Does Your Newsletter Suck? 10 Reasons Why It Might

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on February 10, 2010 in: Branding, Business Marketing

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From time to time I subscribe to ezines and newsletters when the subject matter of a site is something I want to know more about. Unfortunately, they suck. Many of them.

Here are the things I hate about them:

  1. Your newsletter just rehashes your blog. Hey, I get it, you’re busy and maybe people want to review your blog titles at the end of the week instead of clicking to your blog every day. Make sure you tell people that is the case.
  2. Your newsletter is a totally different subject than your site. So your blog has pictures of kitten and you encourage people to sign up for your newsletter… which is your legal firm’s newsletter. Not cool. I want kittens, not your latest legal insight.
  3. Your newsletter just advertises. 1 rule for a flat belly. Teeth whitening discovered by a mom. Easy-no-brainer-whatever social media marketing. It’s exhausting. Some advertising is okay once you’ve gained my attention and shown me value. But the value-to-marketing ratio is one in which the value needs to be higher. Substantially higher.
  4. Your newsletter is basically about how awesome you are. Hey, I know you’re awesome. So does your mom. But I didn’t sign up to your newsletter to be reminded of it. I want value… so give me value.
  5. Your newsletter is basically just stuff you copied and pasted from an article distribution site. Yes, technically I know that’s what those articles are there for. But that information is publicly available already. Guess what: I wanted YOUR insight when I signed up to your newsletter. Okay, maybe you don’t have a ton of time to provide your insight but 30 minutes for your subscribers isn’t a lot to ask, is it?
  6. Your newsletter is a sales page for your latest blog post. This one is the current burr in my proverbial saddle. I signed up to a newsletter because I thought buddy had good things to say. Unfortunately, I get daily messages that say: “you HAVE to check out my latest blog on [XYZ]. It will change your life”… or some such nonsense.
  7. Your newsletter is too long. I open my email and I jam through all of my work. Keyword: Jam. I don’t linger. If your email is too long, I’m forced to linger. Keep it under 1500 words.
  8. Your newsletter is too short. I also don’t like newsletters that are one paragraph. It feels cheap. Put some effort into it, dude!
  9. Your newsletters link out to something but don’t tell me what. Hey, I don’t mind linkouts. They make sense. Rather than slamming me with content, you kindly give me a link to click (and you secretly measure what I’m reading). That’s cool. But at least tell me what I’m linking to. A page title, a paragraph, and maybe some kind of indication about whether it’s a website or a pdf file or an image of your kitten.
  10. Your newsletter needs to have a decent title that doesn’t annoy me. I got a newsletter the other day that said, “Heather, I’ve been trying to reach you.” Oh really? You have? I have my contact information posted all over the place. You haven’t been trying to reach me, you’re just trying to get me to open your newsletter.

Okay. Here’s the deal: I don’t hate all newsletters. Heck, I distribute newsletters myself. But newsletters need to conform to a certain number of best practices, and this is what I think those best practices should be:

  • Provide value. Provide value. Provide value. Provide value. Get it? Good.
  • It’s okay to link to your blog, advertise, talk about yourself. But do it in moderation and make sure you win my attention by providing value.
  • Don’t repeat what you are saying on your blog or something you pulled from the web (unless you add your own insight). I signed up to hear YOU provide value.
  • Provide value.
  • Keep your newsletter a readable length – long enough to *provide value* but short enough to demonstrate that you respect my time.

Let’s create great newsletters!

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