Mistakes are a part of life. From rushing into a purchase that probably wasn’t within your budget, to simply making the wrong choice when it comes to what to have for lunch, these occurrences are both numerous and often not that big of a problem in the grand scheme of things.
However, the one place where you can’t afford to let these mistakes pile up is in the inbox. With this in mind, here’s a list of the five mistakes you probably don’t even realize you’re making right now with your branded newsletter, as well as what you need to do to ensure that these issues don’t have a spot in any of your future offerings.
Having Your Readers Jump Through Hoops to Convert
Making it hard for the readers of your newsletter to convert is seemingly one of the most obvious mistakes to avoid as you develop these messages. Yet Kivi Leroux Miller of the Nonprofit Marketing Guide blog points out that plenty of newsletters simply don’t make it as easy as possible for readers to take the next step after reading over the content in question.
Instead of just telling your readers to visit your site, be sure to incorporate a highly visible link or button that stands out from the rest of your text. Putting this vital inclusion at the top of your newsletter, as well as at crucial points within the content, guarantees that you don’t leave interested viewers stranded as they try to figure out what to do next.
Forgetting to Brand Your Content
Coming off as “salesy” or overly promotional definitely isn’t a good idea, but neither is failing to build a branded presence in your newsletter. People want to know who is reaching out to them, so forgetting to incorporate logos, visuals, a clear “From” address, and other indicators of identification is a quick way to turn off your audience.
To avert this mistake, embody the notion of consistency in your content. Recurring logos, body text language, and even design schemes ensures that the person on the other side of the screen knows that this newsletter is from your organization and not just some anonymous sender who happened to come across his or her email address.
Failing to Optimize the Preview Pane
Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, and virtually all of the other major email services incorporate a preview pane, so you need to be ready to optimize this window into your content. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when viewers look the other way when your newsletter shows up in the inbox.
ClickZ’s Jeanne Jennings notes that the preview pane should entice the reader to give your content a click via a catchy snippet or quote. Stunning facts, examples of social proof, and even insight from a thought leader all fit this mold perfectly. Think of this portion of your content strategy as a second subject line; it needs to be exciting and espouse the value held within your newsletter.
Lacking Access to Social Share Buttons
Another easily overlooked mistake that can derail the effectiveness of your content is a lack of social share buttons. People love to tell others about something engaging, entertaining, and informative on these networks, so it’s imperative that you give these contact list members the chance to do so with your newsletter.
One important thing to note is that even these buttons can be optimized based on your audience. It’s not always a good idea to add functionality for every network out there, so spend some time testing different selections – and using your consumer data – to see which channels are most likely to work with each audience segment.
Getting the Educational to Promotional Ratio Wrong
Finally, Ginny Soskey of The HubSpot Blog explains that plenty of brands ruin a perfectly good newsletter opportunity by getting the “educational to promotional” ratio of content wrong. Specifically, you’ll want about 90 percent of your content to be informative and objective, with the other 10 percent going into the sales and promotional side of things. Skipping over this suggestion and cramming a newsletter full of thinly-veiled product or service pitches can quickly disenfranchise a significant portion of your following.
By bringing these five inadvertent or unintentional faux pas to light, there’s no denying that you have a better understanding of what makes a newsletter truly effective. The only thing left to do now is put this newfound knowledge to good use with the next edition of this highly valuable and engaging piece of branded content.