email marketing newsletters

The Untapped Potential of Newsletters in Email Marketing

Linda Mulcahy
December 25, 2018

I know, newsletters have a bad rap.

We can blame the 1990s. Aunt Suzy and her braggy Christmas newsletter. The one-page newsletter from HR announcing work anniversaries and birthdays (in Comic Sans, of course).

More recently, we’ve all been victims of boring and self-serving newsletters that clutter up our inboxes.

We’re not talking about thosenewsletters.

No, we’re talking about interesting and engaging newsletters that people actually want to read. With content they find valuable. Sent by people they like and want to hear from.

Before We Talk Newsletters, Let’s Talk About Email Itself

Most businesses already buy into the idea of using email as a customer acquisition and retention tool. Email is an important part of any marketing strategy.

So where do newsletters fit into a robust email marketing strategy?

The Potential of Newsletters

As expert marketer and bestselling author Ann Handley told Forbes, “Email is the only place where people (not algorithms) are in control.” With email, you get to decide what content you deliver, to whom, and when.

So let’s give our readers well-written and useful information in a newsletter. Make it worth their time to subscribe and to read what you write.

Done well, a newsletter can do any or all of the following:

  • Entertain.
  • Educate.
  • Provoke.
  • Grow a loyal audience.
  • Develop your brand voice as a trusted authority in your space.
  • Show your personality and unique perspectives.
  • Drive further engagement through replies directly to you, shares on social media, and forwards to friends and colleagues.

Tips for Writing Great Newsletters

  • Write with a focus on the letter.Think of your ideal customer and write to that one person. Make it personal, conversational, and authentic.
  • Deliver it consistently.Whether your newsletter is daily, weekly, or monthly, discipline yourself to write and deliver on a predictable schedule.
  • Keep it focused.Start with a clear purpose for your email newsletters and stick with it. Don’t do too much in one message. Sandwiching a funny anecdote between a promotional announcement and a product description will confuse your audience.
  • Offer something new.Don’t regurgitate copy from your website or your Twitter feed.
  • Include user-generated comments.Did a reader write in with an insightful comment or a really good question? Use this as a springboard for content in your email newsletter. Readers will appreciate the interaction and will be more inclined to engage.
  • Proofread before you hit send.Ask someone to proofread your copy for misspellings, grammar issues, and broken links before you send it out.
  • Ask for feedback.What resonates with your readers? What do they find valuable? What do they want more of? Check your email analytics for details, too.

Subscribe-Worthy Newsletter Examples

Here are just a few examples of well-written newsletters.

Total Annarchy from Ann Handley is a twice-monthly must-read for marketers. The content is a blend of funny and down-to-earth musings, writing tips, and a bunch of links to interesting topics.

Ben & Jerry’s monthly newsletter is perfectly on-brand for this ice cream icon. Their content features quirky behind-the-scenes stories and helpful tips (like how to avoid freezer burn when eating from the carton), as well as more serious content that aligns with the company’s socially conscious image.

The Daily Skimm offers bite-sized summaries of the day’s news with links for more details. The authors know their readers—busy women who are about to start their busy days—and they write with a friendly girlfriend vibe, perfect for reading over that first cup of coffee.

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