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You craft the content and sent out a weekly newsletter like always, but your open rates and click-throughs are falling week by week. Can’t figure out what’s happening? To learn more, we asked 9 entrepreneurs the potentially surprising reason your newsletter -- that used to have high/stead numbers -- might have declining open rates.

1. Lack of Customization

It's not surprising rates are dropping and there's only one reason in my opinion -- people want customized content. Period. They don't want to sift though a bunch of junk that isn’t intended for them. Know your buyer and give them what they want. Email newsletters are part of the reason email as a whole is diminishing.

Justin Gray, LeadMD

2. Not Optimizing for Mobile

Chances are, the way your audience is consuming your content is radically different than it was three years ago. In fact, in 2013, over 50 percent of all emails were opened on mobile. And this trend is only rising as we speak. If your newsletter (or your website) doesn't respond to this change, it very well might be the "hidden reason" why your numbers are dropping. Check your audience device statistics.

Juha Liikala, Stripped Bare Media

3. New Signups Don't Know What to Expect

Sometimes, what happens is your older leads are still opening your email, while new signups have no idea your newsletter is coming. Remember to automatically email new signups with information about what they should expect from you and when. That way, they will be prepared to receive your email every Thursday morning instead of quickly tossing it in the trash because they forgot you even existed.

Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

4. Email Subject Lines

Often weekly business newsletters have the same subject line format. As email providers try to clear the inbox, emails with repetitive titles often start to go under Promotion tabs or in the spam folder. So you have to spice up your subject lines. One trick that helps is reaching out to inactive subscribers and ask them to update their preferences and contact details.

Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

5. Not Enough Value

If your newsletter is always about you and what's going on in your world, you're missing the point. Any time you send out an email to your customers and potential customers, it should give them something of value. This could be a tip, a strategy, a tool you've used that they could benefit from, or other free resources. If your customer gets value from what you send, they will keep opening.

Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

6. Messages Getting Flagged as Spam

Spam is a moving target, as are the efforts of service providers to cut down on spam. If you've have a sudden drop off in open rates, you may want to check to see if your mail servers or providers are on a black list.

Mark Cenicola, BannerView.com

7. The Label Leads to Boring, Repetitive Material

Creators often see a weekly business newsletter as another chore. This mindset is poisonous. The creator goes through the motions churning out uninspiring, repetitive material. People’s inboxes are flooded. Many people hate their inbox because mining a quality Golden Nugget is like finding a needle in a haystack. Instead, be contrarian; solicit conversations and write back when they reply to you.

Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority

8. Stale Email Lists

Nothing will kill your deliverability like a stale email list. To define stale, think about email subscribers who haven't had activity in six months (either they haven't opened an email or haven't been sent an email since subscribing). Another contributor to a stale list are subscribers who were manually added without their permission. Both of these groups kill open rates and drive up spam complaints.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

9. Format Congestion

Like all forms of messaging, the success of a newsletter depends a great deal on being scannable and easy to absorb. Complexity isn’t ideal for inboxes.

Sam Saxton, Salter Spiral Stair and Mylen Stairs

Theses answers were provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Originally published Nov 4, 2014 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

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Email Newsletters