Newsletters aren’t dead. Done well, they still pack a mighty punch.
It’s true. Good newsletters will get positive results and there is a simple test to see if you’ve produced a good newsletter. Ask yourself how excited you are about it and whether you’re dying to see how well your audience responds. How you answer is a pretty good indicator because how can you honestly expect others to engage in a newsletter that you don’t even like yourself. The best tip I can give anyone who is responsible for producing a newsletter is get yourself up for it. Bring passion and energy to the task even if it’s not really your hot subject matter. You’re producing the newsletter because it is believed to be someone’s hot subject matter, so get into their shoes and produce something you know will inspire the reader.
Now that you know my real secret to great e-newsletters, there are also some technical and theoretical tips that will help your results.
1. The Set Up is Important
Ideally you want a visually stylish template that while consistent with your brand is minimalist so it doesn’t detract from the stories themselves. The best tip for coming up with the right email template for your business is to look at a range of e-newsletters in circulation. Study them, get a feel for what you think works in each of them and then integrate those best features into your own design.
2. Know your Objectives
What are you expected to achieve by way of results when distributing a newsletter. Often you are to provide critical information, other times it is to generate leads. It could be to drive traffic to your website and other times it’s just to keep your entity top of mind with your existing audience. Whatever the reason for sending newsletters, make sure you structure and communicate your stories accordingly.
3. The technology platform is important
Research and make sure you are using a modern, contemporary and easy to use emailing platform to assist you in the management of your e-newsletter. Make sure it securely stores your data and make sure it has any easy to find and use unsubscribe feature.
4. Know your audience
Within your database you’re likely to have a variety of audience segments. Some stories will relate more to some than others. In conjunction with the objectives of your newsletter, create stories that will engage as many of your readers as possible.
5. Content Content Content
This is probably the hardest task of the newsletter producer. Research quality content. In general, even if you’re objective is new leads, make 80% of your newsletter content educational or informative. Keep any hard selling or promotional content under 20% of your copy. Don’t be afraid to be funny and don’t be afraid to go off formula. The old saying ‘variety is the spice of life’ carries weight if your audience ever gets a sense of the same old story about your newsletter.
6. The most important copy in your Newsletter is the headline
Make no mistake, the most important thing you will write in your newsletter is the email headline. Take the time to get this right. Test it on colleagues and friends and gauge their reactions. Is it what you are hoping for from your readers. If not, go back to the drawing board.
7. Measure and learn
Your email platform should have reporting and you should use it. We weren’t getting the opens rates for a client we should have been and we tried every trick in the book. It was an internal newsletter so as a last resort we started sending a text follow up to those who hadn’t opened the newsletter within 24 hours. Suddenly the results turned around and the client started to get a higher level of engagement and input then he had ever received before. Staff were surprised we could identify who was reading their newsletters which brought about a drastic change in behaviour. Measure and learn, it’s the only way to improve and avoid the same old same old…
The last tip I will offer is that your newsletter should never be an afterthought, left in the hands of people who despite the best intentions, don’t really know what they’re doing. It is a large and important task when you venture into producing newsletters. Make sure you commit to resourcing the task properly. If you don’t have the resources in-house then outsource the production to professionals, there are many out there like us who are specialists in producing great newsletters.