Oh, the monthly email newsletter. I could probably write an ode to this tried and true marketing device for no other tool provides such consistent marketing value. I use my newsletter to keep clients excited with fresh content, alert users of updates, promote items and to create a community for my customers to engage in. Most companies, both large and small, understand these benefits and publish a daily, weekly or monthly newsletter (a few of my own favorites come from Sprouter, Quora and Skillshare). Unfortunately many execute their newsletter strategies poorly and their attempt to “reach out” comes off as a nuisance.

To get people to subscribe, stay interested and attracted to your offering, stay away from these Major Email Newsletter Mistakes:

1. Dressing It Like Spam

Email Spam Actions chart

Infographic provided by Flowtown Spam is of course, any kind of unsolicited content. Although you may have a genuine intention of providing real, valuable content, very few people open email that appears suspiciously like spam. Make sure to package your newsletter so that it doesn’t look a generic message that has been “pushed out” to a bulk mailing list.

How to do this? Pay attention to what you put in the subject line. Never actually use the word “newsletter” as part of the subject. Instead, create a type of headline with  bite-sized pieces of “bait,” or interesting information that will later be expanded in the body of your newsletter . Make sure that your “sender” is a real person because any email that looks like it was sent by a robot will be perceived as sketchy. In the actual newsletter, make the “unsubscribe” button clear and accessible. If someone doesn’t want to subscribe anymore, thank them, ask them you how can improve and let them go. Forcing someone to stay on your mailing list by not allowing them an easy way to “opt out” is straight up spamming and why send your newsletter to someone who won’t read it?

Effective List Growing Techniques chart
Statistics provided by Constant Contact

2. Buying Email Contacts

Never buy aggregate lists of email addresses so you have more people to send your email newsletter to. Don’t even email people on lists that you get for free. The golden rule is, if someone didn’t actually “opt in,” don’t send them anything. Every so often, I’ll get individuals who email me back asking how we got their information. I always respond honestly by stating that our mailing list is derived from 1) our users 2) contacts who I’ve met at networking events who said that they’d like to get my newsletter 3) those who actually sign up for our emails on our site; I also offer to quickly remove them from our mailing list.

These individuals are always grateful for this information and although they may have forgotten that they signed up months ago, about 90% of the time they agree to stick around. Lesson is, don’t be tempted to mass email strangers because they will ask where you got your contacts from and having to explain that you had to pay for your audience will be embarrassing and damaging to your reputation.


3. Forgetting the Power of Aesthetics & Presentation

So, once your reader has clicked into your newsletter, you’re done right? Not exactly. Put just as much time and energy into your visual look, images and format as you would your text content. Choose HTML layouts that are clean and pleasing to the eye. Your content could be as enthralling as a James Patterson novel but who would want to read it if they have to fight through a sea of distracting blue hyperlinks, distorted pictures or worse - a layout as dry and uninteresting as that of a press release.

Not a HTML maven? Email marketing tools like Mailchimp, Mad Mimi and Constant Contact offer award winning design templates that you can easily pop your content into. Be mindful of rapidly waning attention spans - always space out blocks of text with images. Employ simple yet good-looking “call to action” buttons such as ones that direct readers to “learn more” or “read on.” Also trust me - your newsletter will look different depending on whether it’s opened in Gmail or Outlook. Mailchimp offers a nifty “Inbox Inspection” to view your email in several mail clients or you could also do a test run and send your newsletter to friends at different emails to compare what looks wonky in which inbox.

About the Author(s)

Bryan Janeczko

Bryan has successfully launched multiple startups. His latest venture, Wicked Start, provides tools to plan, fund and launch a new business.

Founder , Wicked Start