I decided to change my email newsletter strategy last month. For years, I sent the entire blog post in the body of the email. We used a custom template that included many of the design elements from my blog. For a long time, that served us well.
But we are no longer doing that. Instead, we are sending a plain-text email that describes the post and invites the reader to click-through to my site to read the actual post.
Why did we make the change?
I sometimes think of my blog as a laboratory. When I experiment and share the process, it allows you to understand my approach. It also lets you shortcut a certain amount of trial and error. You can learn from what’s working for me.
With that in mind, there are three reasons why I made this change in my email news strategy.
1. The Majority of Readers Weren’t Getting the Newsletter
Why? After some research, we discovered that the newsletter was ending up in the Promotions tab for Gmail users. That’s about 68 percent of my list, so we realized we had to do something.
After a lot of experimentation, we discovered that images and links at the beginning of almost any email trigger Gmail to move email from the inbox to the Promotions tab. This is not quite the spam folder but nearly so for a lot of users.
As a result, we tested plain-text emails with no images. We also made sure that links don’t appear until further into the body of the email. Success! That worked. All of our test emails with the new format ended up in the inbox—exactly where we wanted them.
2. The Majority of Subscribers Didn’t Visit My Blog
Honestly, they didn’t really have a reason to. We were giving them everything in the newsletter.
All things being equal, there was nothing wrong with this. After all, it’s not the medium but the message that matters, right? Yes, but the trouble is not all things are equal.
From a pure traffic perspective, this meant that subscribers weren’t counted in my traffic reports. In other words, when people read a message in their email, it doesn’t count as a pageview.
You could argue that unique visitors or pageviews are just vanity metrics, and you might be right. But as it was, Google Analytics was under-reporting how many people were actually reading my posts. More accurate numbers are important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is communicating with potential sponsors for my various projects.
In addition, by never visiting the site, subscribers were not seeing other content and promotional items not included in the newsletter.
3. The Majority of Subscribers Weren’t Being Trained to Click
As a reader, this might not seem immediately important. But as an online marketer, it’s critical. If people don’t click, they don’t buy. And if I don’t get buyers for my signature products, I can’t continue to provide resources like my blog, podcast, and ebooks for free.
Instead, I want to train people to click, so I can raise my overall conversion percentage (percent of people who take action). The early results tell us it’s working. We’re getting more clickthroughs now than a month ago.
The bottom line is that this new strategy is another experiment in the laboratory.
I am paying close attention to my unsubscribe numbers and complaints. So far, I’ve only had a handful complaints. On the flip side, I’ve had about twenty people write to tell me they like the new format better.