By Lauryn Rosinski – Marketing and PR account coordinator 

Take a minute to look in your email inbox or, if you are reading this from home, your mailbox.

I just checked my inbox, and it is full of emails from clients and coworkers – however, I also have a half dozen e-newsletters from marketing industry thought leaders, professional organizations I am part of and nonprofit organizations and small businesses that we serve at Dot Org. I also receive several newsletters via the US Postal service throughout the year.

I am one of millions who receive daily newsletters, either via email or mail. After all, organizations can and do use newsletters as tools to tell their stories, share relevant content and keep their target audiences involved and interested.

However, with the amount of newsletters people are receiving, it can be difficult to gain and keep their attention.

Research conducted by Constant Contact and Mailchimp, two of the popular online email marketing platforms, shows that the average number of industry contacts that open their email marketing content is 20-21 percent. And these numbers do not take into account the number of people that receive newsletters in the mail and throw them away without so much as a glance.

Do not let these numbers alarm or deter you and your organization from sharing newsletters. At Dot Org, we have seen, and even created, newsletter campaigns that have performed above the industry average and kept recipients interested. In fact, we are always looking for ways to improve open rates.

Here are some ways to help your organization’s newsletter stand out in a sea of mail:

  1. Take the time to design a quality header.

Research shows that viewers of content, particularly webpages, read in a variety of ways; however, their eyes almost always start by looking at the top of a page and working their way down. This means that header images for websites, social media profiles and newsletters will grab the attention of viewers first.

Therefore, your organization’s newsletter header should stand out.

Make sure header images communicate your organization’s overall brand and incorporate compelling design elements. Yes, images that do this do take time and resources to create – however, it will help your newsletter stick out among the crowd and further tell the story of your organization.

Here are some examples of header images that we at Dot Org have helped custom-make with designers and clients using the aforementioned best practices:

Association of Nurses in AIDS Care newsletter header image

Bounce Innovation Hub external newsletter header image

Community Action Akron Summit newsletter header image

  1. Include advice and insights of industry leaders and employees.

In its blog post about generating readable newsletter content, HubSpot reminds developers to “have a deep understanding of their audience and what they care about.”

Recipients of newsletters for nonprofits and small businesses oftentimes do not just care about those organizations. They care about the people being served by or contributing to the organization.

If you are developing content for your organization’s newsletter, you can truly give your readers what they want by including a blog post, article or column by an employee of an organization, an industry thought leader or a client/patient (with permission, of course) in the content.

Encourage your writer to convey a pertinent topic to your audiences. Tell them to not simply incorporate facts and statistics in their writings; ask them to include insights, advice and anecdotes. And, although you can (and should) proofread their content before it goes to print or gets delivered, make sure to let this writer use their own words and provide details about their own experiences.

Through newsletters, don’t focus on telling the story of your organization by yourself – let people involved help you. Trust me – your audiences will appreciate it and be more engaged.

  1. Build your newsletter with RELEVANT articles and events.

Every month, I help one of Dot Org’s clients create and distribute newsletters to almost 1,500 newsletter contacts. From the analytics of the email marketing software this client uses, we can see that many recipients click on articles about our client and similar organizations and events happening locally and regionally.

Why is this? Because they are passionate about the industry.

According to Disqus, 72 percent of people surveyed stated that they subscribed to email newsletters because they wanted to learn more about a topic that interested them. In all likelihood, the recipients of your newsletters feel the same way.

Think about why your audience subscribed to your organization’s newsletter(s) in the first place – and include events and articles that are relevant to them.

For example, if you are a nonprofit that assists people living with mental and behavioral health issues, include dates to upcoming programs you or local mental health organizations are hosting. Attach articles about mental health trends. Include news stories about how your organization is making a difference. And don’t forget to tap into the expertise of your own  staff.

  1. Incorporate the right amount of dynamic graphics.

We have all heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Yet, images and graphics do more than replace an abundance of copy. They also appeal to viewers.

In your organization’s newsletter, do not use pictures as placeholders – allow them to represent and tell the story of your organization. For nonprofits, this could mean incorporating images of donors, volunteers and audiences served (again, with permission). For small businesses, this could mean including images of employees, executives, products and customers.

Don’t forget that copy is still relevant. Just like audiences will not read newsletters with only copy, they will also not pay attention to newsletters drowning in images. This article by Flaunt My Design provides a good idea of how many images to include in a newsletter and where to include them.

Your organization’s newsletter can be a great marketing tool for your audiences if the content and imagery is engaging and compelling. You cannot slap a newsletter together and expect it to work. It takes energy and effort for a newsletter to create a newsletter that will stick out in someone’s mailbox.

And, if you don’t have the time to do this, we at Dot Org Solutions are here to help.

Email us at [email protected] for more information on how we can help you with your email marketing and other content.