In this class, we’re going to look at the different components you need to include in all your newsletters to ensure they reach the intended recipients and, once they do, are opened, read and clicked. The components include:

Subject line. This is what your subscriber sees in their mailbox before they have even clicked, so you have to get it right if you want that email to be opened. If it looks even vaguely spammy, your subscribers are going to bin it straight away, that’s if the spam filters don;t get to it first – so do give it plenty of thought. Examples of spammy subject lines are:

‘Lowest price’ is a spam trigger phrase, much like ‘hot babes’ or ‘cheap Viagra’! Spam filters also dislike the use of capitals and the overuse of exclamation marks.

*~H3ll0~* Click here now and see what we have been up to. Limited time only!
Yep. We’re not the only ones that hate the incorrect use of punctuation and numerics. Spam filters hate it too. They also hate ‘click here’ and ‘limited time only’.

Not only are they spam filter fodder, but these kind of subject lines do not, we would hope, represent your brand’s voice. Good examples include:

Your exclusive invite to view our latest collection
‘Your’ makes this personal and ‘exclusive’ suggests something special for the recipient. This could be improved with including a date, so it becomes timely. Perhaps something like:

Your exclusive invite to view the December additions to [insert store name here]
Now you’re giving a sense of urgency and keeping it timely, plus you’re putting your store name into your subscribers’ minds.

It’s worth remembering there are lots of other words that trigger spam filters which will be discussing in a later class. But basically, go for the Ronseal effect – make it do exactly what it says on the tin – and keep it simple, descriptive and to the point (under 50 characters is best). This is pretty basic stuff, but always remember subject lines should describe the subject of your email.

When it comes to subject lines, don't sell what's inside. Tell what's inside.

Branding. If you don’t include your logo and store name in your mailouts, you’re missing a trick. It needs to be clear where the email comes from – the logo/name should be in prime position and visible at the most cursory of glances. Even if a subscriber doesn’t read the whole email (how dare they?) your name/logo will stick in their mind.

When you’re using any of the email systems we spoke about in The Science Bit module, you’ll be able to set up reusable templates. Keeping a few things consistent, like the logo position, will keep you remembered. You should consider having a standard design, alongside a few themed ones (maybe Christmas and sale versions). Or, if you’re doing an email series, switch the template up for this.

Headline. This is the top of an article or page in a newspaper or magazine, and that is exactly what it is in an email too. Open up the nearest paper or magazine to you. Look at the headlines that are grabbing your attention. Headlines are really important as we all time poor these days and, if your subscribers’ inboxes are anything like ours, they’ll quite often skim read emails. Stick something eye-catching and engaging at the top of yours and they’ll be more likely to continue reading to the bottom.

Table of contents. This doesn’t have to be extensive, but a quick bulleted list of what’s coming up is shown to increase click-through rates, as people can go directly to the bits they’re interested in. This is especially useful if you have a longer email. Have an ‘in this issue’ box in the sidebar. If you’re doing a promotion instead of a newsletter, you won’t need to include this.

Images. Attention-grabbing, eye-catching and pinnable – good imagery is the difference between a brilliant email that gets forwarded and a meh one, even if the content is the same. Rule of thumb: include lots of images – they also break up your text and make it more readable, but make sure you resize the images before you add them to your newsletter. Also, and we will keep saying this, STAY AWAY FROM CLIP ART.

Content, content, content. More of this in the next class, but, essentially, make it interesting, relevant to your readers, useful and, ultimately, shareable. Refer to your Beat Bloggers’ Block eBook for ideas if you get stuck. Be sure to include calls to action: ‘get involved’, ‘find out more’ – the more obvious the better, but make them exciting and urgent.

Vague teasers, constant reminders, and pleas for sales are not going to cut through the clutter.

Links. Don’t include the full text of articles in your emails – it’s a waste of an opportunity to get people to visit your site. Just have a teaser, then a ‘read on here’ call to action to encourage people to click through to your blog/site. This also enables you to discover what subscribers are most interested in.

Social media buttons. Why on earth would you not have links to all your social media channels? Think about adding share buttons so people can pin your fabulous images, and you can pick up new followers and likes. Do, and we can’t emphasise this enough, check and double check your links before you hit send.

Footer. As previously mentioned, if you’re a limited company you’re legally required to have your full name, address and company registration. You are also obliged to include an unsubscribe link to make it easy for subscribers to say farewell if they don’t want to here from you any more.

Activity: Look at the emails you subscribe to. What works? Which layouts do you like? Why do you like them? How have they stayed on brand? Which subject lines are you clicking on? Now, get on your platform and have a play with templates.

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