Last updated February 2023

You’ve hit send on your newsletter a few times now, and you’re noticing that your unsubscribe rate is high, and people who signed up just a week ago have stopped opening.

Consider why people might be unsubscribing or ignoring your email. It could be that you’re making one (or more) of these 7 common mistakes.

1. You’re Not Delivering on Your Promise

When people sign up for your newsletter, they’re doing so because they want to receive something of value.

You’re doing it wrong if, instead of educating readers on topics relevant to the field, you’re asking them to demo your product.…

For example, a sales enablement software company’s newsletter should cover topics relevant to sales and sales enablement leaders, such as:

  • How to evaluate pipeline health
  • Tips on writing the perfect sales email.

They should not be filling the newsletter with company updates, promotional offers and demo CTAs and then tossing in a few links at the end that “might be helpful.”

Bottom Line: Your newsletter should be packed with content that educates and informs readers on topics at the intersection of their interests and your offering. If you’re not delivering on that promise, you will see high unsubscribe rates and low engagement.

2. You’re Not Making it Easy to Read

If your newsletter looks like a wall of text, people aren’t going to read it.

People are likelier to read and engage with a newsletter that’s easy on the eyes.

  • That means using short paragraphs, bullet points, subheads and bolding to help a read scan their way down the page.

On top of formatting the text, the email design goes along way. Keep it simple, use colours that are easy to read and break up the email into clear sections.

Bottom Line: Your newsletter should be easy to read, both in terms of formatting and design. If it’s not, people will quickly unsubscribe or stop opening.

3. You’re unpredictable

If people don’t know when to expect your newsletter, they’ll never develop a reading habit (and eventually unsubscribe).

Choose a day and time to send your newsletter and stick to that schedule religiously.

Make your send schedule clear to subscribers on the sign-up page and in the onboarding sequence.

  • We recommend giving readers a chance to view the latest edition right away. You don’t want new subscribers to wait up to two weeks to get to what you have to offer.

Bottom Line: Your newsletter should be sent on a consistent schedule that is clearly communicated to your readers.

4. You’re not learning

If you’re not tracking your results, you won’t know what’s clicking (sorry, not sorry) with your audience and what’s falling flat.

After each send, review your key metrics: opens and clicks.

Are there any patterns? Is there a directional trend with your open rate? Is there a particular type of content that seems to perform better than others?

  • Also, consider A/B testing different elements of your newsletter, or sending a reader survey. But you’ll be unable to extract insights these ways without scale.

Bottom Line: You’re not going to nail your audience/content fit on your first try. Listen and adjust to meet your readers’ needs.

5. You’re not planning ahead

Many organizations treat their newsletter as an afterthought, which leaves them scrambling to find content and write, at the last minute.

Planning in advance with a content calendar helps:

  • Better map out the intersection of your audience’s interests and your product/service offerings.
  • Give you a lineup of pre-planned topics and content to choose from (so you’re never scrambling).
  • Align the various stakeholders in your organization so you’re not consensus-building on a timeline.

Bottom line: You’ll fall on your face when it comes to delivering on your promise and sticking to a schedule if you aren’t planning.

6. You’re not building a relationship

Your newsletter should not be a one-way street. It’s an opportunity to build a relationship with your audience – so use it as such.

Make an effort to:

  • Repeat references and build inside jokes with your readers
  • Respond to feedback and questions
  • Find opportunities to feature readers or shout them out.

Bottom Line: While newsletters feel like they’re one-directional when managed correctly, they can be used to make readers feel like they’re part of a community.

7. You’re ending up in spam folders.

Even if your readers have properly opted in to receive your emails, you still might be landing in their spam folders. Avoid this by:

  • Encouraging readers to add your email address to their contacts and mark it as safe.
  • Check each email’s subject line and body for words and phrases that could trigger spam filters.
  • Do not use all caps, exclamation points, symbols or dollar signs in your subject line.

Go deeper with this list of blacklisted terms to avoid using in your subject line and body.

Bottom Line: You could have the best newsletter in the world, but it won’t matter if it never reaches people’s inboxes.

Last Word

Building an effective and engaging newsletter isn’t easy. It takes focus, expertise, and time. Not all organizations have the know-how and resources in-house to build a newsletter program.