Writing newsletters that people want to read

10th April 2012 | Posted in Marketing communications

Have just spent an enjoyable couple of hours advising a small business on taking their newsletter to another level. It read well enough, but it just wasn’t being opened, read or acted upon. Bit of a problem.

So let’s go through some of the advice I offered.

  1. Make the open tempting. Write a subject line for your email that says who it’s from, and offers a promise of something really interesting inside.
  2. Give your newsletter a relevant name and a recognisable layout. You want your newsletter to become a familiar item in the inbox.
  3. Find a proven and easy way to create and deliver your newsletters. Services like MailChimp come highly recommended.
  4. Apply the “so what?” test to everything you write. Stand in the shoes of your audience and ask why they should care about your news. Take the example that people will insist on shouting about – a new web site. So what? Now if you can talk about new sales tools available and provide links directly to the right page, that’s interesting to your reader. That will get your click throughs.
  5. Don’t expect readers to remember what you wrote last issue – especially if it’s three months ago. If you’ve got a special offer that’s still open, explain the offer again, and give directions on how to take advantage of it.
  6. Don’t forget the background information. You know your readers but they might not know you as much as you might think. If you’ve got a news story about your founder visiting the country, talk about who they are, where they’re from, how they’ve become successful.
  7. Invite conversation. Ask for feedback, news and views. Run a poll. Don’t be put off by a low response rate. Keep at it, refining the way you ask your questions. And don’t forget to report back in your next issue.
  8. Make sure you include the details. If you’re going to be at an exhibition, explain where and when it does. Don’t make the reader do the work.
  9. If you’re a small business, you may well experience doubt about whether to be an individual or a corporate when you’re writing. Just decide – are you “I” or “we” and stick to it.
  10. Be sensible with your time and do only what you know you can do consistently. Some businesses send out newsletters every month, but with just one story in them. Others arrive packed full of ideas and tips. Do you have content you can repurpose from blogs or articles elsewhere?

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