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9 Commandments for Newsletter Creators

Attention equals money – it’s as simple as that. You are worth exactly as much as people are willing to spend their precious time on you. The more attention you get, the higher the probability that attention will evolve to interest, which might grow to purchases and eventually… you end up with money. Allow us to enlighten you – 9 commandments for gaining and keeping attention when composing newsletters.

There are approximately 3,9 billion people in the world, who actively read their emails – that’s slightly over half of earth’s population. Facebook has 2,4 billion accounts and Instagram has 1 billion. You usually choose Instagram for your daily dose of cat pics, Facebook for chatting with friends, Twitter for keeping up with presidents, and LinkedIn helps with your “businessy” cravings.

But when things get really serious, you reach out for your good old buddy, email.

And that’s common sense, because people are used to receiving important information via email. While not all emails are always opened, all the incoming stuff gets reviewed. This is why email is still the king amongst other channels with its biggest attention potential. But how make the most out of it?

1. Do your homework!

A message on its own is never good enough to create a craving for your product or service. Ever. It can only focus on satisfying some of the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist in people’s hearts and heads. Find out what your client needs and then find a way to offer it.

Do you know who your customer really is? What motivated them to subscribe to your newsletter in the first place? What products or services should you offer to meet their expectations? What benefits should you emphasize to motivate them to act? What language should you use so you can understand one another? Spend some time profiling your recipients – this is the only way you can start writing for them, about them.

2. Target your actions!

Sending out a newsletter simply because you haven’t bothered to do this yet is just plain stupid. And our TOP1 in stupid reasons list for sending newsletters is „because everyone is doing it and it seems to work.“ Forget it!

You want to sell something? Spread information? Create an emotion? Collect data? Then come up with a solid newsletter strategy and plan your messages accordingly! Otherwise you are wasting everyone’s time and money.

Remember – one message can serve one purpose and lead to one specific action. You need to make it clear to the recipient. Show them, don’t expect them to figure it out. Make everything clear and simple. Click on a link, forward to a friend, read the full text, participate in a draw, win huge amount of money etc. – there is only one meaning behind each of those commands.

3. Talk to people like you talk to everyone else!

You can talk, argument, give instructions and show your emotions, but only if you are sitting across the table with your client. It might be harder, when there’s a blue screen between two of you, but some elements of communication never change. Your goal is to break through that screen because people only react when they feel they are being talked to by a real person. Brochure text and billboard messages are just one trick ponies you should forget about.

To sound human in emails, use the same language as you normally do when drinking coffee with someone. Can you imagine calling a customer sitting at a table „some of you people” – absolutely not!

Write as if you were talking to a specific person. Use words like “you” and “us”. Think about the environment in which they read your letter? What could bother them at the same time? Use recipient’s name: it works in all sales conversations, including email, because it attracts attention and enhances intimacy.

4. Consider attention deficit!

There is usually an egomaniac behind that screen with only one question – „what’s in it for me?!“. He is bored, lazy and can’t be bothered with any nonsense. 80% of people don’t even read your text.

On a good day, only 25% of all information will be read. So, it’s your job to put all the important stuff inside that magical 25%.

“5 times more people read the title rather than content. This means that if the headline isn’t selling your product, you’ve wasted 80% of your budget,” says David Ogilvy.

Studies show that headlines up to 5 words and up to 35 characters long are getting most clicks. Some email clients do allow long headlines, but most show only the first 45 to 51 characters.

Thus, the title decides if the message is going to opened or not. Here are some of the basic tricks from advertising psychology:

  • It’s limited – „LAST CHANCE to get 60% off – valid only for 24 hours!
  • Promise of benefit – Here’s your VIP access to our show! Recommend our products and earn 20 €!
  • How to get to the first page of Google in 36 hours?
  • 3 critical mistakes that every blogger makes…
  • I hope we’re not late with this offer…

Generate some interest and tease, but whatever you do – don’t sell short with your offer! Limit yourself to one message per email to make your point as clear as possible. If you have more to say, send separate offers with separate messages – studies show that regular newsletter senders have better open and click-through rates.

5. Focus on attention!

Attention is scarce, so act with care. Choose words that guarantee attention. Passion sells, so choose words that evoke feelings. The magic words are profit-oriented: simple, new, warranty, save, discount, proven, secure, (only) today, only for You.

