Read Me! Why Some eNewsletters aren’t Worth it

By Caitlin MacDougall (@caitemacd)

Delete. Delete. Definitely delete. Delete. Delete. Aha! Click to open. Most days this is the first thing I do on the internet – sort the emails I can’t be bothered with from the good ones in my inbox. Like many people, I’m probably signed up to a dozen two dozen or so eNewsletters. The ones I choose to open have to earn that click. I might have hours to waste on Facebook some days, but I won’t spend a millisecond longer than needed reading an irrelevant email.

Too many times, I have been lured in with an intriguing subject line, only to be disappointed –with myself and the brand. Using a couple of examples of eNewsletters, I’ve picked two areas where you can improve your own eNewsletters so that people will actually open and read them.


Let’s start with Livingsocial, a site that offers Groupon like discounts on services, tickets and products across Canada. Every day, I get an email with no less than 20, I repeat – 20, deals for restaurants, fitness classes, hair/nail salons and other services. Every day, I see almost the exact same list of offers, with some staying on there for weeks or months at a time. It happened gradually over time – I didn’t notice it right away, but they just kept getting longer. I got so frustrated with the repetition and sheer quantity of offers that I stopped opening them. I read about 1 a week and delete the rest.

Just a few of the “great” deals sent daily

So why don’t I just unsubscribe?

Because I love deals. And occasionally I have gotten a good deal through their site ($9 photo books, kayaking 2 for 1 vouchers). I don’t want to miss out, but I can’t stand the length and repetition in their emails.

livingsocial 2
more offers from the same email – tendonitis in the thumb anyone?

Recommendation: Shorten it up! Shanna Mallon writes in “Dos and Don’ts for Email Template Design” not to expect readers to scroll far down your emails – because most won’t take the time to get to the bottom. Keep it short and make sure to put key info at the top.

According to Constant Contact, the Open Rate for emails in the marketing, advertising and public relations category is at 15.15%, while the Click-Through Rate is 6.92%. That means that less than 2 in 10 people actually even open emails from companies like Livingsocial. If they want to fit in that 15% they need to shorten it up.


Another key feature in the Livingsocial example is that they just send out too many emails. The frequency of eNewsletters combined with the length leads to more deletes and unsubscribes. Constant Contact also advises companies that use its service to “set a frequency (and keep it)” in order to improve Open Rates.

Recommendation: only send out eNewsletters when there is relevant, memorable information to provide to subscribers.

DavidsTea -short and sweet!

davidsteaAn example of effective eNewsletter marketing is the Steep Thoughts eNewsletter from DavidsTea. Only sent out once a month, each edition has highlights from the blog, with news about the brand, new recipes, or seasonal exclusives. It isn’t trying to sell the products nor is it talking about specific products. It is for tea lovers.

There are never more than 4 or 5 items in each edition, and the simple design and colourful graphics make it a pleasure to read (and only takes one thumb scroll to do so). I know that when I open a DavidsTea communication I will be reading something relevant and interesting. It will also be easily scanable in a couple of seconds, cutting down on length.

The deciding factors between “Trash” or “Open”

The decision about sending an eNewsletter to the Trash folder or opening it is a made in a millisecond. When you’re designing an eNewsletter, remember to make your email more appealing by following these tips from Constant Contact:

  • Have a great subject line
  • Be remembered
  • Stay relevant
  • Stick to a frequency
  • Land in the inbox
  • Time it right

Following these tips and sticking to a frequency and length subscribers can appreciate, will only strengthen your email marketing.

What is one thing you would improve in an eNewsletter you receive? What makes you decide to trash or open an eNewsletter?


3 thoughts on “Read Me! Why Some eNewsletters aren’t Worth it

  1. Interesting post talking about real life experience. I wish Livingsocial could read it! Your style and choice of words are clear and simple, making it easy to read and understand.


  2. Amy M

    Great post! Your tone is very relevant and smooth that it makes it quite a quick easy read. Love the comparison between the two examples. Great job!


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