Volume 9

Is your Email Newsletter a Dead-End Road?

It's time to re-examine why you are sending email campaigns. Let me jump on my soap-box for a moment and re-iterate how important it is to have a strategy and goals in place for your email campaigns. Email marketing is not a one-way stream of information from you to your readers. It is a dialogue, where you encourage your readers to take certain actions, and use this information to drive future campaigns.

In the marketing world, asking the reader to do something is called a "Call to Action".

A successful call to action can offer you significant benefits:

  • Increase recognition of and loyalty to your company and your products
  • Increase sales
  • Increase the number of customers visiting your store or attending your events
  • Provide you with information about how you and your products are perceived

Here are some potential calls to action that you could make in your email campaigns:

Click through to a website, preferably yours

If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, then the text of your email should be designed to ask the reader to click on one or more links to your website.

However, you should ask yourself why you are driving traffic to your website. Your goal should not be to simply increase hits to impress the boss. If a reader arrives at your site and then finds nothing of interest, then you have achieved nothing.

Attend an event or seminar

Email can be the most cost effective method to "drive traffic" to an offline event. If the event is worthwhile, readers will forward the email invitation to friends and colleagues, effectively giving you free advertising. A few years ago I conducted an email marketing seminar, and was astounded to find that a single invitation sent to a single person was viewed over 1000 times.

Enter a competition

Competitions can be a great way to promote your company or brand, and grow your subscriber list, but should be conducted with care. If your goal is to grow your subscriber list, then you should select a prize that will attract the kind of subscribers that you want.

Redeem a coupon

It is easy to include a coupon in an email campaign. The coupon could be to purchase a product at a discount, for membership in a club or program, or to attend an event. When planning your campaign, remember that a coupon of this type can be reproduced without limit, so don't offer anything that you couldn't offer to everyone, or at least remember to clearly outline the limits of the offer in the terms and conditions.

Some other potential calls to action include:

  • Purchase a product or service
  • Visit your store or office
  • Request more information about a product or service
  • Change an attitude or behaviour
  • Complete a survey

Why will the reader respond to your Call to Action?

Your email is going to arrive in the in-box of a very busy person, who will probably make an initial decision about whether to respond in a matter of seconds. Consider what you have done to make this decision attractive for each reader. In all of the cases above, you need to provide the reader with a compelling reason to respond.

  • Does the offer really benefit the reader? It is clear how each of these calls to action will benefit you, but how will they benefit the reader? Have you made these benefits clear?
  • Have you provided all of the information necessary to make a decision?
    • Dates and times of events
    • Locations, directions, and parking information
    • Prices
    • Validity dates
    • Limitations and Exclusions
  • What have you done to give the reader a sense that they should respond now? Providing an end date for the offer can help with this.
  • Have you given the correct amount of notice? Don't send your email too early or too late.
  • Is it easy to respond? Most readers will give up immediately if they encounter any obstacles.

How will you track responses to your Call to Action?

Getting back to my soap-box, you'll need to ensure that you track the success of your "Call to Action" if you are to use this information for future marketing campaigns.

The easiest action to track is clicks through to your website. Good email marketing software will allow you to track total and unique clicks, and even provide you with a list of the readers that clicked on each link.

Asking a reader to complete an online survey can also easily be tracked using the right software. If this software is integrated with your email marketing software, then you have a greater ability to correlate the results with the statistics for your email campaign.

If you have asked the reader to attend an event, initial interest could be tracked with an online registration form, and attendees at the event could be asked how they found out about it. Likewise, visitors at your store can be asked how they located you.

Coupons could contain unique codes to identify them as being sourced from a specific email campaign.

Asking a reader to change their behaviour or attitude, as I am asking you today, is virtually impossible to track without personalized, qualitative follow-ups.


Be imaginative and find ways to establish a dialogue with your readers by using a Call to Action. Make sure that the action you are asking for will help you to follow your marketing strategy and meet your marketing and business goals. Finally, always remember that the call to action must benefit both you AND the reader.