A critical piece of your overall online presence is an email newsletter. It’s still relevant. Email provides an excellent method of providing information to people who have sought you out. Because people have to opt-in to your mailing list, much of the work is already done. You’ve convinced them to sign up for your newsletter. Now it’s up to you to provide the content they’re seeking. In this post, I describe some factors and considerations regarding the content and subject lines for email newsletters.
Subject Lines: Options
One of the trickiest aspects of preparing email newsletters is the subject line. What do you include? There are many opinions. I think that one should have a mix of subject line types. Be fluid and adapt the subject line to the situation. Here are some options for consideration.
This is my preferred structure. Most of the time, I list the main topics of the email, separated by commas. I think I’ll switch to a vertical bar, however. Such a structure enables subscribers to quickly scan the content and know what’s in the email. That can be a great timesaver for subscribers. Because I usually include much information in my newsletters, they know what to expect. Also, I think this approach helps if a subscriber sorts their inbox by sender. They can then quickly peruse the emails and find one that they perhaps are looking for.
Tip: To manage email newsletters to which I’ve subscribed, I set up an email account just for that reason. All the newsletters go to that one account. It’s much easier to review the emails and I sort by sender periodically. It’s interesting to see the types of subject lines that people use.
Are you planning to host a webinar? Do you have an event planned? These are instances where the subject line could include just the one item to announce the event. This is what I would do. I would include an item in several general newsletters in advance to announce the upcoming event and state that details will be coming in another newsletter. Then I would later send an email that focused just on that event, providing information and a registration link. In such an email, you could try something like “Join us! Register now for the (whatever) event.” or “Learn About (whatever topic)” or “Webinar: (topic information).”
When you offer a sale, say so in your newsletter subject line. Just be careful to not use spam words (see below). No doubt you’ve seen or received some sales emails yourself. As I’ve seen suggested in other places, if you often use
Alerts and News
When something big happens in the online and tech world that I think people should know about quickly, I like to send out alert emails. At such times, I start the subject line with “Alert: (topic).” Examples include large-scale hacking episodes. If you’re in an industry where you think your audience would benefit from hearing alerts about a topic in certain instances, think about using that as needed.
This idea also applies to a hot news story. You might want to let your subscribers know if something big happens with relation to your industry. If you write a post about it, then definitely consider sending out an email newsletter that includes part of the post and a link back to your site. Breaking news on a hot topic is an opportunity for bloggers and website managers to gain some exposure. If you do so, carry it over to your email newsletter as well.
I think it’s helpful sometimes to prepare emails for people to refer to at the time of sending as well as some point in the future. For such emails, I’d use a prefix identifying the email type, in this case “Reference: (the topic).” This makes it easier for people to find emails later on, or even search for them in their inbox. Think about prefixes you can add to your email subject lines to help your subscribers. Other ideas are “How to” or “Tip”) or something that is more specific to your audience and the type of information they’re seeking. Just consider the future use of an email, not just as a one-time item.
Subject Lines: What Not to Do
Here are two examples of subject lines to avoid as well as examples from several email providers.
Identification as a Regularly Scheduled Newsletter
Refrain from saying something such as “(Your company or organization) Monthly Newsletter.” This tells the reader nothing about the content. Why should they open the email, let alone click on the content to go to your website or see your marketing offers? I think that this type of email is more likely to get lost and overlooked in a person’s inbox. That’s especially true if there are extended time periods between send times.
Inclusion of Spam Terms
The email provider spam-checkers might flag such a term before you send such an email. If so, I suggest rewriting the subject line. Keep in mind, too, that such an email might go directly to a junk mail folder instead of a subscriber’s inbox. I suggest taking the time to review the spam topics in the help documentation of your email provider. It’s very important to follow the laws and rules set up by your email provider.
Suggestions from Email Providers
Here’s an interesting articles by one of the email providers. You can also review materials on email provider sites for additional tips.
Your decision about what to include in an email newsletter is an important one. Here are some factors to consider:
- Frequency: how often you send emails (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly)
- Audience: what are the demographics
- Information: what is of the most interest to your subscribers
Personally, I prefer to prepare longer emails that include much information. I include a mix of my own content and some that I’ve found that I think would be of interest to or helpful to subscribers. Email newsletters I open more than others also provide much content. Because people’s time is so limited, I think it’s important to make that email open worth the time. I don’t want someone to open an email and think that I’ve wasted their time because there wasn’t much information in it.
Frequency is important because it could impact how much content you include. I imagine that monthly newsletters might have more information because of the elapsed time between sending information out. With weekly newsletters, you’re able to provide more information in a timely fashion.
Demographics also impact your content decisions. If your audience is the business community that focuses on a particular industry, maybe you could provide a news brief type of email. Look at what the newspapers are doing. Every day they’re pushing top news stories out to their email newsletter subscribers.
Be mindful of always selling, though. I suggest being careful in this regard. Refrain from sending sales emails only. You don’t want to have subscribers reporting your email as spam. Check with your email provider to see how they handle spam reports.
It’s up to you to determine what and how much content to include. Experiment with some newsletters and see how your subscribers respond to various content topics and types as well as subject lines. You’ll be able to determine what’s the right content, the correct amount of said content, and when to send it out. Help your subscribers. Provide information that they’ll anticipate and want to open.
For other tips in this series, see this post: