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  How many newsletters do you get a day?

5, 10, more?

How many of them do you open and read?

If you’re like most business people, you are opening only 5-10% of the electronic newsletters you receive, if that. The rest wind up in the cyber dumpster.

You or your firm have probably sent email newsletters too.

Think of it: all those costly hours you’ve spent thinking about, writing, formatting, proof-reading, tweaking, subject-line designing,

and emailing your words of wisdom to your list – all for naught.

Or are they?

Clearly the opinion of e-newsletters continues to worsen. People laugh about how many unsubscribes and “deletes” they issue every day.

But the truth is that we all want to find engaging ways of staying top of mind and being of greater value to our colleagues, clients, preferred communities.

And email newsletters are still far and away one of the lowest cost marketing tools for gaining visibility and credibility with your market.

If only your people would open them.

Why have e-newsletters become the bane of our digital existence? Why do people refuse to open them?

The most common responses I received when I did a survey on this topic were:

  • I never signed up for the newsletter (Note: they often have but forgot they did so)
  • I get way too many of them
  • I know they’re just marketing me for something
  • I just don’t have the time

If they really needed and wanted what you were offering, they’d open it

It’s true that in today’s time-taxed, information-overloaded world, people are overwhelmed with content.  But they’re finding plenty of time to write all  those comments on blogs and articles on Linked In, Facebook, etc. aren’t they?

Reading between the lines of those responses, it may be an inconvenient or unpleasant truth but if they’re not opening,

they’re just not that into you or what you’re writing about.

That’s right, I said it.

If they were really intrigued or attracted to what  you were saying, they’d open the darn email – no matter how many they get.

What makes them intrigued (enough to open)?

This is the very question you’ve got to answer if you want them to click open.

And it’s best to start with first things first: What do they really want to hear about? What is worth their time, attention, and a click?

Case in point:

I have a client who serves two similar but different markets.

In the past, he wrote one newsletter to appeal to both markets. After all, they’re similar, right?


His abysmal open rate was due to the fact that his two sets of readers were intrigued by completely aspects of the same issue.

Thus, the subject lines and articles had to be different. The mistake was trying to cover two arenas with one newsletter.

The subject line is everything

In my view, the most important element about your newsletter is your subject line.

If it’s not compelling, it won’t get opened. If it’s not opened, the rest is meaningless.

The solution is to see that your subject lines are: (incorporate one or more of these):

  • Short (6 words or under so that the entire message you want them to see is visible without opening).                                                                                                                                       TIP:I have had exceptional results with provocative one word subject lines.   *See below
  • Provocative/Intriguing/Bold – if you’re fearful of doing this you risk not getting opened
  • Incorporating celebrity or famous names when possible
  • including the recipient’s first name in the subject

And for higher open rates, here are the DON”T’s:

  • Use  the word “newsletter” or other publication word in the subject line (professional service firms often make this error)
  • Sell in the subject line
  • Be boring
  • Include more than one article in each newsletter – it confuses people
  • Ever send to people who haven’t subscribed

Value Is In The Eye Of  The Reader

You may think your topic is the most relevant in the world. Doesn’t everyone want to know about the new tax laws, or pension benefits, or branding ideas?

Think from the perspective of your reader – unless you want to be a contribution to their trash bin.

Can you find some way of providing value to them even if it’s not your direct area of expertise?

My friend Harvey is in the insurance business. We all know most people are not waiting with baited breath for a newsletter article on insurance.

But Harry understands people and his market. He doesn’t talk about insurance. He’s interested in music and sings in a barbershop quartet,

so he sends updates and photos to his community about his music experiences and travels from the road.

His peeps love getting Harry’s emails because they’re interesting and fun.

The Net Net About Getting Your Newsletter Opened:

  • Don’t over-send (no matter what those internet gurus tell you); every 2 weeks to a month is a good guideline depending on your market
  • Write about what they want and need to hear about (Think from their perspective)
  • Keep it short
  • Keep it focused
  • Spend as much time or more getting the subject line right as you do on the article

*Quiz: What was the one-word subject line that resulted in my highest open rate?