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Why Your Email Newsletters Aren't Being Read

According to August Birch, email newsletters are all about getting the readers to want our content. The common complaint about email lists is that readers are unresponsive. But it’s not about the size of the list — it’s how you use it! Readers aren’t disinterested; they’re just overwhelmed with other content in their inboxes. We’ve all become masters at filtering out marketing pitches, and some of our inboxes even give us the tools to help that process.

To get your readers to open your newsletters, you have to speak directly to them. The key to unlocking email engagement is writing a killer subject line. Here are five common mistakes that Birch thinks you can fix immediately when writing subject lines. 

  1. Talking about yourself — Readers care about themselves first. We’re busy people with so many emails and so little time.

  2. Being boring — This is self-explanatory. If your subject line makes someone reach for their coffee to stay awake, ya done messed up.

  3. Giving it away — If you explain exactly what the email is about in the subject line, there’s no reason for me to read it. Readers hit “Delete” because they already know what you’re about to say.

  4. Asking yes-or-no questions — “Want to take your writing to the next level?” If their internal answer is “nope,” then there’s no reason to open your email. Questions can be great, but you’ve got to be really careful with the yes-or-no kind. 

  5. No mystery — Leave a little something to the imagination. Readers want to be led gently towards a sale, not mugged with your blatant subject line.

Subject lines are part art, part magic, part mysticism, and part “let’s try something fun.” The idea behind your email list is to get your newsletter in front of your reader, and to do that, we need to get them to open the dang message.

Here are Birch’s five tips to get your emails opened:

  1. Close the loops — The human brain hates open loops, and we’re hardwired to want to close them. Use unanswered, non-yes-or-no questions to entice a reader to click on that email. Cliffhangers work very well in writing because we want to know what happens next. 

  2. Feed the greed — We care about ourselves above all. If someone sends you an email and it looks like you’ll gain something by opening it, there’s a much higher chance you’re going to open it. Try using subject lines with the word “you” instead of group-speak. Make the reader feel as if you sent this only to them.

  3. Format for mobile — This really should be a no-brainer, but test for mobile by looking at emails on your phone. You want the entire subject line to fit and not be cut off. The reader is not going to spend time trying to figure out what you meant. 

  4. Send emails like you’re a friend — Think about how you email coworkers, family, or friends and employ those tactics. Your readers will stay readers if they feel like your family and friends too. 

  5. Have fun — infuse your own version of fun into your emails. We all have different personalities and levels of fun we generally exude, but if your emails sound fun to open, there’s a better chance readers will click. Nobody wants another newsletter, so don’t make your newsletter seem like a newsletter. Make it feel like a community.

Let’s face it: We all need to send better email. Both you and your readers benefit if they open your content. You put so much effort into the subject matter of your email — now try to spend as much time creating your subject lines. They’re just as important as your email itself, if not more so. Test, send, and retest subject lines until you start getting the results you want. If readers don’t see your email, they’ll never buy your work. Email is the only free piece of marketing you can send where your message isn’t distracted by Snapchat videos and newsfeeds. When your reader opens your email, you’ve got their attention. You can send better email, and we can help!

T. Nugent and Associates can help you produce newsletters that get your writing seen by your readers. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call or text us at 708.334.8414 or email terry@tnugentassociates.com.