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Email newsletters are a funny thing. Half the time we don’t remember subscribing to them, the other half of the time we subscribe to them and never see them. If it feels like nobody is opening your emails, here’s perhaps why.

Every sales funnel, sales trainer, digital advisor and business consultant wants you to grow that email list. The main reasons they want you to is because you own your email list. Not Facebook. Not Google. You do. So you have control over what’s on it, what goes out through it and the tone of voice that’s going to be used. The trouble is that you might have trouble getting anyone to see what you’re sending.

What you see in your inbox isn’t everything that has been sent to you (Canva)

Problem 1: Spam filters are cutting you off at the knee

Ever since Gmail arrived, email marketing was living on borrowed time. Some estimate that the reach of email newsletters dropped almost 60% after use of Gmail became commonplace. When Hotmail, Outlook and other email systems picked up on the trend of spam blocking that took us to the point where we now see just under 20% of newsletter emails ever being read by a human. That’s a massive fall from grace. Some of that is the fault of relentless spam. After all some 90% of all email sent now is spam. Just peek in your junk or spam folder to see how much rubbish skips your inbox in one day to see how bad this is. And that’s just the stuff that gets past the email provider’s own firewalls that weed out the very worst stuff before it even gets sorted as spam.

Then some of it is our own fault. After all, spam is made by people. People who tend to be marketers. People who are using email to relentlessly sell things to people.

Most companies do newsletter because they feel they have to. No one is getting passionate and focused on them (Canva)

Problem 2: Email newsletters are pretty awful.

A lot of the trouble with email newsletter is that they are a bit of an after-thought by most companies. They’re poorly planned out, poorly laid out, poorly written and they make the biggest mistake in marketing: they’re all about the business sending them, and not about the person reading them.

We tried to overcome that last point by adding pretend personalisation in them. “Hello Susan” was supposed to sound better than, “Hello Customer.” But was anyone really tricked into thinking that this email was written just for them, simply because the subject line said, “Susan, you won’t believe what just arrived!”

Most company newsletters are full of uninteresting information that no one cares about. (Canva)

Email newsletters are full of boasting, inside stories about staff, obligations to program and supply partners, logos and what wonderful things your business is doing. This is exactly why no one really seems to read them anymore. Instead of starting from a point of “what’s in this for you” it goes straight for “here’s what’s important about us.” And think about it. The newsletters that you will read the most often are those that are not about the company itself, but about news, educational information, local alerts and things to do. Not “who’s new at our Hervey Bay branch” or “a message from our CEO.” Nobody cares about your CEO, the new staff member or the award you just won. They care about themselves and how you can help them feel safe, solve a problem or have a more comfortable life. So if your newsletter doesn’t have any of that in it, then you probably shouldn’t bother sending it at all. And don’t hide that stuff as a “tip” at the end of the email. Lead with it. That way you have a fighting chance that someone will bother to read past it to your very important corporate communications that no one asked to receive.

Dante St James is a digital marketer in Darwin, Australia, found of Clickstarter, a Facebook Blueprint Lead Trainer and ASBAS Digital Solutions advisor

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