emailIt’s hard to make emails stand out and even harder to convince the reader that your message is worth their time.

Your email newsletter should be exactly what it is: news. The information needs to be current, relevant, and concise. Of course, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that we also send newsletters to market our products or services. It’s not always easy to deliver what your readers want to read while simultaneously trying to promote your brand.

Here are some practices to follow to increase the likelihood that your email newsletter will be opened and read.

1. What is your goal?

As with all things marketing, you need to first define your goal for sending out a newsletter.

Are you sending your newsletter to get more page views on your site?

If so, focus on your subject line. If it’s not attention-grabbing and helpful, it’ll probably be deleted with opening.

For help with refining your subject line, check out SubjectLine.com for these and other useful tips:

  1. Don’t start your subject line with the word “Free”
  2. Capitalize the first letter of the first word in the subject line
  3. Include a sense of urgency
  4. Shorter words are better for readability
  5. Don’t include exclamation points
  6. Keep the subject line under 35 characters
  7. Don’t use the words “You” or “Your”

Are you trying to get the reader to download something?

If so, then start with that offer. Whatever your goal is should be the focus of the newsletter. For example, if you are trying to promote your new e-book and are offering a free download, then make sure the first thing that is seen is a picture (with link) of the e-book, a brief explanation of what it is about, and a call-to-action.

2. Order matters!

The average newsletter is scanned in less than 10 seconds once it is opened. Think about what you do when you open a newsletter. We’re scanners by nature and we feed on trigger words that peak our interest and draw us in further.

Prioritize your content from beginning to end. Start with the article, story, or promotion that you think will be the most attractive to your readers, follow with the runner-up, and so on. The small inbox preview of your e-mail should prominently feature the most interesting or most actionable item.

Saving the best for last does not apply to your newsletter. People will rarely reach the end; avoid this common mistake at all costs.

3. Less is more

Make it a rule to only include 3 or 4 different articles, blog posts, or promotional items in your newsletter. Don’t have too much information that makes reading your newsletter seem like a chore.

Links are your best friend in your email newsletter. You can expand on a certain topic or article by including a link to the source of the content, usually your blog or website. Keep in mind that the links that have the highest clicks are generally at the top and decreases thereafter.

4. Want more clicks to your site?

If you are using your newsletter as a means to direct more traffic to your website, then you need to make sure that your links look like they are worth clicking on.

Throughout your newsletter’s content, keep links prominent. Don’t create a hyperlink with an entire sentence as the anchor text. Pick only a few words for the link’s anchor text that promote a sense of urgency and clearly define a call-to-action.

5. Add an image

Adding small images helps to draw the reader in and break up lines of text to avoid glazing over the newsletter as a whole.

Pick a picture that is relevant to the content. Keep it small and inline so that it doesn’t alter the format of the newsletter very much.