Kevin Mallen
Kevin Mallen Business Development Manager at

What content for newsletter would make you read one?

Hi Savvy members,

I wanted your opinion on newsletters and what sort of content would actually make you want to read one.

Would you prefer something of "value" such as a blog excerpt or free ebook, a joke of the day, or discounted offer?

All ideas and opinions are welcome!



Top voted answer
Wendy Huang

Wendy Huang, Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

Top 10% Marketing

Hi Kevin,

Although it is very hard to predict the performance of your particular database without throughout testing I can share wit you some observations from my personal experience. The emails I usually open are the following:

  • Ones that provide a self-help tid bit like - here is a way you can improve your time management today and for them to provide it to me in the actual email instead of sending me to another link (I'm that lazy)
  • I click on discounts in a buying mood which is sporadic and unpredictable, but it's good to do these once in a while. I also mainly click on travel or dining deals. So the important thing is if you are going to do discounts make sure your audience is like 100% relevant, and your product is what they love to shop for. Otherwise it will become spam.
  • Jokes will actually be a great test and one that a lot of companies haven't tried so it might actually work really well. I'd love to get a joke in my email.
  • Also the emails I open the most often are reports/updates and invoices - so if there is a way to get your database onto something where you have an excuse to send these type of emails most likely they will be opened.

Some things I learnt from our list here at SavvySME:

  • Emails that ask for help when done sporadically, perform better
  • First names in subject lines actually don't have a predictable effect on open rates.
  • Without adding fresh people to your database all the time,e you'll find diminishing returns at some point. This is normal.

I hope this really helps! I think it's great to just come up with a list of experiments you want to try and just get in there and experiment :) It's more fun looking at the results! Most mail programs have simple A/B testing capabilities so I encourage you to use them. Mailchimp can help you test things like subject lines, open times. They send a test group of people 2 different emails then send the rest the best performing one after a specified time. It's actually really cool and fun to use.

Let me know how you go and I'd love to maybe read an article about it from you about what you learnt through the process, since I'm sure a lot of people are struggling with the same issue, including myself :)

Darryn Altclass

Darryn Altclass, Brand & Marketing Consultant at

Hi Kevin. Thanks for the question

here are just a few of my thoughts on why I open email newsletters and then read them 

  1. I know who the email is from. They have already established a relationship with me. 
  2. They have proved to me that they have something worthwhile and valuable to say. They are an authority in their field and their content is usually pretty good. 
  3. The subject line / heading engages me. It either solves a problem I have or rouses curiosity and interest. 
  4. Email marketing (newsletters) is really about follow up, relationship building and nurture so regularity is important. Once a week or fortnight is good. More than that I get annoyed and delete. Less than that I assume it's irrelevant and I forget what they are on about. Hubspot's research of over 1 billion marketing emails proves this point. In fact to minimize unsubscribes once a week is best. 
  5. Not overly salesy. I don't want to be sold to repeatedly in my own inbox which I view as the most personal form of all my digital communications - it is akin to SMS. 
  6. Lead magnets are good to get me to sign up in the first place but not for ongoing communication. It becomes annoying with yet another attachment to download and file and never read. 
  7. The emails I like have a casual feel like I am getting an email from a friend.

I have a stack of other points but my list is becoming too long. 



Wendy Huang

Wendy Huang, Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

I would also like to refer you to Darryn's recent article as well which has a useful book link that will help you:

Darryn Altclass

Darryn Altclass, Brand & Marketing Consultant at

Thanks Wendy

Neil Steggall

Neil Steggall, Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Top 10% Marketing

Hi Kevin, A good question and the answer is possibly different for each person. A few ideas I try to follow include: To have impact a newsletter must "grab you" in that first glance so the visual imagery needs to be strong. If sent by email the subject line requires almost as much thought as the newsletters headline. The content its self should be king but a teaser, either a discount or a give away can help with engagement and subscriptions - use the top right hand corner. Address the newsletter to your audience - we mail out four slightly different versions Write in "speach" its more friendly, personal and easy to read. Keep the paragraphs short but allow a click for more detail Good graphics and humour work Make sure the format is sound for smart phones and tablets Ling Lee posted last week on SavvySME and I thought her layout was instantly appealing, drew the eye in and made you want to know more. I don't know how to give you a link to the post but I highly recommend it! Cheers, Neil.

Ling Lee

Ling Lee at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Hi Kevin, in my opinion, as long as there are inboxes, there will be people who will want mail in them

I wrote an article on this a couple of days ago, feel free to have a look here

Steve Osborne

Steve Osborne, director at Stephen Roger Osborne

There are of course tons of tactical tips for getting your newsletter opened, but in my view there's just one strategic reason a newsletter gets read: relevance to the target audience.

No amount of special offers, jokes, or stunning graphics etc. will substitute for compelling content. Get the basics right and the rest will seem easy. Research the "pain points" of the audience; walk a mile in their shoes and feel their troubles/joys.

Roland Hanekroot

Roland Hanekroot, Founder at New Perspectives Business Coaching

Hi all,

Love the comments above... I am wrestling with this whole topic myself and have wrestled with it for years now. I have sent many email newsletters to my database through mailchimp and I take a lot of time to write them and they are never "salesy" always intended to actually share some useful information for my target market.. small business owners.

The one thing I avoid like the plague is writing emails with "The ten top tips for..." because I hate them myself and I don't want to add to the rubbish that fills our inboxes and so I try to write considered useful and thoght provoking pieces (sometimes more succesfully than others of course) ... but here is the kicker... it seems as if there is no rhyme or reason to why people open and click on the emails... I can not find any common threads, besides obvious ones... there seems to be very little I can do to get above 30% open rate and it virtually doesn't matter what I do, I always keep the open rate above 20%... It stumps me completely ...

Now please don't you all start sending me special offers to fix my problems... I am just interested in the discussion and the insights from people who have had expericne in the area.