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11 Tips to Make Your Newsletter a Must-Read (Part 2)

Last week (hopefully) you joined me for the first part of this 2-part series on how to make your newsletter an indispensable must-read. In case you missed it because you were busy or at the dentist, or some other fine excuse, you’ll find it here. And without further ado, let’s jump into the last 5 – and don’t forget to stay for your bonus tip.


Hold the reader's hand - tips for must-read content

6. Hold the Reader’s Hand (just a little) Back then: DO something for your reader, don’t just tell them how or why to do something.

Now: This is perhaps even more true in today’s short-on-time, goldfish attention span society. While we’re all looking for advice, we also want a little extra tidbit to get us there. Ideas will vary based on your business or service. For example, A lawyer that publishes an article called "7 things to put in a contract" might also provide a basic boilerplate contract as a free download. A content strategist like myself might provide a template for a content audit or an editorial calendar like this one.


7. Make Your Newsletter Exclusive Back then: If applicable, consider offering club or membership access – This may not work for all industries, but one such idea is the Wine of the Month club.

Now: Memberships can work for any industry, product, or service today. It’s just a matter of how you package it. People like to belong to something, so making your publication a special offer to those who “join” your mailing list or other special club provides a sense of exclusivity, even when it’s free.


8. Add Even More Value Back then: This was what I called the “Internet component.” It suggested that in addition to your print newsletter, you should offer these add-on services: - Subscribers-only website - Downloadable resources - Email alerts on breaking news, etc - Supplemental ePubs - Blog or chat

Now: Well ummm, the add-ons (or bonuses) should still be the same. Back then, however, some of them were quite novel ideas. Now any human, puppy or cat with a computer has a blog.  We just don’t necessarily think of them as a separate component anymore. Combine some or all of these things as part of your complete content marketing strategy. My only caution is to not overstate the perceived value. I become quite skeptical when I see $499 value on two eBooks that at best might be worth $4.99. Toss in a money back guarantee to gain the conversion. This is especially useful to unknown brands.


9. Give ‘em What They Want

Back then: Give them what they want, not just what they need.

Now: They real key is just as in regular marketing – to give them what they want, even though they didn’t know they wanted it. Make your offer so compelling and interesting that your readers look forward to receiving and reading it every month.


10. Make it actionable

Back then: Provide content that your readers can turn into action, not just a bunch of information that leaves them thinking, “so what now?”

Now: Of course this is still true. And it’s easily accomplished by providing How-Tos, or numbered lists (like this post) that give simple, repeatable steps or actions to take.


11. Build Your Credibility

Back then: Build your credibility by partnering with high-profile industry organizations.

Now: You shouldn’t be surprised by now that this is also still true. The problem today is that it may be more complicated to stand out among the crowd. Content is everywhere, influencers abound, but so do charlatans, gurus, ninjas, and other self-aggrandizing adjectives .


Stay away from the hyperbole, just be authentic. Tell your story but don’t oversell, go ahead and link to or quote someone else’s content if it’s something you agree with. Or, if you respectfully disagree, but be careful not to flame another author. You don’t want to create animosity when you’re trying to build your rep as a thought leader.


Deliver on your promises, and say when you don’t know something. It’s also more important than ever to network with relevant influencers in your industry. Get to know them, follow them and interact with them on blogs and social media.

Some Things Never Change

I hope you found it as interesting as I did, that at least nine years later, things still haven't really changed so much in what it takes to make your content (newsletter or otherwise) a must-read. The guiding principles are still the same. Oh, before you go, here's a BONUS tip for you.

BONUS tip #1

If your publication requires a paid subscription, it’s really important that you make your pricing seem like a drop in the bucket compared to alternative costs. You must have a compelling argument that makes me agree to pay for your newsletter when I think I could cull the internet and find the info for free myself.

- Going back to point number one, save the reader time. Let them know you’re saving them the time and trouble of having to find this info on their own.

- Make it easy to buy – “Just $3 per month” or one-time pre-pay with discount.

- Offer a return on their investment – “Cut your costs by 25% per month.” Obviously, you would only offer such an argument if true.


BONUS tip #2

Be consistent across platforms and ensure your content is responsive. Consistency has to do with your message being the same (or the spirit thereof) in print, social, web. However, you may need to format it differently to fit the medium, content presented online should be brief, bulleted, and easy to digest whereas print media can afford to be long-form. Social and TV are even shorter. Responsive means the content and UX elements like navigation change layout according to the screen size (Laptop vs Tablet vs Mobile).


Now, don’t you feel special that I gave you all 13 of these tips for FREE? Tell me what you think about these tips, and share your own.