OK, maybe that’s a little harsh. But I receive a lot of e-newsletters every week, and I probably read about 5 percent of them. I’m guessing that’s true for you as well. Admit it – aren’t there just a handful that you read, week in and week out?

I know I could unsubscribe, and it’s typically a single click that would get the job done, but it seems easier to just click delete until the next one arrives. Sadly, that’s what happens to most e-newsletters.

All of that being said; the e-newsletter can be a really smart, cost-effective marketing tool.

• It’s a regular, consistent touch point with your customers and prospects.

• It gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise.

• You can provide real value to your audience before trying to sell them anything.

• It’s easily shareable, so your great content can generate some pass-along value.

So how do you create an e-newsletter that is actually valuable enough that it dodges the delete or unsubscribe clicks? Avoid these three big mistakes, and odds are your readers will reward you with their time and attention.

No. 1 mistake – it’s not supposed to be about you. I know we’ve covered this before, but it bears repeating. They’re just not that into you. Most e-newsletters blather on about the sender. It’s about your company, your team, your offers and your products. That’s a guaranteed trip to the trash bin.

I know – it’s a marketing tactic, and of course, in the end, you want to sell something. But an e-newsletter is not an overt sales piece. It’s a relationship-building piece. It’s not that you can’t make an appearance. But your appearance should be wrapped in helpful information.

Write to them and for them. Put your sales mentality aside and stop pushing. Think about what would be so valuable or smart that they’d share it with their peers. If they won’t hang it on the company bulletin board or pass it along at a staff meeting, you’re missing the point.

No. 2 mistake – long-winded is short-lived. Two to four brief stories. That’s it. No more than 1,200-1,500 words total (yes, in the whole thing), and you’re in good shape. Think of your e-newsletter content as little hors d’oeuvres to delight your audience.

We have short attention spans. Couple that with the fact that they’re reading your e-newsletter either on a laptop or a smartphone, and you have a recipe for short and sweet, please.

The other reason is that you want to keep them coming back for more. Tell them everything you know in one issue, and they have no reason to read the second one.

No. 3 mistake – inconsistent is uncomfortable. You can build in consistency in a couple of ways. First, your e-newsletter should go out on the same day or date every time. If it’s a monthly enewsletter and it goes out on the first Wednesday of the month, then that’s not an optional deadline. Hit the mark every time, and your audience will notice.

You can also build consistency in your content. Your e-newsletter should be structured and ordered the same way every issue. For example – the MMG weekly enewsletter always opens with the lead story/marketing tip, followed by a short list of valuable blog posts, and closes with a book recommendation. Every week.

Avoid these big three mistakes and start taking advantage of this marketing tactic’s many benefits.

Drew McLellan is Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group and blogs at www.drewsmarketingminute.com. He can be reached by email at Drew@MclellanMarketing.com. © 2011 Drew McLellan