Newsletters can be one of the best ways of capturing your target audience and staying in touch with your customers and staff.
Getting readers to sign up for them, however, is just half the battle.
Once they are on your mailing list, how do you ensure that they read your newsletter from start to finish, or at the very least, open them?
And with so many newsletters available, how do you make sure yours stands out?
Here are five simple steps to writing the perfect newsletter:
1) Provide content worth reading
The whole point of a newsletter is to update your readership about your latest news and developments and to provide a useful resource.
So it has to be interesting, engaging and offer value to the subscriber.
This could include news relevant to them or their industry, unique advice and insight, or even free incentives.
First of all, decide on the title of your newsletter and the main subject(s) you want to focus on.
Then think about what you want to achieve with it; is it to generate interest in your business and sales of your product or service, to drive traffic to your website, or to increase customer or staff engagement?
You may just want to give them a taster so that they click through to your website or contact you to learn more about your product or service.
While you may want to promote your product or service, make sure that you get the balance right between useful content and blatant advertising.
And remember you should only send your newsletter to subscribers who have opted to receive it and give them the option to unsubscribe if they want to.
Don’t ask for too much information up front as it’s more likely to put them off signing up in the first place, and maybe offer them a free incentive for doing so.
2) Grab the reader from the word go
People receive so many newsletters and other emails that you need to make them want to read yours.
So come up with a snappy headline that catches their attention.
Give the reader a reason to open your newsletter and read it straight away.
But ensure that the headline accurately reflects the content and isn’t sensationalist.
You should also use an easy to read layout with your organisation’s logo to make the reader more familiar with your business.
Consider outsourcing the design to a professional graphic designer to make it look the best.
And structure your newsletter so that it has a good balance between new stories, blogs, features, case studies, picture captions, tips and advice, surveys, competitions and giveaways.
3) Be consistent for the audience you are writing for
There’s a reason why subscribers sign up to your newsletter in the first place: because they are interested in what you have to say and they have an expectation of what the content is going to be about.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t try presenting the content in different ways and write about different subjects if they are relevant to your audience.
Also, have a publication date that is frequent enough, say at least every six weeks, but doesn’t overload the reader’s inbox.
Plan your editorial calendar around major events and look for marketing campaigns and blogs to tie it in with.
If it’s an email newsletter, decide what time of the day is best to send it to get the maximum pick-up.
Between 8 and 10am and between 3 and 5pm are traditionally the best times to reach your audience when they are checking their emails at the start or finish of the day.
4) Keep it short and simple
Bear in mind that all of your readers will probably have a different knowledge of the subjects you are going to write about, so put it in layman’s terms that everyone will understand.
People are also busy, so make sure you include your key message as high up the newsletter as possible.
Also, resist the urge to cram your newsletter with too much information and too many stories as the reader will switch off if they are overloaded with content.
5) Regularly review your work and get feedback
Invite conversation, news and views to make your newsletter more interactive and gauge the reader’s interest.
The best way to analyse how your email newsletter is doing is to track it for opening and bounce rates, unsubscribes, and how long the recipient spends reading it using your email management system.
You can also monitor how much traffic is coming to your website from the newsletter, as well as mentions and interactions on social media.
Finally, read and re-read your own work to decide what works best.
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