Email newsletters in a stuffed-inbox world

Written by: Olivia Sharp

April 29, 2015 - 1:54 pm
Categories: Communication , Digital , Lambeth

Phones ping left, right and centre, and inboxes are crammed with thousands of unread messages – does this mean everyone is at email overload?

Thankfully not (yet anyway!) – organisations and local authorities are seeing good results from direct email communications. Southampton Council found 75% of residents felt better informed after a 3 month trial of personalised email updates. At Lambeth we’re seeing a steady increase in sign ups. There are many benefits to using direct digital communications – not least of all reducing costs.

So how do you avoid your email newsletter getting buried or suffering a plague of unsubscribes?

You need to make sure yours stands out from the crowd, knows its audience and keeps their interest and trust. Here are some ideas for doing just that:

A click-me! subject line

Your email subject line is crucial as it’s the first thing people see in their inbox, and it’s at this point they decide to open your email.

Do some testing with your emails – if you use an email delivery client (check out the free and extremely popular Mailchimp, or a paid option like you can send out different versions of your email to parts of your mailing list and see which one is most popular. Try different subject lines, like:

• a prosaic one ‘January newsletter from Trumpton Council’
• an intriguing one ‘What’s going in in Trumpton this month?’
• a descriptive one ‘Pop-up cinema and street art – Trumpton-fest is back’

But your email thinking can’t stop here – you want your audience to love your email newsletter so next time it turns up in their inbox it draws the attention not just from the subject line, but remembering what a good read it was.

Easy to digest, relevant content

Writing for an email newsletter has a lot in common with writing for the web. Keep it snappy and quick to read. You don’t have to say everything in the newsletter, give the gist and link to more information.

Remember who your audience is, what you want to tell them and what you’re trying to achieve – keep your newsletter stories focussed and relevant.

Grow your mailing list

Your mailing list won’t grow without a bit of effort from you, so make sure it’s really easy to sign up and be proactive about getting subscriptions.

A few pointers:

• use twitter cards to integrate email sign up into a tweet so people don’t even have to go to a new page
• recommend to a friend – have sharing links on your newsletter so it’s easy to forward it to a friend or share on social media
• find or organise an event that appeals to your newsletter target audience – and get people to sign up there.

Monitoring what works

Keep measuring – set up unique links for each location, or separate subscription lists in your email newsletter platform and you can find out how successful each option has been and make the most of what works best.

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