Writing Newsletters – Tricks of the Trade
August 21, 2006 • Glenn Murray
Company newsletters can be an amazingly successful marketing technique. Whether you want to up-sell or cross-sell, establish your brand or establish your authority, or simply reach a wider market, a newsletter can do the job for you. You just have to make sure you write it right.
Television, radio, and print advertising are often too expensive for many businesses to justify – especially small businesses. Fortunately, there is an alternative. Today’s internet and email technologies make company newsletters a very inexpensive, yet surprisingly effective, form of advertising. When it comes to newsletters, big companies and small are finally competing on a level playing field.
So what is an email newsletter?
An emailed newsletter serves much the same purpose as a traditional company newsletter. Think of it as a short newspaper – but instead of relating to a town, city or country, it relates to your business. You can include articles on new products or services, awards, recent success stories and case studies, promotions, specials, share price rises, company events, research… And if it’s a quiet month, you can simply write articles that might help your customers out.
10 Steps to Success
Follow 10 simple rules of thumb, and you’ll soon be writing great newsletters and reaping the rewards…
- Keep It New! Your readers won’t waste time reading something they already know, so make it news they can use.
- Keep it personal: Always use your reader’s name. Make sure when someone signs up, you get their name, then use it in the subject line, in the greeting, and anywhere else you can.
- Know your reader: Find out what your reader is interested in. Do some pro-active research, invite response, or find an email marketing solution such as CampaignMonitor that tracks the links your readers click on and keeps a history of their activity.
- Let them know you: Let your personality shine through. Readers are far more likely to become loyal if they feel they know you. Always include a bit of you in the newsletter, whether it’s humour, personal details, personal anecdotes, or personal views.
- Subject is Headline: The subject line of an email newsletter is like a front-page headline in a newspaper. You need to draw the reader in, so make it engaging and relevant (maybe promise a benefit) but no more than 25 characters so your reader can see it all before opening the email.
- Use a Title bar: Make the most of the title bar to add visual appeal and establish brand awareness.
- Make it ‘scannable’: Most people don’t read online – they scan. Make sure you use easy-to-read bullet points and sub-headings. Don’t lose your reader’s attention. Reading is physically more difficult online, so make sure you’re concise. Use links to other places instead of writing long articles.
- Use White space!: If your page is too busy, you’ll lose your reader. Give them a chance to absorb valuable information by dedicating about 30% of your screen real estate to white space.
- Easy unsubscribe: Make your unsubscribe easy to find. If it’s obvious, they’ll feel safe and can then appreciate the content. To many people, the ease of unsubscribing is an indicator of the integrity of your company.
- Forward to a friend: Include a link to encourage readers to forward the newsletter on to their friends and colleagues. Find an email marketing solution which allows you to do this and sit back and watch your database grow!