Posted on by Natalie Thomas

Why People Aren’t Reading Your Digital Newsletter3 min read

It’s the end of the quarter again, and it’s time to send out your newsletter to let everyone know what you’re up to! You work really hard on writing good content for it, but it just doesn’t seem to get read. Your viewers may not even consciously know why they aren’t reading it. Here are ways you can better engage with your readers and help them look forward to each new issue!

Your ratio of words to faces is way off.

Let’s get one thing straight. People love looking at pictures of people (especially of ones they know and of themselves). To put this into context, pictures on Instagram with faces are 38% more likely to get engagement. Even as infants, we prefer looking at pictures of people, and that tendency increases as we get older. If your reader opens a newsletter to see just a wall of text, they’re probably going to nope right out of there. Put in a few pictures of people and they become more interested to find out more about them.

That said—use pictures of people that your readers might actually interact with in real life. Viewers will treat pictures of actual people as important information, and they’ll spend more time reading the words around it to get context. Additionally, huge decorative images will be treated as just that—decorative and better off in the background.

You sent it out, but it got lost in a sea of other emails.

Assuming you let the entire world know as soon as your latest newsletter hits, the outcome of that can work two ways. The first possibility is that you’re already sending out too many e-mails. Overwhelming a viewer with daily emails can make them numb to your presence. Do this and they might just start deleting your e-mails instead of opening them. (I’m looking at you on this one, GAP.)

Of course this brings us to the second possibility that your newsletter just plain gets lost. Some recent statistics show that the average consumer can receive more than 80 emails a day. Just thinking about it is exhausting! In this case, you’ll have to work harder at getting the word out. This could mean crafting more engaging email titles or tailoring a better time for it to get sent. Another great option is to circumvent email entirely and share it directly with your followers on social media.

The content doesn’t fit the medium.

Consider how your viewer gets your newsletter. Do your viewers mostly access it by computer? If so, few people will want to scroll up and down and zoom in and out on a tall page with tiny text.

Think formatting a wide (landscape) style newsletter that uses a larger typeface. Do your viewers use a phone? Think about using a newsletter optimized for mobile and test the hell out of it to make sure nothing breaks. Users don’t mind endless scrolling here, so let them scroll away!

It doesn’t look professional.

I can see the dissent now. Of course a graphic designer would say that, but I’ve got data to back me up here guys. Whether we like it or not, these compiled studies show the trends. Good design helps companies perform better financially, increases consumer trust, and downright alters the viewer’s perception of a brand.

What does unprofessional design look like? It’s not an easy thing to describe. Oftentimes, it comes down to a matter of taste. However, the most common mistake is cramming far too much text into a small space. When working with a standard size of 8.5 x 11, a good rule of thumb is to stick to 500 words or less. Remember that you want the space to look inviting, not overwhelming.

Now that you see where your problems might be, you might need some help. Let’s talk about upgrading your newsletter design so that viewers will look forward to reading it when there’s a new issue!

Natalie Thomas is a Graphic Designer living and working in the arts district of Jackson, Mississippi devoted to making design work as good as it looks. When she's not designing, she's probably baking a tasty treat or working on a number of handicrafts.

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