When to Offer Teasers and When To Give Away the Store in an Email Newsletter

Email marketing can usually be divided into two forms: advertising blasts that contain little more than an image and an offer; and newsletters that give away information to entice readers to click through and learn more.

The division between those two forms is usually pretty clear. Offers go out to support specific promotions while newsletters are issued on a regular basis to keep subscribers coming back and remind them that you’re still around, available to meet their needs and have the expertise they can trust.

But even within newsletters, there are two different kinds. Some newsletters offer just a headline and a few lines of introductory text before ending with an invitation to “read more.” Others though give away the entire article before delivering the call to action.

So when should you offer a teaser and when should you give away the store?

Newsletter Articles As Free Samples

There are no hard and fast rules and testing both different kinds of newsletters to check the results will always produce the right answer for your site. But there are guidelines that can tell you what to expect.

Sitepoint, for example, is an education site for developers. It sends out a number of newsletters to its lists on a range of different development topics. Tech Times, its newsletter containing coding advice, typically includes entire blog articles. For a site like Sitepoint, that works because the company is selling knowledge. The blog posts are samples that function as evidence of its expertise; they aren’t intended to generate revenue alone but to show what the company has to offer.

Readers don’t need to come to the site then to help Sitepoint grow. Wherever they read the coding advice that Sitepoint provides, they get the message that the company has the knowledge that can help them develop better. That’s why the email also contains a sidebar filled with links to more information products.

By providing the entire sample, Sitepoint makes sure that everyone who opens the email gets that message, not just the people who click through. And it also encourages people to click through by inviting them to place comments or by offering downloads of more free knowledge.

In this example, there’s little difference between reading the articles in an email and reading on a blog. But that isn’t always true. Sometimes you do need people to visit your site, perhaps to generate page and ad impressions or to increase the chances that the user will find his way to more pages on your site. For those kinds of sites, it would make more sense to only offer a teaser and force readers to click to read more. But then the teasers have to be as enticing as the copy in your offers.