By Deborah Wroe

My name is Deborah and I am a newsletter junkie. When I come across a brand I like, I seek out their website, follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook and look for a newsletter sign-up on their website. More often than not the sign-up doesn’t say exactly what I am signing up for, i.e. monthly, weekly, daily, but what the heck, I can always unsubscribe.

My personal email inbox is full of shopping, discounts, daily deals, horoscopes and flight offer newsletters. My work email inbox is industry news, national and local news, association news, and newsletters from our clients and prospects.

Sometimes my ‘fandom’ is short lived; too many emails, too long copy, not really news at all, too many pictures or sometimes just a simple typo can lead me to hit unsubscribe. And that in itself can be a right royal pain if the unsub process is clumsy or multi-stage. I once unsubbed from a daily email from a leading brand, which was a hoop jumping kind of unsub process and to add insult to injury the final confirmation email told me I may to have wait 28 days to come off the list. Grrr.

So, what does make a good newsletter? Here is our 12 step programme

1. Timing
Accept that you need to send it out at a time when your customer would like to receive it, not when it’s convenient for you

2. Content
Reflect on why you decided to send a newsletter and stick to your principles and core messages. Make it interesting for the reader, and relevant to what you do and the product or services you offer

3. Grammar and punctuation
Speak clearly. Double and triple check your spelling and grammar before hitting send

4. Subject line
Be mindful. Make sure your subject line has the click-thru factor, and make sure the reader knows it’s from you. Avoid trigger words that might get it caught in a spam trap

5. Data
Respect your audience. Have the people on your list opted in? Have they asked for the newsletter? Don’t assume, explicitly ask for permission

6. Frequency
Stick to your promise, if you state you will send a newsletter daily, weekly, monthly, honour that commitment, people will expect it. Same time, same day, regularly

7. Easy unsubscribe
Honour those that want to walk away. Easy in, easy out. Captchas are annoying – FACT. One click unsubscribes are not. If you are using a manual system make sure you honour the unsubs and take them off your list

8. Size
Respect readers’ space. Don’t overload with large images (file size) that take an age to download. A lot of people access emails on the go, on smartphones and tablets. Sluggish, slow newsletters won’t cut it

9. Sent from address
Be open about who you are. There is no need for anonymity with your email address. You want readers to see who is sending them a newsletter. A user friendly email address looks much more appealing than a Xc5674GhCC7799BGO@xxxxxx.co.uk

10. Reply to address
Be open to feedback. Ideally your ‘reply to’ email should be the same as the ‘sent from’. Think of the reader, not of your difficulty in managing the replies

11. Check your stats
Examine past behaviour. Do people open your newsletter? What are they clicking on? How do your open rates compare to industry norms?

12. Watch and learn
Learn from others. Seen a brand or business that you admire or connect with? Sign up to their newsletter and see how they do it