5 remedies for a lackluster e-newsletter

Try these approaches to add some zip to your e-zine and—egad!—prompt people to open it and read it.

It’s fashionable, but perhaps not accurate, to say email is dead. Think about how many emails you receive and send every day versus tweets, or versus instant messages (at least work-related ones). You soon realize you want your stuff in someone’s inbox.

So it’s time to rethink the e-newsletter (or e-zine) and bring your audience into your digital world.

Here’s what to rethink:

1. Make it all about the content.

Your e-newsletter should be eye-catching and fun. Content has gone from being something to read to providing an “experience.” Your audience doesn’t need panoramic views of resorts, but they do want content that makes them feel something. Make it visually interesting with pictures and videos, and carry branding from your website to the e-newsletter. Feature unique content such as reviews, hot topics, information they can’t find anywhere else, and exclusive deals and discounts.

Make the subject line interesting. Convey what’s in it for the reader. Personalize and localize, and avoid words such as free, help, and discount that could trigger a spam filter.

2. Make it social.

Repurpose content that has worked best on your social channels in your newsletter—and vice versa. The best e-newsletter content goes on your social channels. Always cross-pollinate. Promote your e-zine on Facebook and Twitter, because those audiences are already interested in you.

Include “follow” and “share” links with all content in the e-newsletter, and encourage readers to follow you on the Web. Bridge them from one channel to another to create a long customer train.

3. Make it interactive.

You want your e-newsletter to be shared. Take them to where you’re at on the Web. Provide links to a website with live feeds and interactive content, and give them ways to participate. Think of how shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol” allow their audiences to vote online. Make your content fun and not passive!

4. Create a mobile-friendly version.

Make sure your e-zine is automatically formatted for mobile, as much of your audience will access it in that format. Make it easy to navigate, too. Again, think about the visuals. Format the mobile version so pictures are turned on when an e-newsletter is opened.

5. Get smart about building an audience.

A lot of people send e-newsletters to old subscribers, or they buy lists. An interesting website will entice people to subscribe. Try a “pop-up” over a blog. Always provide a clear and easy opt-in and opt-out. Send your e-zine only to those who want to receive your message. Above all, do not spam.

Use old-school email wisely, and watch it open up a host of opportunities.

Mary Gorges is a creative communications manager at Cisco Systems.

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