Yesterday I wrote about the value of email newsletters and how you should use them to strengthen your community and encourage return visits. Today I want to talk about common email newsletter mistakes – mistakes which are all too common and can actually be more damaging to your site than not having a newsletter campaign at all.
Common newsletter mistake #1 – Not having permission to send emails
Never, ever, ever send email newsletters to your users unless they have given you their permission to do so. As I mentioned in a previous article, trust is an important factor in building an online community. If you email your members without their permission they will see your contact as spam, regardless of the quality of your email’s content. This will anger your users and could even make them want to leave your community as they will no longer trust you with their contact information. This is hardly the way to encourage user loyalty to your website.
Common newsletter mistake #2 – Hiding unsubscribe options
Your users may absolutely love your community, but may not want to receive email newsletters. This could be for a variety of reasons – none of which are any of your business! If a member wants to stop receiving your newsletters, you must make it easy for them to do so. An unsubscribe link should be included in the footer of each newsletter you send, and there should also be a link on your site for users to be able to opt out of email communications. Make it clear how users can unsubscribe – this will increase the level of trust your members have with you, even if they are not actually interested in unsubscribing.
Common newsletter mistake #3 – Sending newsletters too frequently
This is always a hard one to judge – just how often should you be sending those email newsletters? I would say once a month should be frequent enough to keep your users updated but not overwhelmed, but this depends entirely on your community. Some communities may be based on a subject area which is constantly changing, and your members may expect frequent updates (perhaps weekly). An easy way of determining the optimal frequency of email newsletters is to ask your members! I am amazed by the number of administrators who do not actually ask their members what they want!
Common newsletter mistake #4 – Your newsletter contains no content!
Have you ever received an email newsletter that at first you thought was a random spam message? You open the email and see loads of affiliate links and ads, but no content? Perhaps there is so little content you have no idea what the newsletter is in relation to? Personally I have received emails like this before, and it is a big mistake on the part of the sender.
Only send a newsletter if you have something to say! Again, this is a good reason why it may be a good idea to send out monthly newsletters – it is pretty safe to say you will have something to actually talk about over the course of a month!
Ensure the newsletter contains your site’s branding – this could be the graphical elements you use, your logo, the colours of your site, even the writing style of your site. You want the recipient of your email to know immediately who the email is from. This will ensure they pay attention to the email and actually read its content!
Common newsletter mistake #5 – Not keeping your subscriber list updated
There is no point sending emails to accounts that no longer exist, or are invalid. Ensure you keep your newsletter list up to date. As well as removing users who no longer wish to receive mailings from you, be sure to remove email addresses that are bouncing your emails. ‘Mailbox not found’ and ‘User does not exist’ email addresses can be removed immediately. ‘Mailbox full’ errors can be noted and removed if the error repeats itself over time.
By keeping your subscriber list maintained you will save yourself bandwidth costs in sending out emails, and be abiding to standard good practice. There are billions of emails out there that are a waste of system resources – don’t contribute to the problem!
These are just my own personal opinions of common email newsletter mistakes. Have I missed some that you feel to be important? If so, please mention them in the comments section below!