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Help! People aren’t clicking on my newsletter

November 19, 2009

When it comes to e-mail marketing, we’ve done pretty well. Up until this month.

We’ll use ourselves as a test case this time. Because we’re obviously doing something wrong …

Take a look at a jpg of our e-mail newsletter sent Tuesday (Nov. 17). Really go over it top to bottom, though we realize many people will only glance at it in their Inbox.

It goes out to more than 300 subscribers. It has a good open rate, above 20 percent. But for the first time, it had zero clicks. Zero. People opened it, maybe read it, but had no reason to click through to the blog posts, sales offers and other links.

The content is good, solid. This edition, we didn’t include any exclusive content, but did summarize what was available on the site.

Here are some options we could try:

  1. 1. Shorten the darn thing. It’s at least three screens deep. Maybe break it into more newsletters and go weekly rather than once or twice a month.
  2. 2. Move the offers to the top. Put the other info below.
  3. 3. More information, less sales.

What do you think? Can this newsletter be saved? If you know your way around e-mail marketing, please leave a suggestion in the comments.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. jesseluna permalink
    November 19, 2009 3:18 pm

    The above link takes me to a login page. Does the user have to login to see your newsletter message?~Jesse

    • November 19, 2009 3:28 pm

      Sorry about that. I thought it was going to the actual newsletter.

      Try it again: I relinked it to a jpg screenshot of the newsletter.

  2. November 19, 2009 3:28 pm

    Both of the VR links are throwing an error right now (they’ve been a little sketchy lately), so I can see your email live, and in person, but here’s off the cuff changes I’d try from looking at the thumbnail:

    1) The logo looks pretty large, which is great from a branding perspective. But I’d look at shortening it up, so it takes up less vertical space. Possibly arranging it so that the main headline can go to the right of the logo.

    2) Stronger calls to action, particular just ask people to click, most of your links look like they’re just linked headlines. I’d consider dressing up the youtube screenshot too with some copy prompting a click.

    4) Test, test, test – VR will let you segment your list for A/B splits, try at least two different layouts/subject lines/headlines for each go around until you get a really good handle on what works for your audience.

  3. jesseluna permalink
    November 19, 2009 3:59 pm

    It looks like you have a lot of content in there that is very click-worthy. I’d ask further questions like:

    1)What day did you send it. Deviating from the usual cycle can have an impact as does sending an email on Fridays.

    2)How “trained” are your email readers. Is this email something they would be expecting, at least in terms of the type and format of the content? Have they already been receiving emails from you or is this a first time summary email for new subscribers?


    • November 19, 2009 6:21 pm


      1. This one went out on Tuesday morning. I have no set day to send it out, since it’s a monthly newsletter.

      2. They probably are not trained, per se. Most of them have received at least 1 from us, we’re up to 10 sent since May.


  4. November 19, 2009 4:00 pm

    A few thoughts off the top of my head. And I completely ignored your directions and skimmed, because that’s what I would do with any other e-mail I got.

    1. I skimmed. And skimmed, and skimmed, and skimmed, because it was REALLY long. There are a whole lot of words, and I think you probably would do better to break it up and send more short newsletters rather than one long one. By the time I got to the “Career Choices” graphic, I wasn’t even reading headlines anymore.

    2. Better defining your sections would help. Right now, your section heads get lost in the copy and overshadowed by big graphics. Having larger/underlined/otherwise-better-defined section dividers would make it seem a lot less intimidating to your readers. Better use of whitespace also would help with this.

    3. Be careful with graphics. Any time I get an e-mail that requires me to “click here to see graphics,” I tend not to click, and if the graphics load slowly, I tend not to read. Make sure they’re reasonably sized and placed and pertinent to the accompanying story.

    4. Make sure that your headlines are really engaging–even more so than with a regular post. “Fire your Web designer” is a good example of this; “An interesting case study” leaves me lukewarm. “Learn social media tips and tricks,” ditto.

    Or, y’know, whatever.

    • November 19, 2009 6:23 pm


      Thanks for the pointers.

      1. I think I’ll try sending shorter more frequent newsletters.

      2-3. I’m going to try designing from scratch, rather than using the limiting templates of VR. That should help with white space, graphic size, section dividers, etc.

      4. I’ll definitely punch up the headlines. If I’m failing there, yikes.

      Great stuff.



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