“Why giving is your secret to success”

– David Hieatt, Co-Founder of The Do Lectures, public speaker and Author of “Do/Open/ How a simple email newsletter can transform your business”.

In keeping with what seems to be the flavour of the year (so far), I’m dedicating this blog to “the list”. The last few weeks I’ve been a part of many newsletter debates, as we discuss ways to improve engagement and what to do when people don’t open your newsletter.

So, why all the newsletter hype? Well, according to David, it was reported by McKinsey “for every dollar you put into email marketing you get back 40x more than you would through Facebook and Instagram and almost every other marketing channel” – wow! If you’re still not convinced, read this blog and add “Content Inc” by Joe Pulizzi to your reading list. Joe talks about the importance of building a community and how a newsletter list is an incredibly effective way to go about this.

Antonia Taylor, A friend of mine, sent me this book “Do/Open/ How a simple email newsletter can transform your business” by David Hieatt, which is full of easy to follow newsletter tips and tricks designed to support you in growing an engaged audience and loyal customer base. It’s brilliant!

Here are a few key takeaways on how to keep your audience engaged and to avoid those dreaded unsubscribers:


Like attracts like. Therefore if you start talking about the thing you’re really good at, let’s say it’s being a marketing expert, then other people within the marketing community will find you. It’s important not to assume everyone knows what you do, so explain with passion and keep your message consistent.

David suggests you can also help grow your online presence by telling the ten ‘influencers’ in your world. Many people assume by telling everyone what they do the world will know when in fact the minority tend to inform the majority. Who do you know who has influential status? Do they follow you and like what you do?

Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired Magazine believes you only need 1,000 true fans. A true fan will buy almost everything you produce, they’ll write about you, talk about you, promote you and tell their friends about you. So, the importance of this theory is to know you don’t have to go broad to make your business work; instead focus on narrowing your business proposition to mean a huge amount to a relatively small number of people. Then build from there.

Unsubscribers are good

It can be easy to feel disheartened when someone unsubscribes from your list but see this as opportunity to learn, to tailor your approach and to work even harder to keep the community members you do have engaged and loyal.

If you’re ever unsure, try A/B testing, trial different times of the day and different subject lines to see which one your audience engages with most.

Passion = Leadership

Leadership comes from your passion and when you’re more passionate about something you work harder, dig deeper and try harder. By demonstrating your passion and an unusual amount of love for what you do, you set yourself apart from the rest of the experts in your field, you become a thought leader. By maintaining a message of passion and consistent love for what you do, your community will feel your passion and will eventually be willing to let you become their leader in this field.

Why design matters

The simpler you can design something, the more classic it will become

Paul Arden

David suggests you must design for devices. Mobile is now the number one place to see your newsletter. So make sure when you’re sitting at your desktop designing your newsletter, you test it on mobile too. Usually newsletter platforms have a responsive setting meaning they will automatically adapt depending on the device they’re being opened on.

It’s not all about you

“GIVE GIVE GIVE ASK” – David suggests a great newsletter works by you sharing what you think about the world and not just about what you have to sell in this world.

Let’s talk engagement

The way I see it, email marketing is another channel on which you can communicate and connect with  your audience. The best bit? It will probably have the highest reach rate too. As an example I have 5k+ followers on Instagram, my posts are seen by an average of 1.2k people which means less than 25% of my followers actually see my content on a regular basis. My newsletter open rate is between 30-40%. See where I’m going with this?

What should you do if your engagement rate decreases?

I write a monthly newsletter packed full of resources, insights, tips, tricks, discounts, perks and more! I recently hit 1,000 subscribers which is amazing and have always had a pretty good open rate average 38% (the global average is 27%) that said, as my subscribers increase my open rate decreases and Amanda Perry, an advertising and marketing specialist suggested that one way to resolve this was to cull all subscribers who don’t open my newsletter. It’s an interesting approach and so I wanted to know from you all, do you read my newsletters? What do you think? Do you save them for later and never get round to reading them (like me)? I’d LOVE to know. 

Our time is precious as are our inboxes, so your mission should be to provide value, insight and empowerment to your subscribers. Whenever you sit down to write a newsletter ask yourself, “What value will I be bringing to my community?” and “How will my subscribers feel empowered after reading this email?”

Do you have a newsletter? What’s your experience? Thinking of setting one up? Drop a comment below, I’d love to know!

With love, Lara x

About the author

Lara Sheldrake is a Social Media Strategist and Founder at Found & Flourish. Lara writes and speaks on the topics of entrepreneurship, motherhood and social media for business. She also hosts the Bossing It podcast, aimed at empowering the next generation of female founders in the UK. Send Lara an email. You can also find her on Instagram @Lara_Sheldrake or Twitter @Lara_Sheldrake.

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