7 tips on how to write a newsletter people actually want to read

Guest Author: Margo Aaron • 7 Jan, 2020

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You want to write newsletters that engage and inspire your target group. Your database should look forward to your emails and be excited to open and read them every month. But it’s easier said than done. To be successful in your email marketing you need a deeper purpose to motivate. Marketers continue to make the same foundational email marketing violations such as ‘blasting’ your list, using the greeting “Hi Friend,” not segmenting your list, and ‘pushing’ content to ‘get the word out’. 

So, you might ask, what are these newsletters doing that’s making them work? In this blog post, I’ll give you 7 concrete tips on how to write newsletters people actually want to read and discuss the biggest mistakes marketers make when it comes to email marketing. Want to learn more? Watch my webinar about "How to write a newsletter people actually want to read"

1. Write to your customers, not your colleagues

This includes not writing for your boss, manager, and CMO. The biggest mistake I see companies make, is pleasing their boss instead of pleasing their readers and customers. If the role of your newsletter is to please the boss, then please the boss; but do not expect it to become something ‘people want to read’.

 2. Talk to your readers

Find out who they are (Existing customers? Prospects? Industry associates?), what they're interested in and what they expect from a newsletter.

3. Segment your list

It doesn't have to be advanced segmentation, but if your company sells a variety of products you can use your newsletter to break your audience into separate lists of qualified leads using tags (‘clicked on whitepaper’, ‘cares about climate change’, ‘asked for a sales call’, ‘interested in live event’, etc.) that way you can run targeted campaigns to them later.  

4. Create good content

This may seem pretty obvious. But it’s one that everyone tries to skip. In order to talk to your readers and for them to care about what you have to say, you’re going to need some good and relevant content. Here’s some points to think about when creating your email newsletter:

Get to know your client's audience
You want to know what they're interested in, how they speak to each other, what they are currently reading, who they like and don't like, and why they open yours (or anyone's) newsletters.

Don't get caught up on industry best practices
Often those are arbitrary or irrelevant to your specific market. It doesn't matter what your competitor is doing, it matters what your readers are interested in.

Make everything feel like an inside joke with your audience
People should read your newsletter and go, ‘I don't get it’. A great newsletter bifurcates, in a positive way. Like ‘people who love hats’ vs ‘people who are not interested in hats'.

 Give context for why people should care
Often, we find fascinating and wonderful content to share but don't make a compelling case for why our readers should pay attention. Your job is to get people to care about what you're sharing – not simply share it.

5. Don't hyper focus on the numbers

All marketers want to look at open rates as proxy indicators of the ‘health’ of your list and interest in your emails. This is fair, pending any deliverability issues. It's important to know your numbers (OR, CTR, average unsubscribes), but unless you're looking at sales (which should be measured by campaigns and not over the lifetime of your newsletter), it’s important that you don't hyper focus on the numbers.

Qualitative measures are more important in the long run. You can reverse-engineer high open rates while eroding brand equity, so the numbers are limited (again, with the exception of sales).

6. Why trends don’t matter 

This is an important one to remember. The biggest trends in email marketing do not matter at all. Focus on what your people want, not what everyone else is doing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Nothing about email should be trendy. Email should reflect the needs and wants of your customers as it intersects with what your business can offer. 

7. Getting it right

Newsletters are not a convenient tool for getting your company-specific information to your customers. They are a vehicle for communicating with your audience. Writing an email newsletter isn’t rocket science, but a lot of marketing departments are still getting it wrong. Getting it right and creating a newsletter that people actually want to read requires some hard work and caring about your audience.

The biggest mistake marketers make when it comes to email (and you know it)  

Now we have the fundamentals out of the way, let’s look at the biggest mistake people make when it comes to email, so you know what not to do. Marketers focus on the ‘tactic du jour’ instead of listening to the readers.

Every market is different and it's the marketer's job to know everything about their readers/market, including what they prefer reading and how. Some customers enjoy a nice ‘roundup’ of articles, while others enjoy long in-depth thought pieces. Some prefer photos of your product; others want insider industry information. The mistake marketers make is focusing too much on making a newsletter that pleases the marketing gods instead of the audience reading it. 

Do you want to know more about writing great newsletters? Watch my webinar on “How to write a newsletter people actually want to read”.

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