Newsletters: we all know them, we all receive them. Some of us actually read them, while most of us either mark them as spam or immediately delete them from our inboxes. There is, however, still a warm and fuzzy place for a newsletter in today’s spam infested digital landscape. But they’ve gotta be done well. A good newsletter has to entice you (as its recipient) to want to click ‘open’ and continue reading.
So if you’re thinking about putting together a newsletter for your business, keep the following tips in mind…
1. Ask permission
So you’ve decided to send out a regular newsletter for your company. First step is to put together a database of potential readers – people who would be interested in a newsletter in your particular industry. These could be your existing clients, prospects and people in your network.
Step two is the most important step: ask for their permission. Send them an email in which you describe your newsletter in a few short sentences and link to an issue if you can so they can see what it will look like. Then ask them if they’d like to receive it. You’d be surprised at how many people would actually say ‘yes’ if you ask them first. Obviously if they decline, respect it.
2. Not everything’s always about you
Keep your audience in mind when sourcing/writing articles for your newsletter. Who are they? What sort of topics might they be interested in? And remember, something that’s happened in your company might be exciting to you, but will anyone else really care about it? News about your office refurb or your MD’s success at a corporate golf day are really not going to get you clicks.
So writing for your reader is a nifty little trick. Know who they are and what they want – and use that to guide your newsletter content. This might take a few newsletters to see and figure out which items receive the most clicks. When you know exactly what type of content is popular among your readers, you can work on giving them more of it.
In my experience, a newsletter in the marketing/advertising industry, for example, will succeed if the content includes tips, stats, infographics and case studies.
Remember, content is king. Oh, and another thing… write your copy like a mini skirt.
3. Have a catchy title and subject line
Would you be more likely to click on an email with the subject line ‘Peppermint Source’s April Newsletter’ or ‘April’s Bunch of Mint’? A catchy title can really help your open rates. But this is not always easy.
A good place to start would be to think about your company and industry. What do you do? What’s your vibe? A couple of good examples are:
- Keeping account – the newsletter from The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers.
- Spatula Club – Yuppiechef’s newsletter.
When it comes to your subject line, it’s also something that you’d have to play around with to figure out which type gets you the highest open rates. Try a different one in each newsletter until you’ve hit the nail on its head. A few options to consider are:
- Your lead article only – e.g. How a bank got 100K fans on Facebook
- A summary of all your articles – e.g. How a bank got 100K fans on Facebook; social media trends for 2012; and Coca-Cola’s new campaign.
Your subject line is your reader’s first impression. Make it as attention-grabbing as possible. And remember these tips:
- Avoid long words.
- Try not to use more than seven words – if you’re featuring a single lead article.
- Don’t use too much punctuation – e.g. a subject line like ‘In this issue: Stats, info, tips, helpful images, trends and paying attention to detail!’ is not quick and easy to read.
- Try to avoid adjectives. This ties in with writing copy like a mini skirt. ‘Ten amazing and easy-to-understand ways to write superlative newsletters’ vs ‘Ten easy ways to write good newsletters’. Which one do you think is more effective?
4. Don’t ignore your campaign reports
Statistics on how your newsletter is performing are readily available if you’re using newsletter-generating services like MailChimp. This data includes open- and click rates, most popular links, and even who exactly opened your newsletter and which articles they read.
Studying your reports over a few months will give you a clear indication of what type of articles are popular among your readers and which subject lines are the most effective. Then you can do more of what works.
5. Make it look pretty
I contemplated whether or not to add this tip – as I’m a loyal disciple of ‘content over design’. But it is important to make your newsletter appealing to the eye. Just make sure you don’t overdo it. There’s nothing more irritating than waiting for ages for images to download!
These tips will help you produce and manage effective and popular newsletters. I’ll leave you with this informative resource from MailChimp…
Average email campaign stats of MailChimp customers by industry: