Sept 2019#Opinion

Does the Newsletter work?Let’s fix it together

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Vladislav Kovshik

Consultant, Product Development


9 min

Email marketing is a promotional tool that helps people and businesses communicate with each other. The Newsletter is often confused with spam and there is not much hope to produce results. How to make the newsletter segment relevant to customers and useful to you?

BDC Consultingl Email-marketing expert Vlad Kovshik talks about the basic tools of email marketing, as well as ways to use them effectively.

What is email-marketing? It’s one of the ways to communicate with users. With its help, customer loyalty is reinforced and lifted up to push up sales. In our agency, newsletters bring IT and blockchain projects up from 7 to 15% of profit.

What is the difference between newsletter and spam?

Speaking in set phrases, spam is a type of mailing a user did not give consent to. Nowadays the concept has changed a bit. Now spam also represents something that users don’t like.

Let’s suppose you are the owner of an investment company. You inform your clients about various activities, share news, but some of your customers have already lost interest in both the sphere and in particular, you. What may these users do when they receive your email? In the best case scenario- unsubscribe, in the worst case– click on the ‘spam’ button. The activities aimed at cleaning the database and getting rid of inactive people (or adding them only after Double Opt In) represent the best solution to avoid a ‘spam’ badge.

Sometimes the user cannot find the ‘Unsubscribe’ button because some marketing experts are afraid to add it. This is the wrong solution: if the user does not want to receive an email from you, but cannot unsubscribe, he will mark a letter as spam.

A good quality email-newsletter stimulates additional sales

Online stores and online courses use mailings more actively than others. This is related to the fact that such businesses exist due to additional sales: email-marketing helps stimulate the users to re-purchase and reminds them of their past purchases from these stores.

Email-marketing has five main advantages 

  1. Direct communication with customers.
    Remember: one-way mailing is bad. Email-marketing is primarily a dialogue with the user, where you are the dialogue partner and you are trying to get to know the person you are talking to.
  2. It’s a relatively cheap advertising channel.
  3. Can provide you with data about the users such as: 
    name, date of birth, gender, city of residence, kind of activity on the pages or lack of any activity, identified interests - all this helps you to get to know the user on a personal level and apply this data to your work. The ability to be attentive to details will bring much more value to your business.
  4. Efficiency, small costs accompany the high profitability of the channel.
  5. ‘Transparency’ and speed of obtaining results. This could be used to provide room for improvement.
    According to the results of newsletter activities such as (Open Rate, Click Rate, users selecting some particular offers, goal achievement and receiving any replies) you can easily understand what went wrong or worked well with your marketing approach.

Rules to create high-quality content for newsletters

Here are quite a few basic conditions for good content: the lack of chit-chat talk in the text, nice design, and condensation. However, it is difficult to talk about some kind of universal approach because a good newsletter is shaped through communication with the audience. Getting to know your audience better will give you a glimpse of what they prefer: e.g. abstract letters with brief information or long reads.

The same applies to the design: you can sit for hours over a template, come up with interesting solutions, and end up with the text on a white background. In other words, your target audience dictates the type of text and design of the newsletter.

A good tip is to strive for minimalism and conciseness: users are predominantly lazy, they do not want to take a closer look at the text.

In addition, Newsletters should be recognizable. The user must understand where they get it from only by looking at the letter. The letter should be easy to understand and download (not all users have a good internet connection or ‘fast’ devices), and of course, your newsletter needs to be informative and useful to the fullest. 

Do not forget about the call to action. But keep in mind: the wider the choice for users, the more likely they find the offer uninteresting in the end.

As an example, let’s take the newsletters from Dasha at Aviasales. I do not use the service, but I always read their newsletters. Their approach is an example of how to communicate with users. It is always interesting and fun in the making. And what is most important, it never goes too far and does not load the user with extra information.

The newsletter planning strategy can be divided into three stages:

1. project analysis and goal setting (what exactly we expect from email-marketing),

2. study of the audience,

3. study of competitors: it is necessary to ‘track’ their strategy in order to get better.

Analytics to evaluate performance

You can find out which of the means worked efficiently, and which didn't perform well with the help of Open metrics Rate, Click Rate, actions that led to unsubscription, spam complaints and conversions.

What is ‘dead weight’ in newsletters and how to deal with it?

Dead weight is a condition when the newsletter has a low Open Rate, which leads to massive unsubscription or just ignoring to follow the provided links. Assuming your goal was to motivate users to visit the site, Dead weight is a loss. This may also be connected with a low percentage of letters deliverability and high Bounce rate.

For such users, another approach is needed - they need to be “revived”. Some of the ways to do it could be to offer pleasant and individual offers (discounts, additional bonuses, and other attractive offers to encourage customers to retain). 

It’s a mistake to throw such people out of the database right away, but also you cannot count on the assumption that they will still return. It is necessary to make several gradual attempts to “revive” them, but constant attention from your side could also harm your relations.

An example of bad newsletters could be the ones sent by one of the most famous online clothing delivery stores. They are constantly sending letters, even if users don’t open them. And if a user still opens and unsubscribes – the user will still get newsletters from them. The funny detail is that the proposal itself does not change - what is given in the main letter is duplicated in the reactivation one. Is it effective?

Database collection methods

  1. Website subscription form.
  2. Organizing contests with the contact data provided.
  3. Landings having useful and interesting content.
  4. Pop-up.
  5. Providing access to tools.
  6. Online/offline activities offering bonuses for a subscription.

At the same time, it is necessary to segment subscribers’ database by the input data provided:

  1. language segment,
  2. completed / uncompleted action (donation/ purchase / subscription goal),
  3. position in the sales funnel,
  4. visited pages,
  5. presence / absence of additional information (gender / name / possibly the information about the kids (for certain offers and goals), once this information is provided, their behavior in response to your newsletter is analyzed.

After the database collection, do not rush to send letters immediately. Do some testing. First of all, take care of the headlines: this is how you will know what people are responding to- the content of the letter is secondary.

The best way is to run A/B testing with three options provided. My opinion is the following: you always do what you like. Therefore, it is necessary to choose two options, which, in your opinion, are the best, but add another one to the test, which you think will work poorly. Perhaps this option will be the most interesting to subscribers.

Top mistakes by email-marketing experts

Do not draw conclusions from your mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, and this is the best way to learn your lesson. Working with an outdated database is not wrong; the main thing is to give up on it in time: there is no point trying to retain the same users for a long time.

No segmentation - this is bad. Of course, we may have no input data provided (except for the email), but it is necessary to draw conclusions on the basis of the newsletter conducted (opened/ not opened, link clicked / not clicked).

Systematize your newsletters. If you want to tell users about what happened over the past week, you need to do it on a specific day, when the information is still relevant and your readers are waiting for it.

Note that there should be no divergence between the heading and the body of the letter. The heading should speak about what users will see (for example, you cannot talk about a chair in the heading, and suggest selling a table in the main body of the letter). Sometimes user fraud takes place: subscribers are not silly. If you say that you give away a car, give it indeed, not a pen.

Do not send unreadable letters (solid text without separators). This is very bad because it is difficult to read them. Moreover, it is better to use banal lists/paragraphs/bold. One more "sin" is when you give up on analytics.

Best time for newsletters

Naturally, the most effective time for mailing is fixed. As a rule, it is the beginning of the working day (Monday), when everyone comes to work or wakes up, makes their coffee and opens the mail.

However, the best newsletter time is the one you calculated while testing. In the worst case scenario, there are great tools to analyze opening times and re-send emails at a “good time” for every particular user.


Five resources to improve the quality of emails for your clients:

1. – the best tool to create a template (you can easily do it without designers or layout men);

2. - a timer that could be easily integrated into an email (for boosting urgency);

3. - this free service analyzes the subject line and helps to build it correctly, very useful in the initial stages, when there is no clear understanding of what the user can and should cling to;

4. is a blacklist monitoring tool, If your domain name or mail server IP address is listed in the spam list, email you send may be rejected or marked as spam;

5. And, of course, you can buy various marketing services through


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