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What Makes an Effective Newsletter?

30/10/2018

 

How many newsletters do you receive? And out of those, how many do you really read? I mean, really read.

 

 

The importance of newsletters

 

 

Why Are Newsletters Important for Your Business?

 

Newsletters can be an effective way of informing, engaging, and retaining customers. They’re a lot more personal than social media, seeing a post in your newsfeed is completely different to receiving emails you’ve chosen to subscribe to. There’s an air of exclusivity and understanding that other platforms may lack.

 

Communication is key. This is something the majority of us are aware of, but as a statement, it’s a little vague. What does it really mean?

 

It means engagement. Communicating effectively to engage your audience is key. This engagement then leads to connection.

 

As a statement, that’s less snappy, but more meaningful.

 

You don’t need to be a great writer. You need to be an effective communicator.

 

It’s all very well sending newsletters to your subscribers but if you want to engage your audience, you need to do more than simply send your message. Your message needs to be received, read, understood. That’s communication. Creating a connection between you and your audience.

 

So, before you hit send, check out the below tips and advice to see if your newsletter is as effective as it could be.

 

Mediums & Content

 

To begin with, you need to consider what mediums you’re using to communicate. There are so many ways to keep your customers and visitors informed, it can be difficult to choose which medium suits you best.

 

The great thing is, you don’t have to limit yourself.

 

Creating new and exciting content will keep your subscribers and visitors engaged and looking forward to what you come up with next.

 

Newsletter content ideas

 

Mediums & Content, Ideas to Explore (by no means exhaustive):

 

  • Blog posts
  • Tips, tactics, how-to, and tutorials
  • Industry news/third party news
  • Events, dates to remember, and holidays
  • Interesting facts
  • Reviews
  • Photos
  • Contests/contest winners
  • Resources
  • Company news: updates, improvements, new products, awards, volunteer projects, etc.
  • Infographics
  • Webinars or videos
  • Testimonials/customer photos *(with permission of course)
  • Recipes
  • Work-related news or company actions (mentioned by two-thirds of users)
  • Items about personal interests and hobbies
  • Events, deadlines, and other important dates
  • Reports on prices or sales
  • Case studies
  • A day in the life of

And that’s just for starters. Have a search of what your competitors are doing well. Think outside the box a little. Look at some of your archived content and see how you could present it in a new way.

 

A lot of companies get stuck when trying to come up with ideas for content. If this is you, rest easy knowing you’re not alone but it doesn’t have to be this way. Get your team to brainstorm some ideas and you’ll have a list as long as your arm in no time! 

 

Tone of Voice

 

If you’re not a writer, this can be a toughie.

 

It’s tempting to use jargon and corporate language, wanting to sound smart and professional, but… Is this how you really speak to your friends?

 

And who are your audience? Are they people you want to build a trusting relationship with?

 

If so, speak to them on their level. Chat to them. Imagine you’re having a catch up with a friend over coffee and write like that. Formality works in some cases but usually, the best way to get people to listen is by speaking to them in their language.

 

Subject Line & Title

 

Don’t neglect your subject line! A compelling subject line to entice the reader with some preview text will encourage the recipient to read on. As a general rule, you want your subject to be snappy and your preview to act as a sneak peek of the info contained within.

 

Personal Touches

 

Set your newsletter up it up so that it’s addressed to the recipient. Use their name. It’s great being on first name terms with people! Nurturing that connection.

 

Human Interest

 

Inject some personality. Who are you? Tell your readers what you’re all about. Giving your subscribers an insight into YOU creates an emotional bond. Be careful not to overdo it though.

 

And while we’re there – ask questions. Ask your readers what they’d like to hear from you. Ask them if they’ve had a similar experience. Ask them how their week has been. Show you’re interested in them too.

 

Design & Layout

 

Be sure your content is easy for a reader to scan through. Some people prefer long-format content but usually, it’s best to keep the wordcount under 300 words per sub-heading. And broken up into shorter sentences and paragraphs, statements, and sub-headings.

 

Consistent Layout

 

Templates are the way to go here. Create or find a suitable template and use the same one for every newsletter. Mailchimp has built in editor/templates, and beefree.io is useful for interesting templates too. Most email services have this facility, so get exploring!

 

Images

 

Make use of great, unique, high-quality, relevant imagery. This helps break up your content and makes the newsletter more visually interesting, keeping the reader engaged throughout.

 

Calls to Action

 

You can break your content up further and add to the reader journey by using CTAs. Try ‘learn more’ or ‘visit our blog’ to drive traffic to your website or social media.

 

Frequency

 

In order to build trust, your newsletters will need to be regular. By regular, we mean consistent.

 

Pick a frequency and stick to it – weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly – make sure you can consistently produce your newsletter within the timeframe and send it out on schedule.

 

Most email services have the facility to set up this schedule, so even better if you want to plan ahead.

 

Quick Fact - According to the Nielsen Norman Group, “69 percent of users said that they look forward to receiving at least one newsletter, and most users said a newsletter had become part of their routine. Very few other promotional efforts can claim this degree of customer buy-in.”

 

The Boring (but extremely important) Stuff

 

GDPR

 

Oh, GDPR, it’s an obligation.

 

We’re sure you’re already aware but it’s worth reiterating - make sure your mailing lists are GDPR compliant. Your subscribers should have to ACTIVELY opt-in to emails and it needs to be crystal clear what they are signing up for. You can always use a double opt-in process to be certain.

 

Again, this is a trust thing, you certainly wouldn’t want to be accused of spamming.

 

Whilst we’re on the subject, you should make it abundantly clear how to unsubscribe (with a link that’s valid for at least 30 days after sending).

 

Of course, no one wants people to unsubscribe but it’s counter-intuitive to not make this process simple. If someone no longer wants to receive your mailings, chances are, they’re not reading them anyway so it’s pointless them having received the newsletter in the first place. They could also mark your emails as spam which can affect your account, meaning your emails are more likely to hit your readers spam folders rather than inboxes.

 

One last pointer – do not purchase email addresses. These lists are often out of date and irrelevant, plus the recipient won’t have opted in to your mailing list so it goes against GDPR. It’s really not worth it.

 

Summary

 

So, there we have it! Hopefully you feel much clearer now on the simple ‘dos and don’ts’ and have some ideas on what exciting new direction to take your newsletters.

 

If you’re still stuck for ideas or want to learn more about how we can help – get in touch!

 

info@catfishwebdesign.com / 01223 873349