“Let’s just create an email newsletter!”
If marketers had a dime for every time we’ve heard that suggestion at a meeting.
Newsletters are a great way to engage with your audience and to keep them informed about your business on a regular basis – they’re personal, targeted and consistent.
According to Mailjet, good marketing newsletters can “guarantee constant website traffic, [signups to] webinars, other event registrations, and product sales.” However, newsletters are only effective if they are well designed and perfectly executed – which is easier said than done.
Some marketers think creating newsletters is an easy way to kill many birds with one stone, but we’ve all seen examples of ones that try to do too much. When product updates are sandwiched between blog posts and random promotional offers, your newsletter loses its focus. “They’re supporting every aspect of your business… Email — whether it’s a newsletter or not — needs one common thread to hold it together.” (Hubspot)
Audiences need to get what your newsletter is about as soon as they read the subject line. Once they open it, they also need to understand quickly what they should focus on and which call to actions to take. Otherwise, you won’t see good open and engagement rates. If this is the case for your newsletter, you may want to step back and take a look at why it isn’t engaging to your readers.
3 key elements of every engaging newsletter
Think about a recent email newsletter you actually read all the way through. What made you read it?
Here at Mention, we actually decided to completely revamp how we did our marketing newsletter this year. Why? Because it was something we wouldn’t want to read ourselves.
More importantly, it wasn’t helping our company get closer to our objectives, which were to generate new leads and to grow a large and engaged email list. In order to improve this, we took a good hard look at our previous newsletter and realized there were three things that it needed to be:
- Relevant – it relates directly to the reader’s industry, interest and topics they care about.
- Interesting – it entertains, educates or delights the reader.
- Valuable – it teaches the reader or provides them with something they find useful.
Without these characteristics, your newsletter won’t be able to draw a consistent and engaged readership. In this blog post, we’ll share 7 tips on how to create newsletters that focus on these elements.
Of course, before you do anything else, you’ll first need to define your newsletter strategy. This includes setting your objectives, identifying your target audience, and decide on the visual style of your newsletter. We won’t be getting into these basic steps in this post, but you can check out Mailjet’s guide for a step-by-step tutorial.
1. Choose your focus
The focus of your newsletter will be crucial to how engaging it will be. But figuring out what type you should create and what content should go in it, is also the hardest part.
It’s important to know who your readers are so you know who you’re writing for. Try and get a good idea of what your audiences are interested in, what industries they work in, and what topics they care about so you can write content that’s relevant to them.
One way to figure out what to focus on in your newsletter is by testing different versions of them. An easier way to find out? Ask! Conduct a survey to ask your existing subscribers what they would like to see in your newsletters.
As we mentioned earlier, most newsletters try to do too many things at once. Does it make sense to have your product updates in the same newsletter as your top tweets of the week? Once you decide on your focus, stick to it so your readers know what to expect every time.
2. Keep it simple, keep it catchy.
We’re all busy people and we find ourselves spending less and less time going through our inboxes. “Our inbox was supposed to be a place we turn to for quick, digestible communication from companies. Instead, we are now constantly flooded with marketing newsletters that provide very little value to us.” (Mention)
Because your audience will spend less time reading an email than a blog post or a white paper, they need to understand the point of your newsletter as soon as they open it – keep the content simple and straightforward.
The simplicity of a newsletter is key to its readability. But you can also grab your readers’ attention by making the writing brief and punchy. The Skimm and the Hustle are two great examples of newsletters that are all about presenting interesting trending topics in a casual, catchy, and digestible way.
Your readers might not know exactly what to expect when they subscribe to your newsletter, so set up the expectation for them on your signup page or in the welcome email.
3. Include third party content
Your newsletter doesn’t always have to be only about your company. Incorporating content from thought leaders or influencers in your industry is a great way to align your brand with experts. Try including quotes, tweets, or links to content from your partners or favorite brands.
Collaborating with others is also an effective way to grow your newsletter subscriber list, “Look for other people or businesses that run newsletters with a similar target audience and reach out to them to promote your newsletter. If your audience is large enough, you can reciprocate by promoting their business in your own newsletter.” (Fast Company)
Community.is’ newsletter is created for people who “put people at the center of their work.” They often include quotes and content from influencers, industry experts, and other sources which make their content feel authentic and credible.
4. Include User-Generated Content
Another way to make your newsletter more engaging is to switch the focus from your company to your users, audience and even employees. Think about incorporating content from your community, such as comments, highlights of interesting examples of product use, or answer questions that are frequently asked on social media.
Intercom’s newsletter often includes quotes and commentary from their staff and community about trending topics. It’s a great way to add some humaness to your newsletter and to involve the rest of your team.
5. Connect to trending topics or events
Depending on the nature of your newsletter, you may want to connect your content to popular topics or events. Marketers often want to be in the know about the latest trends, so to provide your own commentary around them can be an effective way to include your brand into the conversation.
Later’s newsletters are beautifully designed chock-full of useful tips and resources.
You’ll learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Instagram – the latest trends, how to drive traffic from Instagram Stories, and how to work with influencers. To connect their product and content to relevant topics, they also often write about how Instagram is used at trending global events like the Olympics or Black Friday.
6. Use social media as a teaser
Social media is an amazingly effective channel to get people excited. Have some big news or exclusive content to share in your upcoming newsletter? Reveal a little snippet on social media to build some buzz around it.
Take advantage of the different formats that are available to you to use. For example, you may want to use Twitter and Facebook for photos and gifs, and Instagram Stories to include some live action and speaking into your teaser. Talk about what your readers can expect in the upcoming newsletter and why they should sign up. Don’t forget to include the call to action!
7. Be consistent but provide something unique
Does your current newsletter just regurgitate everything that your company is doing on your blog, social media or website? Your newsletter should provide your audience with something they can’t get from your other channels.
When we decided to revamp our own newsletter, we knew we wanted to create something that was unique, that stood out from the rest of our content, as well as from other marketing newsletters. So we spent a lot of time perfecting the tone, the look, and making it unique.
The Mention Memo
The result was a fun, friendly, curated digest about the latest happenings in social media.
What did our readers think about it? We saw open and click-through rates double in the first two months! What’s more, we’ve had readers email us to tell us how much they enjoy reading it – making it all worth the effort.
Over to you
Creating good email newsletters is a fundamental part of your email and overall marketing strategy. Check out some examples of awesome newsletters we’ve mentioned, get inspired, and think about how you can improve yours.