How to write a good newsletter

Do you have a favourite newsletter? One that you always open, enjoy and sometimes act upon?

And are there a bunch of newsletters that you immediately delete without even opening them?

So what’s the difference between these two scenarios?

Beyond all the research and testing that takes place around send times, subject lines and subscription drives, there are a few golden rules for creating something that people want to receive and read. They are as follows:

2. Usefulness
You may have plenty of things you want to tell people but ask yourself: is it useful to them? Are you providing information that educates, informs, entertains or otherwise makes the reader’s life easier or better? Are you answering a commonly asked question? Are you teaching them about an important issue? Are you informing them about a new product or service that is relevant to them? And are you giving them enough information to do something about it?

2. Timeliness
There’s a reason the word ‘new’ is in newsletter. Are you including new information and are you sending it in a timely fashion? For example, if you have a great pre-Christmas booking deal, you need to assess the time to purchase. If the deal is for a venue for a staff Christmas party, you may want to send that deal out well before December as most people will have already sent their invitations by the end of November.

Also, make sure you send your newsletter at a time when people are paying attention but not too busy to open it. That’s the difference between 9am on a Monday and 11am on a Tuesday. If people are faced with a full inbox and a sense of pressure, they are less likely to open and read your newsletter, regardless of how good it is.

3. What’s in it for me?
Never forget human self-interest. People love competitions, photo galleries of events they or their industry peers attended, and anything that might mention them or their company. If you can include information that will resonate with your readers on a personal level – even if it’s an inspiring quote, a happy snap, a testimonial or information about how your business supported a  charity – this will enhance that person’s experience with your newsletter and make them feel good.

And as Maya Angelou said, ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you make them feel.’

Make them feel smart, important, part of an inner circle and cared for and they will respond with enthusiasm.

4. Ease of navigation
If I can’t open your newsletter, that’s an automatic fail. Whether you’re sending out information in an email html, or attached as a pdf or a Word.doc, the main thing is that I can actually open it and read it.

Once I’m in, make sure the information is structured correctly: Introduction (conversational), news and information, personal/feel good moment (this could be a testimonial, a happy snap, a quote, a giveaway, etc), call-to-action (this is where you link out to a relevant landing page) and connection opportunities (links to social media and contact details).

Keep the whole thing tidy, consistent and simple. Don’t go crazy with wacky fonts or animation. Clean and easy-to-read is best.

5. A sense of community
The prevailing message is ‘If you are reading this newsletter, you are one of us’, whatever ‘us’ is. It could be as simple as you are one of my clients. The important thing is that you build an inner circle. Anyone who is subscribed to your newsletter is in-the-know because you are helping them stay better informed than people who don’t read the newsletter. It’s that simple (and difficult – there are a lot of newsletters out there vying for attention).

One of my favourite newsletters is Dietician Susie Burrell’s Shape Me because she helps me stay mindful about diet and exercise, essentially improving my health.

Which newsletters do you read? And do you have any pet peeves you’d like to share?






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