By Amanda MacArthur • 04/19/2011
Design email newsletters that are easy to read, share and use
Your email subscribers aren’t cash machines, they’re humans. How often do you feel good after opening an email newsletter that tries to sell you every step of the way? Probably never, because unlike promotional emails, editorial email newsletters need to give your subscribers at least one good take-away every day, or they will unsubscribe.
Beyond that, they want to be able to share your article, contact you and unsubscribe easily. If you don’t design email newsletters with simple access to functions like these, you will frustrate and alienate your subscribers.
The most successful email newsletters that keep their customers happy (aka keep them on the list longer) follow these simple guidelines.
1. Design email newsletters with an easy to find/use unsubscribe link.
Not only is it against CAN-SPAM regulations to omit your unsubscribe button, but making the button prominent actually makes subscribers feel more secure. It also keeps people from hitting the “spam” button and getting you blacklisted from important email domains.
2. Keep your social media profile buttons at the top of your email newsletter.
Yes, the goal of your email newsletter is to drive people back to your site, not to external sites. However, if you can get them subscribed to your social media feeds early, then you don’t need to worry about them if they subscribe to your email list. Some people just prefer to get their information out of a fire hose.
I recently was talking on the phone about this very topic with Adam Zais from Wistia. He added a great point, which is that social media also allows you to repeat yourself. So while you can’t send a duplicate email newsletter out three times a day, you can re-post the same link to your articles as many times a day as you want. So yes, you want to make those social media links prominent.
3. Let email newsletter subscribers share whatever is in the email.
In addition to providing links to your social media profiles, you also want to give subscribers the ability to share the articles in your email newsletters. This means including “tweet this” and “share this” buttons. It also means including the good ‘ol fashioned “forward to a friend” link.
4. Give email newsletter subscribers an HTML version.
An HTML version of your email newsletter is good for two reasons. First, the most obvious reason is that some people may not be able to see your email newsletter in their email client. Second, the best reason is that sometimes people want to link to it.
5. Show email newsletter subscribers the permalink.
For one of the same reasons you want an HTML version, you want to give them a physical permalink to copy and paste to your featured article. If someone wants to write or link to your article, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for them to find the original home of that content.
6. Offer email newsletter subscribers ways to adjust their account.
Make sure you have a link for them to update their subscription settings, change their email address, or simply switch to your week-in-review list – or perhaps a different topical list.
7. Make it easy for them to contact you.
Your email subscribers will want to contact you for a variety of reasons. At times, it may be because they can’t get the unsubscribe link to work. Other times it could be because they want permission to republish one of your articles. More importantly, they may want to learn more about you, or a product you sell. Make sure that you have a section for them to contact you, and include your mailing address, phone number and links to your social media accounts.
Oh and here’s a bonus #8 for you: Make your email newsletters worth opening. According to a study by eMarketer, 61% of people who subscribe to sites like Groupon say that they open all of their “daily deal” emails. It’s because the email provides the subscriber with a benefit. Your email newsletter should do the same.
Posted in Email Design Best Practices