Geraint Clarke, Marketing Consultant:
Unfortunately, clean corporate brands struggle to cut through the noise of other brands dive-bombing into people’s inboxes. All businesses are competing for attention and the subject lines of “what’s new this week” get overshadowed by the much more enticing “Act Now — 50% OFF SALE ends tonight”. When you say “open rates have been declining” you’re admitting that what’s being sent now just isn’t cutting it.
As Peter Drucker says, “What gets measured gets managed” and it’s about time you managed your newsletter in a different way. If you think they’re boring to read, then it’s no wonder your recipients do too.
It’s hard to go into specific creative examples to overhaul your emails without knowing what your company is, or what restrictions you have, but here is some broader advice. You have four options to explore:
- Switch to a content marketing approach where you make short, engaging emails that link through to much-longer blog posts on your company’s website (for announcements or company updates, etc). That way your emails will seem less boring.
- Cut down your emails by 50%. Get to the point in the first sentence and unapologetically cut any sentence that doesn’t need to be there. Less is more. Say in 5 words what most people say in 15. Your emails will flow a lot more without the jargon and self-congratulatory fluff.
- Throw a little spice and personality into your current emails to win back some attention. Send from an individual e.g. Emma at [Company Name] to allow your email content to be a little less restricted. As readers will know it’s an individual’s voice — and not that of the brand as an entirety. Then you can put some personality, inside jokes, memes, and opinions in there to build engagement without diluting the brand.
- Purge your email list of non-active subscribers and put time into building your list to make up for the people you’ve lost. Subscribers will naturally drop off over time. I added a hat to my cart once, the company emailed me hat emails for a year and I finally unsubscribed. I had no business being on their list. Hats don’t even suit me. Maybe your emails aren’t boring — maybe they’re just irrelevant to the people on your list now? People’s interests change.
The rationale I’d give your risk-averse team is that you’re on the field and others are here to play. Doing nothing isn’t a strategy to win. You don’t have to get wacky with memes and Dad jokes, but you do need to activate a different approach — and fast.
Ellyse McCallum, Digital Marketing Manager & Social Media Writer:
Hey, boring newsletter! I completely understand.
There are two problems at hand here:
- People aren’t even getting to the newsletter
- It’s not engaging enough
Let’s address the first problem — open rates. Open rates are influenced by so many variables. The time of day sent, how many other emails are competing with you at the same time, your subject lines, and so forth. It’s understandable to correlate a lack of open rate with the level of engaging content inside the newsletter, BUT if your audience really found it that unbearable or weren’t interested anymore they’d probably just unsubscribe. If you’re still showing up in their inboxes there is hope!
So what now?
- Focus on making your subject lines more engaging. It’s the first impression before people even get to the email. Come up with multiple options and use tools like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to test potential headlines. Experiment with having something clickbaity (like holding a competition) and see if that makes any difference. And here’s a final tip: using people’s names in the subject line and talking directly to them generally leads to higher open rates.
Let’s address the second part of this — boring content! In general, company newsletters are boring, which is why I would suggest implementing the following to blow that boringness out the door:
2. Find newsletter examples you like! Get some inspiration and even see what your competitors are doing. Create a mood board and assess what it is that you connect with in these newsletters, and work out the best way forward for your newsletter from there.
3. Get creative with what’s in the email. You can still align content to the company goals, but you might need to pivot in how you do that. As the orchestrator of what’s in the email, it’s your job to make it interesting. Maybe you could have a spotlight on different staff members each month, or use the assistance of tools like Rotato to create cool product videos when you have product updates. All of these elements can make your emails way more fun! At the end of the day, there needs to be a reason for people to open an email that is mutually beneficial. Find out why people subscribed to your newsletter in the first place and determine what they need to see in order to have this purpose-filled while adding in the information your leadership wants in it too.
4. Design, design, design! Often, your email template design can influence how long someone is willing to read your email. If possible, try to redesign your current template to look more pleasing to the eye, or ask your workplace if a digital designer can code and customize the perfect template for you to drag and drop your content into each month. If you’ve done the research above and found your favorite emails, you’ll have a world of inspiration at your fingertips!