11 Tips to Make Your Newsletter a Must-Read (Part 1 of 2)
I originally wrote this feature post a number of years ago. Back then it was intended for print newsletters. I happened to run across it on my old blog recently and wondered how things might have changed since then with the proliferation of email campaigns and social marketing.
Not so surprisingly, I found many of the ideas to still be relevant, they just needed an updated twist. So here’s part 1 of a refreshed look at it for today's content creation and marketing environment.
1. Save the Reader Time
Back then: Collect & digest information for the user. Give the reader everything they need to know in just 15 minutes per month.
Now: Still very true, except you have even less time to grab the reader’s attention. With electronic content, whether email, website, or social media; current estimates are that you only have roughly 7 seconds to capture a reader's attention. Producing sufficient content can be daunting, especially while you should spend your time running the business.
Good thing is, your content doesn't have to be 100% original. You can serve your audience just as well by being an adept content curator. Or of course, you can hire a writer to create custom content. Provide a good mix of original content and some from other sources that fit your topic and standards, and you’ll also build trust and your brand reputation.
2. Provide Reference Value Back then: Make it a source of reference. Offer a branded free binder and Annual Index to help keep them organized.
Now: Obviously offering a physical binder is no longer necessary, but you still want to provide a way for your readers to maintain easy, organized access to previous issues. This would now be accomplished by providing access to online archives that are organized by topic and easily searchable. Again, it’s a good idea to provide links to related resources.
3. But wait – there’s more!
Back then: Offer free stuff. People love free stuff, especially if you give the impression of value greater than the purchase price. CD-ROMs and resource guides are a great idea.
Now: Free is still good! Just make sure the gift truly adds some value to the recipient. With so much information available free online, it’s your job to provide bonuses that eliminate the work from your readers. CD-ROMs, resource guides and white papers were once the rage. These can still be viable options for some but offering them as downloads or password-protected member areas are excellent options.
4. Be Specific
Back then: Narrow the topic, create or fill a niche. Don’t just talk about Motorcycles, talk about Harley Davidson's (or Honda, or your favorite brand).
Now: Still true. The only difference is how we refer to such specification. As a motorcyclist myself, when I was looking for parts to customize my Harley, I would obviously find more targeted results by typing in a longer description such as "Harley Davidson Sportster 883 wheels." To you as a content creator, these are called long tail keywords. If your newsletter is accessible and searchable online, you’ll want to keep in mind how people might be searching. Once they’ve found you, if your content is relevant, you can expect they might sign up and come back for more.
6. Standout from the Competition
Back then: Style, Presentation, Analysis and Credibility. Make your information seem like something they’ve never heard before, write creatively. Develop fresh ideas people can’t get elsewhere. Make a big deal out of minor differences (illustrations, length, frequency, etc).
Now: Again, still true. Standing out from the crowd will ALWAYS be a way to distinguish your brand, just be sure to do it with more substance vs. style. Question often is, how? You have more options today than ever before so get acquainted with making videos, podcasts, and infographics. Think creatively and find new ways to present old information.