What people love (and hate) about your email newsletter - The Write Idea

What people love (and hate) about your email newsletter

By Renae Gregoire

Email marketing and email newsletter love (and hate):
What people are saying 

Because I love staying up-to-date on the latest and greatest in digital marketing, I subscribe to a lot of email newsletters.

A lot.

[Sidebar: I have a specific image in mind whenever I use the phrase "a lot." If you're curious, check out this Hyperbole and a Half post and then come back here to join me in envisioning "alot of newsletters." If you enjoy as much as I do, leave a comment at the end of this post!]

Many of the newsletters I enjoy, though, are jam-packed with dense information, more information than my mind can possibly consume in one sitting.

But I WANT the content. I NEED the content to serve my clients well.

So what I do to successfully "consume" dense content is to summarize it myself as I'm reading -- which I just did with the latest Nielsen Norman Group piece on email marketing and newsletters: Marketing Email and Newsletters: UX Finding Then and Now.

And now, since I've done the work of summarizing the piece for myself already, I figured I may as well share it with you.

A summary of "Marketing Email and Newsletters: UX Findings Then and Now" by Nielsen Norman Group

  • Today, people care less about what they receive in their inboxes because it's easy to ignore the noise and choose which messages to read. 
  • People prefer easy, fast opt-ins as compared to detailed processes and forms.
  • Just because they opted in doesn't mean they won't see you as SPAM. People now consider mail they opted into to be SPAM if it's random, impersonal, irrelevant, too hypey and promotional, or too frequent. 
  • Don't use personalized subject lines like "A message for [NAME]" and then include nothing more than an aminated promotional image. People feel duped; you're marked as a spammer.
  • Just because someone signed up for your newsletter doesn't mean they're invested in and emotionally bonded to you; you have to work hard to stand out while being useful.
  •  People want you to know who they are and what's relevant to them -- and they expect you to give them relevant content using personalization and segmentation. For instance, if I signed up for your newsletter when I bought your low-carb products, I probably don't want to see ads for high-carb spaghettis and cookies.  
  • Relevant doesn't always have to mean highly targeted; it can also mean timely -- as in times of year, seasons, or events.
  • Just because they're on your list doesn't mean they care: most people ignore emails instead of taking the time to unsubscribe.
  • Because people are now used to the clean look of single-column newsletters on mobile devices, they prefer looking at single-column newsletters on larger devices as well. Even on larger devices, people prefer the clean, open look of a single column to multiple columns, which creates a feeling of overwhelm.
  • Small, hard-to-see, thumbnail-sized images are out; full-width, high-quality, easy-to-see images are in.
  • Marketers are using emojis in subject lines. (Do people like seeing emojis in subject lines? I don't know; the piece didn't say.
  • Bottom line? People still appreciate and read relevant emails. Email marketing is still a good way to stay in touch with your tribe.

Join my tribe?

Do you sweat the small stuff? Do you want your online presence to inspire trust and confidence? Do you grit your teeth when others don't care enough about YOUR web experience? Are you all about creating an excellent website and excellent content that makes it easy for people to get to know, like, and trust you and buy your stuff?

I think we might be soul mates. And I'd love for you to join my tribe.

When you do, I'll alert you to new blog posts, new programs and products, and new ways for you to create excellent, frictionless, online experiences that lead more people to YES! I promise to be relevant and real, and to send only thoughtful content and advice.


Thoughtful content. Real-world advice. Enter your details to get the next issue when it's ready.


About the Author

Hi! I'm Renae Gregoire, a digital conversion expert improving the performance of digital marketing content, including websites, landing pages, sales pages, online courses, blogs, and email sequences. If you're a coach, consultant, or other expert having trouble getting people to click, sign up, subscribe, or buy, I can help. My work typically involves a blend of strategy, design guidance, and wordsmithing, with a heavy focus on how your materials look, sound, feel, and function—all from your reader's perspective. Contact me to see how I might be able to help improve your conversions.