5 Things You Need to Know About Creating Awesome eNewsletters

eNewsletters are powerful marketing and communication tools for several reasons. They can drive sales and leads, lead to a larger social media audience, increase traffic to your website, and serve as great places to repurpose content. They are crucial for maintaining an engaged audience, but you can lose a lot of people if you drop the ball.

A survey of 277 hiring professionals conducted during May and June of 2016 by Recruiter.com and my company, Come Recommended, found that eNewsletters are among HR and recruiting pros' favorite content formats.

So, what makes a successful eNewsletter? There are five crucial elements:

1. Focused Themes

A bad eNewsletter is scattered and unfocused. If readers open your newsletter and see 10 different unrelated messages, they will be turned off. Instead, you should stay focused on one theme. You should have a very clear, straightforward goal in mind.

Let's say you have a new performance tracking feature you want to demo for hiring professionals. The content in your newsletter should be related, so make sure everything you share via the newsletter aligns with performance tracking. For example, you could share content that explores the challenges that companies face when it comes to annual performance evaluations.

2. Balanced Content and Design

Content needs to be concise and to the point. Our survey found that 22.5 percent of HR professionals prefer content that is about 390 words long and takes approximately three minutes to read.

Your subscribers don't want to open an email and see a Dickens novel. Large blocks of text head straight to the trash bin.

Adopt a clean, minimalist design. There should be plenty of open space and the content should be organized into sections with small blocks of text. The reader's eyes should comfortably follow the flow and feel of your eNewsletter.

Regarding the content, you need to find a balance between educational and promotional. Most of the content you produce and share through eNewsletters should be educational. Readers want your expert advice on employer branding more than they want your sales pitch.

That's not to say you shouldn't try to promote your products or services. Keep promotional content to around 10 percent of the newsletter. When every newsletter has some form of sales content, you may come off as spammy; the only click you'll get will be on the "unsubscribe" button.

3. Strong Subject Line

How are you attracting readers to your content? Our survey found that your headline is the most influential element in getting readers to your page.

Your subject line is just like your headline – your make-or-break point with the subscriber. It can be tough to stand out in your readers' overflowing inboxes.

You can't stick with the same exact subject line over and over again. What does your subject say that influences readers to open the newsletter? What incentives are presented? Why should they open it right now?

eNewsletters are all about clicks and getting more people to your site. You can't drive traffic if your subscribers aren't reading your emails.

Make your subject line undeniably compelling. Address a common problem – like soaring turnover rates – and demonstrate that the eNewsletter contains expert insights into solving the problem.

Keep your subject line short and sweet. Tell readers what is contained in your message and use action-oriented words just as you would with a call to action.

4. Clear Call to Action

A common mistake many organizations make is trying to get their audiences to perform multiple actions with one eNewsletter. If your readers are overwhelmed by multiple buttons begging for their engagement, they simply won't do anything. You're diminishing the value of each call to action if you put five in one message.

Lead readers to one main thing you want them to do – e.g., explore your new video interviewing features, share your article to social media, or forward an infographic to a friend. Make your calls to action simple and clear, and don't force them to compete with one another.

Consider including interactive content, like quizzes, contests, and games to help your audience retain your brand messaging. According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, 79 percent of content marketers agree that interactive content enhances retention of brand messaging when combined with traditional marketing tactics.

Furthermore, 81 percent of content marketers agree that interactive content grabs attention more effectively than static content. When you have your readers' attention, you can build a relationship with them that's founded on trust and respect.

5. Established Credibility

Stick to your word. On your "subscribe" page, set clear expectations, and then follow through on your promises.

If you're promising a weekly eNewsletter, give people a weekly eNewsletter. If you're offering access to a free eBook on talent mobility programs, deliver that product.

Be detailed and specific about why people should subscribe, what they can expect from you, how often they will get it, and how they can opt out. If you bury the opt-out options and make it hard for readers to unsubscribe, you may end up in the spam folder. Successful eNewsletters belong in front of your audience's eyes, not in the trash can.

What makes your eNewsletter successful?

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder and president of Come Recommended.