Email newsletters get a lot of bad press but, done correctly, they can turn your business around. They provide a direct channel to your customers and potential customers that no megalomaniacal social media company can shut down. They also offer an ideal means for those same customers to contact you in return. They can respond to your emails with questions, requests, suggestions and sales, and each contact teaches you more and more about their preferences and motivations.
Except when they don’t respond. That’s disheartening. You spend time and money crafting the perfect newsletter and you get crickets. Radio silence. Not a peep. You’re left wondering what went wrong and why nobody replied, or you didn’t make any sales?
Here are 4 things that could have happened:
(There are other potential reasons, but these are the big ones.)
1. You’re sending to the wrong people.
Now be honest… Did you add people to your database yourself without asking them if they wanted to subscribe? If you did, you are sending to people who probably don’t want to receive your emails, so they never read them. Let’s be frank, you’re wasting their time and your money and it’s unlikely they’re going to spontaneously turn into great customers overnight.
A better way to manage this is to ask people if they want to subscribe (and listen when they say no). If they don’t, leave them be and go find your tribe – the people who love your newsletters and who look out for them every month. These are the guys who will respond, who’ll ask questions, and who’ll most likely buy your stuff.
2. You’re sending information that people don’t care about.
You could have the prettiest email in the world but if the content is boring or not relevant to your subscribers, they won’t read it and they definitely won’t respond. You need to be ruthless. Are you sending information that you want them to know, but they don’t have any interest in? You might be desperate to tell people about the latest award your company won, but I would include a brilliant cover article too, so you can brag AFTER you’ve given your readers something valuable they can use.
3. Your email never gets delivered.
No one can respond if they never receive your email.
If their email address is correct on your database, their server is up and running and their mailbox isn’t full, your email should get delivered, UNLESS it’s being blocked by a spam filter. There are many reasons an email could be blocked: blacklisted domains, blacklisted IP addresses, spammy content, too many images, and more. The worst part about this is that many servers don’t send a bounce report if your email gets blocked as spam, so you think it was delivered. We call this a false positive and they are infuriating.
Remember that your reader’s junk folder isn’t the only place a spam email can be caught. It’s more likely to be caught on your reader’s server that’s controlled by their ISP. In other words, they won’t even know it was sent or caught in the spam folder because they can’t access the server (unless they have specifically requested help from their ISP).
The only way to check and rectify this problem is to test like crazy and read your mailing reports. Look for trends, listen to customers who say they never receive your emails and, ideally, setup test accounts on the big ISPs to see if you receive your own emails.
You shouldn’t really be judging the efficacy of your mailing by the received stats anyway. You should be tracking who actually follows the email’s links.
Which brings me to:
4. You don’t have a call to action.
This is a big mistake I see ALL the time, and it’s the easiest one to fix.
It’s all very well sending people newsletters but if you WANT them to respond, you must ASK them to respond, and give them a WAY to respond. Please read that again.
If you send out articles and want to see if anyone reads them, only include half the article on the newsletter and the rest online, so you can track who clicks the ‘read more’ link. If you are running a special and want people to buy from your website, please include a large ‘buy’ button on your email. If you provide a specialised service priced according to customers’ requirements, please include a ‘quote request’ button.
Clicks are a good way to test reader engagement. (They’re not the only way but, for many reasons, they’re a good place to start.) You can’t track clicks if you don’t have a call to action link in your email. If your only call to action is your email address in small print right at the end of your email, that’s not enough to get people clicking.
Your buttons need to be large, very visible, and they should specify an action: “buy”; “get a quote”; “read more”; “subscribe and win”; “vote now” etc.
If you’re struggling to get your readers to engage, start with these three steps. If you need help with what comes next, please contact us.