Despite the prolific growth of social media as a marketing and communication tool, newsletters are still one of the most effective and least expensive PR tools.
But creating a newsletter that gets delivered and, most importantly, viewed, can be something of a challenge.
When it comes to the creation and sending of newsletters, the adoption of a ‘scattergun/hope for the best’ approach really isn’t unusual. Many will have experienced the frustration of painstakingly creating a newsletter, only for the test message to repeatedly end up in spam folders. And loud, desperate wails of: ‘Why? WHY?! What am I doing wrong?!’ ring out across the office.
The good news is that there are measures that can be put in place to give your newsletter the very best chances of reaching its intended audience. These measures can be split between the actual content of the newsletter and then the technologies used in the sending process. We’re going to call these: The Words Bit and The Tech Bit.
The Words Bit
- Provide content that’s worth reading, preferably with a strong call to action (Download Ebook now, Register for a live class, etc). Think about what you want your readers to do. Nobody is going to want to read something that’s hashed together and is full of spelling or grammatical mistakes. It doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece, but it does need to be coherent and correct at the very least! And if you can make it useful and interesting, even better.
- Consider the language used both within the body content of the newsletter and the subject line. There’s a long list of ‘danger’ words to avoid, which wave warning flags at spam filters. These include words and phrases such as: ‘Free’, ‘Big bucks’, ‘Removes wrinkles’, ‘Buy now’, etc… Don’t use them. Ever! Also, consider the length of the subject line and try to keep it short and sweet.
- When it comes to using images, it’s best not to over do it. But do choose images wisely. The higher quality the images, the more professional and appealing the newsletter will look. Also, never send images without text. Filtering software often consider emails containing very little text to be spam. Avoid using text within images as it looks kind of spammy.
- Make your newsletter responsive: mobile opens count A LOT. Try to have a one-column layout, make the font size larger for improved reading on a smartphone and place CTAs in the middle of the screen so they’re easy to tap.
- If you’re sending to a mailing list make sure that it’s fully opt-in (this means that you have the permission of your recipients to send them emails), that it’s fully up-to-date, and that it’s clean. If you have doubts, you can have your mailing list cleaned by a paid cleaning service. Also, when sending to a mailing list, you must include an unsubscribe link so your recipients can easily remove themselves if they no longer wish to receive emails.
The Tech Bit
- If you find that emails are being filtered into a spam folder, or junk mail folder, the first thing to check is the SPF record of your domain name.
- Make sure that you are digitally signing your emails with a DKIM signature at your own domain name. In SMTP2GO this involves adding your domain name to the Sender Domains page.
- If you’re sending from a free webmail client such as Hotmail or Yahoo, your emails are often treated more suspiciously by recipient spam filters. It is always better – and a lot more professional – to send emails from your own, or your business’, domain name.
- By running your emails through the IsNotSpam email checker, you’ll be able to view a report that will let you know how spam filters assess your email, and if your SPF and DKIM record is setup correctly.
- If you place links in an HTML email, it is best to not display the actual link (http://www.etc…) in your email. Many email programs now have anti-phishing technology which treats such links suspiciously. And never use an IP address in a link.
- Never use URL shorteners in an email.
- Check that your domain name is not on a domain blacklist. You can search for this at MXToolbox.
- Don’t send emails from a brand new domain name. The domain name used in your ‘From’ email address should ideally already have a good email sending history, and be older than just a few months. This also applies to domain names used in the links contained within your emails.
Mix together the Words Bit and the Tech Bit, with a good, strong dash of a highly reputable SMTP service provider, and you will most definitely improve the deliverability of your newsletters. And who doesn’t want that?