Posted 15th October 2010 by APSIS

To make people read your newsletter

When using marketing via email there is an obvious chain of incidents that needs to work in order to get the proper results. The message must reach the recipient’s inbox, the recipient must open the message and then act in an expected way.

When using marketing via email there is an obvious chain of incidents that needs to work in order to get the proper results. The message must reach the recipient’s inbox, the recipient must open the message and then act in an expected way. The goals might vary (for some senders a purchase in a web shop is the goal, while others are satisfied with building stronger relations to the recipients when they read well-written articles), but the steps mentioned above must be taken – probably all the times.

Let’s presume – although it cannot be taken for granted any more – that the message has reached the recipient’s inbox. Then there are at least four different things that decide whether the message will be opend by the recipient or not:

• who sent the message

• when it was sent

• what it contained

• how the message looks in a preview window and different emailprogrammes

Simple, isn’t it?

Well, maybe not as simple as that. Have a look at this …

According to surveys conducted by Doubleclick the most important thing is who the sender was when it comes to whether the recipient will read the message or not. This seems to be reasonable – compare having a message from a close friend (the guy who only sends you bad jokes excluded) or a message from a lottery you’ve never heard of.

Apart from the recipient’s general image of the sender (a company or a person), the recipient’s experience of emails or newsletters from the sender in question also plays an important role. When we compare the development of the number of opened messages between various companies it is evident that those who are good at providing the recipients with messages worth reading will have their newsletters opened and read more often than those who nag about irrelevant offers.

Conclusion: Every time you send a newsletter for example, the quality of the contents will have an influence on the number of recipients that will read the following issue. If you feel that the contents don’t come up to expactations – don’t send the message.

Another important factor when you choose the name of sender is whether to use the company’s name or the name of the contact person of your company. Both methods work in different ways in various situations and your choice is dependant on whether you want to build a realtion to the contact person or to the company.

The most common moment for sending a newsletter seems to be as soon as it is written. That may appear natural, but it is not always the optimal thing to do.

It has been proved that the point of time when a newsletter is sent is quite crucial to whether many recipients, or just a few, will open and read the newsletter. Tests that we conduct in cooperation with our customers show that there is a difference of about 20 % – only due to whether a certain newsletter was sent on a Thuesday, a Wednesday or a Thursday.

There is nothing strange really that the point of time affects the result. Consider the scene: You arrive at your office on Monday morning. You find 35 emails in your inbox and they are of varied interest, to say the least. Apart from reading and answering these emails you are supposed to set about the work of the week with new enthusiasm. If you do like most people, you probably delete all mails that you don’t consider to be important. If you get a newsletter on Tuesday around 10 o’clock instead, it will probably stick out more.

But 10 o’clock on a Tuesday is not always the best point of time. It has become a “truth” that newsletters are to be sent on Tuesdays or Thursdays in order to get the best response. This has led to the fact that most people do send their newsletters those days, which, in turn, creates a problem similar to the Monday mornings! So alternative ways must be used.

There are two ways of finding out the most optimal time for your newsletter:

• Use the visiting statistics for the home page in order to find out when people are most interested in the offers of the company. To send the newsletter about 1 hour before that peak will probably work very well.

• Make a test. Try out various points of time and evaluate the responses of various choices.

The advice to make tests is really the best tip even when it comes to deciding on a subject line. Try out various styles: informative/urging etc. and check what works best.

A problem might occur when you test the subject lines – if you don’t try out all the subject lines in the same newsletter. Otherwise it might be difficult to know whether it was the ponit of time or the subject line that gave the result. As a user of the Apsis’ Newsletter Pro you can get access to a function called “advanced sendings, a function that gives you an opportunity of randomly trying out av number of different subject lines, points of time or contents – randomly divided among the recipients of your list”.

A preview test is a “maybe”-factor that might affect the result in somewhat different ways.

The most common is the graphic preview test which you can find in the Outlook for example, where the recipient (typical) will see “the upper left corner” of the newsletter. The best way of meeting this is to see to it that this area contains valuable information (for instance a summary of the contents of the newsletter).

An alternative that sometimes occur in the Outlook is that the textversion of a html-message is shown directly under the subject line of the message. This text is the same as is shown for those who has activated functions who shows a window(with a short preview or a new email message. In order to create a correct textversion for a newsletter it is not only of importance to the minority that cannot read graphic email messages, but also for the users of the ordinary Outlook.

This is all for part 3 of the email school. Next article will deal with one of the biggest questions within legitimate email marketing (the absolutely biggest one if we can trust American investigations): Deliverability concerning email messages and spam filters.