that are eagerly awaited on an almost daily basis. The question is, what separates the triumphs from the tragedies? And how do you ensure your email newsletter is successful?

Before we even try to define the answer to this elusive question, let’s first determine exactly what an email newsletter is, and what it definitely is not.
An email newsletter is a communication tool that engages with its audience. It informs, educates provides latest product and services news, industry updates, and relevant or interesting company information. It should include a variety of content, such as surveys, educational information, how to guides, video links, promotions, case studies and other offers.

Conversely, an email newsletter must not be a brash, bold selling tool designed solely to promote your current sale or promotion; a summary of content you’ve previously published; a blatant lead generating tool (although leads may develop as a side effect); or a transactional email providing order information or prompting a customer to complete a purchase.

These emails serve a completely different purpose and, although important elements in your communication tool kit, they should not be confused with a newsletter style communication – the two are completely separate.

So, now we have that straight, let’s look at why you should send a newsletter and how it can benefit your business goals.
We’ve all been in the same position — the challenge of how to generate more leads, increase sales and maintain customer engagement. We sit with our teams endlessly discussing the pros and cons of various options. And then suddenly someone has a lightbulb moment; “let’s do an email newsletter!”
You look around and everybody is looking at you, it's then you realise it’s up to you – you are the chosen one. The proverbial monkey has been passed to your unknowing shoulders and now it’s your responsibility to research content, write the document and ensure that it is a brilliantly written piece of marketing magic that has the readers flocking to your door.

Even though email newsletters are one of the most common types of emails to send, they are actually one of the hardest to produce effectively. There is so much to consider. You need a mix of different types of content about different parts of your business. A variety of elements that will grab the attention of so many different segments of your audience. And do it in a pithy dialogue that creates a sense of bonding between you and the subscriber - all quickly and effectively with a good call to action.

Don’t be put off, this certainly doesn’t mean you should be daunted about doing them. When your newsletter is well researched and well written it takes on a life of its own and will create a greater sign up rate, which inevitably means more opportunity to increase business. Once the relationship is established you have an open door with which to communicate with your subscribers, to engage with them in a meaningful and relevant treat them as individuals not just a mass database of names and email addresses.

One thing to be aware of however - Not everyone needs a newsletter.

In fact, most people will actively avoid reading newsletters – they are time poor and treat un-essential emails with disdain and a cursory click of the DELETE button. And perhaps you don’t have the time or lack the resources to devote to the creation of a worthwhile communication tool either. Or, alternatively, your newsletter might be brilliantly successful and act as an important part of your marketing strategy.

Here’s how to determine if you should have a newsletter:


  • The boss wants one done
  • You have a proven history of successful newsletters
  • Your customers have asked to be kept up to date
  • You have ongoing news that needs to be distributed on a regular basis in order to meet your customers’ expectations

THE PROS - what your newsletter could do for you

  • Expands you brand. Regular communication with your database of subscribers testablishes a strong and positive relationship with the brand.
  • Leverage existing content. Consider doing quick summaries of the most popular blog posts and link these to the articles from the newsletter.
  • Include different types of content. For instance, the same newsletter can contain a popular blog post, a new offer, an announcement of an upcoming event, information about a discount, a case study and a link to a survey.
  • Guaranteed reach (unlike social media).


Research your industry, are there successful email newsletters that people like to subscribe to already out there? What’s in them? How will yours be different? What’s your unique offering?

With the resources you have available to you — budget, time and internal support — could you be successful? Remember once you start down this road you must continue. Statistics prove that people form emotional attachments to newsletters that they enjoy receiving. If you establish this relationship you must respect it and continue the communication channel. You can not simply say “I cant do it this month, no one will notice” – you have a commitment to your subscribers.

It’s a lot of work, you will need the time and manpower to:

  • Research relevant content
  • Proofread copy
  • Create compelling calls-to-action
  • Design it to work for multiple platforms and delivery software
  • Avoid spam triggers
  • Brainstorm clickable subject lines
  • You need to have a lot of content and engagement triggers in place for a good newsletter.
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