Keywords should be the first ones in the subject line, title, paragraph and sentence. That’s how you capture your customers wandering and bored minds.

The eye reacts to highlights – special typeface, sudden change of colour, change of spacing etc. Think about regular magazine or a newspaper: you are reading through extracts and captions first and then move on with the rest. Use the same logic in your newsletters by highlighting the most important messages.

Use basic sales psychology and marketing tricks. The ones that always work are following:

  • limited availability (only XX hours / days, in stock, buy NOW, expires in XX hours, offer expires tomorrow midnight)
  • free of charge (gift, brochure, consultation)
  • standard deal – because 80% of customers tend to choose the standard option – not the most expensive or the cheapest.

6. Make your message easy to follow!

Make sure the message structure is logical: use subheadings and paragraphs, place keywords in subheadings or make them bold. Less text is always better, and the sentence should be a maximum of nine words long, with a maximum of five sentences in total.

Keep the reader from getting confused! For example, an underlined word is always seen as a link in the eyes of your reader. Disappointment is guaranteed if he can’t click on it! CAPS LOCK is screaming and aggressive when used excessively. Avoid words that are too big of a mouthful – for example, foreign words that you may not understand, as well as long and complicated words like uncopyrightable, incomprehensibilities, disinterested etc.

A good word is up to 7 characters long and every five-year-old can understand it. The maximum length a person can grasp at once is 300-500 words. If you have more content, consider two newsletters! No one can be bothered with long letters.

7. Less is always more!

…at least when it comes to word count. The shorter and denser the text, the better! 25% of the original text is almost always redundant. Perfection is achieved when nothing can be taken away anymore.

To make the text as concise as possible:

  • Write active text – use verbs but avoid imperatives and adjectives. Active words to respond to are reach, discover, dream, experience, celebrate, save, win.
  • Avoid exaggerations and hot air to maintain credibility.
  • Use numbers instead of words to make it easier for the eye to grasp.
  • Keep the instructions as concise and clear as possible: “More info”, “Participate here”, “Buy now”.

8. Check your tech specs!

Pictures or text? Note that only 33% of recipients are seeing images right after email is opened. All others need more convincing before they allow images. That’s why the main purpose or needed action should be clearly visible even if the images are not downloaded.

Interestingly, a recent study found that letters with various images and finely formatted text received 34% fewer clicks than plain text messages. Maybe it’s just because we are used to read plain text messages and letters? Possible, but on the other hand, messages formatted on a normal level – with some pictures and coloured buttons – received 55% more clicks than plain text. So, formatting will help to direct focus, but only if you don’t overdo it!

Be sure to consider the email client preview window, which shows the first few lines of the message. This is where your recipient has to decide whether to open the message or not. “View this message online”, “October newsletter” or “Hello friend!” don’t do you any good!

9. No silly mistakes and heavy text!

Typos are embarrassing, so try to avoid them at all costs. The following 4 tips will help to avoid typos:

  • Print your letter and read it out loud.
  • Change the font, colour and font size on the screen, and read the text again from the beginning.
  • Write it, sleep on it and read it next morning when your head is cleared.
  • Read the text from the end towards beginning – this helps you track down logical errors.

What would you think if you received a letter titled “Notice of suspension of application due to the need for additional information to continue the substantive assessment of the application”?

Exactly. If you want to make sure that everyone understands your email, show it to your mother, grandmother or neighbour. You cannot find a better critic than your ignorant neighbour. If he doesn’t get it, then no one will, and it is better to get back to the drawing board.

What to keep in Mind:

  • One message can serve only one purpose and lead to only one specific action
  • Always consider what’s in it for your client
  • Focus on Attention

Next: Email Subject lines: Top 3 Tips for 2020

Subject lines, pre-headers, email content and even footers – they all have their roles to play in marketing emails. Next time, we want to take a look at the top 3 tips for email subject lines for 2020. Make sure you check our blog regularly and don’t forget to subscribe to our emails. Or you may want to follow up on our last blog post – Unsubscribes: Tips to Help You Build Your Unsubscribe Page – if you’ve missed it out.

Good luck! 🙂

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