A few ideas to optimise your newsletter’s performance

In E-mail marketing, News by chrisbizzLeave a Comment

Here’s a few stats to get you started:

  • 38% of your subscribers will UNSUBSCRIBE if your content is boring
  • 32% of your subscribers will mark your messages as SPAM if your content is irrelevant to them

So, how do you avoid those fates? What should you write about, how often, and to whom should you send it? How do you create appealing content that has your audience asking for more? Your audience is your currency, you should definitely put some effort in trying not to chase them away with irrelevant news.

There’s 2 metrics that you should track at all times in order to be more effective with your mailings:

  1. Open rate (get your subscribers to OPEN your mails)
  2. Click-through-rate (CTR – get your readers to DO SOMETHING once they have opened the newsletter)


  • Segment your database. Put your contacts in categories or buckets that share a common interest, and send them content that is tailored to their needs and expectations. If you’re a travel agent, for example, your signup form could segment your potential clients in city-break people, beach enthusiasts, winter aficionados, honeymoon ideas, self-drive trips, or long-haul group tours. Or even more segments that you see fit – with clients able to check all the categories that apply to them.
  • Who is it from? 64% of people report the relationship with the sender as a critical factor to open a mail or not. That’s why it’s important to select the right “from” name and e-mail address – try to avoid generic names such as “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” senders… in other words, get personal.
  • Convenient timing (when is the best time to send out your newsletter?) There’s no single answer to this one, because it’s different depending on location, industry, demographics, and potentially other variables as well. The key is to try and find the sweet spot for your target audience, and you will probably have to experiment with that a little bit. If you sell professional kitchen utensils, for example, you should try to find out when most of the people you sell to do their administration, and avoid sending it when they’re probably busy in the kitchen. TIP: a good way to test that is to organise an A/B test, whereby you send the same mail to subsets of your database at different times, and see where you do best.
  • How often should you send newsletters? Again, there’s no hard and fast rule that applies to everyone at all times. As a rule of thumb you should aim to send regularly enough to remain top of mind, but not so often as to irritate your audience.
  • Make sure your subject line is compelling enough: more than 30% of people decide to open or not after a quick glance of the subject line. It should be concise (4-7 words, roughly 50 characters), and immediately convey what the message is about. It’s always a good idea to try and emphasize the first 32 characters to avoid mobile cut-off.
  • AVOID spam-like terms such as “now/free/money/urgent/money/fast”, and don’t over-emphasize your subject line with excessive punctuation. Don’t use ALL-CAPS, nor misleading subject lines, or too many symbols.


“Action” or “Activity” is something you define for yourself. It can be as mundane as to direct a certain % of your readers to read an article on your website, or it can be aimed at selling 1000 copies of your new product. You could be looking at increasing the visibility of your social network profiles (sharing), or perhaps you want to find out something specific about your client database (surveys and polls, more on that later). The thing is, your message has an OBJECTIVE, and you should be able to measure it. Here’s a few pointers to consider:

  • KISS (Keep it simple, stupid), or LESS is MORE. Consider that the average attention span since 2000 has dropped by 30%, and that we all get bombarded with 90+ emails every day (again, on average). It means nobody has time to read lots of stuff, so keep it short. Limit your newsletter to maximum 3 topics each, preferably less, if you can do a single topic per newsletter that’s even better. That may seem counter-intuitive (the “I have so much to tell them”-syndrome), but would you rather have a good result on a single topic or not-so-good results on a range of topics? If YOU focus, your clients will too (and will love you for it, actually).

A few ideas to optimise your newsletter's performance

  • 90% of the information that you and I process is visual – the image above this item is no coincidence to reinforce the message in the previous one. So you should include pictures in your copy (here’s a list of websites where you can get good ones for free).
  • Keep your copy SHORT and to the point; 20 lines or roughly 1200 characters, that’s it, no more. You may need some practice honing your skills to achieve that, but it’s worth it.
  • Make your call-to-action (CTA) stand out, it should be visible when the mail opens, without the need for scrolling down. By all means use vivid colours if you can whilst remaining brand-compliant, but the overall objective would be that people take action when they see it.
  • Finally, even the text of your CTA button is important. Try to come up with something more creative and personal than the standard “SUBMIT” or “SEND” buttons. “Request a free quote” or “download your personal copy” will resonate much better with your readers, and every click gained or action taken will bring you closer to the objectives you have set for yourself.

There’s more to “simple” email marketing than meets the eye, and the items in this article are just scratching the surface. So I’m interested to find out how YOU do it… do you have other strategies that have yielded good results that you care to share?

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